Globetrotting on your own is about more than just seeing the world. Solo travel offers a unique and rewarding experience that can be incredibly enriching on a personal, cultural, and emotional level — you’ll learn more about yourself, make new friends, and decide exactly where to go and what to do, with no compromises. And without a buddy in tow, the chances are you’ll immerse yourself in your surroundings, sample more interesting food, and possibly pick up some foreign lingo.
When it comes to safety, solo travel isn’t without its challenges, and sadly this is especially the case for women. It’s important to feel safe, and for female travelers this involves a combination of preparation, awareness, and following certain guidelines to minimize risks. Let’s take a look at some tips, resources, and equipment designed with solo female travelers in mind, as well as some destination ideas.
Upgrade Your Tech
Before you travel it’s a good idea to upgrade your devices should you find yourself in a tight spot, and you’ll find a lot of safety-focused tech on the market. A smartwatch such as Apple Watch Ultra has nifty features, such as a siren that produces 80 decibels, attracting attention from 600 feet away should you need any kind of help. The watch also enables SOS calls and a compass to keep you on track.
Many top-tier smartphones offer similar safety features, as well as cutting-edge GPS capabilities — despite the price tag, they are valuable assets for female travelers. Add in a Google Fi SIM card, which offers unlimited calls, texts, and data in over 200 countries, and you’ll be fully prepped for your adventures.
While you don’t want to limit your horizons too much, conducting some research into the safety of your desired destinations is also recommended. Some areas of the world are more volatile and unsafe for male and female travelers alike, but women have more to take into account than men. Among some of the more unusual places are Kuala Lumpur, Doha, and Punta del Este in Uruguay, but here are some more ideas:
Pretty much all of Europe is safe for female travelers, and you only have to check this travel blog to get a whole list of vibrant cities and beautiful countryside. Head to the remotest corner of the continent and you’ll find a unique destination that features on many a bucket list. Iceland is a stunning country, well known for its dramatic nature and welcoming people.
Capital city Reykjavik has blossomed into a compact cosmopolitan city, and is one of the cleanest, greenest, and safest urban areas on the planet — it offers interesting museums, traditional and contemporary restaurants, bars, and shopping. For a 360° view of the city check out Hallgrímskirkja, a 244 foot high church designed in the expressionist style. Outside the city, you’ll find national parks full of volcanoes — guided tours are available — including Eyjafjallajokull, infamous for erupting in 2010, grounding air traffic across the Atlantic.
Africa has a bad rep for female travelers, but Rwanda is noted as a safe destination — this is reflected in parliament, where 55% of the representatives are women — the highest percentage globally. A large police and military presence may seem intimidating at first, but a little experience will show that those in uniform are there to help and reassure visitors. There are plenty of interesting things to do in the country too, including checking out wildlife. Monkeys can be found at the Nyungwe National Park in the southwest and the Volcanoes National Park in the north, and of course, guides will take you around and keep you safe.
The Volcanoes National Park is also home to mountain gorillas, on many a bucket list — again, guides are available, but seeing these remarkable animals doesn’t come cheap, with foreigners often paying in excess of $1,000 for the experience.
A high-tech country steeped in ritual and tradition, Japan is a fascinating place, extremely popular with tourists. The main island, Honshu, gets the most tourist footfall, and both Tokyo and Osaka are safe for foreign travelers — you’ll find women-only subway carriages, for example. To see a different side of Japan, head north to the island of Hokkaido; it provides a unique experience, with a distinctive cuisine, landscape, and set of customs.
You’ll find natural hot springs for bathing, skiing areas, and national parks (Daisetsuzan and Shikotsu-Tōya) with native species to spot, such as Japanese macaques, (also partial to a hot bath) and Sakhalin foxes. Hokkaido is a welcoming place, with warm, friendly locals, and is among the safest places for solo travelers.
There are plenty of safety solutions on the market for women traveling alone, and it’s well worth kitting yourself out for peace of mind before you set off on your travels. Here are a few essentials:
For a peaceful sleep invest in a travel lock. These are light, easy to attach, and will add another layer of security to your door, whether you’re in a hostel or a five-star hotel.
Another good solution for your room is an alarmed door wedge — this will emit an ear-splitting noise if your door is opened.
Keep your cards close to your chest with a travel safety bra. These come with pockets to fit valuables such as credit cards, cash, and passport.
While traveling solo is a liberating experience often full of spontaneity, some careful preparation goes a long way, especially when it comes to safety. With yourself and your belongings secured, you can focus on making the most of your exciting, enriching time on the road.