Travel is one of the most enriching experiences you can ever experience. It ignites you, fuels your soul, and leaves an everlasting change on your person. When I turned 20 I was fortunate enough to move to Wales and ‘study’ my third year of university abroad, all while traveling throughout Europe. I am now 23 years old and have visited over 27 countries in North America, Europe, and Africa! I would argue that many of my life’s greatest adventures have been experienced through travel, alongside some of the most amazing people I have ever met. However, although many of my experiences came from traveling with loved ones, friends, and in organized groups, I also flew solo at times, experiencing some of my most favourite memories of which only me, myself and I will cherish.
To be honest, my mom and boyfriend were never true fans of these tendencies, and yes, at times it may have sounded risky, but in all honesty with the right know how, traveling solo as a female can be a breeze. It requires a bit more caution and is not as inexpensive as a male traveling solo, but it most certainly can be done with just as much fun!
So whether you plan to head out on your own grand adventure or find yourself a part from a travelling companion, here are the best tips and tricks for women traveling solo!
1. Regular Check In
This is the perfect way to stay connected with loved ones at home while creating a safety plan. Choose a time that you will regularly have access to internet and send off a quick email, text, snap or whatever your into. This will ensure that someone is being made aware of your whereabouts so they can notify someone in the event that they haven’t heard from you at your regular check-in time. I chose to check in with my mom and boyfriend every morning before I left for the day. This was the perfect time to share stories and photos of the previous day, so it felt like they were right there with me!
2. Do Your Research
As modern travellers, we have an insane amount of resources readily available at our fingertips, so girl, use them to your advantage! This means reading up on your destination through the use of blogs, Travel Advisor and any other outlets you prefer. You should also be actively searching any travel advisories for that area through your government’s online database or by simply using Google. We also STRONGLY suggest thoroughly sifting through all reviews on any accommodation you plan to book. This goes double for Air BnB (only book the ones with the most outstanding reviews!). Trust me, naivety is your biggest weakness.
3. Exude Confidence
When you are walking through the town square, keep your head up and make eye contact with those who look at you! Confidence is your best defence. Almost all criminals are looking for an easy target, someone that they can effortlessly take advantage of with little fuss. If you look like you know what you’re doing and would be someone to put up a fight, they are more likely to stay clear of you!
4. Lock it Up
Most accommodations will provide a safe or a locker that you can use to store valuables. If you are just heading out for the day, I beg of you, make use of these! Store extra cash, passports, and any additional information you have in these safe spots. No need to lose everything in one mishap! If, by chance, the accommodation you are staying in does not have these amenities you can get travel neck wallets. It may sound silly but this was my saving grace! I often wore one under my shirt or around my waste and tucked into my pants to keep my most valuable items out of sight and safe from any purse thieves.
Something that I regularly got in the habit of was chatting up and becoming friendly with the staff of the facility I was staying in. I made sure they were familiar with my face by chatting them up before I was leaving my accommodation. I would casually bring up where I was going and how long I planned to be. As I said before, creating a safety plan for the worst case scenario is super important. Every time I left, it was like I was leaving little bread crumbs to follow if somehow I got off my trail!
Before I adventured out to do any sort of travel, I was sure to create a very detailed itinerary of my travels (even if I was traveling in a group). I shared this with family and friends and included all accommodations (address and contact info), flight numbers (arrival and departure times), as well as any activities I hoped to do while I was there. This one was SO important and actually prevented a full fledge panic attack for my best friend when I showed up 12 hours late to our rendezvous in Berlin due to some major flight delays.
7. Don’t Trust Too Easily
This isn’t to say that you should put walls up and not let anyone get close to you (because you really will meet some of the most extraordinary people during your travels). I am just suggesting keeping a close eye on your belongings at all times, not everyone you meet will have the purest of intentions! I learned that the hard way (bye bye cellphone).
8. Blend In
There is nothing wrong with being a tourist because, truthfully, to some extent it is unavoidable to deny! However, no one needs it stamped to their forehead! Be mindful of what is in style in the country you are visiting and try your best to blend in. As I said before, you are less likely be taken advantage of if you appear confident, so being taken as a local is never a bad thing!
9. Invest in a Phone Plan
This one may not always be possible, especially if you are simply passing through for a day or two, but if you can, I recommend investing in a good European phone plan. It can be a life saver! It’s also a huge peace of mind, knowing that safety is a click away. Not to mention having a GPS is, without a doubt, a godsend (not having to ask for directions is less likely to single you out as you guessed it, a tourist!).
10. Carry a Safety Mechanism
This one is kind of obvious, but having something on you for that worst case scenario can help keep you safe and give you peace of mind when you are heading through the streets. I am not saying carry a knife on your person, but this can be as simple as carrying a whistle or mace (hint: be sure to have this in your checked luggage).
11. Keep Your Purse on Your Person
You never know who is lurking around, so keep your stuff close to you! Whether you are at the beach soaking up some rays or spending the night with strangers, always make sure your purse and most prized possessions are on you. It may sound silly but it’s even a good idea to have it on you while you sleep (your purse surprisingly makes an excellent pillow).
12. Be Prepared
This is as simple as having a plan… A, B & C. What I mean by this is to make copies of all of your important documents. Keep a printed copy with you while being sure to have one on in an online drop box that you can access from any computer. We also suggest keeping extra money in a couple of different creative places (tampon boxes, dirty socks, you name it!). It never hurts to be prepared.
I will be the first to admit that, yes, some of these tips may be on the pricier side, but your safety is worth the price. Stay safe and most importantly, have fun!
If you have any tips and tricks that you used and would love to share, be sure to leave a comment below. We would love to hear them!
Wishing you the safest and happiest of travels!
Beverly is the creator of Sparkle for the Journey, an online guide for individuals looking to plan an event or adventure of a lifetime. She is also the founder of Sparkle Boxes, custom luxury gift boxes for those getting married. Beverly lives in Windsor, Canada with her fiancé where she works as an event professional.