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5 Safety Tips for Women Traveling Alone

20 July 2012 13,711 views 53 Comments
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How safe is it for a woman to travel alone? As a solo traveler, I always get asked this question. A simple answer would be yes, it IS safe to travel by yourself, even if you’re a woman.

However, the truth is that there ARE issues that you must take into consideration when you set out to travel, whether abroad or in your own country, alone or with friends. Here are some of the basic safety tips I practice whenever I travel solo.

Angkor Wat

Solo travel can be a lot of fun! (Cambodia, 2009)

Let someone know where you’re going.

If you’re the type of traveler with a fixed itinerary, give a copy of it to your family and friends before leaving. Include as much information as you can that would give people a starting point should something happen to you.

When I went on a 70-day solo backpacking trip in Europe, for example, I gave a file of my rough itinerary to my parents, containing the dates, places, names of my hosts, and their contact numbers and addresses. I also included other information, such as the transportation I was going to take (bus, train, or plane) and my hosts’ Couchsurfing profile addresses.

If you don’t have an itinerary and just go with the flow when you travel (as I often do), you can use your social media accounts to keep people updated of where you are. Send an email (or post a status, or tweet) everyday so that people can keep track of your whereabouts.

Distribute your money in your belongings.

Don’t keep all your money in one place. You may think it’s safe to put everything (all your cash, credit cards, passport, and travelers checks) in your money belt because it’s hidden, but consider that thieves nowadays know that travelers have a money belt. If you are held up, you can lose everything in one go!

So, keep some money with you when you walk around, but also leave something in your backpack or other belongings in your hotel. Keep a photocopy of your passport in your backpack or hotel; you can even have a scanned copy in your email for additional protection.

solo woman traveler

Be aware of your surroundings when you travel alone.

Read up on the place you are visiting for any security issues.

Read blogs or articles online about any specific safety issues of the place you’re visiting. Are there any common scams there that you should know about? Are there any security issues you should be aware of, especially as a woman traveling alone?

When I was in Bangkok, for example, my tuktuk driver told me that the Grand Palace was closed that day, and he would take me somewhere else. If I didn’t read up on Thailand prior to my trip, I would have fallen for it! However, don’t let all you read online prevent you from enjoying your trip. Just exercise common sense and you should be good.

Respect the culture you’re in and dress appropriately.

Again, practice common sense. Do some research before flying into a new country and find out what’s the appropriate attire. If the women around you are fully covered from head to toe, it is not a good idea for you to strut around in your mini-skirt. Respect the culture you’re in and try to blend in your surroundings.

Pattaya, Thailand

Respect the culture and dress appropriately.

Practice protective behaviors.

One way to practice protective behaviors is to listen to your intuition. Wherever you are, pay attention to what your body is telling you. Do you, for some reason, feel uncomfortable in the situation? Don’t bother analyzing why, immediately leave the situation and seek a safer place.

The nervous feeling you have (even though you may not be able to identify the reason why) is your body’s way of telling you there’s something wrong. Listen to your body’s discomfort and seek refuge. I have done it a couple of times during my travels and while I don’t know if I was right, I was happy not to find myself in a situation where I regretted not following my intuition.

Be aware also of your surroundings, especially when walking alone at night or in places where there are not a lot of people. I always walk briskly, and use my peripheral vision to check out whether someone is following me or not. If I have to check the map, I go off the streets.

Don’t deaden your sense of hearing  by wearing your headphones while walking around. Don’t get lost in your own world while walking on the streets; it’s an invitation to trouble!

There are many, many advantages of traveling alone. You have the utmost freedom to do what you want, go where you want to go, be with whoever you want to be with. However, as a female solo traveler, you have the responsibility as well to keep yourself safe, and following these tips are just some of the things that can keep you secure in your travels.

Have you traveled alone? What safety tips do you follow?


 Aleah Taboclaon is a freelance writer and editor. She likes running (completed one marathon, training for the next!), diving (PADI open water diver), and traveling with her Kindle. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. You can also email her; she would love to hear from you!


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53 Comments »

  • Micamyx|Senyorita said:

    I really agree with #1. It’s ok to have fun and travel whenever you want to, but make sure to make your parents feel less worried. It is through #1 I was able to gain their trust :)
    Micamyx|Senyorita recently posted..Tambobong Beach Getaway in Dasol, Pangasinan

  • kura said:

    natuwa ako sa picture with the caption “.. dress appropriately” tapos may chubby na naka-swim suit. Maloko ka ha. hahaha! Apir!

    Anyway, I tried it and I really had fun. Nakaka-relate ako sa lahat ng sinabi mo. Praning na kung praning diba? Importante kumpleto at buhay kang makakauwi. God bless you!
    kura recently posted..Sino si kurapengpeng?

  • Aleah said:

    @ Mica: Yeah, I can imagine parents would really worry. At least when we give enough info, we can also travel with assurance that if we disappear, our family will know where to look for us.
    @ Kura: Amen sa “buhay kang makakauwi” hehe
    Aleah recently posted..5 Safety Tips for Women Traveling Alone

  • grasya | grasya.com said:

    I agree on the practice of protective behavior although sometimes I tend to feel that my intuition is broken.. nagkakaron tuloy ako ng mis-adventures na bonggang bongga. but solo traveling is fun, makes you feel you have done something out of the ordinary ^_^

  • Vietnam said:

    Very good tips , thx i will share this post

  • Aleah said:

    @ Grasya: I have no idea how your intuition could be broken. Maybe misinterpreted or something? haha Still, misadventures could be fun, if you remain safe. :)
    @ Vietnam: Thanks!
    Aleah recently posted..5 Safety Tips for Women Traveling Alone

  • Ada said:

    This is a perfect summary of the safety for women traveling alone. I’ve only traveled once so far, and I was smiling all throughout this post, as I’ve done them all! But solo traveling is really not for me. Ika nga sa, Happiness is real when shared! :D
    Ada recently posted..Bohol Travel Guide

  • Doc Wends said:

    This is very useful for women who jump into any plane, boat or bus with little knowledge what to do while on the road to be safe.

    If I may add, drink moderately too? Women are prone to abuses when they are drunk in a foreign country or even here. I makes her doubly vulnerable.

  • Aleah said:

    @ Ada: Well, to each her own. At least you tried solo travel already. Yeah, agree with Chris McCandless’s statement. Into Thin Air is so profound!
    @ Doc Wends: True, true. Drinking and other things that can dull your intuition or affect your decision making should be really avoided or done in moderation.
    Aleah recently posted..5 Safety Tips for Women Traveling Alone

  • Jaisingh said:

    very good suggestions
    one must follow

  • Justin, Hari ng lakbay said:

    Hanga ako sa mga babaeng nakapagta-travel alone. Isa sa mga paborito ko na gumagawa nito ay si Lil Pretty Leah. Thank you for all your tips, for sure I’m going to use it someday. :)
    Justin, Hari ng lakbay recently posted..Hari ng Lakbay Walks with Tribu

  • Aleah said:

    @ Jaisingh: Thanks!
    @ Justin: Thank you. Feel free to share :)

  • Deiane said:

    This is very important especially to the women who are planning to travel alone and even in the place where they are not familiar with.. Helpful tips!
    Deiane recently posted..Sharepoint Hosting

  • mervz | pinoyadventurista.com said:

    Awesome tips Aleah! I think applicable din ‘to for men… :) I practice all of these… especially #1… kaya tweet at status ako palagi kung asan ako, para if ever may mangyari, everyone knows kung saan ako last na pumunta… :)
    mervz | pinoyadventurista.com recently posted..Benguet – Into the Caves of the Fire Mummies of Kabayan

  • Aleah said:

    @ Deiane: Thanks. Feel free to share!
    @ Mervz: Yup! Of course you have to balance it with sharing too much information, but in terms of letting everyone know where you are for safety purposes, it can be effective.
    Aleah recently posted..5 Safety Tips for Women Traveling Alone

  • Marivic Cantes Tamura said:

    Like Kura, first I noticed..yung two ladies in swimsuits hahaha… sori medyo nakaktuwa kc nga ang caption… anyways, thanks for the tips. you are right most of us already is aware of the belt. spread itout sa mga gamit plus photo copies of the docs para safe anytime.

  • Julie said:

    I think just being aware of your surroundings and avoiding dark or desolate areas is also important! And yes, tell people where you are!
    Julie recently posted..Find Purpose in Volunteer Travel or in Your Own Backyard

  • Aleah said:

    @ Marivic: True true. And re the ladies, I was so glad to see them. The contrast is so amazing!
    @ Julie: Yeah, those are common sense stuff that sometimes don’t turn out to be common after all!
    Aleah recently posted..Excellent Accommodation in Verona, Italy via Roomorama

  • fifi leigh said:

    yeah, it is important to be cautious when traveling to a foreign country, no matter where. when i went to Nice, i had $30 well-hidden inside my suitcase, which was also locked. when i returned to the condo, the suitcase was broken into, and the clothes were thrown all over the room. the thieves found the $30, stole it and left. so, even if it is well-hidden, people have to be careful because they dont really know what to expect in that country.
    fifi leigh recently posted..Quick Tip: Paste Contents on Every Page in an Instant

  • Tripsiders said:

    Nice tips Ms.Aleah.. :)
    Agree ako sa #1… Sakali man makuha yung iba, may maiiwan parin sayo. (Pero huwag naman sanang mangyari,.. hehehe)

  • Aleah said:

    @ Fifi Leigh: I am so sorry to hear that! At least you weren’t there when they came, worse things could have happened! Hope it doesn’t happen to you again!
    @ Tripsiders: Thanks, Joan. Yeah it would be he– to lose all your money in a foreign country. Scary!
    Aleah recently posted..Luxury Accommodations in Singapore

  • Kim Buenafe said:

    really helpful post, aleah! been wanting to try traveling solo ever since. however, it didn’t dawned on me that danger could be lurking around esp for female solo travelers. the bf was right, then. will take note of these when the time has come. :)
    Kim Buenafe recently posted..Longest Night Ever | Beach Camping at Palaui Island

  • Aleah said:

    @ Kim: No need to fear solo travel, as long as you remain aware of your surroundings :)
    Aleah recently posted..How to Prepare for Your First Euro Trip

  • Jupiter Jim said:

    Wow!

    Love these safety tips and will share them will all my female friends! many great tips for guys too!

    I also love the beautiful photos you’ve included in your post!

    Thanks,

    Jupiter Jim
    Jupiter Jim recently posted..Use Paint.NET to Crop and Resize Images for WordPress Websites

  • Violy said:

    Nice tips Aleah! Yah most of my travels I went alone too. And I don’t go out of the hotel premises at night. I eat dinner early and stay at the hotel once it’s dark, it’s better to be careful. And I make sure to secure my belongings too and I always stay with the crowd whenever I am walking around.
    Violy recently posted..Miniland at Legoland Malaysia, Model up close: Angkor Wat of Cambodia

  • Aleah said:

    @ Jim: Thanks, and feel free to share :)
    @ Violy: Actually I love going out and walking around at night. I walked back to my hostel around midnight in Siem Reap from town, and I also walked over an hour in Rome around 9pm because I missed my train.
    Aleah recently posted..5 Tips to Travel Cheap (But Well)

  • Ricky Bernardino said:

    These are not only applicable for women only . . . it’s also for men. Not only when traveling alone but also for groups doing a DIY type of trip. Thanks for sharing this =)
    Ricky Bernardino recently posted..Shivering in the cold Genting Highlands

  • Franc Ramon said:

    Great tips. I guess its also applicable for men too.
    Franc Ramon recently posted..Francramon.com: A Year After

  • Hamlet said:

    Really You mentioned here some nice Tips.. Especially the one about Cloths. Thanks for the post. It will Help Women Travelers.
    Hamlet recently posted..Marketing 101: Developing a Public Relations Plan

  • Aleah said:

    @ Ricky: You’re welcome.
    @ Franc: Yeah, they are.
    @ Hamlet: Thank you.
    Aleah recently posted..5 Tips to Travel Cheap (But Well)

  • RonLeyba said:

    Great tips! I hope I can come up with an interview with you regarding travel blogging and stuffs related to it. Great tips Aleah!
    RonLeyba recently posted..8 Heart-Pounding Horror Movies That You Can Watch This Halloween 2012

  • Aileen said:

    I’ve been planning on going on a solo trip since who-knows-when, but have never had the chance to! BUT I’m looking into a trip early next year so these tips would really help! :) Thanks for sharing!

  • Aleah said:

    @ Ron Leyba: Sure, I’d love to get featured on your site. Thanks! :)
    @ Aileen: Solo travel can be very fulfilling. Don’t forget to come back and let us know how it goes!
    Aleah recently posted..Kafka Museum and the Peeing Statues in Prague

  • Maricel said:

    These are all excellent points you’ve outlined. I am not a fan of traveling alone, but yes, sometimes, circumstances call the need for it. And when I do travel alone, I always make sure my family and friends know where I’m going. :)
    Maricel recently posted..2012 Blog Engage $500 Guest Blogging Contest #6

  • Jeanne M K said:

    Thanks for these tips! Again, learned so much here. It also leaves me with the challenge — to be able to try travelling solo, which I haven’t done yet. :D
    Jeanne M K recently posted..Choi City Seafood Restaurant

  • effie said:

    agree…and dont walk around feeling scared & confused…just relax and observe..

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  • Aleah said:

    @ Maricel: Thanks. Solo women travelers do need to take precautions!
    @ Jeanne: I highly recommend solo travel for everybody, even at least once!
    @ Effie: Right. Act confident, and you will be more confident.
    Aleah recently posted..The 12 Best Stories of 2012

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  • GRRRLTRAVELER | Christine said:

    Nice post! I like the tip about distributing. I usually try to distribute my money and I make several copies of my passport. The one thing I cna’t distribute are the contents in my day pack, which are my DSLR & laptop. Those I definitely don’t feel safe leaving in my guesthouse or hostel.
    GRRRLTRAVELER | Christine recently posted..Is Solo Travel Still Safe for Women? …6 Safety Tips that make it so

  • cha said:

    I just did, last year. And, I’m on to my second and third this year. These tips I read from you and other solo female travelers were all really helpful. Thanks. I’d say, faith and common sense are the best defenses a solo female traveler needs. :-)
    cha recently posted..Prison Break

  • Aleah said:

    @ Christine: I always bring my netbook and my camera with me, too, that’s why I always carry a day pack. I just wear it in front–like you do–to discourage pickpockets.
    @ Cha: Congrats, and I’m happy you find solo female travel as gratifying as I do!
    Aleah recently posted..The Most Romantic Places in Europe

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  • Claire said:

    hi aleah! thank you for the safety tips on solo travel.. i refer to your post for my countdown to my 10-day-first-solo-travel to South Korea next week. been following your post, i admire your courage! :-) keep it up.

  • Aleah said:

    @ Claire: Thanks. Have fun on your SoKor trip, and as always, travel safe!
    Aleah recently posted..Art + Music at the Malasimbo Festival

  • Apeksha said:

    Great tips! I also make sure that I make friends with the locals. Its a great way of knowing the culture, place better as well as get some handy tips and ideas to visit the ‘non-touristy’ places.

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  • Gracey said:

    Hi! I’ve just booked my solo flight to Palawan for May this year, and it’ll be my first time ever to travel solo. I’ll be staying there for 17 days and would appreciate to hear tips from you. I honestly don’t know what to ask yet, and I’ve read most of your articles in your blog. But what comes into my mind now is, have you ever gone to Palawan? Is it safe to go around there solo? And have you tried home stays? How did you go about it? I don’t want come out as an amateur solo traveler causing me to be prone to manlolokos, so how did you go about that as well? Any help would be greatly appreciated! :)

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