I have traveled to 66 countries, whereas most of them I traveled to alone. And I’m a girl. I started traveling alone when I was 21 years old. I’m blonde and have blue eyes which catches attention in many parts of the world.
I’ve never been in any danger but I have sometimes trusted people too lightly and even though I have always been proved right, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. I’ve learned from my own choices but also being a girl, it’s imbedded in my veins to always be careful. I have put together a list of safety tips for girls traveling alone from my own experiences but also from reading about other female solo travellers unfortunate events. These tips can also be used if you are a guy traveling alone, or if you are more than one person. Tourists can often be especially vulnerable so be safe.
Get a local SIM-card
Always being able to call someone – a friend or for help is very important. And having data can help you research things to know you get the right information and also allow you to do the very important act in the next tips below
Follow your route on a map when you are in a taxi, über or other car
This way you can be alarmed if you can see they are going the wrong way. This saved a friends father from being kidnapped in China, as he could call for help before they drivers knew he had any idea they were taking him somewhere else. Also, if the drivers can tell someone is waiting or you, knows you are being in contact with someone in the car, they most likely will not take the risk. Abductors usually want to take low risk targets.
Don’t walk alone at night in areas with no people around
This would make it easy for an abductor/attacker to grab you or your purse without anyone around noticing. It’s better to take a cab even though it costs more money.
When walking alone, be allert
Abductors, robbers and attackers go after low risk persons and people they can take by surprise. Don’t walk alone with music in your ears, talking on the phone or check you instagram while walking alone as this will make you less observant and off guard.
Make copies of your documents
Passport, ticket numbers, reservations, addresses, important phone numbers like for someone at home, local police, ambulance and your embassy in the country you’re going. Save copies both on dropbox or Google Drive so you can access it from anywhere, but also paper copies of the most important things that you might need if your phone battery dies and there are no phone or computer with data to borrow.
Look up your accomodation
There are many sites on which you can search and book accommodations through and on these there are most often reviews from other visitors. Read these! And don’t go for something with bad reviews especially if reviews on the safety is bad. This also goes for Airbnb and Coucsurfing. Look at the reviews and there has to be several of them, as it is easy to get a few good reviews from friends or fake accounts.
Make local friends
Having friends that are local, meeting them or just online is golden. They know more about the safety than guides from people who have just traveled there.
For all you ladies out there(this includes everyone who identifies as women) there is a group for girl who love to travel and this in not only a great way to get inspired by other ladies, but this community which is biggest on it’s Facebook group with over 300.000 members(!) it is also a great place to make friends, and a safe zone to ask for help or tips. There have been cases where a member or a friend of a member has been in trouble and through this group asking for help from someone near the area. Ex. someone who was in the hospital and needed blood or girls who have been attacked/robbed/are sick and has no friends or family near and through the group local hero ladies went to keep them company and be supportive. I have also made amazing friends through this group with meet ups or just meeting them alone and even gotten a place to stay(!)
This is a group for girls only. No men allowed as this is a safe zone for women to feel like they can be open about anything. It’s like a massive international sisterhood.
Apply for the group here
Wear a fake wedding ring
This only goes for some places, but if you wear a fake wedding ring and say you are married, you will be spared from some men hitting on you. Although – don’t wear an expensive looking one as you don’t want to seem like you have possessions worth enough to take the risk of robbing you.
With a small bag you’ll look more like you’re just out for a day trip and you won’t look as if you have all of your valuables with you. It also makes it easier taking the bag with you when you need to go to the bathroom and don’t have anyone to watch it for you.
Keep your money spread out in more than 1 place
If you do get mugged you can give them the money and show that you give them all you have, but they can’t know that you have more cash in other places. It might also be an idea to keep a fake wallet with very little cash but with some old receipts and old cards you don’t use so it looks like a real wallet and they will just think you’re poor af. Also keeping your credit cards in separate places if you have more than one, so if you get mugged you can still get money.
Some of these money you should keep in a place where no one would think to look. In a tampon packet, in an empty schampoo bottle, in a sock or somewhere that would not be of value toa robber.
Carry some sort of defence weapon
It could be hair spray, a loud sound alarm, key chain, knuckles or something else that is legal but still make you feel more safe.
Use extra lock on your door when you are inside
There have been cases where a staff member or a person who has managed to get a hold of a key to your room enter when you sleep either for assault or robbing. For the same reason, never identify as being alone in your room if someone knocks on your door.
If you travel on a budget and you feel uncomfortable sleeping in a room with men you don’t know, many of the hostels have female dorms that only allows women.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you feel uncomfortable, ask someone for help. If you walk up to someone or a group of friends saying “I feel unsafe because of xx” chances are they will help you or pretend to be your friends/boyfriend to allert potential predators. If you feel like someone in your hostel dorm makes you uncomfortable – ask to change room. Don’t be afraid to be annoying or thinking that you’ve getting paranoid. You should always get to feel safe.
Trust your gut
If something tells you something is off, chances are they are. Don’t wave off that bad feeling in the back of your neck of in your stomach. Listen to it and get out of the situation.
Say you are waiting for a friend or partner
If a stranger asks you if you are alone or comes up to you when you are alone, say that you are waiting for someone.
Avoid places and situations that involve alcohol or drugs
These are often situations when bad things happen as many people loose their self control and make bad decisions. And if you yourself is intoxicated and you are alone with no one making sure that you will make it back to your place safe, it might be better to save that drinking night to when you are with friends. If you really want to go out when alone, try to not drink or to drink as little as possible. You can have fun without getting drunk.
Don’t flaunt with expensive things
Giving the appearance of having a lot of money and valuable things make you a target. You don’t have to look like a bum, but don’t look a million bucks.
Keep your head up and look people in the face
A potential attacker might be discouraged if he knows you’ve seen his face and could identify him. This also gives the impression of you being confident and allert.
Take self defence courses or martial arts
Just enough so you can learn how and where to punch and kick. Not only will this help if you actually do get attacked, but you will feel safer in general which in itself is worth a lot.
Reading this might make the world seem like a dangerous place, but these are tips that women apply everywhere. This is our reality no matter where in the world we are. Even though this is our reality doesn’t mean we will let the fear stop us. We are strong, we have a right in this world and we damn right will take it.
What I have learned from traveling alone all over the world for several years is that humans are good. Most people are good. You will experience far more goodness in this world than bad if you travel.