20 Street Smart Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers

Last Updated on April 9, 2024 by Christine Kaaloa

street smart tips for solo travelers
street smart tips for solo travelers


I have been a solo female traveler committed to traveling alone for over fifteen years.  I’m occasionally asked what are solo travel safety tips to stay safe while traveling solo? I’m going to share 20 street smart tips for solo female travelers.

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Table of Contents: 20 Street Smart Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers

Being a street smart traveler

When I was single female living in New York, I learned to become very street smart and situationally aware of my surroundings. Crowds, public transport, and bustling streets meant potential pickpocketing, scams, theft, and even muggings. I had to constantly assess my surroundings, who walked too close, which streets to avoid at night, and where not to jog. It was a good solo travel safety springboard for when I began to travel on foreign soil alone.

Being street smart as a solo female traveler prepares you to make proactive choices with your safety and take preventative measures to deter crime.

Solo Travel Safety Tips: Think Like a Criminal, Act Like a Prepared Traveler

Crime often thrives on opportunity. Understanding what a criminal might seek – like vulnerability, distraction, lack of awareness – can empower women who travel alone to take preventative measures. By anticipating potential risks and actively mitigating them, you become a less appealing target and significantly reduce the chances of encountering trouble.


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Solo travel safety tips: street smart tips for solo travelers. Watch this video


20 Street Smart Tips for Solo Female Travelers

Going through our daily lives, we often place common safety sense at the back of our thoughts. We take our safety for granted. The ongoing question many ask is — is solo travel safe?  Dealing with your worries can feel challenging and after you finally convince yourself, you have to deal with naysaying family and friends .

I’m going to share are safety tips that we use on a daily basis but forget that it applies to travel as well.

Planning a Street Smart Solo Trip in Advance

1. Prioritize walkable cities with reliable public transport.

I love traveling the charming streets of Amsterdam or the busy shopping streets of Bangkok, where navigating on foot and then hopping on a reliable metro, commuter boat or bus is a breeze. Cities like New York, Seoul, Taipei and Bangkok are my favorite solo travel cities because they have sprawling metro systems that drop you at popular tourist spots. They feel safer because it’s virtually impossible to feel lost or stranded in those cities due to reliable and affordable public transportation. If you ever did feel unsafe using public transportation, an Uber is just a mobile call away.

Tip: Download metro and rideshare apps.

Using florence's metro
Using florence’s metro

2. Check Travel alerts & safety rankings on your government sites.

Check your government site to see what’s considered safe for you to travel to. Americans travelers have a website to get up-to-date information on country alerts and travel warnings  www.travel.state.gov . Often government alerts and rankings are based around overall political climate. Their indicators of safety revolve around:crime, terrorist activity, civil unrest, health, natural disaster/weather, and current events and anything that can cause great impact to travel safety for your nationality.

Sometimes, their safety rankings can match what you’d see on the media and not necessarily  what you might experience from locals in the country. So heed the warnings, but be aware that you’re seeing a part of the bigger picture. There are other indicators to consider. 

Each traveler has different personal boundaries where safety is concerned. When I see a country in Level 3: Reconsider Travel and Level 4: Do Not Travel, I deeply consider this and it will affect my travel choices. Biut research plays a big role and I don’t stop here.  I dive deeper using more tools – some I list here- to look for the type of danger I will be exposed to. If I see anything violent in the areas I plan to go, it’s a no brainer.

I have once traveled to a Level 3 country – Pakistan ( my first group trip) – but I had researched much and spoke to female travelers and locals to decipher the actual climate of safety for myself and my tour group. It was the most incredible destination and culture and worth it!

Watch my original 8 Street Smart Safety Tips for Solo Travelers


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3. Consider destinations considered “safe” by other female travelers

Research and choose countries that would be considered safe for solo women to travel. If you are new to solo travel, start with countries and cities closer to home with less cultural differences. If you are an American traveler seeking international travel, try western countries like Canada, Australia or New Zealand as a safe toe dip with less cultural barriers.  If you like Asia, Japan is a fun, safe and polite country with high quality food and lots of things to do/see, even though there may be occasional stress with foreign language. Costa Rica is also a widely loved eco-friendly destination with rain forests and is perfect for female solo travelers looking for adventure in Central America. Lastly, Thailand is a wonderful budget-oriented country with a strong tourist infrastructure so you can never get lost. 

Research travel blogs and join female Facebook groups that gathers invaluable firsthand advice and support from fellow solo female travelers. I like Every Passport, a Facebook community for travelers who are on a journey to travel to every country.  Ask friends who traveled to that destination for feedback.

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4. Research travel scams

Read up on the crimes and tourist scams common to the country. To be informed is to be prepared, especially when you’re a woman traveling alone and responsible for your safety.

As I mentioned earlier, each traveler has different personal boundaries where safety is concerned and scams fall into that realm. They can vary from violent to tricky or annoying. 

Scams that present themselves can be as nerve-grinding as a taxi driver wanting to drive off-meter. Or as tricky as being redirected to a fake tour agency when you think it’s the city’s tourism office.

While solo travel is my passion, my comfort zone excludes destinations with high crime rates against women or theft. Rio deJaneiro, despite its allure, has remained on my “maybe” list due to my concerns with theft. Though solo for 13 years, I’m still building confidence for certain destinations. Although I’ve known female travelers who visited there, it’s a destination that’s outside of my comfort zone for years. 

Check out my list of Common Travel Scams and  How to Avoid Travel Scams.

5.  Dress Appropriately and to Blend in

Preparation is key to blending in and avoiding unwanted attention.  Respect local traditions by dressing modestly in religious sites or avoiding revealing clothing in conservative areas.

Unwanted attention can range from dealing with sexual harassment, stalking, be scolded by older men/women, offend the culture, stand out as a target for thieves or horny men.

Just a little 411 — western women are often seen as sexually loose in many parts of the globe thanks to Hollywood’s sexually brazen depiction of women in modern relationships.

Buying and wearing the local clothes of the culture to blend more, helps. Even if you feel like you’re standing out as a foreigner, locals appreciate it and you won’t stand out like a sore thumb.

When I traveled in Pakistan,  the shalwar khameez is the national outfit for women. Although locals still recognized me as a foreigner, wearing a shalwar khameez made me blend in more than stand out.

Read my 30 MORE Tips on Traveling As a Female Solo Traveler …Safely

rakaposhi viewpoint hunza valley pakistan

6.  Invest in safety and anti-theft gear

Consider pickpocket-proof clothes with wallet pockets, an slash-proof anti theft bag,  alarm siren keychains and/or a portable doorstop for extra security in your hostel or Airbnb.

Tip: I’ve been using Sprigs’ Bangees Wrist Wallets for years. These are handy hidden wallets for crowded public places and markets when you want your money accessible to you but not obvious. I put anything from currency to a credit card; even a hostel locker key!

Check out my list of Awesome Anti-Theft Bags for Solo travelers
clever travel companion t-shirt giveaway
clever travel companion t-shirt
personal alarm for women
personal alarm for women
Banjees Wrist Wallets
Comparison between the Large 2 Pocket vs Classic. These are handy wallets for crowded public places

7. Trust your gut about a destination

A “safe” city for one traveler might not be for another: Don’t ignore that uneasy feeling just because a city has high rankings. Listen to your intuition and prioritize destinations where you feel comfortable and confident.

Read How to Plan a Solo Trip

Act Like a Street Smart Local Staying Safe Traveling Alone

8. Plan your route beforehand

Knowing where you’re going can boost your confidence and help you avoid getting lost in unfamiliar territory.

So before leaving my hotel or hostel, I always make sure I plan my route and know what addresses i’m looking for, my directions and how I’m getting around. I download offline maps and familiarize myself with the layout of the destination.I call this my plan of attack. By gathering all my information before I leave, I reduce feelings of vulnerability and helplessness and increase confidence as I already have my routes and day, visually mapped in my mind. 

9. Master Situational Awareness

Be aware of what and who is around you. The idea is “If you can see it, you can deter it”. The idea is “If you can see it, you can deter it”.   Crank your heightened awareness and take stronger precautions regarding safety in evening or in sketchy places.   I like to turn my inner alert and psychic sensitivity dial on high, sensitive to sounds of my environment and observant of things around me.  If an area feels “off”, I do not hesitate to take detours or change my plans. Y

our inner radar is your best friend in any unfamiliar territory.

10. Stick to well-lit and populated areas, especially at night

People are often surprised when I tell them as a female solo traveler, I go out at night. I take overnight trains and buses.  It’s certainly open to potential hazards, so I take stronger precautions regarding my safety. With my night activities,  I crank my alert on high. I make myself ultra sensitive to the sounds of my environment and more observant of things around me. I scan my surroundings a lot. I’m make myself more aware of potentially dangerous zones and peoples’ proximity to me.

Avoid dark and unlit areas. Instead, go around them, avoiding any areas where you might be pulled into dark corners. Stay on the main street in well-lit zones.

Tip: Utilize trusted public transport options like Uber  for late-night journeys.

Simple objects can be used as weapons, like pens, keys or anything with a pointed tip. I hold it in my hand vs. keep it in my bag. If someone jumps me, I won’t have time to dig in my bag for it.  If I’m in an uncertain area, where I notice people watching me, I make it obvious that I’m carrying it. This is my way of letting potential attackers I’m guarded.

Check my Packing List for Solo Travel to see some extra safety devices I pack.

11. Use safe and reliable public transport

Research local bus, train, or tram schedules and stick to official routes and designated stops. Consider purchasing travel cards for convenient and affordable access. These days, rideshare apps feel safer, especially when you can track them and review your driver.

Tip: Download metro and rideshare apps before your trip, so you have options and maps at your fingertips. Large maps look obvious but virtually everyone looks at their mobile phone these days.

12. Avoid appearing distracted when walking

Navigating bustling streets of New York, Delhi or Saigon, you want eyes sharp and senses tuned in.

Walking with headphones or while looking at your phones limits you from being fully tuned into what’s going on around you and it shows in your body language too. This dulls your abilities to react to traffic, pickpocket and crowds. Avoid walking in near dark corners or near non-descript vans where you can easily be pulled in.

13.  Hold Valuables Close to your Body

Being street smart traveler means you know the potential risks that abound in your environment and how to counter it with preventative safety measures. 

Thieves and pickpockets always search for the most vulnerable target. Usually these are travelers who aren’t paying attention and leave their belonging unattended. Holding your valuables and belongings close to you and in your center of gravity (vs dangling off the side or on the back of you), makes you a difficult target for thieves.  Read 27 Ways to Outsmart Thieves and Pickpockets

14. Wear a crossbody bag or hold your backpack to your front in crowded places

Walking into crowded public places such markets and metro trains can make you vulnerable to thieves and pickpockets, because there’s many distractions. Wearing a Baggallini Crossbody or Ameribag bag or holding your daypack in front of you, keeps your valuables in a central areas of your body that you can protect and are more aware about.

As I take a pickpocket proof Manfrotto camera daypack (ideal for female travel vloggers) with me, I always swivel my pack in front of me like a baby bump.  A thief will have to physically move my arm to get through me. When choosing between me and someone who looks distracted by their personal belongings, there will be no contest who they’ll choose.  Check out my list of fashionable cross-body anti-theft bags

Ameribag Classic Healthy Back bag
Ameribag Classic Healthy Back bag

15.  Walk with your hand over your camera or purse

I hear a lot about techniques where thieves snatch your bags off you from a motorbike. If i’m carrying a camera (or purse), I place a hand over my camera to outwardly indicate that you will need to grab my hand to get to my camera.

16. Carry safety devices to help you out in a pinch

In female street safety, the common devices you’ll hear women should carry are Mace or Pepper Spray, an emergency whistle or alarm keychain.

My roommate in New York and I used to both, carry pepper spray, as we had a criminal stalker at one point.  Remember to pack pepper spray in your suitcase with its safety lock on so it does not accidentally discharge spray. It is not permitted in an in-flight carryon and will be confiscated by TSA. Also, you cannot take tear gas on a plane. However, these days, I carry a alarm keychain when I travel as they can be packed in my carryon and I don’t have to worry about it.

Tip: Whichever you choose, keep them in accessible places. They cannot do their job if they are at the bottom of your purse.

personal alarm for women
personal alarm for women


17. Simple objects can be used as self defense weapons.

I also carry a small weapon, like a pen. I hold it in my hand vs. keep it in my bag. If someone jumps me, I won’t have time to dig in my bag for it.  If I’m in an uncertain area, where I notice people watching me, I make it obvious that I’m carrying it. I flash it around. This is my way of letting potential attackers or criminals know that I won’t be an easy victim to jump.

Check my Packing List for Solo Travel to see some extra safety devices I pack.

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18.  Act Confident (even if you’re not!)

It’s all in the attitude. Criminals target tourists who look distracted, lost, vulnerable and naive. Learn to develop your street smart look. I lived in New York for some time and if you look at an every day New Yorker, you’ll notice they have a  bold and confident stance. They look aware, focused and like they know exactly where they’re going. This is a look to develop. If you don’t have the confidence, fake it.

19.  Trust your Gut in the Moment

Always listen to your gut and intuition. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right. Trust that. As a solo traveler, reliant on the helpful strangers trusting your gut intuition is key. There are many good and helpful people out there, but there are some bad ones too. Your gut  is your radar that can help you sift them out.

20. 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.

 What are your Street Smart Safety Tips for Solo Travelers ? How do you stay safe while traveling solo?

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