There’s no excuse for a woman traveler not to hit the road solo. Solo travel can be extremely rewarding, as well as liberating. This is a great time for introspection and reconnecting with yourself. When you’re traveling on your own, there’s no need to make compromises on travel schedules and itineraries or even restaurant choices, as you get to make all the decisions. It’s also easier to make new friends, as a solo traveler is more approachable than a couple, or group of travelers.
However, in some countries, a lone female traveler can be seen as an oddity and object of curiosity. For this reason, a woman traveling on her own can attract unwanted attention and can be considered to be an easy target, so a few precautions are necessary. Some common sense and basic safety precautions can go a long way to staying safe while on the road and making a solo trip enjoyable.
Here are 10 useful safety tips for the solo woman traveler:
- Do your research before you arrive in a new place so you know what to expect. How far is the city center from the airport or train station? What are the transportation options available? Which areas of the city are considered unsafe? What are the local customs when it comes to dress and attitudes towards women?
- Make sure you know where you’re staying before you arrive in a new city. If you haven’t been able to book accommodation in advance, find a place to stay before dark. Plan to arrive in the morning or during the day so that you won’t have to wander the streets at night looking for a room.
- Leave a copy of your itinerary, hotel details, passport, visas and credit cards with a friend or family member at home. Make note of your bank’s emergency help line for lost or stolen cards. Leave any valuables in the hotel safe while you’re out seeing the sights.
- Don’t hesitate to ask to change hotel rooms or floors if you don’t feel safe or comfortable because of loud or indiscreet neighbors. Ask to see a hotel room before taking it and check to see it’s generally secure and the door looks properly. Some hotels have dedicated women-only floors offering extra security – as well as a few extra amenities thrown in designed with women in mind so this option may be worth considering.
- Before answering a knock at the door, ask who’s there. Call the reception desk if you’re not sure who’s on the other side of the door. Use the “Do Not Disturb” sign for added privacy.
- Don’t tell anyone you’re traveling alone. Say that you’ve come to visit a friend or that you’re accompanying your husband on a business trip.
- Use the hotel bell desk to book a taxi so that there’s a record of your name, pick up location and destination. If you’re using an external taxi company, leave the name of the company at the reception desk with details of when you plan to return to the hotel. Only use licensed cabs.
- When exploring isolated areas, find someone to accompany you, preferably a fellow woman traveler or a family.
- Be sensitive to social norms and customs and dress accordingly. Don’t draw attention to yourself through the way you dress. Realize that bare shoulders can be considered inappropriate in some cultures even if this seems absurd to you. It’s not about having the right to wear what you want but respecting local sensibilities.
- Look and act confident and walk like you know where you’re going. Just like you would at home, use your common sense and most importantly, trust your instincts. They’re usually right!