Safety is a primary concern among female travelers. This is because of the stories of sexual violence and other horrors that some women face during their solo adventures. Here’s how you can protect yourself while exploring the world on your own:
1. Consider social accommodation
Hostels are a popular choice among solo travelers. A cheap hostel in London will not only save you some bucks, but it will give you a sense of safety and community. Contrary to what most films portray, hostels aren’t a scary place with people who intend to stab you or steal your valuables. You’ll be surrounded by fellow adventurers who are usually lovely people who want to explore places just like you.
Once you build friendships with other women travelers, you don’t have to explore the city alone or eat in solitude. Because hostels are typically small, the reception desk is more accessible, and everyone becomes familiar with each other pretty quickly. Make sure to pick a hostel with a good reputation by checking reader-generated reviews online.
Hostelworld and Hosteling International are great resources to search for hostels that are worth bunking at. Remember to choose accommodation in populated areas and one that has lockers and a 24-hour front desk. Once you’re at the hostel, ask the staff for safety tips such as scams to look out for and places to avoid.
2. Look confident
Looking completely oblivious will make you an attractive target of hustlers and scammers. When roaming around unfamiliar destinations, confidence is your armor. Even if you’re feeling nervous about exploring a new city, you need to walk with purpose and awareness. Use power posing and don’t appear hesitant or confused as this will make you look vulnerable. Be alert. Do not use earbuds or get distracted by your mobile phone.
You’re most safe when all your senses are working for you. Resist the urge to look worried even when you feel lost. Keep walking and act like you know where you’re heading. Then find a safe space where you can check the map or ask for directions. Never look like a gullible tourist; act like you’re a badass adventurer.
3. Dress respectfully
Every place has local customs, attitudes, and religious beliefs. In some countries, you can’t dress as you please as it may cause offense, create a distraction, or send inappropriate signals. You’ll unintentionally invite pickpockets, spark the wrong kind of attention, and encourage annoying catcalls. Research about the dress etiquette in your destination country and make sure to conform to their cultural dress codes.
Wherever you’re traveling, it’s best to avoid religiously immodest clothing, flashy jewelry, and clothes that scream you’re a tourist. You’ll likely avoid harassment if you dress like a local so you could blend in, or at least you don’t stand out. The best rule of thumb is to always conform to conservatism when choosing clothes to wear in a foreign country.
Independent travel can be extra rewarding. It enriches your experience, sharpens your intuition, and promotes independence. As long as you’re consistent in taking safety precautions, you’re in for a safe and pleasant adventure.