7 Safety Tips For Women Planning To Travel Alone
Posted November 29, 2022 by Prairie Wife - 2 comments
When I announced my three-week-long solo trip to England earlier this year, the number one thing I heard was, “Aren’t you scared to travel alone?”
The Cowboy also received numerous phone calls and texts asking him how he could let me travel so far away by myself.
To his credit, The Cowboy responded that he was more than confident in my ability to handle being on my own for three weeks in Europe.
If I’m being truthful, it never occurred to me that so many people would be concerned about my safety and that SO many other women I knew would be in awe of how “brave” I was to be willing to travel alone. Over and over, I heard women say, “I could never…”
When I go on my girl trips with my High School Besties (like my recent trip to Vegas), I fly alone and generally arrive a day or two before them so I can enjoy a bit of quiet time. After all, when you’re a mom of five with a job that involves a lot of socializing, it’s absolute zen to sleep in and sit in a hotel alone, reading or watching trashy TV!
For my trip to England, which also ended up having a detour to France, I spent two weeks of the trip alone.
It was incredible and something I hope to continue to do over and over again.
When you’re traveling alone, you can do whatever YOU want, whenever you want…which is an absolute luxury in this day and age of overscheduling and “busy is better” mindsets. I find that solo travel allows me to soak in my surroundings and enjoy little moments I would likely have missed if I were busy chatting with a friend.
Traveling alone has also built my confidence, and I have seen that positively affect other areas of my life as well.
BUT it’s foolish to think that there aren’t dangers with this type of travel. There are absolutely things that I HAVE to think about as a woman traveling alone, and certain things that NEED to be done to ensure my safety.
1. Share Your Itinerary
While you don’t have to plan out every moment of your travel (after all, the spontaneity of solo traveling is one of the best parts), it’s essential to let a few people know where you plan to be each day of your trip. This includes sharing your flight and hotel/Airbnb information and a general idea of your daily plans. Let your friends or family know if you make changes, like when I decided to spend a week in France. It’s also a smart idea to take a screenshot of your route for the day, just in case you don’t have cell phone service. GPS is fantastic, but it won’t always work in every location.
2. Schedule a Time to Touch Base
Part of the fun of solo travel is NOT having to talk to anyone. But, you must schedule a time to touch base with friends/family so that they know nothing has happened. I talked to my family daily because it was important for The Cowkids, but I think it’s totally reasonable to touch base every other day. More time than 48 hours makes it a bit risky if something DID happen. Keep in mind a simple text or email is all that you need to do. There is no need for a long phone call or FaceTime!
3. Location. Location. Location.
Take time to research where you’re staying. About half of my travel is now spent staying in Airbnb homes, and while it’s convenient, it can also cause a BIG problem if you’re in a sketchy neighborhood. Read the reviews about where you’re staying and make sure you see multiple posts about “safe place to walk” and “easy access to food.” When I got our flat in London, I reached out to a friend that lived in the area to ensure we picked a safe spot. For my solo stay in the cottage in the Malvern Hills, I knew it would be a long walk to the store, so I had the Taxi stop on the way so I could pick up food. When staying in a country where I don’t speak the language, I pick to stay in a nice hotel rather than an Airbnb. This way, I know there is likely staff that speaks English that can help me. It also makes it easier to ask locals for directions if you get lost! Another thing to look at is how close you are to public transportation.
4. Make Sure You Have Enough Money
Being on a super tight budget is NOT the way to go if you’re traveling solo. Make sure you have wiggle room in your budget to handle anything that happens. This will take a TON of pressure off of you and ensure that you can breathe easily if the unthinkable occurs. Lost your luggage for three days? No problem, you can grab a few new outfits to last you until it shows up. The hotel you booked is utterly terrible? Not going to ruin your stay! You can go ahead and rebook somewhere else. Missed your train and the next one doesn’t arrive for 12 hours? You have the funds to go to a museum for a few hours and enjoy a nice long lunch at a cafe.
5. No Earbuds or Headphones
I feel like this one is common sense, but I can’t believe how many people walk around with earbuds/headphones on that are entirely oblivious to what’s around them. As a female traveling alone, you CAN NOT afford to do this. When traveling solo, you MUST be aware of your surroundings and actively engaged in what is happening around you. People looking to do you harm will likely automatically skip you when they see you aren’t absorbed with whatever you are listening to. They’ll go for the easier target of someone that is distracted by their tech. Even when I hiked 16 miles in the Alps, I didn’t use my Earbuds for the entire time. I ran into three men along the way, and while they were perfectly lovely (and helpful), I heard them coming and was prepared well before they came into sight in case they didn’t have my best interests at heart. NOTE: I feel comfortable wearing them on the plane and in the airport, where there are many people around. I also felt comfortable wearing them when I jogged in Kensington Park because it was crowded and daylight.
6. Be Aware of Your Alchohol Consumption
When traveling alone, I strongly encourage you to stay away from public places where large amounts of alcohol (and drugs) are not only consumed but encouraged. Going to a club alone at midnight and getting drunk is not wise or safe. Be smart if you choose to go to a bar/club alone. Only purchase your own drinks, take them from the bartender, and be aware of how much you drink. Keep in mind that if you travel to a place with a higher altitude, you may have less of a tolerance for alcohol than usual. Have a glass of wine at dinner, or enjoy champagne on the beach but make sure you are aware of who is around you and how you’re feeling before you set off for your next destination.
7. Trust Your Instincts
Trust your instincts. You can do everything right and still find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. While, in general, most people are kind and happy to help, there ARE people out there who do not have your best interests at heart. If you feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts and get out of that situation. I have had multiple times during my solo travels where I have met wonderful people that I still keep in touch with years later. There have also been times when a particular person or situation has given me a bad feeling. In this case, it’s not a time to be polite or worry about what others will think. Don’t engage with the person anymore, and get out of there! Pick up your phone and call someone (even if you’re pretending to talk to them), go to the staff and ask for help, or head to the women’s bathroom and ask someone there to help you. Also, remember that the number to call in an emergency is different in other countries, so make sure you know what to use if you’re traveling out of the US.
Traveling alone is one of the best things I’ve ever done, and as long as you follow the tips above, you can feel confident that even if the unexpected happens, you’ll be just fine!
I plan to write two other posts about solo travel, including one with all the apps I found incredibly helpful and what to carry with you in your backpack/purse/carry-on. If you want me to add anything to that list, let me know in the comment section below!
Categories: Life As It Happens