Traveling solo as a female is more than an ideal, it’s a rising trend. According to Google Search, the phrase ‘solo female travel’ was up 52% from 2016 – 2017 — indicating that more women are contemplating a solo jaunt. Figuring out why there are so many women asking Google for advice isn’t difficult as solo travel gives you the chance to fully indulge yourself, be a little selfish and see the world at your own pace.
Those of us who have done it already can attest that travelling alone can be the greatest and most unpredictable adventure of a lifetime. Solo travel can be the ultimate in self-indulgence; you rest when you want, eat what you want and can be as outgoing or as introspective as you wish.
Of course, single travel has its perils too—such as safety concerns, loneliness, and the challenge of living on a single bank account. Statistically, the foremost concern of the solo or single female traveller is safety. Without a companion to watch your back, you are more vulnerable to unwanted attention, the target of petty theft and criminals, and likely to come across a scam artist or two. Even things like a tummy bug or common health issues can set you back when you are alone.
An ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure and better planning and an understanding of basic solo travel safety can save you time, money and inconvenience.
#1 Plan to Arrive at your destination in daylight
Arrange to arrive at a new location in the light of day. Not only will you feel more at ease and be more aware of your surroundings but there will also be more people around. This will give you a better idea of who is in your immediate proximity, where there are potential areas that might not be safe to venture to in the dark, and more popular walking routes based on where the neighbours transit and congregate. It will also allow you to appreciate landmarks
#2 Choose an international phone plan
Before leaving on an international trip, call your service provider to see if your phone will work abroad and how much it will cost. In many cases, it is less expensive to buy a SIM card locally to use in your unlocked phone. Make sure to unlock it before you leave and buy a SIM card straight at or out of the airport so you’ll have data from the beginning.
#3 Never say you’re alone and wear a discreet ring
When you are at a hotel, never mention that you are travelling by yourself. When checking in to your hotel request an additional key to signal it could be for someone else joining you. Even if it’s a harmless little lie, wearing a wedding ring can signal many things. It shows that you are not alone, that someone is expecting to hear from you regularly, and that someone is aware of your whereabouts.
#4 Keep a hard copy of your travel itinerary with you
Grab the business card or ask front desk/concierge to write down the name, address, and phone number of your accommodation. Keep copies of your itineraries with you so you know where you’re going next.
#5 Do your homework and Identify safe or women-only places
Safety is the main concern for most solo women travellers and there is certainly safety in numbers. Finding places where there are other women can give you some respite but can also be a great place to pick up local tips from women with more experience. Check out if the country offers women-only hotels or a list of women-only services. Other obvious places where you are like to connect with other females are yoga classes in local studios or running clubs. If you are looking to connect with other female travellers, consider joining our community of women travellers.
#6 Take a cab
Travel budgets are a good thing, but be willing to ‘splurge’ when it relates to your safety. Pay for taxis at night instead of walking alone. Take a cab or use an app-enabled car service whenever available in the country. An app such as Uber or LYFT tracks the driver and you, keeping both of your information in the system. Even better, the payment is done through the app so no money is exchanged.
#7 Dress appropriately
To avoid unwanted attention or offending the locals, it’s important to consider and research what is appropriate dress standards for modest women in the country you are visiting. Where there are more conservative standards in place (like the Middle East or parts of Africa or Malaysia), it’s important to be mindful of hemlines, necklines, sleeve lengths and tight-fitting clothes. Beyond places of worship, national monuments and public areas, your Western wear could deliver unwanted attention from men and lack of cooperation from local women. Try to blend in. Visit the markets and observe how the local women in your age group dress. Ask for shopping tips from the locals and embrace a new fashion sense. Thailand and India are two great places to get beautifully tailored clothing at a reasonable price, so whatever you wear will not only fit fabulously but you will be on trend.
#8 Stay in touch with people you trust
Whether it’s with friends and family back home or people you meet along the way, it’s important to keep in touch so at least a few would know where you’re travelling to. This could also mean updating your social media regularly so others can follow along on your journey.
#9 Trust your instinct
Your animal instincts of flight or fight are a part of your makeup for a reason — don’t ignore what your sense tell you when you travel. If a situation isn’t quite right or its off, it probably is. And at the same time, if it tells you it’s all good, it probably is. Trust your gut, don’t worry and enjoy!
#10 Know the Social Rules of the Road
Finding out whether you need an international driver’s license is just one of the necessities of safe travel. It’s also practical to do some research on the geopolitical landscape well before you go. Things like affection in public, co-domiciling as an unwed couple, and the country’s views on LGBT travellers could help you avoid potentially negative experiences. In India, Morrocco, Lebanon, Doha and other more conservative cities some Airbnb rentals that specifically state “Married Couples Only.” Know before you go!
Traveling as a solo female can be greatly fulfilling, but best to arm yourself with accurate and current information to ensure you enjoy yourself to the fullest and avoid potential risk.