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Most single women avoid traveling alone abroad.

I KNOW I DID. Until I got a job that involved traveling alone every month, at which point I had to face the realities of being a single woman traveler.

I’ve had to use the men’s room more times than I can count. I’ve been proposed to by a stranger (thanks to a short skirt). I’ve even had to avoid another traveler whose psychopathic tendencies turned my friendly conversation into some sort of deep friendship.

But the point is that I’ve learned the hard way that when traveling alone, whether you are a woman, man or child, you have to be aware. Aware of culture and surroundings and how you are perceived by others.

Personal safety does not start with a bottle of pepper spray, it starts with being aware of your surroundings.

That being said, I am definitely not against letting go and having fun. Traveling alone has opened my eyes to so much, especially about myself.

It’s been invigorating, enlightening and so exciting. Which is why I would recommend it to anyone – along with my 7 travel tips for the single woman adventurer.

1. Know the Culture

Some cultures find it an offensive, or even enticement, for women to wear short skirts, shorts or even bathing suits.

To prevent harassment and even physical violence, dress for the culture you are visiting. If in doubt take your cues from local women, who set the standard for what attire is acceptable.

2. Only use taxi from a registered taxi stand

Do not go off with men standing about saying their taxi is just over there (vague direction) and who say they will give you a discount. Be cautious and go with the registered taxi.

3. Carry a personal safety device

A whistle may cause just enough distraction to give you a chance to escape an unpleasant situation. Some countries may not allow certain safety devices, so again, know the standards of the country you are entering.

4. Watch your back

If you think you are being followed, check behind you in the reflection of a building, or duck into a nearby store till the person has passed you. Do not be afraid to ask for help, most people will be glad to lend a hand.

5. Do not tell strangers your travel plans

Strangers may not be as friendly as they first appear, so keep your travel plans to yourself. Also do not hitchhike in the dark or in unsafe circumstances.

6. Stick with a group

If you are feeling watched or followed while sitting in the airport or other public place, attach yourself to a family. Start talking to them, sit near them, befriend them.

You are harder to isolate when you are part of a group.

7. Don’t panic.

If you are in an unpleasant situation be calm and decisive. For extreme danger don’t hesitate to draw attention to yourself. Embarrassment isn’t as bad as the alternative.

Thinking clearly ahead of time and having a plan can go a long way toward forestalling lone traveler’s paranoia.

Miriam Anderson grew up in Egypt, and spent her vacations travelling to the Red Sea and the valley of the kings in Luxor. When she moved to Canada, the travel bug hit, and by 19 she was traveling on her own. Her favourite places are Morocco, Spain, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Germany, Lebanon and New York.

Travel Safety


About The Author

Miriam Anderson

Miriam Anderson grew up in Egypt, and spent her vacations travelling to the Red Sea and the valley of the kings in Luxor. When she moved to Canada, the travel bug hit, and by 19 she was traveling on her own. Her favourite places are Morocco, Spain, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Germany, Lebanon and New York.

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  • Rene

    Ahh.. very true about the taxi line. All airports have them but many people don’t know about them.

    I almost got scammed by a guy who led me to a creepy van.. when I asked for his papers he showed me something that looked like he made it in his basement with safety scissors.


    Good tips!

  • Cynthia

    Good advice. I’ve done a lot of solo travel, and I agree with all your points. One other thing I’d add is look nice but not rich. Leave the fancy, sparkly jewelry at home, and where very basic, simple stuff. I usually travel with one of those little cards of 8 pairs of earrings that are just colored chips of metal, but which look nice with my outfits. No temptation to robbers on the street or housekeepers at the hotel. Earrings, a simple wrist watch, and sometimes a plan silver ring, which can be worn on the left hand when one wishes to discourage attention, are all the jewelry I ever take along.

    • Ian MacKenzie

      Hi Cynthia – great tip! Making yourself less of a target definitely goes along with prevention.

  • Mala Mukunda

    Useful info.Also, do not accept food or drinks from friendly strangers. They might be drugged.
    Make up an excuse like upset stomach/allergy and move away if the person is being insistent.

  • Tara G.

    Great tips! I agree with attaching yourself to a family for security. Whenever I am traveling alone I always try to appear as if that is not the case. I also agree with the comment to limit the flashy jewelery. Certainly don’t need to attract unwanted attention!

  • Larry Kaminer

    Great information!!!

    Another asset is the Travel Registration program offered by the State Department.

    Also, be aware of the location and how to contact the US Embassy in any country you are visiting.

  • jburrtucaz

    You’ve given a bunch of great tips. Knowing the culture is definitely a good one and key to staying safe. Kudos!

  • louise sheldon

    Thank you for the travel tips.
    I’m about to go to Italy for 3 days in Naples, and 5 days in Sorrento, and have heard so many bad things about Naples track record, but no advice on how to limit potential trouble.
    Your tips, especially about dress codes and jewlery will be a great help

  • roseann

    Another tip is if someone is trying to talk to you and you feel uncomfortable, pretend your mobile is ringing and excuse yourself – make out it is something really important – they soon get the message but in a polite way.

  • B.B..Batson

    LEAVE THE EXPENSIVE/FANCY LUGGAGE AT HOME. UNLESS ONE IS BEING PICKED UP AT THE AIRPORT,USE SOME NON DESCRIPT LUGGAGE. I’VE SEEN PEOPLE,mainly men,standing around watching for who pulls what luggage off the track. Also ,women if you have a wig, wear it the airport,and even a scarf,small hat or tam,and don’t leave the glasses off even if you don’t need them. All of these devises can make you seem just one of the locals. Get into cab as soon as possible. Just be aware of where to eat.Not directly in front of a window and not too far in the back;know where the Ladies room is and keep an eye on who goes in on out…if you can. have fun.
    P.S. DON’T CARRY OR WEAR A LARGE HANDBAG…ANYWHERE AWAY FROM HOME.Use those small bags that have windows and keep it crisscross UNDER A JACKET,COATor if it is warm,money pouch in your … or any where out of sight. Let them wrestle you for you goods.

  • harriet

    need travel tips for the visually impaired,and do-able self defense tips

  • Brian Nguyen (dep zai)

    i think Carry a personal safety device is true but being alway stick with a group is not a really good idea

  • Yun

    You gave really useful tips. I think not “Do not tell strangers your travel plans” may be the best one since it’s not necessary to reveal. Using taxis is fine but I think it might be safer and cheaper to travel on foot or take a bus instead. I don’t know but some taxi drivers tell the foreigers the higher fees since they think women will be easily tricked. Is it right?

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