If you have been on a solo trip, or even brought up the idea of going on one, then I am sure you are familiar with the ‘world is a scary place’ comments that come with the idea of solo travel. They’re not wrong either. The world can be a scary place and unfortunately bad people do exist. That shouldn’t stop you from living a full life and exploring the world around you though, and while you can’t stop bad things from happening, you can reduce their likelihood with this seriously awesome guide full of tips on how to stay safe as a solo female traveler.
How to Stay Safe as a Solo Female Traveler
Learn to kick ass
Before your trip, start taking self defense classes. I used to do Krav Maga and I cannot recommend it enough. Krav Maga teaches you how to defend yourself against real world situations, for example someone trying to punch you in the head as opposed to a spinning back kick that you would learn in other martial arts. The techniques used harness a persons natural instinct which is why it is so beneficial. If you can’t find a Krav Maga club near you then investing in any self defense classes is a worthwhile idea for solo travelers.
Invest in your safety
Simply put, traveling costs money and your safety is the most important investment when it comes to your travel costs. The example that comes to mind as I write this is the two backpackers who slept in their parked car in Alice Springs in 2012 only to be woken up at gunpoint by a group of men who subsequently took turns raping both women. Don’t put yourself in situations like this just to save a little money. Book yourself a room somewhere, pay for a taxi if you are out late instead of walking and if you can’t afford to travel, then don’t travel.
Tell someone your whereabouts
This one can be quite tricky for me at times because I prefer to roam, especially on free days when I am exploring. Still, I do always like someone to know my general plan for the day and how long I anticipate being out just so that someone is tracking my whereabouts, albeit loosely. It only takes a minute to message someone before I go out for the day and then check in again when I return, so it doesn’t interfere with my plans and helps to have at least one person know my whereabouts in case of emergency.
Walk with purpose
How you hold yourself sends a clear message to people around you so it’s important to be mindful of the message you are sending out. Whether we like it or not, people are watching and people with ill-intent are more often than not looking for easy targets. Come on why would they make their task harder than it needs to be? While you are traveling solo, walk with a poker face of confidence as if you know exactly what you are doing and where you are going, even if you are lost and trying to get your bearings.
Don’t look too touristy
This goes with the above point of what message you are displaying through your behavior. Try to blend in a little and avoid the obvious tourist look. If you are lost, stop in to a coffee shop to grab a drink, look at your map and ask the staff for directions if you need, instead of standing out in the street with your big map out which basically places a sign on your head that says ‘easy target’.
Common mother-flippin sense
Have you ever seen a scary movie where the soon to be victim makes a stupid decision and puts themselves in danger for no good reason? Don’t be that person. Part of keeping yourself as safe as possible while traveling solo comes down to using your common sense. Don’t put yourself in high risk, compromising situations such as walking the streets in the early hours of the morning, going back to a strangers house, walking in shady areas of town or empty side alleys, and, by all means have some fun, but never get drunk.
Wear comfortable shoes and comfortable clothes
When I worked for corrections I remember going to do my first home visit to a parolee and one of my co-workers valuable pieces of advice was ‘wear shoes you can run in, just in case’. I have always kept that in mind when traveling because worst case scenario, if someone is chasing you, you won’t be able to outrun them in high heels that have already been giving you pain for a couple of hours, or if you have to use those self defense skills you have been learning, they would be quite hard in a skin tight, restrictive skirt. These are also things that make you look like an easy target so keep your outfit choices as practical as they are fashionable.
Be aware of your surroundings
One of the biggest lessons in Krav Maga was avoidance. The self defense skills are taught as a last resort and the first principle is to make all efforts to avoid the situation in the first place. For example, if you are walking down the street and there looks to be a shady group of people walking up the street towards you, your first step should be to cross to the other side of the street, or go into one of the local businesses to avoid that situation turning into one where you have to defend yourself. You can’t notice your surroundings though if you are looking down at your screen or listening to loud music in your headphones so ditch the distractions as much as possible while you are out and about and pay attention.
Trust your gut
Above all else, and more important than any other advice, listen to that little voice inside you and that little feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you when something is a bad idea. If your spidey senses start tingling, then listen to them.
If you have any more trips on how to stay safe as a solo female traveler please share them with us in the comments below.