Traveling the world can be one of the most rewarding life experiences. As a woman, travel can be liberating and empowering – but sadly, it can also be dangerous. The unfortunate reality is that for women, it’s necessary to take a few more safety precautions than men would when traveling. It may not be fair, but it is the reality we live in.
Don’t let that scare you, though, from taking that once-in-a-lifetime trip! Your trip can be absolutely amazing if you do it safely. Follow these travel safety tips below to make your next trip as safe and as exciting as possible!
Female Travel Safety
This post was written for solo female travelers but it can apply to anyone.
Travel safety doesn’t have to be a burden. There are many ways to stay safe and have a good time traveling, too. Safety doesn’t have to hinder your wanderlust!
1. Make a local friend
If possible, making a local friend before your trip is ideal and a great way to stay safe. There are numerous sites and groups on the internet for just that! Girls Love Travel and the Travelettes are two of my favorite resources to meet other women traveling abroad or locals who want to show you around.
2. Share your itinerary with people back home
Make sure that your friends and family know your approximate whereabouts at all times, and check in with them regularly. If anything goes wrong on your trip and you cannot contact them, having your itinerary can make it easier for them to help you. This is definitely one of the most basic travel safety tips to know!
3. Take pictures of important travel documents
Having copies of important documents like your passport and itinerary in multiple formats is necessary! Make sure to have paper copies, copies stored offline on your phone, and copies stored in a cloud service. Bring along a good portable hard drive as a backup in case your phone is stolen.
There are a number of useful travel tech gadgets that can be helpful for storing information while traveling.
4. Pack light
Don’t overpack! Bringing a lot of luggage or heavy luggage can slow you down if you need to leave an uncomfortable situation fast. Also, make sure to not wear expensive or flashy jewelry. This will cause unwanted attention and make you more susceptible to getting pickpocketed or robbed. Blend in with the locals as best you can.
5. Don’t keep all of your money in one place
Make sure to keep your money in different places and unobvious areas. A great and unique location to hide cash and valuables is a tampon or feminine hygiene supply box. Another option is to purchase boots with pockets. You can find special boots, perfect for traveling, online and in certain stores that have a side pocket on each boot to hold cash or small items. A couple of years ago, I found a pair at Target that worked wonders as I traveled across Europe.
6. Wear a fake wedding ring
This one is for all the single ladies! If you feel you are in a sketchy or uncomfortable situation, start telling stories about your significant other or male travel partner. This will make it seem like you are not traveling alone, and someone is waiting for you, making you less vulnerable looking.
7. Carry protection
If you are checking a bag, you can bring a small bottle of mace for protection. Do not try to bring it in your carry-on bag because it will be confiscated at security. If you are not checking a bag and you are just taking a carry-on, then bring a loud whistle as another form of protection. On a slightly different note, it’s smart to bring contraception. Even if you are not planning on having sex, contraception is a good idea. You know the old adage, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
8. Leave the room looking like someone is still there
When staying in a hotel or hostel room by yourself, make sure to leave the ‘do not disturb’ sign up when you leave the room. Leave the TV on if applicable to make it sound like someone is still in the room. Never leave valuables in your room without your own way to lock them up. I’ve learned from first-hand experience that some safes in your hotel room are accessible by hotel staff, and not every employee is trustworthy.
9. Talk to the female hotel or hostel employees
When traveling solo as a female or in a group of females, it is always great to make friends with local females or female staff. You can ask about safe spots to travel and dangerous spots to avoid. They are a wealth of information on what to watch out for in every country and can give you some of the best and most personalized travel safety tips.
10. If you get lost, don’t act like it
If you are lost and need to look at your phone or a map, make sure to do it in a cafe or store where it’s not obvious that you are lost. Find someone in the store that looks trustworthy, preferably another female. Do not do it in the streets; that brings attention to you being lost and makes it a higher chance of you getting taken advantage of.
11. Sit next to other women
On public transportation, sit next to other women and near the front or exit if you feel like you are in an unsafe situation. Sitting next to other local women can give you the protection that you need. Also, sitting next to the exit or the front of the bus or train makes it easier for you to get off more quickly and get to a safe place. If you feel that you are unsafe, answer your phone and make it sound like you are on your way to meet someone very soon. If it sounds like you’re meeting someone, there is a lower chance of someone targeting you or taking advantage of you.
12. Take pictures of cab license plates before you get in
Before getting in a cab, take pictures of the license plate. If you need to report the cab driver or lose something in the cab, having the license plate is the quickest and easiest way to get things settled. When traveling in the cab, track the route on your maps on your phone. If you don’t have cell reception, before your trip, download an offline maps app. This is to ensure that you are going on the right route to the right place.
13. Drink in moderation
This one should be self-explanatory and is also one of the most essential travel safety tips listed. Drinking too much can put you in an extremely perilous situation where it is very easy for you to be taken advantage of. When ordering drinks, make sure you are watching your drink at all times and that you know where your drink is coming from. Drinking an excessive amount is dangerous, but consuming drinks that you don’t know where they’re from is even more dangerous because they can be drugged.
14. Carry lipstick pepper spray
Be sure to check local laws around using pepper spray, but if it’s legal, you should carry pepper spray in your purse. You can even buy a bottle that looks like lipstick. It could come in handy during a tricky situation.
15. Note local emergency numbers
I can’t tell you how many times I have traveled abroad without checking the local emergency contact numbers. Looking back, this was so dangerous! Be sure to write down on a piece of paper the local contacts for emergencies and how to reach the police. It isn’t the same in every country, so research this ahead of time. It’s best to memorize these numbers if you can, just in case your phone or bag gets stolen while you travel! It’s always a good idea to have a good travel insurance plan in case you get injured abroad, too.
When traveling as a woman, the most important thing is to use common sense. These travel safety tips may seem obvious, but they have been learned the hard way by numerous travelers, including myself. These tips can be used anywhere around the world to make sure that your next trip exceeds your wildest expectations.