World travel can be one of the most fulfilling and edifying life experiences. However, our travels, especially for those of us who identify as young women, can also present their own set of challenges — including safety and comfort no matter where we travel. Traveling as a female, particularly in developing countries, can be a very different experience than traveling as a male. I’ve learned that heading into travel prepared and informed can help ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.
If you are female and have plans for solo travel, check out the list of safety tips I’ve compiled below. These tips can help ensure you know all the basics about female travel safety, which you can use for a backpacking trip, international internship or even NGO placement in a different country.
1. Follow local customs.
Before you travel, brush up on your knowledge of local customs. This includes things like women’s attire, behavior, interactions, etc. Then, when you’re on the road, adhere as closely as possible to local customs so that you don’t stand out from the crowd. Blending in as much as possible will not only show that you respect a local culture, it will also help you not draw unwanted or negative attention to yourself as a more vulnerable outsider.
2. Schedule check-ins.
To ensure that someone always knows that you’re safe, schedule regular check-ins with someone who is not traveling with you. These can be daily, weekly, or however frequently feels comfortable to you. Set dates and times for phone calls or video chats, then ensure you make those meetings every time they are scheduled. Not only are they a good chance to fill people in on the amazing travels you’ve been having, they’re also a way to ensure that you’re safe and sound, even when you’re not able to be in constant contact. Also, be sure that at least one person back at home has a copy of your itinerary.
3. Use a reputable company
If you decide to arrange your travels using a travel company, ensure you use one that is reputable. Do some research online, and talk to other travelers who have been to the area. Reputable travel companies will ensure our safety and transport us via reliable vehicles and drivers, book us into safe and clean accommodations, and charge us an appropriate amount of money. If you aren’t sure about the legitimacy of a company you book with, you risk the chance of being scammed out of money, overcharged or put into a dangerous situation. Let’s put our knowledge to use and set forth on memorable, rewarding trips around the world.
4. Get to know female hotel or hostel employees.
The best source of information about where it is safe for a woman to be and where it is not safe is from a woman who has experienced it firsthand. So, befriend female staff where you are staying. Once you get to know them, ask them more about where it is safe to be as a woman in the area you are traveling. They can give you trustworthy advice that will ensure that you don’t accidentally wander into somewhere that might not be safe for you.
5. Leave the television on in your hotel room.
One way to ensure that no one breaks into your hotel room while you are not there is to leave the television on. That way, it sounds like someone is always in your room, and it will dissuade anyone from trying to break in and steal any important belongings or documents.
6. Leave a note in your hotel room.
Another helpful tip if you’re traveling solo is to leave a note in your hotel room about your day’s plans every day you’re exploring. That way, if things don’t go according to plan, people will have help tracking you down based on the information in the note.
7. Don’t be isolated.
Whenever you’re traveling, ensure that you avoid any isolated situations. This means that you shouldn’t sit in an empty train or metro car; you shouldn’t go jogging at odd hours or through desolate areas; and you shouldn’t go sightseeing at night. Ensuring that someone is always around will protect you from anyone who might feel they could take advantage of you should no one be around to stop them.
8. Be moderate.
Everyone wants to have fun and let loose while traveling, and of course it’s okay to enjoy a drink or two at social events or with dinner. However, to ensure you always stay safe while traveling, try to limit the amount that you drink, so you can always stay aware and mindful. If you do decide to drink, make sure you never accept a drink from someone else, and never walk away from your drink and come back to it. This will ensure that no one else has access to your drink to put anything into it, and will allow you to have a good time without any risks.