I know this is a post that everyone has read before, and every solo female traveller has written but it’s something I’m passionate about and thought I could add my own tips and ideas!
One of the most common reactions when I tell people I travel alone is shock. I’m only 19 and female (and not the most imposing figure either lol) so this is understandable! Although for the most part I don’t find travelling alone scary, I also take reasonable precautions to keep myself (and my parents) happy and safe.
Unfortunately my reason for finally writing this post comes from a place of tragedy, with the broadcast news of the murder of Grace Millane in New Zealand, a solo female traveller from England who was undertaking a round the world trip. Obviously this story hit home for me. A lot of the responses I’ve seen online have been to the tune of ‘this world isn’t safe for females’, ‘I always wanted to travel alone but now I won’t’ and friends and family warning others to stay safe or not to travel.
Travelling alone is undeniably the best thing I’ve ever done for myself, and therefore I’m passionate that other young girls aren’t put off from this experience. If these tips make someone feel more confident about their ability to travel, then my job is done. The world is an incredible place, and whilst at times it is a danger to be a woman on her own, for the most part I have encountered nothing but kindness and awe from strangers.
- Don’t flaunt wealth
Whether it’s getting cash out, taking a picture, making a purchase, simply in the way you dress, someone can infer a lot about how much wealth you may be carrying! Try not to make yourself a target to muggers by being discreet with money and valuable objects, not carrying more than necessary and dressing to fit in with your surroundings.
- Trust your instincts
Does somewhere make you feel nervous? Feel uneasy about that guy eyeing you up on the bus? Think that deal seems like a scam? If something doesn’t seem right to you, trust your instincts! There are so many amazing experiences you can have whilst travelling without putting yourself at risk.
- Lie if necessary
Getting to know new people is part of the fun of travelling, and travelling alone! However, if someones questions are making you feel uncomfortable or you just feel unsure, don’t be afraid to keep things vague or even lie! If someone asks where you’re staying, ‘downtown’ is fine. Travelling alone? Nope, just waiting for my parents! Remember, you don’t owe anyone this information.
- Utilise technology
Keep in contact with friends and family back home! Share pictures and messages, let them know your plans and if possible share your location with them. This can provide a nice souvenir of your travels, keeps other people in the loop and goes a long way towards reassuring anxious friends or family! Also if the worst happens, this can be useful for police to track where you may have been.
- Don’t be afraid to tag along
If I’m at a busy attraction and I see other young travellers or hear people speaking English, I shuffle myself closer to them, smile, maybe comment on something. Having someone nearby who could have your back is sooo reassuring to me! Obviously I know nothing about these people and they could be unkind or mean harm but this has never been my experience so far and I’ve never had to rely on anyone for more help than a reassuring smile or laugh.
I’ve never found it necessary to carry pepper spray or any sort of weapon to protect myself when travelling, just keeping aware of my surroundings and potential risks has kept me safe so far. However, there are some practical steps you can take to stay safe.
When on public transport, I will always sit in the aisle seat and put my bag on the window seat. That way if someone wants to sit next to me, I can move my bag and they can sit in the window seat, preventing getting caged in by someone unpleasant!
I always carry a bag that fully zips up (rather than just a buckle or button) and leave everything important (like my passport) back in my hostel locker. I also keep my debit card in an RFID protected sleeve in my purse.
I keep my exploring of new areas for day times, and when it gets dark I’ll stick to the tourist or local hot spots or stay near to my accommodation. Honestly this is mostly because I’m a bit of a baby when it gets dark, but I’d definitely stay away from anywhere remote.
I rarely drink much, but if I was going to drink whilst travelling I’d either utilise the bar in my hostel or make sure I was with people who would be taking the same route home as me. The last thing you want is to be alone, drunk, and lost in a new city at night!
In all honesty, I hate the fact that this is a post I felt the need to write. Solo travel as a female shouldn’t be something that needs special care and preparation, it should simply be something enjoyable and fun. At the end of the day, none of these tips will keep you safe if someone has the cruel intent to cause you harm. For more of my feelings on this subject, articulated far better than I could, please read this blog post by Vicky Flip Flop!