Being a solo female traveler (Note: This is a guest post by Brooke Schoenman. I’m still very much a nomadic male!) can bring a level of concern that wouldn’t occur otherwise. Friends may worry, family members may worry, even you may worry about your safety. To help make your journey the best and safest it can be, here are 8 tips every female traveler should remember:
Get Fit. Walking around with a huge backpack on your back takes a lot of energy. Start an exercise regime before heading out on the road; it not only improves the quality of your travels since you’ll be able to do more without getting tired, but it also improves your chances of warding off attackers. Exercise while on the road too. Traveling isn’t the healthiest lifestyle and staying fit on the road can go a long way to feeling better and having more energy.
Fake Ring. I’ve definitely learned my lesson being a single female traveler. Men in some countries are very forward and confronting, especially if you are not officially married. Lie. Do whatever you can to make them think otherwise, even if that involves donning a fake ring and running over to the first man you see in a nearby shop. Pretending to be married will keep some of the weirdos away.
Dress Down. There’s nothing like a scantily clad female to attract a man’s attention. We know it’s fun to look our best and put our best features forward, but you must consider your location and its norms before choosing your wardrobe, even for a night out. There’s nothing worse than standing out in a place still unfamiliar to your tourist feet.
Avert Attention. Just like dressing down, it is best to avoid any actions that will draw more attention to you. This includes being loud in public, wearing expensive jewelry, showing off too much money and flashing around costly electronics. Do any of these scream target to you? As a female traveler, you don’t want to bring too much attention to you lest you attract some unruly characters.
Stay Alert. I’m not saying you should be on spy mode your entire travels, but it is a good idea to be aware of your belongings and your surroundings. If anyone stops you on the street, check to make sure they aren’t a diversion for sneaky pickpockets. If you have your bags with you at the bus station, then keep them all connected to each other, and preferably to you as well, at all times. People often prey on single women more than they do men.
Don’t Over Drink. Drinking can be one of the best ways to bond with locals and other travelers alike, but overdoing it can leave you a bit on the vulnerable side. A good rule of thumb is to take it in moderation, which is sometimes easier said than done. Know your limits, and try not to get pressured into imbibing more than you ought to. Moreover, remember not to take drinks from strangers- you never know what might be in it!
Group Walk. Do your best to stick with others, especially in the evening. Make it a goal to have at least one other person with you if you must go somewhere. Sure, it might take a bit of coercing to get a fellow hostel-mate along for the journey, but you it does take that “foreign-girl-walking-alone” target off your back.
Stay Confident. You are more likely to get taken advantage of if you look like someone who is unsure of herself. This is another reason why I suggest taking self-defense classes before backpacking since they provide you with the tools and confidence that can ward off attackers. On a less violent scale, having confidence can keep you from getting ripped off in certain situations. Additionally, I have found that a confident vibe can make you appear less like a tourist and less like a target.
I’ve always liked to think that traveling anywhere would and should be no different for males and females, but a world of cultural differences has led me to understanding the truth is far from ideal. It’s different for females. We have to be on our guard more but that doesn’t mean we have to hide away either. Some common sense goes along way. Just remember these 8 tips above and you’ll be a safer and more successful female traveler.
Brooke Schoenman has been traveling around the world for a few years. You can follow her on twitter or read more of her adventures on her website, Brooke vs. the World, where she is currently vs. Australia and residing in Sydney.