Women make up 84% of global solo traveller demographics, and according to Google trend data, searches for “solo travel for women” have risen by 400% in the last month. Solo travel can be incredibly empowering, allowing you to really connect with yourself and a new place and culture – but some may be put off by the idea of not feeling safe while travelling alone.
Bespoke travel experts Go2Africa reveal their top tips for solo travel safety, so you can feel more comfortable when going out of your comfort zone.
Make sure someone knows where you’ll be at all times. Whether that’s sharing your phone location with someone at home, or just letting the front desk at the hotel to hostel know where you’re heading for the day, having people know where you are will give you a little peace of mind.
If you’re in a country that’s not covered by your phone network roaming, investing in a local sim is a good idea; you can continue to use your phone as normal, keep in touch with people, and use the internet and maps to get around. If you can’t get one, however, download maps that you can use offline, so you can still navigate your way around, without the internet.
Try not to overshare on social media while you’re travelling – aside from giving yourself a digital detox, tagging locations can pinpoint your precise location, which could be risky, especially if you’re posting about being there on your own. Save the photos and location-tagged Instagram stories for when you’ve moved to your next location to avoid letting people (who you don’t want to share your location with) know exactly where you are. Even better, save the posts for when you’re home so you can spend more time enjoying a new place, rather than checking on the socials!
… and know when to lie
Not oversharing is important in person, too, not just online. Sometimes, it’s best to lie. Have a back story prepared so if you’re ever in a situation where a stranger is asking you questions about being on your own, and it’s making you uncomfortable, you won’t panic and accidentally tell them exactly them your hotel and room number. Are you alone? No, my friends are just over there. Are you lost? No, I know exactly where I’m going. Where are you staying? With friends who live nearby. Don’t be afraid to be impolite to get yourself out of a situation that’s making you uncomfortable! They might be perfectly innocent, but better to be safe than sorry.
Connect with others
Solo travel doesn’t have to mean being alone at all times. Staying in a hostel is a great way to meet like-minded solo travellers to spend a few days with, or if you’re in a hotel or private accommodation, try booking a group tour to meet other people.
People that have been in the area for longer will be able to share knowledge about the best places to go – and places to avoid, like the areas that aren’t so safe. Having a few connections, and having people to go out with, will make you feel a lot safer – and they might end up being people you want to travel with again in the future!
Be prepared before you travel
Book flights that will get you to your destination during the day, rather than after dark. Make sure you know exactly how you’re getting to your accommodation, whether that’s researching how to use the public transport system or booking a taxi in advance. If you’re going to be hostel-hopping, make sure you have at least the first night booked before you arrive, so you don’t have to try and find somewhere when you get there.
Learn some basic phrases that will help you in case of an emergency, like asking for medical help or phoning the police, especially if you’re travelling to somewhere less touristy, where the locals are less likely to speak English.
Make sure you’ve packed clothes that are culturally appropriate for where you’re going. Not dressing correctly can make you stand out as a tourist and could draw attention to the fact that you’re alone – not to mention being disrespectful! Do your research and dress as the locals do, blend in and avoid unwanted attention.