31 Solo Travel Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers + Solo Experts

Last Updated on September 13, 2021 by Christine Kaaloa

rickshaw in vietnam, grrrltraveler in vietnam, hanoi rickshawSafety Tips for Solo Female Travelers traveling alone

Folks always ask me if I feel safe traveling alone as a woman. In this post, I’m going to share 29 Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers when traveling alone.

I’ve traveled over 20 countries alone and I’d be lying if I said that I am confident and brave going into each trip. The truth is, I never know how a trip will turn out the moment I leave my learned environment to traverse an unfamiliar country and culture.

So here’s the thing… I don’t question my solo travel safety. Instead, I create it. I strive to build safety into my solo female travel experiences and I routinely practice safe habits.

hiking in sapa valley, sapa trekking guide, grrrltraveler in Sapa, trekking in Vietnam

31 Solo Travel Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers:

These are actually street smart survival tips I’ve learned from living in New York City and being an American woman. Some of these may sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised how travelers can accidentally throw out common sense when they travel. As a traveler in a foreign environment, my travel safety common sense sits in the forefront of your mind and not on auto-pilot.

1.   Be alert to your surroundings at all times

The idea is if you can see it, you can deter it. Be aware of your surroundings. Keep your vision open to 240 degrees. If you can see when someone is approaching or getting too close when there’s no need, then you can think quickly and react.

On my recent trip to Kyoto, an old Japanese woman I met on a bus tried to scam and pickpocket me. She was trying to get chummy with me so I would let my guard down . When my back was turned, from my periphery, I could see/feel her hand trying to get into my backpack. When I turned around, she whipped away and laughed. So I did what I normally do in unsafe places….

2. Listen to your gut.

When something doesn’t feel right, that’s your intuition saying, “Something is not right”. Trust it. Use it.

How to deal with scammers: Women have a tendency is to be nice and polite. Never offer  personal details (such as hotel or length of stay) and do not answer with a “maybe” or they will show up at your hotel to hound you. Be upfront and honest about not needing their services.

When I saw an old Japanese lady waiting for me in the rain, outside of Kyoto’s Golden Palace, something didn’t feel right. I knew it was a scam of some sort.

She wanted to give me a friendly local tour because I looked lost. How long was I in Kyoto for? Where was I staying? Was I traveling alone? I gave her general information. She wanted to invite me back to her house for tea. Having dealt with illegal tour guides before, I knew how this worked and I wasn’t going to go anywhere with her.  Despite the  logic that Japan is one of the safest countries, my gut said something was very wrong with this scenario.

So I told her the truth-  I had a short stay in Kyoto and I did not have time to veer from my itinerary. I also told her I’m an unemployed backpacker doing this trip very cheap. I would not be able to compensate her monetarily for her time. She left.

Read: How to Deal with Scammers  and Dealing with Touts, Scams & Beggars
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3.  Avoid and lonely dark streets and carry protection.

If you go out at night, then be smart. Dark and desolate places aren’t good places to enter or walk down, even if it’s a short cut.
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4.  Fake confidence

If you’re not confident, fake it. I can’t stress this more. Walk as if you belong to the place or you’re not someone to be screwed with.

If you look lost, distracted, unguarded then that is what you will communicate to thieves and scammers. They are looking for naive targets. Keep you guard up and be aware of what’s going on around you.

5. Keep valuables in front of you and close to your body.

You can even drape your arm over it. It’s an obvious sign that shows thieves that you are guarded. I swiveled my backpack (its got my DSLR lenses in it) to my chest, so I could keep a protective eye on it. Nothing enters my backpack without me seeing it.

Read: Ways to Outsmart Pickpockets

6. Wear cross-body, pick-pocket proof and anti-slash bags.

Pacsafe has great anti-slash bags for solo female travelers traveling alone. Meanwhile, cross-body bags sit in front of you to avoid pick pocketing.

Here are ways I protect my valuables against pickpockets & theives

7. Research local scams.

Always research your destination. While many travelers research their itinerary plans, the essential things you should research are the local dangers, such as popular tourist scams and prevalent crimes. If you know about them, then you can spot and avoid them.

8. Research the destination dangers.

Being American, I check into Travel.State.Gov for travel alerts on the country before visiting. This is a government website which gives up-to-date information on whether a country is considered high risk or not for American travel. Typically, this is based upon political, environmental and health factors which affect the destination country and which could spell a travel risk in regards to American safety.

9. If you are staying in a place for a length of time, sign up with the Smarter Traveler Program and get travel alerts

I  sign up with Smarter Traveler program created by the U.S. government. This is my way of documenting my travel, in the case anything happens to me abroad. They send emails keeping you alert to any national emergencies or political unrest… things you should be watchful of and which can affect your travels.

10. Stay connected

Keep in touch with friends and family via Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp or social media. I like to give my mom a Facetime call now and then to let her know i’m safe and to share a part of my journey.

11. Do occasional social media check-ins

Social media has been a resource to remain in contact with friends, but it also aids with safety and search when friends go missing. While you may not want to blast your vacation openly to the public, you should keep your close family and friends abreast with occasional check-ins.

12. Let family and friends know your daily itinerary.

It’s good to entrust others with your whereabouts.  I always give my family (or a friend) my travel itinerary and update them regularly to let them know I’m on course or if I’m going off of it (It helps to have a concerned mother, that hounds you on your whereabouts).

13.  Dress appropriately for the culture.

Research appropriate dress for the country. It’s not only out of respect for the culture, but also that if you dress to be seen, you’ll probably attract attention from undesirables. Sellers and thieves assess your worth by your appearance. Dress rich, you’re saying you have money. Dress provocatively or revealing and you’ll probably get a lot of unwanted attention and catcalls.

You don’t know how many tourists I cross who’ll wear strapless sun dresses and tank tops with exposed bras in a country, which is ultra-conservative. I want to shout, What are you thinking?!  I never like to think that any woman asks for it, but some tempt it. Ladies, I know you won’t attract any hot guys in your duds, but for every hot guy, there’s twenty undesirable ones ready to do the bidding and they’re confident to try.

For this reason, I actually dress hobo. When I travel, I like to go unnoticed. I also dress to compensate the fact I’m usually also traveling with a lot of media gear. Also, traveling in my duds  makes haggling easier for me.

14. Stash Money, Credit Cards and Passport in Separate Places.

Travel theft is a concern for most travelers and for good reason. Most travelers carry extra cash and credit cards and thieves and pickpockets know this.

15. Stay Healthy

Make sure you’re in fit condition and decent health for your trip. You should never travel when you’re battling health issues. Should anything trigger an existing health condition it may keep you detained in the country for a longer period and you’ll be suffering more than the issue at hand but additional stress over the financial upset and delay.

16. Ensure your hotel lodgings are safe.

Research your hotel lodgings and their customer reviews to ensure they are safe. Women traveling alone are at their most vulnerable in their lodgings, because it is a place where they have their guard down. Some folks swear by couchsurfing; I’m not a fan. I’ve heard horror stories. You are relying on the conditional goodwill of a stranger.  Hell, I spent a cold night in a rental car on a residential street, because I was staying at friend’s- friend’s place, who was a heavy sleeper and did not hear me buzz the doorbell.

Being on a budget is not a good excuse to put your self at risk for a few dollars.

17. Pack a doorstop

Hotel doors can be broken into. I had one viewer comment that his hotel room got broken into while he was asleep and he woke up to see a man towering over his bed. Luckily, he was able to fight the intruder off. I always use the chain lock on the hotel door, but not all of them have one. So I always pack a doorstop as additional precaution.

Read more hotel safety tips.

18. Lock your valuables and belongings

When staying in shared accommodations, always lock and secure your belongings. Many hostels have lockers to keep your luggage and belongings safe. Tip: Always pack a lock with you.

Read Popular Tips for Staying in a Hostel

19. Keep your valuables in your sight

Keep valuables and belongings in your sight when in public transport. I like to keep my belongings with me on my lap or under my legs. In certain situations, especially during peak crowds, you might have to store your luggage on a storage rack. I still try to remain close and attentive to it in case someone grabs my luggage and runs off with it.

20. Know where you are going.

Know where you are going, be it when you land at the airport or when you go out exploring, so you avoid getting lost.

Know your daily game plan and where you are going. Be it when you land at the airport or when you go out exploring, you want to know your directions to avoid getting lost.  I try to know how I’ll be getting from point A to point B before I leave my hotel so I’m not looking lost, confused and vulnerable when I’m on the streets.

21. Know your emergency numbers

Knowing the number of the local/ tourist police or your embassy is helpful. But I like to carry other emergency numbers like my bank contact (my bank occasionally loves flagging my ATM use and purchases), credit card and insurance policy numbers.

22. Use safe and reliable services

When it comes to transportation use safe and reliable services, such as Uber or Lyft instead of flagging street taxis. If you’re taking a day tour, make sure it’s a recommended and reliable agency used by many others.

See my list of reputable travel resources.

23. Avoid following strangers into unknown and dark places

Never follow strangers into places you’re uncertain about. Even if they seem friendly or appear to be authorities. They can lead you into a lonely spot where you can be cornered and robbed or worse. I once got lost in the streets of Marrakech and a friendly-looking policeman offered to lead me back to the medina. I saw his uniform and followed him, even when did a detour into a dark tannery shop of men, whereupon they tried to sell me leather goods. It turned out to be a scam and I quickly made an excuse that I was meeting a boyfriend and had to hurry off. If you are uncertain about a person, it is best to not follow.

Fun Ways to Spend Nights as a Solo Traveler

24. If your driver picks up a friend passenger, find another ride.

As a solo female traveler, if your driver wants to bring a friend along, tell him NO. You are a paying customer seeking a professional, private and safe ride. With two foreign males in your car,  you make yourself vulnerable to any advances, scams or worse.  If he wants a friend-mobile, then remove yourself from the car and find another. I’ve had a few accounts where I sensed a shady driver and got off my taxi, tuk tuk or rickshaw in an inconvenient place. I’ve also stayed in these vehicles (see my Bangkok taxi scam) and had the most uncomfortable rides. These days, I find an active mobile phone helps!

Tip: I always travel with a mobile phone with internet access or a travel SIM.
Rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber are common. Ask your hotel for recommended apps and download it. When I was in Sri Lanka, they did not have Lyft or Uber but they had many others used by locals and my hotel was able to recommend the best one.

25. Get Travel Insurance with COVID-19 coverage

Travel has always invited unexpected things. COVID-19 however, reshaped travel to feel more challenging. SafetyWing Nomad Insurance runs like normal travel insurance, covering 180 countries and all the standard trip emergencies like flight interruptions and lost baggage. However it also has COVID-19 coverage. Not only does it cover quarantines but if you contract the virus while you are traveling, you are covered.

26. Practice street smarts

Follow the street smart safety advice you would follow back home. As I mentioned earlier, I learned a lot of my solo travel safety tips from learning to be street smart while living in New York city.  You’d get a slightly different lesson living in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago or Honolulu.

27. Learn self defense

Taking self defense classes is always a good way to stay safe traveling alone.

28. Know which items aid self-defense

There are many types of self defense you can learn from workshop classes to understanding how items in your grasp- such as pens and keys- make handy self-defense weapons. Any pointed object, like your room key can be held between your index finger and middle finger and can instantly be turned into a weapon if someone attacks you. Walking back to my hotel at night, I keep these things in my hand– not in my bag. If someone jumps me, I won’t have time to fish for it in my bag.

Some folks carry pepper spray (you’d have to pack it in your luggage as it won’t clear TSA).

You can also carry a rape whistle or keychain alarm, where you pull the tab and the alarm sounds.

29. Avoid sharing personal information with strangers

Never give stranger personal details about your relationship status, whether you’re traveling alone or what hotel you’re staying at.  When you tell people you’re traveling alone, you’re telling others that you’re unaccounted for. No one will miss you if you suddenly disappear.

30. Research ways to avoid pickpockets.

There are many products which help you avoid travel theft. From RFID blocking money belts, wrist wallets, travel hacks and pickpocket-proof clothing, feel at peace you’ll find handy aids to help you prevent theft.

Read my 24 ways to avoid travel theft.

31. Do not make yourself an easy target

No matter how you dress, you will always look like a traveler or tourist. But you can change your demeanor and way of creating safety in your travels.  Theft is attracted to targets who look easy, distracted, confused and a bit naive. Find preventative ways and tools – like I’ve listed above- to prepare your mindset going in. Research the country’s scams and be expectant of it. Do not expect or hope for safety~ when you create it in your travels, it will become your foundation where ever you go.

What tips would you add to this list of Solo Travel Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers? What are your ways to stay safe traveling alone?

 

Solo Travel Safety Tips from Solo Female Travel Bloggers:

Below are some fierce femme soloists, who are currently rallying the media’s recent scare tactics on women who want to travel alone. They all know how much courage it takes to make the decision to go solo in the first place. They’ll give you encouragement, support and more tips to make your travel safe and confident.

A recommended read is NBCNews.com‘s interview with long-time solo travel bloggers, Beth Whitman and Ellen Hannon, on the recent media scare tactics over female solo travel here. Another fantastic read covering sturdy travel tips is Solo Friendly‘s Safe Solo Travel .

5 Safety Tips for Women Traveling Alone  Solitary Wanderer
Yes it Is Safe to Travel Solo  Travel Yourself
Dear Dad: Please Don’t Worry (A Treatise on Solo Female Travel)  A Dangerous Business
Top safety tips for women in India (and elsewhere) Dream Breathe Go
The Truth About Solo Female Travel and Safety Adventurous Kate
Solo Travel Safety – a link that takes you to 31 posts about solo travel safety. Solo Traveler
Solo female travel: why it’s a label I support  Cez Christine
The Women Traveling Solo Question  Almost Fearless
Revisiting the solo female travel experience Legal Nomads
Choosing Accommodations for Solo Travel  Wanderlust & Lipstick
Am I the Pollyanna of Solo Travel? Solo Traveler
Traveling Solo As A Woman Lynne Neiman

Related Posts on Ways to Stay Safe Traveling Alone

How To Deal with Travel Scams
Is  Being a Female Solo Traveler? Not!
• How to travel solo in India:Interview with Chiaki Nakashima
The Crash Course Lessons of a First-time Solo Traveler in India
India Tour Agency scams and How to Get Out of One

Related Posts

Health & Safety, SOLO TRAVEL, Travel Tips

23 Comments.

  • […] Lisa Eldridge: Solo Female Travel (to 45 Countries!) Is Solo Travel Safe for Women? …6 Tips to make it so | GRRRLTRAVELER […]

  • Would love to see the followup: “Is solo travel still safe for men?”

    • @LK: Yes, good idea! I think it’s easy to assume it’s safer for men, because men are known to be adventurous and capable. But I think that also gets them into a lot more trouble than women, because we are the more safety-oriented species. Boys dare more, but they also get into trouble more. 😉

  • Gut feelings have got me by in most places. Usually when I didn’t feel comfortable it was for good reason. I also agree that safety when travelling solo shouldn’t just be a woman’s problem. When I heard about problems encountered by other travellers in South America, there were just as many men as women. I tool self-defense classes for 10 years when I was younger and I definitely think it helps give you more confidence to go it alone…even if I’ve long forgotten how to release from a grab or land a flying side kick to the face!

  • Is Solo Travel Still Safe for Women? …6 Safety Tips that make it so http://t.co/yg7CmKgCVU

  • Great post Christine! Im not actually a solo traveler, I travel with my husband, but these points still relate to us. Its so important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. And like you said, if your internal alarm is sounding off, don’t ignore it!

    The world is actually much safer than the media makes it out to be. In fact, the only time I have ever felt unsafe was in the States. Ive never felt unsafe in Central or South America but we also use common sense!

    It would be a shame if women let fear stop them from traveling solo when really all the need is common sense and they will be just as safe, or safer, than in their own country!

    • @Nicole: Thanks. Your feminine input is very welcome, solo or not. And thanks for the U.S. validation. Not that I’d like to rag on my own country but I’m more afraid and careful jogging at night in my neighborhood in Hawaii than I am traveling. Although South America I’ve not been to yet… I’ve heard different things about it, so I’ll need to gather my girl balls for that one.

  • […] Title  found: Is Solo travel still safe for women? … 6 safety tips that makes it so […]

  • hi christine! thank you for the safety tips. I make a reference to your post on this for my countdown of my 10-day-solo-travel-to-south-korea next week. your blog on jeju is a great help for me as i planned my itinerary. keep it up! 🙂

  • Good tips on travelling solo for women. The more I read the more I learn. There is nothing called reading as much as you can from your fellow travellers about travelling alone for women. Its breaks my heart that we women have to go through this while men are simply able to backpack around without issues. I like the idea of being bold and confidence, it can mean a lot for your own self esteem and those who want to harm you. Well done for these tips.

    • @Shalu: Well, it appears that men have it easier and I think that too. But women are more cautious, so there’s more of a likelihood they’ll avoid trouble, whereas men are quite opposite. Sometimes, I feel like there’s more crimes against men outside their home and more crimes to women, inside their home. If we women had just a little more bold attributes, we might be perfect. 😉

  • […] Is Solo Travel Still Safe for Women? …6 Safety Tips that make it so. […]

  • […] Grrrl TravelerIs Female Solo Travel Safe? […]

  • Great tips and I’d like to think most are common sense? However, I’ve also noticed that many women dress in ways that could and do, invite undesirable attention. Thank you for mentioning this and the motivations behind it. I won’t go into it here, but I’ve had my share of dangerous experiences, almost ALL of them in Texas, where I live. I’d also like to add, do not drink too much or in any other way impair your senses or cloud your intuition.

    • @Penny: Hope you don’t live in Houston cause that city is in the top 10 for highest crime rate in the U.S. But excellent tip for both, guys and girls! Maybe throw in there a tip on ‘watching your drink’ so that no one slips anything in it. Thanks for your advice =)

  • […] C’est Christine – Solo female travel: why it’s a label I support Grrrltraveler – Is Solo Travel Still Safe for Women? …6 Safety Tips That Make It So Journalist in Turkey – With your head up high Katie Going Global – No, It’s Not Stupid […]

  • I am never without a backpack as well, and I agree that wearing it on the front is so much better. I have so much stuff when I travel, from my camera and notebooks, to my umbrella and a bottle of water. This is an excellent post for the #WeGoSolo movement, Christine! Thanks for linking to my safety post, it’s time to write a new one 😀

  • […] Is solo travel still safe for women: 6 tips […]

  • I love this article and tips except for one – wearing a backpack on the front. I would simply recommend trying to avoid carrying a backpack/daypack whenever possible – sure, wearing it on your front allows you to keep an eye on it better, but it also screams “I am a tourist.” Even if you have dressed to blend in with the locals and speak the language, wearing a backpack on your front is something only tourists do and I believe it makes you a target. With the exception of a couple day hikes when I needed to carry food & water (and was with a guide in the middle of the mountains far away from thieves), I never carried a daypack – always an over-the-shoulder bag with a thick strap that could easily hold everything I needed for a day out exploring.

    • @Katie: That is excellent advice. Although for me, I have to carry a backpack– I have a DSLR with different lenses in it and it’s heavy. Sometimes, I’m even packing my laptop. I kinda break that big rule about not having valuables on me… and often protecting my tech equipment feels more important than my life (gulp). I think TV camera operators in general feel like that. ha ha.. But otherwise, correct. A backpack can totally scream tourist. Your tip is well founded.

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