Many women dream of solo travelling – but fears about their safety hold them back. Here’s how to stay safe while travelling alone
Solo travel for women: is it really safe?
Travel is officially back on post-pandemic, and interest in solo trips is only on the up – particularly for women, who make up the majority of those who are keen to explore the world unaccompanied. It’s said that search volume for ‘female solo travel’ has increased by 62% over the past three years, with women wanting to enjoy their freedom more than ever before – but there is one thing holding them back.
Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, a survey by online travel agency Tourlane found that nearly half of women considering a solo trip have not done so because of concerns about their safety and security. And in April 2022, Twitter users united in their thousands to support 24-year-old Zainab Oladehinde, who shared her distressing story of sexual assault by a male hotel security guard while enjoying a solo holiday in Zanzibar in 2021.
The discussion around female safety unites women around the world. In the UK and Ireland, the horrifying recent murders of Sabina Nessa, Sarah Everard and Ashling Murphy have prompted many to speak out on the need to stop placing the responsibility of safety on solely women themselves – but sadly, systemic change won’t happen overnight.
When travelling alone, it’s common sense to make sure you’re aware of how and where to get help if you need it, and arm yourself with knowledge about the local area. And for women, sadly, there are often further elements of safety to consider – but as most female travellers will agree, we cannot let it stop us living and enjoying life.
“Travel can be totally safe for women and the majority of solo travellers will have only positive and rewarding experiences,” says Helen Wright, travel writer and blogger at passportstamps.uk. “Obviously bad things can happen anywhere, but that shouldn’t put you off exploring and fulfilling your adventurous instincts if you want to see the world.”
So if your adventure mode has truly been activated for 2022, here’s everything you need to know so you can safely and fearlessly enjoy solo travel as a woman – because you absolutely should be able to do so. And once you’re done, check out our top destinations for solo travel for women, for yet more wanderlust material…
Solo travel for women: top safety tips
1. Do your research
Most of us will have done a little homework on the place we’re visiting before actually arriving – but if you’re travelling alone, make sure you go the extra mile. “Research your destination in advance. Be aware of any areas that are overly quiet after dark or have a reputation for being more dangerous or notorious for crime,” says Helen. Make sure you’re aware of the currency, public transport systems and at least a few useful phrases in the local language, too.
2. Book a tour
You don’t have to do it totally alone. If it’s your first time, you could consider booking onto a tour, where you’ll meet fellow solo travellers who will no doubt have the same sense of adventure. Donna Jeavons, Youth Travel Expert at tour provider Contiki, says: “Over half the people on our trips are solo travellers. We have Trip Managers who work on the ground in each country, and know the ins and outs of every hotel, location, what to look out for and how to keep you safe. You travel with a group of like-minded travellers, meaning you will make traveller friends on the way. Plus there’s safety when travelling in numbers.”