I receive requests for interviews just about every week. And, more often than not, the interviewer wants to focus on solo female travel.
Is it because
- I’m a woman
- More women than men seem to travel solo
- Women are seen as vulnerable and men aren’t?
It’s likely a combination of all three but given that the next question is always about safety, I suspect that #3 is the primary reason.
Women are seen as more vulnerable than men. However, in talking to men who travel solo, they often feel vulnerable as well – albeit a different kind of vulnerable. They tell me of being challenged by other men. That it’s a macho thing – some men just like to strut power. It’s foreign to me as a woman but I have had it confirmed by my four sons.
So when I write about safety, while there may be a tip or two that is specific for solo female travel, 99% of it applies to men as well.
Yes, traveling solo safely is pretty well the same for women and men but the reasons for concern, the dangers, are different.
Safety Tips for Solo Female Travel & Solo Male Travel
At one point when I was traveling in India, I was on a train. There were four seats on one side and three on another – or some such large configuration. And in that one row there were four female solo travelers. It really struck me then. In my travels there seems to be more women traveling solo than men. I don’t know why.
But when it comes to writing this blog, I try to write for all solo travelers. In The Solo Traveler’s Handbook I dedicated about a quarter of the book to solo travel safety and just about all of it pertained equally to men and women. So, whatever your safety concern, here are my top tips.
- Know your priorities. What’s important is your person, your documents, your money and your stuff – in that order.
- Do your research. Know the risks of your destination before you leave.
- Arrive during daylight. Always plan to arrive in a new destination in the afternoon – well before dark. That way, if you are not comfortable with your hotel or hostel, you can change. Also, check out The Solo Traveler Accommodation Guide. The guide was crowdsourced from readers and every one of the 223 listings from over 50 countries has been recommended.
- Keep where you’re staying to yourself. Your accommodation is your safe haven. Don’t tell people where you’re staying.
- Stay in public. Stay in a public place with people you meet on your travels. This is what saved me in my situation in Paris.
- Engage others in your safety. If you feel unsafe, draw on the support of total strangers – people of your choice, rather than people who approach you. Read: My Kind of Strangers.
- Stay in touch with home. Someone should know where you’re staying at any given point in time.
- Protect your documents. Keep your passport and other important documents secure in a money belt and have backup copies.
- Separate your money. Keep money and back up credit and debit cards in a at least two different places so that if you lose some, you haven’t lost everything.
- Keep it simple. Dress conservatively and don’t flash expensive technology or jewelery.
- Grab your hotel’s business card. Carry the name and address of the place you’re staying in the local language on a card.
- Stay sober and well rested. You need your wits about you to stay safe.
- Find help for someone who needs help. If someone appears to need your help find someone else to help as well. There have been instances when the need has been a ploy.
- Be rude if necessary. If you’re being bothered by someone who just doesn’t get the message that you don’t want their attention, be rude and noisy. They’ll usually back away.
- Secure yourself online. Public Wi-fi is just that, public. Don’t go into sites such as your bank on public Wi-fi unless you’re using a VPN. Sign up for a month of VPN at $10 or a year at about $69 here. Or read the what, why and how of a VPN with easy setup guide here.
And, the greatest common sense safety tip of all: trust your instincts. Listen to them. If something doesn’t feel right, get out of there.
Below, some additional posts I recommend.
Solo Travel Safety for Women and Men
Here are a few posts from the archives I recommend:
- Solo Travel Safety: who to trust
- Night Safety for Solo Travelers: 15 tips
- Solo Travel Safety: 10 ways to look confident.
- Solo Travel Safety: 5 principles
- Addressing Solo Travel Objection #1: ten safety solutions.