In this post we have Amy Aed writing for us and telling us her experiences along with 8 tips for female travellers going solo.
As a female, I’ve grown up with the mindset that going out on my own is scary and unsafe in the places not too far from me, let alone if I were to start striding cross-country. Having been brought up with the idea that I would be more at risk if I went out solo as a female rather than male, friends and family were a tad concerned with my safety when I started travelling on my own. This didn’t help me, and made me slightly paranoid and reserved due to the fact that I didn’t want to put myself in harm’s way. However, after not being shanked or murdered on my travels, I started to realise that frankly, everything I’d been told was absolute tosh. Travelling alone is safe, travelling as a female is safe – just so long as you’re relatively careful and don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do at home.
And so, I’ve compiled a list of my favourite tips and suggestions for solo female travels when Y’all go abroad, as it’s perfectly okay to be out in the big wide world on your own if you’re aware of how to keep yourself safe.
1. Befriend older couples or families
My mam once told me a story from when she went to Italy and a girl much younger than she was sat near her and struck up a conversation. This is a natural thing you tend to do when travelling solo, but for this girl, it also kept her safe from the creepy restaurant owner that was chatting her up. From this I learnt that if you can talk to an older couple or families and sit near them in restaurants and the like, if someone makes you uncomfortable or tries to do something you don’t want then you’re in typically safe hands. On the same note, if you can befriend members of staff and air hostesses then they can help give you advice as well as keep an eye on you, and female flight passengers are often great at giving you tips for the place you’re about to land in.
2. Upload photocopies of important documents
A lot of people will suggest that you have hard copies of all your important documents in your bags and on your person, in case you run into trouble or need to access them for any reason. However, a lot of the time it may be unlikely that you actually have these on you when you need them, and so if you can upload copies onto sites like DropBox, then even if you lose everything from your bags to your phone then you can still access them on pretty much any other device. It also helps if you make sure your people back home have copies of these prior.
3. The Rubber Doorstep Trick
When staying in an establishment that may not be the safest, a rubber doorstep really can be a lifesaver. When put on the inside of the door where you’re situated, it makes it very difficult for people to break in when you’re asleep. Similar to this is the ‘Do Not Disturb’ Trick, where you put your hotels ‘do not disturb’ sign up on your door when you’re out, rather than the ‘come in, my room needs cleaning’, as it’s an exceedingly obvious sign that no one is in the room, making it a prime opportunity for those who may want to steal your belongings.
4. Be confident and assertive
This is just a basic piece of advice but is especially important for when you’re a female out travelling alone, as people, primarily males, can be rather grating when they notice you’re solo. From shopkeepers to people who want to date you to people who just want to get on your nerves, if you’re unable to say no and tell people when they’re making you uncomfortable then it’s going to be rather difficult to get around anywhere. Being able to explain to someone that their advances are unwelcome is one of the most important things you can do.
5. Check-in regularly
With trusted friends or family back home, you should check in with them at the same time every day (especially for first-time travellers) in order for them to make sure you’re okay because if you’re not then given a few hours and they can start alerting people. This can also be done with social media, which can be such an important tool when travelling abroad. Either way, by keeping people informed, you’re making sure that someone else will be there for you should things go wrong. Also, you get to tell everyone about what a great time you’re having!
6. Take note of the dark
First things first – never arrive in a new place when it’s dark out, due to the fact that you’ll likely be disorientated and unable to sort yourself out unless you’re getting picked up by people you trust. It’s really not the best idea to arrive somewhere you don’t know at a time when there are fewer people around and you can barely read street signs, and so it’s also important to note the time of the sunset in the country you’re in, so that you can make sure you’re in a good place when the sun goes down and are not caught out.
7. Don’t get drunk
Whilst it’s perfectly okay to have a couple of drinks and have a good time, it’s probably not the wisest idea to get blackout drunk and inebriated when vulnerable in a new country with new people. Also, whenever you’re out, just like you probably would back home, don’t leave your drink unattended even for a short amount of time as anyone could put anything in there without other people noticing, which wouldn’t be the best way to end a trip away.
8. Safety over savings
Don’t skimp out on travel insurance! Don’t ever try and save money on the little things, like a crap hotel in a dodgy area, or a bus ride that takes three times as long and goes through somewhere Calcutta-esque. Never ever risk your health and safety in aid of saving a couple bob, as at the end of the day, I’m sure we’d all rather be okay than twenty quid up.
Then, of course, we have tricks that everyone should be following anyway; Such as how you should study maps in shops instead of on the street in order to not mark yourself as a tourist, not go out in flamboyant jewellery, have a cross-body bag for your valuables, read the reviews of the places you are staying and visiting, don’t get into unmarked taxis (and send the number plate of any stranger’s vehicle to family members), and to dress and behave in a way that is recommended in the culture you’re in. Also, have you ever heard about people who’ve been sat at tables in restaurants or cafes or the like, only to find that when they’ve got up to leave their bags are missing? In a lot of places, people will steal your belongings right from out under you, and so you should make sure to have your most important items on you at all times and to put your foot through the strap of your bag when seated if you don’t want to lose it.
Despite what a lot of people say, solo travel isn’t boring, nor lonely, nor exceedingly risky. In fact, it can be one of the most incredible, uplifting experiences you can ever get in life, and nothing should hold you back. Whilst as a woman you can be especially vulnerable, so long as you take care and are aware of the happenings around you, you can have an insane time doing all these things you’ve only dreamed of or seen in Wanderlust Magazine. And always, have fun! That’s the final piece of advice I could give above all. Don’t let worries or paranoia stop you from travelling, regardless of whether or not you’re solo or female.