As a female who occasionally travels solo, I’m often asked about safety. I hear comments like, You’re going alone? Is that safe? as well as a list of worse case scenarios. Exploring new places, even when they are in your own backyard, is an opportunity to take a break from the daily routine, meet new people and expand your mind.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― St. Augustine
Traveling with a companion has its own advantages but traveling solo allows you to experience a destination with a unique perspective. It’s a chance to meet interesting people and develop confidence. Read more about the advantages to solo travel here.
So how do you protect yourself when traveling, especially solo? Here are my top 10 tips for staying safe.
- Research your destination
Planning for a trip is almost as much fun as taking the trip!
Know where you are going. Are there parts of the city that are not safe after dark? Have a plan for where to stay. Read the reviews and safety ratings. I will only stay at Airbnb’s with multiple positive reviews. Figure out how you will get around. Will you have your car? Rent a car? Use Uber? Research these details a head of time and you’ll be less likely to be taken advantage of.
2. Be aware of walking alone at night
I love cities that are walkable, and exploring by foot allows you to get an up-close feel for a place. But after dark, especially if you are leaving the well-lit “central” areas, use an Uber, Lyft or taxi. Your safety is worth the extra few dollars!
3. Uber safety
Speaking of riding sharing, learn how to use Uber and Lyft safely. Make sure you understand the app before you request your first ride. Go inside to call your ride. Standing outside, especially in the dark, fumbling with your phone makes you a target. Be sure that your car and driver matches the description given on the app. Don’t enter the car unless your driver says your name. Sit in the backseat, especially if riding alone. This ensures that you can exit on either side of the car. I personally love Uber and use it frequently. Use your common sense and trust your intuition.
4. Watch Your alcohol
Traveling solo requires that you are paying attention to what is happening around you and listening to your intuition. Both are diminished with excessive alcohol and make you more vulnerable to others. This is true whether you are traveling or not, but is especially important when traveling alone. If you are going to drink, drink in moderation and know your limit. Be sure you are eating, drinking lots of water and never accept a drink from anyone other than a waiter or bartender.
5. Trust your instincts
You know that feeling that you get when something feels “off”. It may be a feeling of dread, a knot in your stomach, the hair standing up on the back of your neck. Whatever it is, listen to it. Women have a keen sense of intuition, which I believe is a gift from God. Don’t ignore it! I’ve heard many stories from women finding themselves in an unsafe or dangerous situation and most involved ignoring their intuition.
6. Walk confidently and with purpose
Attackers are looking for an easy target. They don’t want to have to “work”. Not being an easy target starts with situational awareness and not looking the part. Walk confidently and with purpose. Hold your head high and look people directly in the eyes. Even if you feel a little nervous, don’t show it.
7. Carry protection
Being equipped with personal protection products is an inexpensive and effective way to level the playing field. I always carry some sort of personal protection and make sure it is visible. Remember, an attacker is looking for an easy target. Walking confidently with a stun gun or pepper spray in your hand sends a loud, clear message. If you need it, it’s ready. The two products that I carry are a stun gun and pepper spray. You can learn more about these products and equip yourself with a stun gun and pepper spray here.
8. Protect your cash and cards
Realizing that your money is missing is always a scary thought, but when you are away from home it’s even more so. Be aware when you are in a crowded place. Use a cross body purse making it more difficult to grab. I carry the JANIE. Always look back when leaving a restaurant or bench to make sure you haven’t left anything behind. Having to retrace your steps is never fun. Only carry what you absolutely need. Leave other cards and documents at home. It’s a good idea to stash some cash in multiple places just in case you need it. Finally, with identify theft on the rise, always use an RFID wallet. An RFID wallet (Radio Frequency Identification) uses electromagnetic technology to prevent a chip reader(skimmer) to steal the information from your credit card. They come in different sizes and shapes. This is the wallet that I use and love.
9. Take walking tours
Walking tours are a great way to explore a city as a solo traveler. Not only are you safer in a group but you will meet other travelers and get the lay of the land. Evening and night tours often focus on local food, entertainment and history and provide a safe alternative to being out after dark in a new city.
10. Don’t feel bad about saying NO
One of the advantages of traveling solo is the opportunity to talk to new people and try new things. Despite that, never feel obligated to have a conversation or do anything that you don’t want to do. If the person striking up a conversation is not someone you want to talk to or the activity on the tour is not something you’re interested in, just say NO. No explanation needed.
Don’t be afraid to travel solo. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try it, even if it’s a day trip close to home. It is an empowering, introspective and often life-changing experience. Be aware, pay attention and follow a few basic safety tips and it just may be your best trip yet!
I’m a freelance writer and photographer living in SW Florida. I have a love of travel and photography. Living in Florida, my backyard is a travel destination with crystal clear water, beautiful beaches, quaint towns, and amazing wildlife. Wander with me…
Damsel Safety Trainer