Personal Safety Measures I Take As a Female Full-Time Solo Traveler

Most people are good. I’ve met so many helpful, hospitable, generous people while traveling, of all nationalities and sexes and ages, and I know this to be true: most people are good. 

While I’m not naturally distrusting or fearful, I AM self-aware, prepared, and I trust my intuition. From someone who’s been solo traveling for 15 years, and 100% full-time for the past 9-plus months, here’s my advice to you.

If you feel uncomfortable, remove yourself from the situation. DON’T wait until your personal safety is directly threatened. DON’T care if you are going to offend someone. YOUR SAFETY IS YOUR TOP PRIORITY. 

Traveling solo is not inherently dangerous. Nor is traveling solo as a woman inherently dangerous. But I’ve certainly removed myself while in various traveling scenarios. Maybe there was a look, maybe there was a comment, maybe there was an action — something that rang up my warning bells — well, I make no apologies for exiting, stage left. 

Abruptly leaving a Couchsurfing accommodation. Taking another elevator or going another way. Refusing a drink or to see someone again — whatever. Knock on wood, this has served me well. 

I think it takes a combination of awareness, preparedness, and… attitude. Watch the video (I share some specific examples), or, read on!

Staying safe traveling solo #1: Awareness & senses

This one’s pretty simple: keep your eyes open. Be aware of your surroundings. Trust your gut. Keep some measure of control. Alcohol and other substances can dull your senses, so temper yourself. 

And don’t be shy about “overreacting.” People will try to say you’re overreacting or you will otherwise second guess yourself. Don’t let them. Ladies, we’ve been overwhelmingly conditioned not to rock the boat and to be polite and quiet. We’ve also been made to feel guilty or embarrassed about taking steps to protect ourselves. 

But to that I say: be loud. Be hysterical. Be impolite. It can protect you. 

Staying safe traveling solo #2: Preparedness & safety tactics

Here’s a few tactical steps I recommend to increase your personal safety: 

  • If traveling by car, take bear spray. It’s like mace; it works on bears AND men. (Not allowed in carryon luggage during air travel.)
  • Learn some self-defense moves for incapacitating an attacker.
  • Turn on and share your location with some trusted individuals. On Apple, it’s the Find my Friends app; my location is always being shared with my family.
  • Most mobile devices (and the Apple Watch!) have a 911 shortcut. Fun fact, did you know, if you call “911” when you’re in another country, the satellites will route to whichever the 911 equivalent is — and it will work even if your cell service is turned off?!
  • Limit night driving and driving in unpopulated or un-touristy areas.
  • Don’t run or hike with earbuds or headphones in. 
  • Download the offline map to your device, just in case you lose cell service.
  • Bring backup portable charging devices.
  • Consider staying in hotels and hostels rather than Airbnbs when overseas, for the security.
  • If staying in a hostel, opt for the female-only dorm vs. the mixed dorm. Again, you’re allowed to make any and every choice available to you that would make you more comfortable and increase your personal safety.

Staying safe traveling solo #3: Be a bad-ass b*tch and don’t act like a victim

I know that as a tall, blonde, fair-skinned, conventionally attractive woman, I can stand out when I travel. I certainly could be targeted. But I do not act like a victim or make myself an easy target. I project a lot of confidence. 

I am not easily intimidated and I am not easily overwhelmed. This works to my advantage. Someone who looks like they know what’s up, like they have the situation under control, who is not at a loss in any way — is not an easy hit.

Head up, shoulders squared, distractions aside, look directly in the eye. I’m telling you, it makes a huge difference.

To wrap it all up… this is a balancing act! I am going to take precautions, I’m going to keep my eyes open, I’m going to trust my gut, I’m going to get loud if I have to… but I won’t be scared off from experiencing the things I want to experience. And you shouldn’t either.

We women (and any other marginalized group that is more likely to be victimized) deserve to see the world too. 😘

Traveling solo is not inherently dangerous. Nor is #travelingsolo as a woman inherently dangerous. THINK, DO, and (don’t) ACT (like a victim). Read more..

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