The amount of solo female travelers taking vacations has increased dramatically in the last five years. We are now in a world where as women we want to experience new things, and nothing will stop us from doing it. Whether we are single, married, have children, or are 80 years old, there is a fire in us that desires to have these experiences even if we have to do them ourselves.
It doesn’t make us any less of a wife or a mother to want to travel solo. It gives us a sense of pride, self-awareness, strength, understanding, patience, knowledge, and love for what we have. It allows women to find themselves and be who they always knew who they were.
As a travel agent, I get a lot of solo female travelers contact me for trip. A few years ago I had an 84 year old woman call me up and tell me she wanted to go to St. Petersburg in Russia. When I asked her why she picked that destination she had a simple response: “I always wanted to go.” I helped plan her trip, and off she went. I worried for the two weeks while she was over there as there was some turmoil in the area. When she came back she told me she had the most wonderful time. The tour was great, and everyone was so nice. It was the trip she always wanted to take and can now check it off her Bucket List.
Even at 84 years of age, women want to have experiences through travel. Now many women reading this article may be concerned about the things that they hear on the news happening to female travelers. The truth is that solo female and solo male travelers both get victimized. It is a sad truth, but one that has been know. So how do you protect yourselves when you are a solo traveler?
The US State Department has a few good tips for both female and male solo travelers including the following:
- Research your destination – Get a good understanding if there are parts of the country or the cities you are traveling to that have higher crime rates. Avoid those areas.
- Pack appropriate clothing for the culture of your destination – Get a good understanding what they wear. Spot the American Tourist is easy if you are dressed like an American versuses dressing in the dress of the culture you are visiting.
- Be aware of your surroundings – Enough said!
- Create boundaries (i.e., be careful when sharing information with strangers and don’t feel the need to be overly polite if you are uncomfortable)
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) – there are many benefits to enrolling in this program including: you will receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans, by giving your information this helps the U.S. Embassy contact you in case of an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency, and it also helps family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
Some other tips that I give out to my clients when they book with my travel agency is to:
- Carry a whistle or emergency alarm on you or your key-chain
- Always keep your cell phone charged and available at a moment’s notice. Also make sure your battery pack is charged and with you.
- Always give a copy of your itinerary to a co-worker, family member or friend
- Check in on a daily basis with at least one family member or friend at home.
- Beware of rides from solicitors at the airport – only take an authorized cab or transfer that your travel agents has set-up for you.
- Look for a front desk that’s staffed 24-hours a day if you don’t book with a travel agency
- Electronic key cards are safer than cut keys. If you need a key card for the elevator, it is even more safe!
- Consider packing a rubber door stop or portable door lock for your room
- Avoid a room on the first floor as break ins are a bit higher.
If you are ever unsure about where to book or how to be safe, you will want to make sure to get advice from a knowledgeable travel advisor who has first-hand knowledge of destination you are visiting and can offer guidance on the local culture and where to stay. As I always say, Life is Better Traveling but you want to be safe too!