How To Travel Safely As A Woman

Teacake Travels

How can you travel safely as a woman? I wish I could say that women are treated equally when they are travelling solo but it’s unfortunately not always true. Most importantly of all though, do not give into fear. Recent world events are starting to rock traveller’s foundations but in true British fashion my dears: Keep Calm And Carry On. Look after yourself and ensure you can travel safely by following Teacake’s Guide to how to travel safely as a woman.

How To Travel Safely As A Woman

Before You Go

Before you even leave your doorstep, there’s a couple of things you can do to be fully prepared, covered and ensure you are going to travel safely.

Get Travel Insurance

Travel Safely As A Woman

CC image courtesy of Tri Nguyen on Flickr

Yeah, yeah, I know it can be a little expensive and who wants to pay for something which may not happen? Well ladies. Trust me…life happens and stuff breaks / gets stolen / goes wrong! I’ve had terrible food poisoning, a contraceptive implant break in my arm (ouch), motorbike burns and seen friends get into unfortunate situations too. A couple were hit by a drunk driver, another fell right through a glass table and quite a few have had cameras and gadgets stolen.

Do the right thing and get insurance. I trust World Nomads Travel Insurance. Their coverage for everything is top-notch and their prices are good!

Make Sure You’re Vaccinated

Each country has their own little (or big) things going on. Make sure you don’t come home growing a third arm or something by checking what vaccinations you need for each country.

Make Copies Of All Your Important Documents

Make electronic and physical copies of your passport (you’ve filled in your emergency details on the back page right?!), visas, personal ID, driver’s license, credit cards, cash cards and travel insurance documents. You can send these to yourself in an email, upload them to a cloud drive, carry them on a USB or upload them to TripIt (an awesome app on iOS and Android). Talking about electronic stuff…

Download Some Essential Apps

How To Travel Safely As A Woman

Want to know the most up-to-date currency rates? Where to hang out with good people? Want a working map, directions on how to get from A to B and your health information at your fingertips? Check out my Best Travel Apps post.

Ensure You Have The Best Travel Gear

How To Travel Safely As A Woman

You can find all of my favourite travel gear and accessories in my Teacake Travel Shop.

Learn Self Defence

How To Travel Safely As A Woman

I studied Jiu Jitsu in China for 3 months to learn how to defend myself on the street. It has changed my life forever. I feel way more confident and assured that if it comes to the crunch, I can handle myself. In fact, it has come in handy already. Check out my 8 Self Defence Techniques For Travellers.

Read Up On Travel Scams

Every country has them. Cambodia has one I unfortunately fell for and my travel friends have shared even more travel scams in Asia so you don’t fall for them. Do your homework and try to dodge them as best you can.

At The Airport, Bus, Boat Or Train Station

How To Travel Safely As A Woman

Keep Your Valuables Safe 

Keep most of your stuff in your main bag but make sure to have a carry-on / separate bag for valuables. I always carry a backpack to put my laptop, chargers, phone, headphones, camera, memory cards, purse and passport in. I hold on to this bag and watch it like a hawk! My Deuter Pro SL 34L is on my back (I love it for its size, setup and durability!) and my carry-on is strapped to my front.

Be Prepared

Packing a few extra simple things in your carry-on can help you travel safely during and after your journey. Some earplugs are good, a set of extra clothes will help in case your luggage goes missing and taking some medicine for travel sickness won’t go amiss!

Accommodation

Paper Plane Kuala Lumpur Hostel

Whether you plan ahead months in advance, or in my case, very much the last minute (!), ensure you book your accommodation ahead of time! Booking websites allow you to read reviews, see exactly what security measures there are and know for sure whether a place has a bed for you to sleep in.

Where To Stay As A Solo Female Traveller

For hostels I use Hostelworld every time. For hotels, Hotels Combined let you compare many booking websites at once to get the best price. For something more local, there’s AirBNB (get your free $20 here when you sign up!) and Couchsurfing (just make sure to read the host’s profile carefully and check out their reviews).

Save on your hotel - www.hotelscombined.com

What To Do When You Get To Your Accommodation

If you’re in a hostel, hotel or home stay, grab two copies of their business card immediately. It has their name, number and address on there. You’re gonna need it! Pop one in your bag and one in your pocket. If you lose one, you have the other.

Locals know best. They know whether it’s good to take local transport or taxis, whether to walk around everywhere and at what times. Listen to their advice and suss it out for yourself where you want to go, how and when.

Have things to store away? Make use of their security box!

A Couple Of Extra Things To Buy When You’re There

Sunscreen! I’ve been burnt too many times and still get caught out being the English Rose that I am. I recommend nothing less than Factor 30 and if you love driving bikes like me, invest in a long sleeve shirt to protect yourself from the sun. A scarf can also protect your shoulders and face.



A Quick Checklist Before You Step Out The Door

How To Travel Safely As A Woman

Leave a note to say where you’re planning to go that day on your bed. Make sure your phone is charged! Don’t leave without the following things in your day bag: Accommodation Business Card / Mobile Phone / Room Key / Light Scarf to cover yourself / a Water Filter Bottle (get 15% off at Water To Go with special code TEACAKE15 / your chargers / condoms (if you’re going out for that reason!)

What To Do Out On The Street

Wear The Ring And Show The Photo If You Have To

Many locals still struggle to understand that a woman is on her own, not married and without a boyfriend or children. Buy a cheapo ring and pop it on your wedding finger if it helps. Carry a photo of a handsome model and he can be your husband for the day.

Dress Appropriately

How To Travel Safely As A Woman

When riding a motorbike around a country, avoid the short pants and vest top fashion party to a) keep your skin in one piece and b) not receive any unnecessary attention. In Marrakesh and Bangladesh I completely covered myself up head to toe like the rest of the local women there. I still got a lot of unwanted attention but it was more manageable than if I had been in some sexy pink hot pants.

It’s not just about being culturally sensitive. If you look rich, thieves are going to be very much attracted to you. Expensive jewellery? Forget about wearing that! Long expensive-looking earrings? No no! They’ve been known to rip them right out.

Separate Your Money And Cards

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket! I have some money on my Pockit (UK only) card, some on my Revolut card and I have a Halifax Clarity Credit Card too in case I really get in trouble. Not only do these cards help you manage your spending but putting a set amount of money on each stops thieves taking everything you’ve got in one go.

Have old cards that don’t work anymore? Keep them and put them as ‘dummy cards’ in your wallet! If a thief demands you hand over your cashcards, you’ll have these to throw at them.

Never physically have your money in one place either. Put some in your pocket, some in your purse and some in your bra with Eagle Creek’s Bra Stash!

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Watch Your Alcohol

Sad but true. Be mindful of who you’re drinking with and whether you trust them. Keep asking yourself, ‘Do I really need this next drink?’ and whatever you do, don’t leave your drink unattended.

Walk the walk

The way you walk down the street can speak volumes. Are you confident or are you feeling unsure? Walk with your head up high, at a leisurely pace and swing your arms as you stroll to increase your size. It works. People will believe you’re confident and think twice about taking advantage of you.

Bloglovin' Number 2

Be assertive

Travelling or not travelling, don’t be scared about expressing what you want and need. Say what you want clearly, calmly, confidently and respectfully. Not being assertive enough in life will stop you from giving and receiving many things. Change this around girl! Equally, do not speak at the top of your lungs! Do not draw attention to yourself for talking so loudly or inappropriately.

The Best Way To Travel Safely: Trust your gut

No matter what your head or heart is saying, your gut is the most powerful compass in deciding what you should do in any given situation. Trust your deepest feeling and there’s a good chance you’ll make the right decision. Feel weird? Just leave.

Need Some Inspiration?

These Wander Women are kicking it solo just like Teacake. Read their advice and travel tips and find out more about their experiences.

How do you travel safely as a woman? Share your tips in the comments below!
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About Alice Teacake

I'm a kickass girl who believes in women facing their fears and pushing their boundaries, to reach their full potential through solo adventure travel! Follow me for travel advice and inspiration, so you can go forth and challenge yourself to reach your own personal goals!

18 replies
  1. Brave Betty
    Brave Betty says:

    Yes, yes and yes! I already do many of the things on your list. In particular, your point of reading up on current scams to the area you are headed came in very helpful in Peru.
    I had read about having some sort of liquid thrown on your back( in my case my neck), one’s immediate reaction is to put your hand there – giving someone the opportunity to dive into your pocket as you are distracted. Which is exactly what happened, even though I had my hand in my pocket holding my camera, I never moved it! The pickpocket went in my other pocket – which was empty!

    Reply
  2. Cynthia
    Cynthia says:

    Haha, I recognized a few things that I used to do when I was traveling solo. I always had a wedding ring on my finger. It was definitely needed in Senegal and Egypt. I always told that I was on my way to meet my husband :) I never carried a photo with me but I find it a fun idea :D I used to do the same whenever I was hitchhiking alone. I always trusted my gut and if for some reason the driver made me feel uncomfortable, I told him that I was about to meet my boyfriend and that he knew I was on my way in his car. Sadly enough it isn’t fair that we have to come up with lies like this to make us feel more safe! But… only once I had to pretend to be the girlfriend of a solo male traveler in Brazil! I was very surprised. I was left alone but the poor guy had to deal with a lot of prostitutes whenever he walked around alone at night. He needed my help to be left alone!

    Reply
  3. Spencer
    Spencer says:

    Awesome tips! Not only for women, but for men too! When I travel abroad, I do pretty much the same things. I also sew in a secret pocket in my shorts and pants to keep cash in and only have a few bucks in my wallet and outside pockets.

    Reply
  4. Katie Featherstone
    Katie Featherstone says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with this list. The alcohol thing is a shame, but it’s just not worth the risk if you don’t know people that well. I think you can tell quite quickly if you can trust people though.

    Reply
  5. Erin
    Erin says:

    I wrote a post like this last year and made a lot of the same points. Unfortunately, it’s still not as safe for women to travel alone as it is for men, but if we take proper precautions we can lessen our chances of becoming a statistic.

    Reply
  6. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    Love the advice about trusting your gut and walking the walk. So much crap can be avoided by perfecting an air of confidence and a friendly but don’t mess with me stare. Noting surroundings at all times is also key.

    Reply
  7. Elena
    Elena says:

    Great tips and so true—especially on the idea of walking the walk. I definitely walk with more intention when I am traveling solo and try to download maps or pictures of maps to my phone so that if I have to pause to figure out where I am going, it looks like I am just using my phone.

    Reply
  8. Kim-Ling
    Kim-Ling says:

    Great post! It’s so important to be aware that sometimes bad things can occur, and the more prepared and aware you are of your surroundings, hopefully the less likely it will happen! It’s equally important to know that rocking the world solo is totally doable and a great experience! Love your pic in Bangladesh!

    Reply
  9. Lesley
    Lesley says:

    I like number two and I feel like it does need to be said. You can make some unwise decisions when too much alcohol is involved and it can be a lot more complicated when you’re in an unfamiliar location.

    Reply
  10. Safia Miletus
    Safia Miletus says:

    Teacake!

    I love this list. It’s very honest!

    I’m curious; what places have you been that would have been more tricky for guys?

    I actually feel like traveling as a female can be better in some ways. People are usually more willing to trust you and help you! And it’s so much easier to find a Couchsurfing host.

    Cheers!

    Reply

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