We’d like to be able to say that it’s perfectly safe for women to travel the world on their own, after all this is 2017. Despite the tales that you hear in the tabloids, it’s not all doom and gloom and there are plenty of destinations around the world where it’s perfectly safe to be a solo woman traveller. There are, however, some locations and situations where it’s sensible to travel in groups or with a male companion, no matter how backwards it may seem. If you are a woman travelling on your own, we’ve pulled together a list of safety mistakes that solo women travellers should be wary of making, hopefully helping to make your travel experiences more pleasant and much safer.
1. Not planning your first night’s accommodation
A common mistake is not planning where you will spend your first night in a new place. It’s perfectly fine to keep your itinerary loose and plan as you go along, but there’s nothing worse than arriving somewhere new in the dark of the night and not having a bed for the night. Rather than wandering around unfamiliar streets, unsure of unsafe neighbourhoods, plan your first night’s accommodation prior to your arrival and have a plan of how you will find your way there.
2. Dressing inappropriately
Don’t shrug off local cultures and customs by insisting that you can dress as you would back home. It’s not only disrespectful to the locals, it can be dangerous to expose areas of your skin that the residents aren’t used to. If you’re staying in an area where shoulders or legs are kept covered in public, exposing yours will draw attention to you and instantly mark you out as a foreigner.
3. Advertising the fact that you are travelling solo
You’re asking for trouble if you go about bragging that you are travelling on your own. Be wary of prying eyes when filling out forms upon arrival at airports and if you attract unwelcome attention, simply tell a little white lie that you are late to meet your partner or travel companion. Avoid sharing taxis with strangers who may offer to split costs with you once they catch on that you’re on your own.
4. Flaunting expensive gadgets or jewellery
Everyone across the world heard this week about how Kim Kardashian was targeted by armed robbers in Paris because they’d spotted her multi-million pound jewellery on her social media channels. Avoid showing off expensive cameras, smart phones, jewellery or handbags, keeping them tucked away out of sight at all times so as not to tempt thieves seeking easy opportunities.
5. Not sharing your travel plans with friends & family back home
If the worse does happen whilst you’re travelling on your own, you want to make sure that your loved ones back home know where you are. If you ensure that you regularly check in with a contact at home during your trip, they will instantly know something is wrong if they don’t hear from you and will also be able to advise authorities as to your last known locations. It’s also helpful to let someone on the reception of your hotel or hostel know your plans if you’re heading out for the day.
6. Getting drunk
Everyone enjoys a drink whilst they’re travelling, especially if you need a little confidence boost to talk to new people. If you’re on your own, however, be mindful of how vulnerable you are whilst inebriated. It would be incredibly easy for someone to take advantage of you or steal your belongings whilst you are under the influence of alcohol. If you do plan on spending a night out on the town, don’t carry valuables with you, let someone you trust know where you are going and stick to bars on the main tourist track rather than back street boozers.
7. Being too trusting
One of the best parts of travelling is meeting interesting new people from all around the world, and whilst we wouldn’t tell you to stay clear of locals and fellow travellers, we would advise that you are wary of being too trusting too soon. Take time to get to know people, and always keep your wits about you. Don’t go off into the wilderness with people you have only just met, be careful of accepting food or drink from strangers, and always take yourself away from a situation and find someone you trust such as a policeman or hotel manager if you begin to feel strange or unwell for no apparent reason.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.