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.
How to travel safely as a woman
Look after yourself and ensure you can travel safely by following my guide on to how to travel safely as a woman.
Before you go travelling
Before you even leave your doorstep, there are a couple of things you can do to be fully prepared, covered and ensure you are going to travel safely.
Get travel insurance
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 have been using World Nomads Travel Insurance for years and their coverage for everything is top-notch. When I fell ill for 2 weeks in a Russian hospital after The Mongol Rally, World Nomads were swift to cover my expenses and make sure everything was taken care of.
There is a new kid on the block you may like to check out too though: SafetyWing! Their travel and medical insurance is excellent for digital nomads and I used them recently on my trip to Pakistan. I haven’t had to claim anything from them yet, but so far so 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?!)
- personal ID cards
- driver’s license
- credit cards
- cash cards
- travel insurance documents
Wondering where to store your documents?
- send these to yourself in an email
- upload them to a cloud drive
- carry them on a USB
- upload them to TripIt (an awesome app on iOS and Android). Talking about electronic stuff…
Download essential travel apps
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?
Invest in a VPN
Express VPN ensures your devices are not hacked into when you’re using WiFi in public hotspots. Express VPN also allows you to access websites from your home country whilst travelling. Make sure you’re protected!
Ensure you have the best travel gear
The best travel gear does not necessarily have to be the most expensive. The best travel gear you have is about packing smart and savvy. There are some items which I’ve bought and never used! There’s other items that I’ve invested in and use all the time! After being on the road for nearly 9 years now, I think I’ve nailed it.
Learn self defence
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, I unfortunately had to use my self defense skills in India. I don’t know what I would have done without it.
Educate yourself about travel scams
Do your homework and try to dodge them as best you can, this really is must-read basic level training for someone learning how to travel safely as a woman.
When you’re at the airport, bus station, port or train station…
OK! You’re all packed and everything is in order. But what should solo female travellers be doing once we’re on the road and getting to our destination? Here are my top solo female travel tips!
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!
If you’re really savvy with your packing, you’ll manage to get everything in one backpack and be able to travel with just this.
If you have to check in your main bag, make sure no valuables are in there and keep everything in your carry on.
What is the best backpack for traveling?
I recommend using Osprey Backpacks for the best of the best. I’m currently using the Kyte 36.
On a budget?
Cabin Zero are also a great backpack brand, but if you’re doing some serious hiking or trekking, they won’t cut it.
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!
Finding the best accommodation
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.
I stay in a number of different places to mix things up.
Hostels are a great way to meet other solo travellers and consequently explore the destination you’re in with others if you so wish! I’ve met amazing people by staying in hostels. Not only will you make friends, but you will learn a lot from each other too.
The problem with hostels is that you are definitely in a travel bubble. If you’re seeking an even more ‘local’ experience, how about staying with an actual local? I love AirBNB because it allows me to stay in a unique room, with someone who knows the local area very well – and sometimes the price of an AirBNB is cheaper than a hostel.
Make sure to read the host’s reviews and stay with someone who ‘feels right’. I always read the reviews and see what previous females staying there have said.
Sometimes I just want a little bit of luxury. I treat myself now and again with hotel stays for some swimming pool happiness and super lush sleepful nights.
I use Hotels Combined for Europe and Agoda for Asia. Switching up booking sites depending on where you’re travelling definitely helps you save money.
What to do when you get to your accommodation
The following three tips will save you a lot of hassle.
Grab the address on a card
Grab two copies of the property’s 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. Ask.
Locals know whether it’s good to take local transport or taxis, whether to walk around everywhere and at what times.
Ask locals for their advice on where to go, how and when.
Have things to store away?
Make use of security boxes, lockers and make sure you have your own locks.
I love using PacSafe products for extra security.
Use this checklist before you step out of your accommodation
OK. You’re ready to go out and start exploring! But you need to ensure that you have these travel essentials on your person before you leave and do these things.
- Leave a note to say where you’re planning to go that day on your bed
- Make sure your phone is charged! Do you have your power bank too?
Have you packed the following?
- Accommodation Business Card
- Mobile Phone
- Room Key
- Cash and credit/debit cards
- Passport (in some countries you need your passport on you at all times)
- Power bank and cables
- 24/7 Portable WiFi
- Security personal alarm
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and hat for the sun / scarf, hat and gloves for the cold!
- Light Scarf to cover yourself for the sun and cultural sensitivities
- Water Filter Bottle
- Wet wipes so you don’t get caught out in bathrooms with no paper
- Hand sanitiser
- Essential medications
- Condoms (if you’re going out for that reason!)
What to do when you’re on the street
Once you step out and start immersing yourself within the culture you are in, the following solo female travel tips will help you immensely.
Wear a ring (and show the photo)
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.
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! It’s been known for thieves to rip them right out.
Separate your money and cards
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!
Use different cards
I spread my money across different cards. Not only does this possibly stop me losing a lot of money at once but it also helps me save, budget and avoid ATM fees.
My current favourite cards to use (for UK residents) whilst travelling are:
Get 5 GBP once you spend on your new card
Get 5 GBP when you sign up with code 3EZXQ
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 cards, you’ll have these to throw at them.
Hide your money strategically
Never physically have your money in one place either. Put some in your pocket, some in your purse and some in your bra or belt.
Watch your alcohol consumption
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.
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.
Want to boost your self esteem and confidence?
The best way to travel safely is to 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 feelings and there’s a good chance you’ll make the right decision.
Feel weird? Just leave.
How do you travel safely as a woman?
Comment below and share your valuable advice about how to prepare and travel safely.