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. 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 on to you. These people, with the kindest of intentions will cast doubt on your ability to cope alone in another country. You can choose to be afraid with them or you can choose to be brave in the face of their worries. Ultimately you are responsible for doing everything possible to stay safe on holiday.
The least you can do is to be as well prepared as humanly possible. 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? So, don’t start when you’re on holiday!
Would you carry large sums of cash at home? 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.
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 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 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 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 can 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 to Turkey/North Africa as a solo female traveller. I’d love to know whether this might be of interest?