Ladies, traveling alone can be really difficult. As a girl, I sometimes get worried about traveling alone to certain places- not even just foreign countries, even to many local cities. (It’s not that it’s much easier for men, I’m just speaking from my own experience as a girl). No matter how safe I feel, there’s always that thought in the back of my mind not to trust anyone. It’s not that I’m rude or jaded, I just have to look out for myself. We all need to. Especially us women solo travelers. But you can’t let fear get in the way. I’ve solo traveled to Cambodia, Germany, China, and practically every big city in the US. I lived and functioned on my own in Serbia for a month back in school. (That one was really my right of passage. That’s where I learned to take care of myself). And I’m looking to solo travel to South Africa next year.
While there’s always a risk to any travel, especially traveling on your own as a girl, there are tips and tricks that can help you decrease the risk of facing an issue. Find here below my tips to help you have a safe and fun trip as a solo traveler:
Stay Focused and Alert
The main technique to ensure your safety both when traveling solo and when traveling with others is to be aware of your surroundings. Always stay focused on what you are doing (even if it’s just walking) and alert to what’s happening around you. You are less likely to get targeted if you look like you know what you are doing. If you see the same people following you for a while or anything suspicious at all, just quickly step into a store or get to where there are a lot of people. Don’t show that you are alarmed, however. If you think something is suspicious, instead still look as if you are focused on what you are doing while getting to a more public place. You can still look at cool sights while also taking in everything happening around you, and that’s the wisest thing to do. Don’t be caught hiding your face in your phone, a map, or a guidebook.
Always Act Like You Know Where You’re Going
Pickpockets and other criminals are more likely to target people who look like they don’t know what’s going on. Tourists are easily distracted, don’t know their way around the area, and aren’t usually aware of their surroundings, making them easy targets to crime. You want to look like you would if you were walking in your own home town. Even if you don’t know where you are going, look like you do. Be firm in your decisions. If you are lost, ask a store owner for directions. Don’t look around confused and wander back and forth. This makes you an easy target. Walk at a decent pace, and keep your eyes open. If you are using a GPS on your phone, take quick glances down, but don’t make it obvious that you are using the phone as a GPS.
Wear Your Backpack Backwards
If you are in an area known for heavy amounts of pick-pocketing, not only should you be aware, but make it harder for people to steal from you. Wear your backpack on your front (as silly as this may look) and keep your wallet in a pouch that is sitting against your belly. This way, they can’t take your wallet out of the bag as easily as they could if it was in the front pocket. But if it’s on your front, you are too difficult a target and they will most likely move on. If you are carrying a purse, make it a cross-body bag so it can’t be easily grabbed from your hand. This may sound simple, but no one is thinking they will be a target of petty theft while traveling. Being prepared for everything is what makes you a safe traveler.
If You Can, Hire a Guide
Sometimes, it’s just worth it to hire someone who knows the area well. In certain cities, you are less likely to be bothered when you are with a local. But you HAVE to trust the guide and/or their service without exception. Do countless hours of research on the tour company or individual before you trust them because you DO want to trust them. This is pivotal. Make sure they not only have great reviews for their service but also A LOT of reviews so you know they’re real. Ask around. Get recommendations from friends. When I was in Siem Reap, I hired a driver/guide for the day that a friend recommended. It was the best decision I made. In certain situations (and seeing the temples of Angkor is one of them) you MUST have a local guide who knows the area like the back of their hand.
Don’t Underestimate a Place
Don’t trust a place just because it’s a great destination that many people go to. Paris is a wonderful place, but there are plenty of pick-pocketers there. Just because you hear a lot about a place or know people who have gone doesn’t make it safe. Nowhere is really safe, anyway. I live in Los Angeles, and there’s more crime here than most places I have visited around the world. There can and will be crime everywhere, so just be smart and don’t think “It’s only Paris” or “It’s only England.”
Don’t let any of this deter you from having the best solo trip imaginable! This isn’t meant to scare you, rather to help give you things to think about to keep you safe. I’ve traveled solo more times than I can count, and it is SUCH a rewarding experience; it’s the best “you time” you’ll ever have. Just be smart while on your solo travels, too!