The first thing you should know is that, as a solo female traveller, many of your friends and family (and even random people you mention it to) will have an opinion on your travel plans. Often a very strong opinion. They will share it with you.
And here’s the thing. They will make assumptions based on their own fears and worries and project that sense of panic on to you. These people, with the kindest of intentions, will cast doubt on your ability to cope alone in another country. You’ll be given a list or litany of everything that could possibly go wrong. And they might be right. But not necessarily. And not, unless you’re an absolute jinx, all at the same time!
You can choose to be afraid along with them or you can choose to be brave in the face of their worries. Your choice. Ultimately you are responsible for doing everything possible to stay safe on holiday. They are responsible for and their own fears, not you.
The thing is that, regardless of how well prepared you are, or how much you try to reassure them, they will continue to assume the worst. And that’s all right. Really. Remember that you are NOT responsible for their world view or their worry. However …
The least you can do is to be as well prepared as humanly possible. When they bombard you with “what ifs” you can calmly answer them. It won’t change their minds but it will let you feel that you’ve done your best to reassure them.
There’s risk in everything we do. Nothing is risk free. Perhaps you’re an adrenaline junkie who welcomes the risk wholeheartedly. But I suspect that if that’s the case, you wouldn’t be here, looking for tips on how to stay safe!
So – staying safe on holiday – the basics
You want to relax and enjoy yourself which is great. But that doesn’t mean being so relaxed that you put yourself in harm’s way. What would you do at home? Would you drink heavily, then accept a lift home from a stranger? Probably not So don’t start when you’re on holiday!
Would you carry large sums of cash at home? And would you advertise its presence by flashing lrge denomination notes aro? Now’s not the time to start.
Whatever steps you take to stay safe when you’re out and about at home – remember to do the same on holiday!
Location specific tips
The hotel. These days it’s easy to check out the hotel’s location online. While I would always be careful about the odd ultra bad (or good) review a consistently well reviewed hotel is a good starting . point. Be aware that some sites are notorious for fake postings by hotel staff or “trolls”. You can generally gauge whether a particular review is genuine or not. If most of the reviewers given three or four stars then a single one or five star is less likely to be genuine. This is the time to ask questions about security. Are the staff helpful? Are the corridors badly lit? Etc, etc
The room. Is the room at the far end of a badly lit corridor? Check in is the time to bring this up with hotel management and ask for a room change. You’ll probably be tired when you arrive but try to take a few moments to check that the both the entry and balcony doors lock properly.
The location. Again take the time to check it out. Is it in the middle of the local bar area? Is the street a main thoroughfare or in the back of beyond?
Personal safety. If the area is well known for pickpockets then you can either choose to be more vigilant than usual or choose another destination. If it’s your dream destination then you know not to carry much money on you and not to show off your latest IPhone or Nikon camera.
On that note – keeping your cash safe. I’ve given a more in-depth post on this here.
The upside of solo travel
So far I’ve been offering dire warnings on keeping yourself safe and I won’t take them back. But there are some upsides. As a solo female traveller I’ve been surprised on many occasions by how helpful total strangers can be. I’ve had a doctor drive me to the pharmacy for eye medication when I scratched my cornea as I had no-one to go with me. I’ve also had a migraine at a night out and had the manager arrange for me to be taken back to my hotel by one of his staff to make sure I didn’t have to walk back alone while unwell.
Don’t let worry put you off travelling alone. Staying safe on holiday isn’t always easier when you’ve someone with you. After all, you might choose to stay sober but have to deal with a drunken friend needing to be helped home. In that case, being on your own is far easier.
I’m planning to write a post dealing with the specifics of travelling safely in Turkey/North Africa as a solo female traveller. I’d love to know whether this might be of interest?