Stay safe as a solo traveller with these 10 tips

How to stay safe as a solo female traveller

For those who have travelled alone, you’ll know what an exciting and inspiring experience it can be. You discover a lot about yourself, plus you’re free to do what you want without having to worry about anyone else, unless you decided to join up with new friends you’ve met along the way.

While it is a life-changing experience, it can be daunting, particularly for first-timers, to travel abroad by themselves. No matter how much life experience you have, a foreign country, particularly one that speaks a different language, can put you out of your comfort zone. There are also the additional potential risks to personal security you need to be aware of when travelling alone. Here are a few tips to keep you safe while on the adventure of a lifetime.

Read more: Safe countries for retired women to travel alone

1. Let people know where you are

Before you leave, give a relative or a friend a copy of your travel plans – an itinerary if you have one. It’s also a good idea to register with Smart Traveller. This Australian Government website provides a wealth of information on travelling to various countries, as well as the option to log the dates and destinations of your travel on the off chance something goes wrong.

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2. Trust your gut

If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. Always trust your instincts and if you feel unsafe, find your way out of the situation as quickly, calmly and politely as possible. This applies to any situation, from an uncomfortable taxi ride, bad hotel or awkward situation at a bar. If you are getting a taxi, keep your things with you in the back seat if possible so you can make a speedy exit if necessary.

3. If you’ve got it, don’t flaunt it

Even if you’re travelling in a developed country, if you have expensive equipment such as a DSLR camera or lots of jewellery, it’s better to keep them as hidden as possible and don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself. Take a purse that zips up and have it zipped closed at all times, remembering to put your wallet or phone back into your bag as opposed to your pockets.

Read more: Solo travellers over 60 share their best travel advice

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4. Research the scams

Do a bit of research before you leave about the common scams there are in the countries and cities you’re visiting. This is as simple as, say you’re going to Venice, typing into Google “tourist scams Venice”. This will reveal popular scammers’ tricks used on tourists in the area, such as the rose scam where a man will seemingly offer you a rose as a romantic gesture, but if you accept they will demand payment.

5. Take a walking tour on the first day

The cost of a walking tour on the first day will be well worth it. Not only will you get a good overview of the city so you won’t get lost, your guide will no doubt point out places to avoid. You can always ask, as well. You might also make some new friends to go adventuring with afterwards.

6. Appear to travel in a group

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If you have to walk alone at night, walk close to a family or couple to avoid looking like you’re walking by yourself in the dark. Often the presence of other people is enough for predators to leave you alone. If you do feel like someone could be following you, head to the nearest restaurant or café.

7. Leave a paper trail

If you feel like being extra careful, leave a note in your accommodation saying what your travel plans are for the day. That way, if something does go wrong, there’s a trace.

8. Have an alter ego

You may be approached by strangers who just give you an icky feeling. Come up with a backstory that could get you out of an uncomfortable situation that you can leave. For example, if you’re a female travelling alone, your go-to story could be that you popped into the restaurant for a refreshment while your husband is looking at a store you’re not interested in down the road.

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9. Learn to say no

Forget your manners if you’ve already tried to politely say no to someone who is being pushy. If you’re travelling to a country where you don’t speak the language, learn the phrases ‘no thank you’ and ‘absolutely not’ and repeat them until the person gets the message or you’ve managed to get out of the situation.

10. Look after yourself

The last thing you need while travelling alone is a bout of food poisoning where you can’t call on friends or family to bring you medicine or soup. By all means be adventurous when it comes to trying the local cuisine, but if you’re tossing up whether to eat something because it looks or smells a bit funny, trust that primal judgement. Drink plenty of water as well as it’s easy to get dehydrated when travelling.

With that said, don’t be afraid to take a trip by yourself, it could be the best adventure of your life. The key is not to be scared but to be aware – as you would need to be with any type of travel.

Have you travelled alone before? Tell us what your trip was like in the comments below.

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