To be safe when traveling, solo female adventure travelers should pay attention to who is around them. A few tips can minimize problems and prevent misunderstandings.
Traveling alone gives a more in-depth experience than traveling with a group, or even with a partner. Without a companion to talk to, solo travelers are more likely to reach out to locals, try to speak a foreign language or exchange views with other travelers.
Safety is a prime concern for all solo travelers, but even more of an issue for women. While many of the following points apply to male travelers, they are especially important for women, who are more likely to be the subjects of unwanted advances or worse.
Safety Concerns for Females Hiking and Backpacking Alone
Women hiking alone in the backcountry need to pay attention to all the normal safety concerns of solo wilderness travel. The main problem with men is unwanted attention. Usually, it’s just annoying, but it can be dangerous.
Cell phones don’t always work in the backcountry but carry one anyway. Or consider a satellite phone; they are becoming more lightweight and affordable with each passing year. They can even be rented. International travelers should have an international cell phone that works in their destination.
Check out the company in trail shelters before settling in. A troop of Boy Scouts may be noisy but will certainly be safe; a solo male hiker who shows too much interest in a woman’s marital status might not be a good shelter-mate. Avoid shelters near roads, or paths accessible by all-terrain vehicles, especially if fire-pits show signs of frequent partying (litter, beer cans, and the like). Either camp completely out of sight of the trail – or camp within site of several other tents. The idea is to either be completely invisible – or to be within sight and earshot of help.
Tell people about an imaginary spouse or boyfriend who is “just up the trail.” If someone seems overly interested or aggressive, lie about campsite plans.
Leave an itinerary with someone at home, or with park rangers. And stick to it.
Adventure Travel: Safety Concerns for Solo Female Travelers in a Different Culture
Most encounters with locals will be positive. But women traveling alone in some cultures can attract unwanted attention, some of it curious – and some of it dangerous.
Understand the social norms, especially as they apply to dress. In some cultures, showing bare shoulders and legs is considered scandalous, or an invitation for sexual advances. While it isn’t necessary to adopt a full head-to-toe Islamic covering in a Moslem country, do dress modestly, even in tourist areas. Be aware of places where women do not customarily go. If the only women who go to a certain kind of nightclub are disreputable, exercise discretion and stay away.
Here are some more tips for single women to stay safe while traveling alone:
- Wear a wedding ring, even if not married.
- Even if traveling on a budget, spring for hotels that have lockable doors and secure windows.
- Check-in often with friends and family.
- Check city streets, subway, and bus maps before going out: People who look lost are likely to be approached, and while most people will be trying to help, on rare occasions, someone may be trying to take advantage of a lost-looking woman.
- Carry a whistle or an alarm device: A number of companies make portable alarm devices for doors, or for carrying.
- When traveling by rail, sit in a compartment already occupied by a mixed group of people, rather than in a compartment all alone, where anyone can come in.
- Try to find company for night-time excursions, for forays into questionable areas, or for places that seem intimidating. The partnership doesn’t have to be permanent, but it can make both travelers feel safer.
Generally, solo adventure travel is an intense and rewarding experience. By taking common-sense precautions, it can also be a safe one.