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“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”
— Bertrand Russell
As a female who travels solo about 98% of the time, I’ve heard it all when it comes to my friends and family worried about my safety while travelling abroad.
“Don’t talk to strangers.”
“Are you sure you want to go alone?”
“Is there another friend that can go with you?”
“Make sure you watch your drinks.”
Read more: 5 Solo Travel Myths That Need To Be Debunked
Ok, ok…I get it. As much as I appreciate the concern for my well being while I go off on countless solo adventures, I guess it’s nice they care ;), there really isn’t anything that won’t deter me from wanting to travel alone. I even got stalked one night in Maastricht in the Netherlands and even after that, albeit one of the more frightening solo travel experiences that I’ve had, I still prefer to travel solo.
I’ve been to many countries solo and even travelled across the world alone to India and South Africa and have never really felt afraid for my safety (other than that time in Maastricht *eye roll*), so I feel I’m a pretty good source to help my fellow female travel lovers how they can help build confidence to conquer their own solo journey.
Read more: Top Mistakes First Time Solo Travellers Make
Although I find that solo travel is safe, I’m going to just flat out say what I and most people know to be true…female solo travellers have to worry about their safety WAY more than our male counterparts, so to help you ladies out, here are some of my tried and some tested, safety tips for solo female global wanderers.
Read more: What Solo Travel Has Taught Me
While wandering around a new city in a foreign country, you may be tempted to throw some headphones on to listen to some music while you stroll around. I like listening to music just as much as the next person, but while walking around alone, I never wear headphones. I want to make sure I can hear things around me like traffic, or approaching footsteps, so I don’t become distracted and put myself in a vulnerable situation by wearing them while alone. Save the headphones for the plane, bus ride, or train ride instead.
Keep Your Valuables Hidden
Are you the type of traveller that carries their camera around their neck while walking around town while holding your brand new phone in your hand? You should probably stop doing that. The last thing you want is unwanted attention while being a solo female traveller. Pickpockets and thieves look for people, mostly tourists, that flash their equipment and valuables, which then make you an easy target for them. They know that you have valuable items on you, so by flashing your things freely and openly, you’re not doing yourself any favours. Keep your camera hidden and only take it out if you are taking photos. Plus you look like a huge nerd carrying it around your neck. Just being honest. 😉
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
It’s so important to know where you are going and to know what’s going on around you at all times. When I was being followed in Maastricht one night, I noticed a man staring at me and when I noticed him, I knew to keep my eye on him. When I moved to another part of the town square, he followed. When I started to walk to my hotel, I noticed he took every turn that I did. When I started to walk faster, so did he. I took a right, so would he. I knew I was being followed and I was prepared for the worst at that point. I knew my way around the town already and when I saw a coffee shop that was closing up, I walked right up to the girls and said “HEY,” as if I knew them. I told them what was happening and they took me indoors immediately. The loser was waiting for me outside of the building and when he noticed that we all noticed him, he ran away. I was then offered a drive back to my hotel by one of the girl’s boyfriend, which I happily accepted. If I wasn’t aware of my surroundings and didn’t think quickly, that could’ve ended way worse.
Read more: A City Guide To Maastricht, Netherlands
Avoid Travelling At Night
Whether if arriving by plane, train, bus, or car, whenever I travel solo, I like to arrive in an unfamiliar city during the daylight hours. It’s safer, there’s more people on the street and if you don’t know where you’re going when you arrive, you’re less likely to be a target by fiddling around with a map, or your phone.
Be Savvy On Social Media
You’re on a trip to Europe and you are staying in the absolute cutest hotel with the cutest room and in the cutest area of town. Everything is just so damn cute and you just want to share it with your social media followers as soon as you arrive. Stop! Sharing things to social media and especially precisely geotagging your location while you are travelling solo may not be the smartest thing to do. You never know who is watching your feed, so try not to upload in real time. I usually upload photos at the end of the day, or after I’ve left a location, such as a hotel, or tourist attraction just to be a safe savvy social media ninja.
Read more: 6 Ways Travelling Will Change You
Tell Your Hotel What You’re Up To
Now, you don’t need to become BFFs with your hotel staff and tell them your day to day plan, but if you are planning on heading out alone, it may be a good idea just to give them a heads up about what you plan on doing, or where you plan on going for the day just in case something were to happen to you. When I came back to my hotel in Maastricht after being followed that night, I made sure to tell my hotel receptionist just in case someone was seen hanging around. They made note of it and were genuinely concerned and glad that I told them.
Tell Your Family & Friends Your Plans
This is a huge solo traveller faux pas. Regardless of the country you are going to, or the length of time you’re away for, you should always, always, always share your travel plans with a close relative, or a close friend back home. Even if your plans change slightly, just a quick email saying you’ll be staying the night in this city tomorrow rather than that city, could be valuable information. If something were to happen to you overseas, it’d be a lot less nerve wracking trying to figure out your whereabouts if someone knew your city and hotel location on a certain date, rather than just the country you are visiting.
Read more: How To Create The Perfect Travel Itinerary
Stay Alert & Look Confident
Hold your head up high when you walk around. Occasionally make eye contact with locals. Put down your phone and don’t you dare bust out that massive guide book. Nothing screams, “Help, I’m lost and have no idea what I’m doing,” more than busting out those books. I admit, I buy them and I bring them with me on my travels, but I never take it out while walking around town. Do your research before leaving your hotel and if you absolutely need to take it out, duck into a coffee shop and gather your info, or directions. When I first get into a new town, I don’t know where I’m going, but I make sure to stay alert and walk around like I know exactly where I’m heading. Walking with determination and looking like you know where you are going, even if you don’t, will make you look confident as hell and like a total boss.
Know When To Say “NO” Firmly
As a solo female tourist, you might feel the need to be as nice to the locals as possible to show respect. Don’t worry, I’m guilty of doing this too. What I’m not guilty of doing is being fearful about coming off as that “bitch,” or “asshole tourist” by firmly saying “NO” when I don’t feel comfortable, or if I’m being hassled by locals following me around trying to get me to buy something. The first couple of times, I will say “no thank you” in a nice and calm manor, but as soon as I start getting hassled continuously, or have a hand put on my shoulder to turn me around (it happened in India to me and I was with a group at the time), I will spin around and definitely have no problems stating “NO” in a less than nice way. Don’t be afraid if you are alone because showing that you have confidence and are not a meek and fragile female will get the point across that you mean what you said.
Carry Copies Of Your Important Documents
Printing out paper copies of your travel documents, flight itinerary and other necessary papers may not seem very environmentally friendly, but trust me when I say this: Always print your travel documents. If for some reason trouble arises and your bag, or purse gets stolen, you won’t have to worry about a lost passport and having to deal with contacting your country’s embassy.
Read more: Mistakes To Avoid While Travelling
Don’t Feel Fear, Just GO!
FEAR, or False Evidence Appearing Real, will hold you back and crush your dreams of exploring the world. People say I am brave and have no fear about travelling alone, which isn’t necessarily true, but I don’t let fear consume my thoughts. Having fear will stop you from building confidence, stop you from mustering up the courage and the strength to just go and do the things you want to do, or go places you have always wanted to see. The best way to get over fear is just to look at it straight on and conquer it. Live your life to the fullest and book the trip and just GO! You will not regret it! I promise you.
Read more: The Trip That Opened My Eyes To Solo Travel
Read more: How To Stay Safe As A Solo Traveller
If you’ve always wanted to embark on a solo trip, but feel afraid for your safety, worried you’ll get lonely, get homesick, or have family and friends filling your head with doubts, you’ll never get over your fears, doubts and what ifs, if you don’t just try it. You may surprise yourself and prefer solo travel over travelling with others. You’ll gain way more positives out of travelling solo than negatives, so what are you waiting for? Book that trip, head out on your own and see what solo travel has to offer you. Remember, courage doesn’t mean that you never get scared, but courage is when you don’t let fear get in your way of doing what you want to do.
Read more: Why I Love Solo Travel
If you’ve never travelled solo as a female, what is stopping you from going? I know many women who want to try travelling alone, but they never have yet. Let me know in the comments below what it is exactly that is holding you back. xo