Wanting to travel solo?
Where in the world is safe to travel for solo female travel?
With the proliferation of online news, social media and mobile technologies, coupled with the very nature of today’s interconnected world, we are faced with news of terror, tragedy and sadness from around the world on a daily basis.
I’m somewhat perplexed as to what is going on in the world today, when only a few years ago it seemed that people were embracing other cultures and it appeared that people were evolving a level of tolerance, understanding and respect for others. The recent rise of nationalism and fear is a foreign concept to me and in direct conflict with my personal worldview.
However, in the modern world, it would seem that most countries are not immune to the threat of attack and even here in my hometown of Melbourne Australia, we have experienced attacks on innocent people. Tragic events that have happened in many places in the world, have left many people wondering where in the world is it safe for solo female travel?
Many solo female travellers and would be solo travellers are asking questions like Is it safe to travel to….? or How can I keep myself safe when I travel?
Places that were once considered safe, for solo female travel, like countries in Europe are now being viewed as unsafe to many. As an older woman, a lot of places that were perceived as safe to go to when I was young are now the countries that people are concerned about visiting. In my own experience as a solo female traveller, before I left for my trips to France (my first trip to France was just after the Charlie Hebdo attack, and on my second visit the Nice attack occurred the day after I left for Rome) and Istanbul (a few months after the attacks on night clubs in the city), many people were wondering why I would consider going to these countries.
My answer to this question then and now is I am not afraid of the world.
In my experience, both France and Turkey, along with other countries including England and Germany, where attacks have happened, have a hightened level of security, awareness and obvious involvement of trained armed services, making them much more alert to problems than many other countries in the world. I have never once felt unsafe in either France or Turkey. Indeed, it was in New York, where I came the closest to being in danger when I saw a shooting happen within a few metres of where I was walking.
It’s my theory that the more we travel and encourage other people to travel too, the more likely we will be to return to a level of understanding and tolerance that will enable the world to start to get along in a better way.
Solo female travel to other countries broadens your mind, enhances learning and empathy and makes you realise that everyday people in the countries we visit, are doing the same things we are – getting on with their day to day, trying to earn a living, to feed and clothe themselves, and endeavouring to put a roof over their heads.
Travelling to more places and experiencing how people of different cultures live, learning about the history of a place and getting to know people from different backgrounds, both makes you feel humble and also makes you see the similarities rather than the differences between people from different cultural backgrounds. We may all look different, we may all speak differently, some of us believe in deities, some of us don’t, but in many ways we are all the same.
So, is it safe to travel the world as a Solo Female Traveller?
Absolutely, Solo Female Travel is still safe. You just have to keep in mind some things to help to keep you safe. Here are a few things I do to keep myself as safe as I can on my travels, and things that you can do too:
Learn a little of the local language before you go
Most countries are far easier to navigate if you can speak some of the local language. It’s also easier to keep yourself safer if you can understand what’s going on around you
Check out your Government’s travel advisories about your destination during your travel planning
- Check out Australia’s Smarttraveller here.
Talk to other travellers who have been to your destination.
Don’t stay out on your own too late at night and stay in public places with light if you do venture out after dark on your own.
Be respectful of other people’s religious traditions and wear appropriate clothing and shoes when entering places of worship.
Dress as close to how people dress as possible
- Don’t stand out from the crowd. Dressing like the locals you may be viewed as an expat and left to your own devices.
Research travel scams for your destination.
Keep your valuables safe.
Stay away from large crowds or be hypervigilant in the crowd.
Stay away from war zones – (this is a no-brainer)
Trust your instincts and intuition.
Keeping safe as a Solo Female Traveller out and about in the world is not about being fearful of everything. You don’t have to mistrust everyone you come across either. Travelling solo you are likely to make new friends, and get the opportunity to really experience local culture and community. Solo female travel broadens your mind and is a wonderful experience that will provide you with memories to last a lifetime. It’s all about balance and sensibility.
#Update May 2019: There are currently a number of travel advisories out for several countries with recent terrorist activities. Make sure you check your Government advice before travelling.
I should tell my 80 year old mom that I follow all of these rules. She worries every time I travel 🙂
Interesting read! I just got back from my first solo travel in Central America and I had so many people
telling me how dangerous it is to travel alone… yet I felt so safe over there! I love that you spread the
positive message for female to travel solo!
Absolutely! I think there’s
nothing more empowering for
a woman than to experience
solo travel and realise the
powers she has. I’ve been
traveling solo for 10 years,
admittedly harassed more
than once, but i’ll keep doing it
for another 10 years, and
another 10 after that! 😀
“I’m not afraid of the world”. I’m going to start using that. Great post and the photos are stunning! Keep
traveling everywhere lady!
What a thoughtful and wonderful post. I often found myself nodding in agreement, especially about the
rise of nationalism. How interesting that your least safe experience was in the U.S., although sadly I have
heard that from other international travelers too. Thank you for sharing this great article.
You actually witnessed a shooting within a few metres on the road in NY? That must have shaken you up!
Anything can happen, anywhere, anytime in this uncertain world we live in, but that should not stop us
from seeking experiences. But one can never be too careful, and that’s where all the safety tips that you
mention come in.
I was in Paris the week after Charlie Hebdo, and never felt safer. We were meeting our friends there and
they nearly didn’t come because of it, but I convinced them to. My motto was ‘if I die, at least I die in
Paris’! Getting knocked down by a car is far more likely than a terror attack! Your attitude to it is great –
keep yourself safe by being sensible, but keep travelling! Great article!
I live in Italy and thus I’m often on
the road in Europe. I’d lie if I said
I’ve felt in danger, but as you said,
I felt… less safe and secure in New
York, especially at night. You were
close to a shooting: I can’t even
imagine how scary that was!
Bang on with your tips for women travelers. Ensuring that you stay vigilant and not venture out at late
hours is something I advise all women travelers as well. I also, agree with your tip on dressing down and
attracting less attention. It definitely helps to stay safe
This is a very interesting perspective, and I agree with all the advice you have provided in this article,
especially with the one saying that we should be respectful of other people’s religious traditions.
Having grown up in South Africa where your personal safety is always in the back of your mind, I
understand why people may fear travelling to certain countries. I think it all comes down to awareness
and taking basic precautions without becoming paranoid. Nothing has ever happened to me in South
Africa and I now live in Austria where even burglaries are uncommon. I like your tips. Another one is to
always have someone know where you are.
Apart from all the things that you mention to keep you safe, I would add “common sense”. I have traveled
a lot alone and I never had a problem. I am sure I would have done some more “adventurous” things if I
was a man (like going out alone at night) but if this is the price I have to pay for my peace of mind and my
family’s I am ok with it.
I totally agree that (going to quote you here!) the more we travel and encourage other people to travel
too, the more likely we will be to return to a level of understanding and tolerence that will enable the
world to start to get along in a better way. I couldn’t have said that better myself.
I’ve long believed that the more people who travel, the better and more peaceful the world will be. And
from the perspective of a solo female traveler, I’ve never had an issue in any countries perceived to be
dangerous – you’re so right that any country, Australia, London, New York, is vulnerable to attack these
days, but we travel anyway. Common sense is what keeps you safe 🙂
Really some countries are safer then home countries – It’s important to simply use common sense, walk
around confident as if you are not a target! Traveling solo teaches you to hold your own! My brother
always tells me I should learn some self defence – probably couldn’t hurt
I love this post Julie, we too have travelled to Paris shortly after a terrorist incident
but we have always felt safe there. In any case I would much prefer to ‘die with my
boots on’ doing what I love rather than moulder away at home. We were also in
Barcelona last year the day after the vote to secede; we were cautious and I was a
little anxious but we still got out and about. I guess I’m a bit of a fatalist at heart and
sense that when my number is up that’s it, wherever I am. Travel is such a joyful
experience full of learning and yes that includes taking reasonable precautions.