“Is it safe to travel solo?” is one of the top questions I get when traveling alone. So it is critical to know solo travel safety tips to ease that anxiety and fear. I mean, hopping on a flight to another country abroad takes guts, but we still need to take precautions.
There is nothing like that first solo trip. The mix of anxiousness and adrenaline makes it such an adventurous experience. And while there are many advantages and disadvantages to solo travel, and what we need to feel secure is relative, here are safety tips for traveling alone.
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Why do people travel solo?
There are many reasons why people travel solo. Some can find other people to travel with because it is difficult to align your schedule with your friends. Other people enjoy their time alone and don’t want to be bothered.
Is it sad to travel alone?
Healing a broken heart is a popular reason why people travel alone. Others, like me, enjoy traveling alone because it is a pleasurable experience. It does not have to be sad!
Is it risky to travel alone?
Most solo travelers don’t admit it, but traveling solo is risky. You are going to a new country or city where you know no one. You don’t speak the language, have to learn new navigation, and aren’t familiar with customs. These safety tips can reduce risk, but there is no way to make solo travel 100% safe.
Safety tips for solo female travelers before you go
Understand your strengths and weaknesses
There can be a lot of solo travel anxiety before your solo trip! How do you navigate a new country? Are you a pro at eating alone? How well do you respond under pressure when no one you know is around? Are you open to meeting new people?
You should ask yourself these things when doing an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. You never know what travel situations will arise on your trip. But knowing what you are, and are not good at, can help.
Read up on the location’s news
Watching the news is one of the underrated solo travel safety tips. At the same time, a lot of information scares people into not traveling to certain places. Knowing about the current political context of the site you’re visiting is good. Because if there is civil unrest, chances are your trip might be canceled or delayed, so you can prepare just in case.
Buy travel insurance
Travel insurance is one of those things that people often think they will never need. But options such as World Nomads and Safety Wing are helpful to invest in. And you pay for travel insurance based on the number of days you travel.
Pack a first-aid kit
Accidents happen while solo traveling, and sometimes a hospital is not nearby. But a travel first aid kit is handy because you have everything you need on the go. Be sure to buy one small enough not to take up too much space in your backpack or suitcase.
Download a VPN
Add protecting your technology to your solo travel safety tips! Many people must realize that most Wi-Fi, airports, and other public places are insecure. However, with a VPN, such as Surfshark, you can protect your data or any information on your devices with a private network.
Get a travel credit card
Something that most solo travelers don’t talk about is how expensive it is to travel by yourself. That’s why investing in a good travel credit card is critical. You can get points for your travel expenses, adding up to a free trip.
My favorite is the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which has a $95 annual fee. You can rack up many points when eating, taking rideshares like Lyft, and other travel expenses. I’ve had other cards, but this one is a solid choice.
Print copies of your documents
Making copies of your important documents should be at the top of your solo travel safety tips list. These include your passport and a visa if you need one to enter the country. You never know when an emergency can arise. And just in case your passport is stolen, having backups is beneficial.
Check your international data plan
We use our phones for everything these days, so having data at least is essential. So on your solo travel checklist, call your phone carrier to learn about your international data options. However, if those are too expensive, you can always get a local SIM card and the city/country you are visiting. You can also buy portable wi-fi like Travel Wifi!
Tell your bank you are leaving
Do not get your accounts closed! Before you head out for your solo trip, visit your bank. Let them know where you’ll be traveling and how long you’ll be gone so they can monitor for suspicious transactions. If not, they may cut off your cards, and you’ll have no money while on your solo trip.
How to be safe traveling alone as a woman
Share your itinerary
You never know what can happen while you are traveling solo. Put your itinerary in Google Docs or Padlet, and share it with friends and family back home. Since you are traveling where you don’t know anyone, it’s good for others to see where you are.
Do not arrive at night
It is best to navigate a new place during the daytime! That’s when booking your flights try to avoid arriving at night. It may make you more anxious when you can’t see your surroundings. So an earlier flight can prevent that unnecessary anxiety.
Stash money away
Only carry some of your money with you while traveling solo. Always have some cash in your suitcase or another hidden spot in your room. In case you are robbed, you want to have some backup money.
Avoid using your back pockets
Speaking of robberies, never use your back pockets. While this tip may sound like common sense, it still happens. For alternatives to using your back pockets, continue reading about the safety items you must purchase for your solo trip to learn about the belt bag.
Do not engage in reckless behavior
I am all for being delusional and pursuing new adventures while traveling. However, there is a difference between curious and reckless. You do not want to get arrested or in trouble in a foreign country. So avoid situations that are illegal or put you in too much danger.
Learn a few basic phrases
No one expects solo travelers to be fluent in every language of every country they visit. But knowing a few keywords and phrases is one of many resourceful solo travel safety tips. And it’s a great way to get to know a small part of the local community you are visiting.
Do not tell everyone you are traveling solo
Of all the safety tips for solo female travelers, this is one rule I break often. If you trust your gut, there may be one or two people you tell that you are traveling alone. But do not scream it from the rooftops. Be open yet discreet.
Read reviews for everything
Reading is fundamental. Whether you are booking a tour, transportation, or accommodations such as hostels, you need to read the reviews. They can tell you so much about other solo travelers’ experiences for you to make an informed decision about your trip.
Negotiate transportation costs beforehand
One of the biggest solo travel scams is being charged extra by taxis and other forms of transportation. Before you get in any vehicle, you need to negotiate the price before you go. Some drivers will try to charge extra for a ride.
Pick your ATMs wisely
While ATMs can be better for retrieving money than currency exchanges and airports, still be careful. Avoid ATMs and convenience stores, or third-party stations. I always take out cash at an ATM in the airport when I arrive. And when I’m in town, I go to a more crowded ATM in a public setting because they are less likely to be tampered with by robbers.
An alternative is to wait until you get settled in your accommodations, walk around, and see where the locals are retrieving cash. Those are less likely to be tourist traps. As a solo traveler, you should also look up local banks and see where their ATMs are, as they tend to be more reputable and reliable.
Best safety tips for traveling alone
Learn to lie
Lying is one of the most unexpected but valuable safety tips for solo female travelers. When traveling in an Uber, say you are meeting with friends at your location. You can also mention that you have a fiancé if you get unwanted advances. But having a few key lies is helpful as an extra layer of protection for a solo traveler.
Use the Uber pin code
While in a rideshare, there are some ways to protect yourself. If you are using Uber, change your settings so that you give the driver a code once you get in. This is one of my favorite solo travel safety tips because it guarantees that you have the right Uber driver. They must put the code in first before they can drive off.
Fake it til you make it is the name of the game! Avoid looking down at your Google Maps when navigating to a tourist attraction, as it makes you look like a tourist. Try memorizing at least a few of the directions before you go. Confidence goes a long way; people will be less likely to target you.
Download the local transportation app
Uber is a common rideshare transportation app. Yet, some cities have apps to help you navigate that are better. When researching a town for a trip, be sure to check if there is a better option.
Top 5 safety devices for solo travelers
Door alarm or lock
Of all the solo travel safety tips, this one is key for staying in hostels, hotels, and Airbnb. A door alarm or lock makes solo female travelers feel more secure in their accommodations. I recommend this one that slides under your door and this one that slides on the side. I carry both because every door is different.
We often use our phones, from taking photos and videos to navigating via Google Maps. Therefore, buying a portable charger like this one from Anker is a must-do safety tip for solo female travelers. It prevents our phones from dying and us from being lost as we travel.
Birdie safety alarm
Another critical safety item for solo female travelers is a safety alarm. Unlike the door alarms, this Birdie one you carry with you to create a distraction. The warning has a loud siren and strobe light that signals to others you are in trouble.
Belt bag/sports pack
I thought belt bags were overhyped. But after I purchased this one from Beis, I fell in love. Their sports pack is convenient because it feels like another hand or pocket (which I often need as a solo traveler).
I recommend putting your essential documents in this bag when boarding any transportation during your trip. A belt bag is also suitable for smaller items when you are hiking. Just make sure you put the pocket in front of you so no one can pick your pocket.
Padlock for luggage
This last tip is for solo travelers who will stay in hostels. You will need a lock if you decide to book a dorm instead of a private room. Solo female travelers store their backpacks and other belongings in a locker. But many need to bring a padlock lock to keep their stuff safe. Pack one TSA-safe with you so you can also use it on the plane.
What is the best solo travel safety tip? Do it, scared!
Fear stops so many people from solo traveling. But you should channel that fear and travel scared anyway. There is something about challenging yourself and doing an experience out of your comfort zone that is exhilarating.
However, you cannot control every aspect of a solo trip. Anything can happen anywhere, but don’t let your life pass you by. While you cannot prepare for everything, I hope these solo travel safety tips ease your anxiety!
Are you ready to book that solo trip now? If so, you need these tips to plan it like a pro!