Friday, January 18, 2013

Day 18: Is Traveling Solo (as a woman) Safe?

Yesterday, I talked about the safety of hostels, and how they're NOT chainsaw-laden madhouses where people want to kill you for fun. (Sorry to ruin the plot of the Hostel movies there... but not really.)

Today, I would like to talk about traveling alone. Specifically, traveling solo as a woman.

Me, solo in Cambodia
In American culture, it is very ingrained in our minds, especially as women, that going somewhere alone is bad. It is dangerous. It is weird and risky, and if something happens to you, don't say we didn't warn you! And, it also means you're a loner who doesn't have any friends to go with you. Men may face the "don't you have any friends to go with you?" attitude, occasionally; but for the most part, I think the safety issues are directed almost entirely at women.

Why? Are we helpless little flowers?

To that, I say an emphatic NO.

As long as you are prepared for your trip, you are as safe as you are sitting at home fretting.

So, first a few tips, then a few links to some other awesome ladies doing the same thing.

Tip 1: Research your destination before you go!! This sounds like common sense, but you'd be surprised at how many people just turn up somewhere. Get a guidebook. Find a place to stay before you go, research about the local people and customs and what you should wear to blend in, and have a secure place to store your passport/money/credit cards (could be a secret pocket in your pants, or just wearing a moneybelt under your clothes) so that even if your wallet or handbag gets stolen by a pickpocket, the important stuff is still safe.

Also available in kindle!
Tip 2: Be street smart. Don't wander down a dark alley at night alone. If you're going to meet someone (such as someone you met online), meet them in public first. If something seems off, don't ignore your instincts. Use public transportation as much as possible; not only is it cheaper, but it's likely there will always be many people around. However, beware peddlers and beggars in and around public transportation, because they can be a distraction to take your eyes off a potential pickpocket.

Tip 3: Know the local police numbers, AND know the number for your local embassy or consulate, in case the worst happens.
Know how to get in touch with these guys.

Tip 4: Act like you know where you're going. Nothing says tourist like stopping in the middle of a sidewalk to pull out a map and stare at it. If you need to check your map, duck into a shop. Or, better yet, if you have a smartphone, download apps onto your phone (accessible offline in case you don't have wifi or 3G coverage) that you can look at. Then, you just look like a normal person checking their phone instead of a gawky tourist.

Tip 5: Don't be afraid to be rude. Women are taught to be polite at all costs, but when you're traveling this just doesn't fly. Don't be a jerk to random passers-by, but if someone is harassing you, tell them very sternly to Fuck Off. They may not understand your words, but they will understand attitude and a loud voice. Plus, it draws other people's attention to the situation and makes that person more likely to leave you alone, now that they've been spotted by others.

Tip 6: At the same time, don't be afraid that everyone is going to rob or hurt you. Most people are just like you. Normal, non-murderous, and just trying to go about their day.

So, those are my tips. Now, I'd like to recommend some fellow solo lady travelers that really helped me when I was starting off.

  • Adventurous Kate -- Kate took off for a 6 month jaunt through Southeast Asia on her own. Her tips were invaluable when I visited that region solo myself (even though I was only there 2 weeks!). My favorite post of hers has to be about visiting a ping pong show in Bangkok alone. Hilarious!! She's been to many countries all over the world solo, so definitely check her out.

  • Steph at 20-something Travel -- Steph didn't let not having a travel buddy hold her back. Her blog's tagline is "Why wait to see the world?" and she lives by it. She started off traveling solo on a RTW ('round the world) trip, although she ended up traveling with her fellow-blogger boyfriend (now fiancĂ©!) later on. The link above is one of my favorite posts by her, called "Is the American Dream Holding You Back?" It is one to check out for sure.

  • Janice at Solo Traveler -- This cool lady is a bit older than the others, but that makes it even more awesome that she's out exploring the world on her own. Click the link for a good post she wrote about the potential dangers of solo travel. She's also written articles about  specifically women traveling alone, and also how to travel alone without being lonely. Good reads! 

So that's it for today. Now, I'm off to the Norman countryside to meet up with some fellow teacher friends for the weekend. We're having pizza and booze, so it's sure to be a great time!

Tomorrow, I'm blogging about "Is Couchsurfing Safe?" Stay tuned!

xx Kaylin

(pictures: 1- mine; 2-; 3-


  1. Hey there. I found you through Kate's tweet. Great article and good points. I especially believe in #5. I'm currently traveling solo as well and loving it. So far all's been safe and I've even couch surfed plenty. You have me inspired to write my own solo female travel safety post. Safe and happy trails to you :)

    1. Hey Colleen, thanks for your comment! Glad you are having a great time traveling solo too. #5 is a big one, I'm kind of a loud-mouth even at home but if someone is all up in my space when I'm abroad I don't hesitate even a second to get in their face and let them know what's up real quick. Ladies, you can't be timid to travel overseas!

      Oh, and I will be sure to check out your blog so I can see your post too. :)