Traveling alone as a woman can be a daunting, anxiety-provoking thought.
There are the typical perils and risks of travel to worry about, like missing your plane, losing your passport, pickpocketing, mugging, and more. And traveling solo can make you a bigger target.
Then solo female travel? That can increase your risk even more, especially for things like catcalling and harassment. And if you’re in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, you can be even more vulnerable.
These are my tips for solo female travelers, learned though my own experiences, to help you feel more confident and less stressed while traveling alone as a woman. The point of travel is to enjoy it!
A lot of these are safety-based, but safety is a major concern for any solo female traveler. And if you want more safety tips, read this article.
Before my first trip as a solo female traveler, I did not want to go by myself. But I had time off while living in Asia that my friends didn’t. So I went anyway. Since then, I have worked my way up to traveling across Europe by myself for ~10 weeks this summer.
I’m not here to tell you that traveling alone as a woman is completely safe, 100% of the time in 100% of the world. It simply isn’t. There are risks anywhere, whether by yourself or in a group.
On top of that, how much of a target you are absolutely varies based on your demographics and characteristics, as well as the destinations you visit. Obviously, when I’m in Japan, I am very clearly not Japanese and thus extremely likely to be a tourist. When I’m in England? I blend in much more (until they hear my American accent).
What I am here to tell you is that you shouldn’t be deathly afraid of traveling by yourself as a woman. Just travel somewhere you feel comfortable in ways you comfortable, while also taking sensible precautions, and you, too, can be a solo female traveler.
1. Give some thought to your destination
You should carefully consider your destination, especially if a trip is your first foray into solo female travel or you’re very anxious about traveling by yourself.
You simply won’t feel comfortable traveling in every destination by yourself. And you might feel ill at ease in a destination for any number of reasons. Maybe you don’t speak the local language. Maybe your appearance is very different than that of the locals and would draw more attention. Maybe there are higher rates of sexual harassment and assault of women.
The goal of choosing your destination carefully is picking a location that you will mostly/completely feel comfortable and safe going around.
Maybe that cuts out some of your bucket list destinations for your first few solo trips. But it’s more important to be able to go on your first few solo vacations and gain confidence and skills as a solo female traveler.
2. Send your itinerary to someone
For any trip, it’s a very good idea to send your transportation and accommodation details to at least one other person. It’s doubly a good idea for any solo traveler.
For transportation, I mean major transportation between places, like plane rides, train rides between cities, and so on.
Why? Not to be bleak, but if they haven’t heard from you in a few days and can’t get ahold of you, they have some places they can contact to try to find you.
If you want to send more detailed itineraries of what you’ll be doing what days (if you know that), you can always send that information as well.
And it’s not doesn’t have to be complicated. I always just forward my mom emails about where I’ll be staying and how I’m getting there.
3. Check in with people regularly
In a similar vein, I would also suggest checking in with someone once or twice a day. Literally even just a quick message saying, “I’m back at my hotel” or “I arrived in Dubrovnik.”
This should probably be the same person that you send your itinerary to, so they know you’re safe and that they don’t need to freak out.
I would also recommend you keep someone updated while you’re taking a taxi or ride share, and also when going somewhere at night.
4. Have data for your phone
If there is one tip you follow from this post, I would highly suggest it be this one. And this tip is to make sure you have data wherever you are.
If you’re traveling domestically, that’s easy – you don’t have to do anything. But if you’re traveling internationally, you’ll have to either make sure your domestic cell phone plan gives you data in the country you’ll be in, or pick up a local SIM card.
Maybe you see it as an unnecessary expense, or just unnecessary in general if you’ll be around a lot of Wi-Fi.
I know that you can download maps for offline use on apps, and so on. But what if you need a different map? Or you suddenly have to take an Uber when you weren’t planning on it? What is that ingredient’s name in your native language, is it the one you’re allergic to?
Having guaranteed data enables you to do a lot more, particularly in unanticipated situations.
5. Carry a power bank
You can’t use your phone for anything, whether you have data or not, if your phone battery is dead.
If you use your phone here and there throughout the day, chances are your battery will be pretty low at some point while you’re out and about.
To prevent this from happening, carry a charged-up power bank with you. They’re small, pretty cheap, and ensure you can always use your phone. It’s one less thing to worry about.
6. Bring safety gear
Depending on where you’re going and what you’ll be doing, you’ll want to bring different safety gear.
For many trips, it’s a good idea to bring a travel pouch that you can wear under your clothing, especially if you’re traveling internationally.
If you’re staying in a hostel, bring a lock for your locker and a lock for your luggage (if there isn’t one on it already).
If you’re staying in a private room by yourself, there are a few different safety devices you could bring. For instance, there are door stoppers with alarms you can put up against the door. These are supposed to stymie attempts to open the door and alert you if someone does.
There are also portable door locks that you can put in between the door and the door frame for some added protection (for doors that swing inward).
Related to room safety, you can also consider asking for a room that’s not on the ground floor (where it’s easier to break in).
7. Stay in a private room in a hostel or a female-only dorm room
Hostels are totally fine and safe, but maybe you’re not comfortable staying in a room with others. But what do you do if you also want some common spaces where you can meet other travelers? Or even just want amenities like a kitchen or laundry room?
Many hostels offer private rooms, not just dorm rooms. You can still use their facilities, do their tours, meet people there, but you have your own space.
Of course, they’re more expensive than the dorms and could be similar in price to a hotel. They’re definitely an option to look into though, especially if you’re looking to make friends or for specific amenities that are more common in a hostel.
But if you can’t afford a private room? Book a bed in a women-only dorm room in a hostel. Sometimes these are a bit more expensive than mixed dorm rooms, but they’re almost always cheaper than private rooms.
8. Research the areas you might stay in
Many destinations do have areas that are relatively safer (or not) for tourists. So it’s a good idea to stay in a safer area when traveling alone as a woman, even if staying in a less safe area might save you some money.
But when researching areas to stay, take everyone’s words with a grain of salt. Everyone has a different idea of “safe” or “dangerous.”
If numerous sites mention avoiding a particular neighborhood, you might want to consider staying elsewhere. However, do look at why they say it’s dangerous, because that could make a difference on whether you personally consider it “dangerous.”
Potential places you can do this kind of research are TripAdvisor, Facebook groups, hotel reviews, and even Google reviews for nearby attractions.
9. Stay somewhere more central, near public transportation stops
When booking your accommodation, try to book something that is more centrally located and very close to public transportation (if that’s what you’ll be taking to get around).
Why? It will be easier for you to get around your destination. You also don’t want to have to walk far to get back to your accommodation, especially at night.
Do note that in many cities, the main train stations are centrally located, but are not always in the safest parts of town. So do some research on that if you’re arriving to/leaving a city by train or are thinking of staying near one.
10. If going somewhere is complicated or sketchy on your own, go with a tour
Let’s say you want to visit some attractions that are a bit of a nuisance to get to via public transportation. Or they border a neighborhood that you don’t want to traverse by yourself.
You don’t actually have to go alone! There could be many different tours available that visit where you want to be going.
And I don’t mean whole days-long affairs, though those exist too. There are day trips and day-long tours, half-day tours, and even tours that last 1-3 hours. Walking tours, bike tours, tours by car.
The nice thing about going on a tour is that you can learn a lot from the guides. You might even be able to make connections with fellow travelers.
11. Think twice about booking transportation that gets in or leaves super late (unless you take a taxi)
Sure, the flight that arrives at 11 PM is a great deal. But how can you get to your accommodation from the airport? Is public transportation open and also safe at that hour? Can you take a taxi?
Sure, that train leaving at 5 AM is cheap. But it probably won’t be light outside. Will there be other people around? Is there somewhere safe to wait?
Often, transportation that leaves super early or arrives super late is not worth the money you’ll save.
But if you’re really considering booking such transportation (or if it’s your only option), make sure you think through all these questions, do research, and plan a bit.
Make sure you’re able to get directly and safely to your final destination (such as via taxi, ride share, or private car).
Also, if you’re looking at taking the between cities, check out the bus stop location before you book it. Sometimes bus stops aren’t even at a bus station, they can be at in kind of random spots. You probably don’t want to be waiting outside by yourself on a random road when it’s dark for a prolonged period.
12. It’s okay (and even good!) to be “not nice”
If someone is bothering you, trying to hit on you, et cetera, you don’t have to be nice. Especially for someone sketchy.
You can simply say “no thank you” and keep walking. That’s not being “rude.” And even if someone else perceives it as “rude,” who cares? Your safety is more important than being “nice.”
And you also don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. No is a complete sentence.
It can be a good idea to not tell random people that you’re traveling by yourself. You can just say that you’re on your way to meet a friend, family member, or whoever.
13. Work your way up to longer trips
If you’ve never done solo travel before, don’t jump right in with a weeks-long adventure.
Start small, with a day trip or overnight trip by yourself, somewhere you feel comfortable and would only be a marginal challenge.
As you get more experience and skills under your belt, you can begin to take on longer and more challenging trips.
14. Have fun
Traveling is all about having fun and experiencing new things.
So obviously take precautions, plan, do your research, but remember the reasons why you love to travel in the first place!
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