As a female solo traveller who’s been to over 20 countries, I definitely picked up some important travel safety tips along the way. Below are some of my best safety tips, however, they shouldn’t be considered as your sole preparation guide and I strongly recommend you always do your own additional research as well!
Here are some of my best safety tips as a female solo traveller:
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1. Do your research and blend in with the locals!
Always remember to do your due diligence and research any customs, laws, religious restrictions and/or travel warnings before entering any foreign country. Do you know where your Embassy is located at your destination?
TIP: Many countries have a travel tracking app or registration program that you can sign up to receive emergency alerts.
Learn about the culture, religion and try to memorize some basic words in the local language. Other important things to research and take into consideration are: How do the locals dress? What type of attire do they generally wear? What are some customs that are considered both appropriate and inappropriate? Are there any body language behaviours I should be aware of? What I exactly mean by this is, if you’re a naturally outgoing and friendly person, some cultures may see this as a sign of flirtation and it may draw some unwanted attention. Many women opt to wear a fake wedding ring, carry a picture of a male and children and tell locals they are travelling with their partner.
2. You don’t need to tell everyone that you’re travelling solo!
The first few questions I often get asked as a solo traveller are: Where are you from? Who are you travelling with? Where are you staying at? What brought you to this particular city? I tell strangers that I’m travelling with a group of people (and/or with my husband) and we are currently exploring different parts of the city and plan to meet up shortly. Use your gut instincts and good judgement to get a feel for any new people you meet, until then it’s up to you as to whether you want to let them know you’re travelling solo or not, but I suggest saying you’re with a group or at least one other person to keep yourself safe.
Be mindful when tagging on social media, especially in real time when travelling solo. If you must post in real time, I suggest tagging a general location instead of the exact place you’re currently at. For example, instead of tagging the hotel that you’re in, you can tag the city and/or country instead. You just never know who’s looking at your page. Just because someone isn’t a follower on your account, doesn’t mean they’re not snooping around on your page. I always like to post a photo and tag the exact location once I’ve checked out or when I’m in transit to my next destination. If you’re being sponsored by hotels, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you let them know that you’ll be posting photos and reviews after you’ve checked out as a safety precaution!
4. Carry money in a dummy wallet.
Carry a dummy wallet with “toy” currency. For example, in Canada, we have Canadian Tire money. It does not have any “real” value, it is a loyalty program operated by the Canadian Tire chain. It consists of coupons issued by the company, which resemble real banknotes. Carry a few dollars in a dummy wallet, it’s always better to be safe and prepared especially when you’re travelling solo, you never know what can happen!
5. Don’t flaunt or wear flashy brands
I like to blend in as much as I can, so that means no flashy labels on my clothes, bags, and camera equipment including my camera strap! I swapped my flashy Sony one for a plain anti-theft camera strap that’s even slash-proof! Put a small piece of black masking tape over the label on your camera, so people won’t be able to recognize the brand of the camera from a far distance. Keep your attire simple and carry your valuables close to you!
6. Always check in with friends or family about your whereabouts.
Establish a regular call/contact pattern with someone at home who will act if you miss a call time frame. I know this can be troublesome at times, you’re on a trip and you want to enjoy being away from home but it doesn’t hurt to check in with your family and friends to let them know that you’re ok! Leave a copy of your itinerary at home before you leave, or if you don’t like to plan ahead, make sure to send details of your next destination and where you’ll be staying at as soon as you find out. I even sometimes like to send photos of any new friends I’ve made along the way as well!
7. Keep extra photocopies of your travel documents
Always keep documentation and multiple copies in separate locations. I personally keep copies of each document in different areas: 1) physical photocopies 2) a digital copy in my emails 3) screenshot copy on my mobile phone. Never ever take your actual passport with you when exploring, keep it locked up in a safe place and always carry the photocopied one instead!
8. Keep a list of all contacts (including local emergency contacts)
Store phone numbers of all important contacts (your Embassy, family, friends, taxi, travel insurance, etc.) including emergency numbers (police, ambulance, etc.) of the city you’re in. If I’m volunteering, I store the contacts numbers of all the co-ordinators and volunteers on my phone as well.
9. Use your instincts & don’t walk around late at night by yourself!
Partner up or travel in groups when it gets dark and make sure to check up on each other throughout the night, especially if you decide to go out and experience the nightlife. If you plan on drinking, make sure to never leave your drinks unattended and look out for one another! As with all situations, always trust your intuition, if something doesn’t feel right, then listen to yourself! Your body picks up on vibes and sometimes figures things out faster than your mind.
Not sure how to meet people while travelling? Read: “Table for One: 9 Tips for Eating Out Alone from a Solo Traveller“, and scroll down to #7!
10. Get Travel Insurance
Make sure to get travel insurance! Write down or print out your insurance policy information and make sure you know exactly what you’re covered for. Remember to carry both your policy number and the phone number of your insurance company with you in case something happens. If you ever need to seek medical attention, you will need these two important pieces of information before getting treated to get approval for coverage. If you don’t know which insurance company to sign with, check with your credit card companies first to see if any travel coverage is included or you can use World Nomads, the insurance company I used on all my solo travels to date. Below is a tool to help you find quotes for your destination.
11. Pack locks
Pack at least two locks: one for your luggage and one in case you need it for a locker. Depending on where you’ll be staying (hotel, volunteer house, hostel, or homestay) you may or may not even need it at all. Carry an extra lock with you anyways, you’ll never know when it’ll come in handy. and buying a lock overseas can be more expensive than you think!
If you need further information on safety tips to add-on to your own research, download my 14-page in-depth global safety travel risk assessment report (click on the banner above). This research was paid out of my own pocket to ensure you have FREE access to quality information that can serve as a reference guide for all types of travellers (and especially for female solo travellers).