Now more than ever women and girls are out there in the world, traveling alone.
I am a huge advocate for solo travel and love to take off on my own at any given opportunity, be it a domestic opportunity or an international one.
But as a female traveling alone you need to be savvy, street smart, and safety conscious.
Tips For Women Traveling Alone
1. Be Location Savvy.
Learn about your destination before you leave home.
This can mean learning about the city you are traveling to, the immediate area you are staying in, and when traveling abroad, the local customs. A little research can show you that to get from your conference to your hotel you have to pass through a bad area, or that there is no public transport near where you are staying. Learning about the local culture can prevent you from dressing in a manner that although acceptable where you live, could be offensive to the locals, or could invite unwanted attention.
Checking in with TripAdvisor can be enormously helpful, from finding great hotels to reading reviews about areas rife with pickpockets.
2. Be Transport Savvy
Research the local transport near where you are staying. You can normally find out how close the nearest subway/bus stop/ taxi stand is, how safe they are, if the subway has escalators, where you buy tickets – sometimes you have to purchase tickets from the tobacco shop around the corner or some other unusual or unexpected location, and whether or not you need to have the exact change on you etc.
If you are sightseeing find out what time the last bus leaves, and make sure you are at the bus stop in plenty of time to catch it.
If you will be driving take some time to look at local maps to see if you have one way systems to deal with, find out how to get from your hotel to the motorway, where is the nearest parking and is it safe.
You can view most places on google maps and actually look at the local streets. I’ve cancelled fantastic looking apartments or hotels after seeing the trash lined streets around them, or seeing that the immediate area didn’t look too safe.
3. Be Hotel Savvy.
Try to get a room that is near the elevators (no walking down long, dimly lit hallways), away from emergency exits and on a higher floor, in a hotel that has decent security.
Always use the deadbolt on your door, and never open the door to anyone you don’t know. Ideally you will have a peephole on the door and can check before opening it.
Don’t travel with any unnecessary valuables. Wearing flashy jewelry and diamonds can make you a target, both while you are out and about, and also can draw unwanted attention at your hotel.
4. Be ATM Savvy
It’s just basic street smarts. Plan any ATM activity ahead of time. Only use ATMs at, or preferably inside, banks during hours that the bank is open. Always be aware who is around you when you withdraw money.
5. Be Luggage Savvy
Weighing yourself down with bags is just asking for trouble. Pare down your packing and keep your luggage manageable. If you are buying new luggage look for something very lightweight with four 360 degree wheels so that it can roll upright and in any direction. Check that the telescopic handle raises to a comfortable and easily manageable height. (If the handle doesn’t raise high enough the suitcase becomes difficult to wrangle.)
6. Be Handbag Savvy.
Cross-body bags are fabulous for travel, freeing up your hands, and allowing you to keep your bag in front of you. It’s difficult to snatch a bag that is worn across the body, but a handheld bag is easy to grab.
Make sure your bag has a functional zipper, and keep it fastened. Pickpockets are adept at slipping their hands inside bags and lifting wallets and passports without you even knowing. You will likely feel a zipper being undone, or perhaps be a less inviting target if you have a closed, zippered, crossbody bag.
7. Be Document Savvy.
Make copies of important documents, such as passport and drivers licence, travel insurance, and emergency contact numbers. Leave a copy at home with a family member or friend you trust, and/or email yourself a password protected file. Should you lose your passport or have your credit cards stolen you will need copies of your documents.
8. Be Street Savvy.
Walk with confidence and act like you belong.
Check your street maps before you step outside – standing in the middle of the sidewalk looking at maps can make you look lost and vulnerable. If you need to consult your map step into a store or a cafe, or at least into a doorway.
Always be aware of your surroundings. If you turn onto a bad street, turn around and get back to the safer area.
Don’t pull cash or your wallet out in the street.
Know that pickpockets like to hang around the main tourist spots, train stations and other busy areas, so keep your handbag closed and keep your hand on it. Always keep your eyes and ears open.
9. Be Instinct Savvy.
Trust your instincts.
If an area feels unsafe, don’t go there.
If you think someone is following you, they probably are.
If you think someone is acting suspiciously, they probably are.
If a warning bell goes off in your head, listen to it.
10. Be Savvy.
Just be smart. Don’t be stupid.
And have fun.
Traveling alone is fantastic and fabulous. You will meet wonderful people, have tremendous experiences, have freedom to do what you want, when you want, have time to think, and come home stronger, more confident you.