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Solo travel is one of the best ways to build confidence. There’s something transformative about navigating the world alone… it builds confidence while helping travelers get a deeper appreciation of the world and their place in it. Although, I’m a family travel expert, my wanderlust was initially ignited by solo travel.
As a solo female traveler, I’ve picked up some important safety tips along the way. Here are my top 10 safety tips for solo female travelers:
[This post on Top Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers was originally published August 2019, and updated May 2022.]
1. Do Research About Your Destination
Research any local laws, customs, culture, religious restrictions, and body language behavior you should be aware of. Some things to research: How do the local women generally dress? What customs and/or body language are considered appropriate and inappropriate?
You should also check for travel warnings before entering any foreign country. Make sure you know where your home country’s embassy is located at your destination. Click here for the U.S. Embassy and Consulate List.
2. Memorize Emergency Numbers & Phrases
9-1-1 is not universal. Memorize the emergency contact number for the country you’re visiting. For instance, the emergency numbers in the United Kingdom are 1-1-2 and 9-9-9.
The U.S. State Department maintains a List of Emergency Numbers Abroad. You should also learn a few emergency phrases in the country’s language because the emergency operators may not speak English.
3. Register Your Trip with Your Government
You can use a registration program so that you can receive emergency alerts. Register your trip with the US State Department’s STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). That way, if anything pops off while you’re abroad (like a natural disaster, protest, or coup d’etat), you’ll get an alert.
4. Arrange for Your Initial Transfer from the Airport to the Hotel
I’m a frugal traveler and to save money I usually wait until I arrive at my destination to catch an Uber to my hotel or Airbnb. But when traveling alone, hopping into a vehicle with a stranger in another country can be nerve-wracking. So, it might be worth it to shell out extra cash to make arrangements for a transfer from the airport to the hotel in advance.
5. Exercise Hotel Safety
It’s easy to get comfortable once you get to your hotel. But it’s very important to exercise hotel safety as well. Here are my top safety tips for solo hotel stays:
- If the hotel staff says your room number out loud during the check-in process, ask for a new room and ask the hotel employee to write the room number down instead of saying it audibly.
- Don’t fill out a meal card and leave it on the door. That can indicate that you’re traveling alone. Call room service instead to place your order over the phone.
- Have your door key out and ready for use when you get off the elevator.
- Get a door stopper alarm. You can wedge it under your door while you sleep. If triggered, an audible alarm will sound.
6. Keep Your Head on a Swivel
Remain aware of your surroundings at all times. Although I love a great travel playlist, I never use over-the-ear cuffed headphones when I explore a new city on my own. When I use in-ear headphones or earbuds, I always keep the music low and one ear unplugged. You never want any of your senses compromised, when traveling solo. You need to be able to hear an alarm or someone walking up behind you.
7. Trust Your Instincts
In casual conversation, folks will ask general questions like: How are you? Where are you from? If questioned about where you are staying, don’t disclose that information. And never ever, ever, ever tell a stranger that you’re traveling alone. If asked if I’m traveling alone, I usually tell strangers that I’m meeting my husband, boyfriend or significant other shortly.
The common sense you use at home is the same common sense you need to use when traveling abroad alone. Don’t’ walk around by yourself late at night. Buddy up or venture out in groups. If you go out at night and plan on drinking, do not leave your drink unattended. ALWAYS trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, trust yourself!
8. Maintain Your Confidence or Fake It, Till You Make It
Try to always look confident. Keep your head up, shoulders back, and eyes straight ahead. If you get lost, slide into a nearby shop to look at your map discreetly or ask a shop employee for directions. If there aren’t any shops open, I generally look for a woman with children or with her family to ask directions.
9. Check-in with Family or Friends Regularly
Whether you call, text or use social media, check-in with friends or family periodically. Leave a copy of your general itinerary with someone you trust at home. That way, they’ll know your general schedule and where you’re slated to be on which dates.
10. Get Travel Insurance
For real, for real, get travel insurance! If something goes awry while you’re away, travel insurance will have you covered. There are a number of travel insurance companies out there. If you aren’t sure which one to choose, first check with your credit card company to see if any travel insurance is included with your card membership or you can use World Nomads. I used this company for my solo travel to Argentina and Antarctica and had an excellent experience.
Even though I put this list together for my fellow female travelers, these safety tips are good for every traveler.
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