Alright ladies, it’s your time to shine! As a long-term female solo traveller myself, I understand what it means to balance a fun time with a safe time. That is, without travel becoming a worrisome drag!
Here are some safety tips for female solo travellers that I’ve found useful over the years.
The 17 Safety Tips are...
- 1. Stay in a hostel & female only dorm
- 2. Sightsee with hostel roommates
- 3. Let someone know your movements
- 4. Jot down your hostel address
- 5. Be vigilant about the hostel location
- 6. Avoid travel by night
- 7. Trust your gut instinct
- 8. Be aware of your surroundings
- 9. Leave your valuables at the hostel
- 10. Stay connected
- 11. Make copies of your travel documents
- 12. Talk to the hostel staff
- 13. Explore with confidence
- 14. Book your 1st night stay in advance
- 15. Know your limits
- 16. Get some travel insurance
- 17. Lie if you have to
1. Stay in a hostel & female only dorm
Hostels are wonderful for the female solo traveller - social, cheap and safe. Plus, these days many hostels offer female only dorms that have been designed with women in mind.
If you want to stay in a social accommodation but don’t feel comfortable sharing a room with guys, choose a female only dorm! It’s also a perfect way to meet other women so you’re not so solo anymore.
2. Sightsee with hostel roommates
Another bonus of staying in a hostel is the ease it offers in meeting new people. Why not then suggest exploring the area together? Everyone knows there is safety in numbers, especially during the evening.
3. Let someone know your movements
It’s a smart idea to keep close family and friends in the loop about your movements. Obviously this can get tedious so no need to go over the top. Perhaps just focus on big movements such as travel between cities or countries.
Tip: Letting the hostel staff know of your intentions for the day and the time you intend on heading back is also a good idea. Say for example if you’re going on a big hike by yourself or somewhere without a phone signal.
4. Jot down your hostel address
Try not to rely too heavily on your phone! In most cases it’s fine, but there’s always a chance you might lose or break your phone in an unfamiliar place and end up lost. So, jot down the address of your hostel on a piece of paper and keep it in your purse/bag. Whilst you’re at it, add important phone numbers to the list.
I dropped my phone just before boarding a local bus in China and didn’t realise until I went to check my maps to see where I was in relation to the train station. It was a terrifying moment! No one on the bus spoke English and I had to rely solely on my foggy memory of where I was. Luckily my survival instincts kicked in to high alert and I recognised a street sign just in time to rush off the bus as it passed the station. Phew!
5. Be vigilant about the hostel location
Before you book your hostel, always take some time to read reviews and see what people have to say about the location. This will help you to avoid dodgy areas of a city, and could determine greatly how far you have to travel to reach sights, nightlife etc. Also, this will help to give you an idea of the atmosphere - is it a quiet neighborhood or right in the bustle of the city centre?
A central, safe location is just one of 11 Things that Make a Great Hostel.
6. Avoid travel by night
In general, travelling between destinations during the day is a lot safer and less disorientating. Whilst taking a night bus can be fun, if you’re travelling solo you’re more of a target as you’ll have all your belongings on you. Again, this is situation dependent and requires your own self responsibility to judge which situations to avoid. Night busses in Asia may pose more of a safety issue than a sleeper train in the UK, for example.
7. Trust your gut instinct
As a woman, the gift of gut instinct and intuition is strong and powerful - don’t ignore it! Have a bad feeling about a seemingly friendly person offering you a ride? Don’t take it. Think you’re being scammed? Walk away. Unsure about your roommates intentions? Request to switch rooms.
Travel offers up consistent tests and challenges, so it’s important to trust yourself, especially when you’re travelling alone.
Tip: Kindly refuse an offer in a polite manner without giving the impression that it’s something personal. Don’t ever feel like you need to explain yourself, either.
8. Be aware of your surroundings
It’s a good idea to remain vigilant whilst you’re walking around a new city or taking public transport. Pickpockets may well be looking for their next target, so without getting crazy about it, just be aware of your surroundings when you’re new to an area.
Tip: Avoid using earphones as these can dull out your immediate surroundings and focus.
9. Leave your valuables at the hostel
Once you’ve checked in, take advantage of safety lockers (or reception) to store your valuables. This includes your passport, travel documents, credit cards, laptop, spare cash etc. Only take with you what is absolutely necessary for the day. For example, if you’re heading to the beach to surf, you definitely don’t need to take your laptop! That way you can relax more and enjoy your trip.
10. Stay connected
It’s a good idea to get a local SIM card if the one you have at home does not connect overseas. That way, even when you’re not in WiFi coverage, you always have access to cheaper data and calls should you get into any kind of trouble.
Recommended: Put your phone away! Keep it on you, sure, but don’t let your trip become about religiously staring through a screen.
11. Make copies of your travel documents
Absolutely recommended and not worth ignoring! Make sure you make a photocopy of the important pages of your passport, your travel documents (transport & accommodation reservations), visa, driving license and anything else that’s required for the particular destination you’re visiting.
If you lose your passport a new one can be sorted out much, much faster and simpler if you have proof of identity.
Go one step further: Send a digital copy of all of these documents to your email address.
12. Talk to the hostel staff
Hostel staff, or any accommodation staff for that matter, are usually (and should be) excellent in their local knowledge. Speak to them about any safety concerns worth knowing - do this when you first arrive so you’re ahead of the game.
13. Explore with confidence
Confidence goes a long way in life, and it’s no exception when you’re travelling solo. So, even if you realise you’re lost or you missed your stop, don’t let your confidence falter! Walk with confidence, talk with confidence and be confident in your independence and courage to travel solo. You’re awesome.
Confident women are certainly much less of a target for opportunists, too.
14. Book your 1st night stay in advance
Arriving in a new place can be overwhelming and disorientating for anyone. So! Do yourself a favour and book your first and/or second night stay in advance. That way, you can write down the address and head straight to your accommodation before you do anything else. We suggest 1-2 nights because then that gives you flexibility in changing hostels (once you’ve got your bearings) if it’s not quite what you expected.
Read: When to Book Hostels? For Spontaneous Souls & Pre-Planners
15. Know your limits
In order to stay alert, healthy, happy and safe on your travels; know your limits! Here what we’re really pointing to is...
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating well & following your preferred diet
- Knowing when enough alcohol/partying is enough
- Taking time for yourself
Once your body and mind is run down, it’s easier to make mistakes, miss flights, get sick….the list goes on. So please, look after yourselves out there in the big wide world.
Also: It’s super easy to get caught up with socialising that you forget to do things for yourself like journal, nap or take time for your wellness routine (yoga, meditation etc). In my experience, the happier I am in myself, the better company I am for others.
16. Get some travel insurance
Yawn! Yeah yeah, I know. But honestly, travel insurance is a very wise idea as a female solo traveller. No one likes falling sick on a normal day, let alone when you’re travelling alone in an unfamiliar place with no friends and family close by.
Top tip: Check what health services you are eligible for in the country you’re travelling to before purchasing travel insurance. For instance, as a UK citizen, I haven’t had to worry when travelling to other commonwealth countries like New Zealand and Australia because the health system and its benefits are interconnected.
17. Lie if you have to
If you’re ever approached by a sketchy character, prepare to lie your ass off! Particularly if questions such as “where are you going?” or “where are you staying?” or a definite alarm bell question; “are you travelling alone?” - stand strong in giving false information.
Of course, this is situation dependent and is where your gut instinct comes in handy.
For example, you’re likely to be less careful if it’s a fellow hostel goer asking you questions. But a random creepy guy on a local bus? Nah… not worth the risk. In this case, your boyfriend is meeting you off the bus for a surprise date and you’ve forgotten the hotel name.
Alright ladies, there you have it! These tips stand to be the most helpful in staying safe on your travels without turning the experience into a worrisome drag. 99.99% of the time nothing out of the ordinary will happen, but it's always good to stay vigilant and take these straight-forward precautions to avoid unwanted mishaps.
Before you set off, check out our handy packing guide that's perfect for female solo travellers.
Female solo travellers, we salute you!