We know that solo travel is becoming ever more important and popular for women; it’s an opportunity to meet new people, have exciting experiences and discover more about yourself and the world around you. However, travelling alone for anyone can be a scary concept for anyone, especially women.
So, we at Expedia, to encourage you to get out there and explore the world but stay as safe as possible, have created a list of our top 10 tips for women travelling alone.
Travel Tips for Women Travelling Alone
1. Do Your Research!
Preparation is the key to success! Or safety in this case. We cannot emphasis enough how important the research you undertake before or during your trip is.
User review sites are really useful when looking for advice on where to stay; not only will they tell you about the hotel/hostel/apartment, but usually you’ll get some insight into the surrounding areas from people who have been there. This can mean the difference between staying in a shady area where you’re afraid to go outside or an comfortable place full of like-minded travellers and friendly staff.
This research should extend beyond specific hotels or areas, and you should strongly consider looking up destinations that other travellers have regarded as being safe for women to travel around alone. There are lots of options. For example Scandinavian countries, Ireland and New Zealand are known for their safety, as well as cities like Verona (Italy), Hilo or Oahu (Hawaii) and Amsterdam (Netherlands), just to name a few.
2. Frequently Update Someone on Your Whereabouts
Whether it is your mum, dad, brother, sister, friend etc. always keep someone informed of your movements. Even if you’re just popping out to the shop for five minutes, tell someone! It might seem as though you will be annoying them, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.
For additional safety, share your pre-planned itinerary (if you have one) with someone, in case your travels take you somewhere that Wi-Fi or phone signal cannot reach.
Or another option could be to schedule a regular call time with a friend or family member, where you can check-in and they can rest assured!
3. Carry A Whistle or Personal Alarm
In the hopefully unlikely event that you do find yourself in a less than comfortable or safe situation, having a personal device to attract attention of passers-by can be a life saver. Additionally, learn how to say the words ‘fire’ or ‘help’ in the language of the country you are visiting; bystanders are more likely to respond to this sort of distress call than general shouting or screaming.
4. Be Smart with Your Smartphone
We’re lucky that these days everything we need for getting around is in the palm of our hands. If you’re going to be using taxis then be wise, take a picture of the number plate that you’re in and share it with a family member or friend.
If a driver tries to (or sadly manages to) steal your possessions then you’ll be able to report them to the police more efficiently. Additionally, you can check the route of your journey on a Map App, to make sure you’re not being taken the wrong way.
Investing in a foreign phone plan is a great idea, but ensuring your current plan allows for phone and Internet usage abroad is a must.
5. Give the Impression You Are Not Alone
It might seem obvious, but never tell anyone you are alone. Also, avoid giving the impression you’re alone, for example if you order room service, shout out to a friend saying “food is here!”
Don’t be afraid to make a fake call, pretend to be telling your ‘friend’ that you are on your way to meet them, or update them on your whereabouts.
6. Make Copies of Important Documents
We don’t mean just physical copies, but take pictures of them all and store them on a secure online server, such as Dropbox, that can be accessed from any computer. If any of your documents are stolen or get lost, this is a sure way of helping your Embassy allocate new ones for you so that you are able to continue on your travels and/or get home.
7. Keep a Cash Stash
If you’re travelling alone, there is no option to borrow money from friends in case of an emergency. Have an extra, hidden supply of cash that you can easily access in case of an emergency. This is a sure way of ensuring that if your money or cards are stolen then you will not be left completely stranded.
Tips for hiding spare cash, beyond ensuring it is always locked away, is putting it at the bottom of a box of tampons or an empty shampoo bottle, or if you’re in a private hotel room try inside a zipped cushion or shower rod.
8. Don’t Trust People Too Quickly
We’re not saying stay on your own the whole time and don’t make any friends, we’re just saying be wary. There are a lot of like-minded solo travellers and friendly locals out there, but not all of their intentions are as fun-filled and honest as yours.
Women travelling alone should try to avoid going down anywhere too remote or hidden, whether alone or with very new acquaintances. It’s hard to put this in stone as you are naturally more outgoing when you travel. But just keep your head on. Feel free to ask others who are staying in the same accommodation about your new friend (especially if you’re in a hostel).
If necessary, social media is one tool you can use to check up on someone – especially in this day and age when most young people have Facebook and will happily exchange details.
Finally, trust your instincts, if something seems peculiar, strange or weird about someone, you can walk away. Always remove yourself from uncomfortable situations as quickly and quietly as possible.
9. Blend In
This seems quite obvious, but sometimes we don’t realise we’re doing it. Whilst, in some cases it may be unavoidable, try and blend in as much as you can. This can include dressing in a similar way to other women around you, not walking around with your camera around your neck or your nose pressed into a map.
10. Be Smart
You’ve made the super-smart decision to explore the world, now just make sure that intelligence extends to your everyday life during your travels. Just general common-sense including: not going down dark alleys on your own or with strangers, knowing where your embassies or police stations are, always locking away your things, asking taxi drivers for credentials and be observant to the world and goings-on around you.
Bearing this in mind will help you have the most amazing trip possible, and if you need anymore encouragement or reassurance about why travelling is the one for you, look at our article about how experiences make you richer for life.