Traveling solo is a wonderful experience and I’m glad I have done it at least once during my lifetime. Many of my female friends have asked me if I’ve ever felt threatened or afraid when I’m on the road by myself, especially when I travel in remote places.
Yes, there were times when I felt that way. But the fear did not stop me from exploring new places on my own. After a while, I started to get the hang of it and I feel more confident now compared to when I first started. Honestly, I think it has made me a better traveler.
I’m also fortunate to have other travelers joining me in my trips now and then. Of course, there will be times when I have to be on my own. So whenever I’m in that position, I will follow some of these simple rules!
Rule #1: Be wary of your surroundings
When you travel alone, it’s always important to stay alert at all times. Listening to music while you travel is a wonderful experience especially when that’s the only entertainment you have at the time. But try your best not to have your earphones plugged in completely when you walk on the street, as it’s easy to lose focus of your surroundings.
There have been cases where people have gotten robbed because they were just less aware. Staying alert at all times may help prevent strangers from taking advantage.
Rule #2: Trust your instincts
Do this and you’ll be fine. Whenever you find yourself in uncomfortable situations, don’t panic. Keep calm and just deal with the situations you’re in.
For example, if a stranger approaches you in an odd or suspicious manner, keep calm and walk away quickly. It’s possible that you’re wrong about the other person. But if it feels wrong, it’s most likely right to move away.
Take this an example: If a car has been suspiciously following yours for the past 30 minutes, you’ll likely pull over and stop somewhere with people. Apply the same rule when you’re walking on your own, too. When I feel like I’ve been followed, I’ll stop by the nearest place where I can be surrounded by others.
Rule #3: Know where you’re going
Unless you know the place well enough, you’ve got every reason to be street-savvy. Take whatever that’s necessary to smoothen your journey. Carry a travel guide book, a map, enough cash, and even a phrase book. In case you get lost, you can always approach a local and ask for guidance. Just make sure that you know exactly where you’re going to make things easier.
When a local gives you tips, jot them down in a small notebook. If you have a print out map, you can ask them to help you draw a map on your notebook. I did that when I was in Thailand and it worked well.
Tip: Always bring a pen with you! Remember, don’t be afraid to ask for directions. If you’re shy around local men, approach local women instead.
Rule #4: Wear a fake ring if you’re single
This is one of the tips given by my travel buddies when I told them stories about getting harassed and teased by extremely ‘friendly’ men. It’s a strange solution, but it doesn’t matter where you go – a fake ring will be useful to indicate that you’re already taken.
What kind of ring should you wear? Something fake that isn’t made of real diamonds! Most of these flirty men will not believe that you’re married until they see a ring on your finger.
Tip: To make your story more believable, carry a picture of your fake husband. Hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. It’s worked for me!
Rule #5: Travel light whenever possible
Traveling light is my golden rule when I travel. I would’ve put it at the top of the list if I could, but not this time. Not everyone is agreeable when it comes to minimalist travel. That’s because traveling with less things isn’t that easy. But once you’ve done it, at one point, you’ll wish you could go with zero baggage.
Let me tell you why it’s a good practice. Apart from saving space, traveling light might save you from dangers someday. When you have less in your backpack, you’ll be able to make a quick run in case of an emergency!
Rule #6: Stay on guard at all times
Whenever traveling alone, you’ll need to pay more attention to everything. Compared to when traveling with another person, traveling solo requires you to fully depend on yourself. So, as you walk on unfamiliar streets, focus on the little things.
Avoid being overly polite or nice to strangers as this will also only make you look vulnerable. You might look like an easy target to them. If anyone tries to touch you, scream, even if you’re going to shock everyone else around you. The whole idea is to draw everybody’s attention to you.
Rule #7: Avoid wandering alone at night
Try to do everything you need to do before nightfall. While there are places safe enough for women to travel alone, there are also many places that aren’t safe, even for men. If you really need to go out at night, try to go in groups. If you’re staying in a backpacker hostel, chances are you’ll meet other travelers who also want to hangout at night. Join them if that’s possible.
For those traveling on long-distance trips, arriving at your destination before midnight is highly recommended. You don’t want to arrive at 3am with your backpack looking for a hotel. But if you still need to arrive that late, it’s good to plan your accommodation in advance. Book a hotel.
Rule #8: Watch your alcohol intake
I’ve never gotten wasted when I travel. Getting slightly drunk and tipsy is as far as I’ve ever gone. While we’re all for enjoying ourselves while we travel, know your alcohol limit and never go beyond it if you’re going to be on your own. And if you want to drink, do so with people you trust.
Rule #9: Always have a backup plan
I’m the kind of traveler who usually doesn’t stick to a fixed plan. Some say I’m reckless, but hey, it’s a risk I’m willing to take. That’s part of the adventure! But with risks, comes a backup plan.
Many people plan their travels in advance. I do too, but not for the entire trip. I usually go with the flow. That also means that I will wait until the last minute to do certain things such as hotel bookings. I usually book a room for just one night first.
There’s a reason why I do that. In case I dislike the accommodation, I can choose to stay in a different place the day after. And because I’m traveling with Traveloka App, I can book my accommodation anytime and anywhere.
Rule #10: Take a group tour
You’ve always wanted to travel and explore new places on your own. But you’re afraid. My only advice with regards to this matter is to follow your gut. If you think you’re going to be okay on your own, do it. Otherwise, take a travel tour.
But I understand that such tours aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. I only take tours when I really have to. Or else, I’d go with other travelers who also want to do the same kind of explorations I want.
Rule #11: Don’t fully trust strangers
Making conversations with new people is great. Sometimes you’ll meet really nice people along the way. Even so, you need to always remind yourself that you don’t know them well enough to reveal exactly where you’re staying. You might even come across people who would invite you for a drink at their place. You’d be thinking that they’re just being nice, only to find out later that you’ve been giving them the wrong signal.
So my advice is to always be clear about the things you say and try not to reveal too much about yourself, unless you’ve already gotten to know the person better.
Tip: When you come across flirty men, there’s no need to tell them that you’re traveling alone or if you’re still single. Firstly, you’re just giving them reasons to bother you. Secondly, it’s none of their business. A little white lie is ok if it means keeping you safe.
Do you have more tips to solo female travelers out there? I’d love to know your opinions, too! Last but not least, stay safe and enjoy your travels!