When I tell people how much solo travel I do, I’m usually greeted with one of two reactions:
1) “That’s so fun!”
2) “HOW DO YOU STAY SAFE WHILE TRAVELING ALONE???!!!” (followed by an urban legend of someone who went missing while traveling alone.)
In my five years/twenty countries worth of travel, I have never been robbed, groped or seriously harassed. Mostly, I have been lucky. But I also employ the all-important “Don’t mess with me walk” and follow these tips:
Staying Safe While Traveling Alone Abroad
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Of course, all the normal rules for personal safety still apply while you’re traveling. When traveling alone, it’s tempting to lose yourself in the architecture and cobblestones and dark-eyed boys of a new place. Don’t get so enthralled that you wander into a dicey neighborhood or find yourself alone, in a cemetery, as the sun is setting.
When you travel, you’ll inevitably visit places you might not frequent at home – crowded street markets, isolated ruins, underground crypts. You still need to hold on to your bag and keep an eye out for gropers even at these tourist attractions.
Leave the Daisy Dukes At Home
Many countries have a much more conservative approach to fashion than those of us who live in the western world. And some of the countries that do embrace the short short and halter top are quite keen to express their approval via wolf whistles and ass-slaps. You’ll be less likely to encounter trouble is you leave the camisoles and mini skirts at home.
Learn Some Choice Phrases
“Leave me alone,” “I have a boyfriend,” “Stop!” and “Help!” are always good to know in any language. But then you can also accomplish a lot with pointed glares and rolled eyes.
I’ve heard urban legends about female travelers who have grabbed the hand of men who groped them, held said hand up in the air and yelled “This man touched me!” Public shaming: huge deterrent.
Know the Scams Before You Get There
Sure, we all know not to buy a “Timex” from a guy selling them out of his coat pocket, but every country has different scams. Check out your Lonely Planet’s “Dangers and Annoyances” section and read a few travel message boards about your destination.
Common sense and confidence will keep you safe 95% of the time. Click To TweetHowever, take all of this information with a grain of salt and don’t let it ruin your trip. Carry a messenger bag in front of you, keep your credit cards, passport and cash in a money belt under your clothes and don’t go home with the hot Peruvian you just met at the bar. You’ll be fine!
Make Friends With the Locals
If you speak the language, chat with your waiter/concierge/guide about which neighborhoods are safe, which bus companies are nice and how much you should expect to pay for different services. They are usually thrilled to share their knowledge and might even hook you up with some amazing, off-the-beaten track experiences.
Take a self-defense class before you leave + maybe buy this key chain
Hopefully, you won’t ever have to know how to break a choke hold or where to punch, kick, and bite. But taking a self-defense class is never a bad idea for anyone – regardless of gender or travel destination. I’ve taken the Krav Maga ‘Stay Away’ self-defense class and found it invaluable.
Also: I love my totally innocuous looking cat-shaped self-defense key chain. And it’s plastic so you can take it through airport security!
Enjoying Solo Travel
Make Friends With the Locals (Seriously)
Learn How to Amuse Yourself
Allow Yourself Some Downtime
How do you stay safe when you travel? And have you ever traveled alone?