Staying Safe When You’re On Your Own

Yes, another list of safety tips.

Since I really opened up on some of the grimmer realities of traveling as a solo female earlier this week, I thought I would try to re-assure everyone by providing some simple safety tips that can make all the difference when you are out there on your own.

It’s true, there are plenty of articles out there that cover this exact same subject. But you know what? I still get asked about safety on the road constantly, and there is nothing on this list that doesn’t bear repeating time and again. Nonetheless I’ve tried to come up with some tips that are more useful than “wear a fake wedding ring,” and I think all of these tips are applicable to both men, women and people who aren’t traveling solo.

Okay, now that is out of the way, here are some simple ways to stay safe on the road:

Watch Your Drink

I love beer as much as the next beer-loving girl, but solo travelers have to be extra careful to keep an eye on their beverage.There have been cases, all over the world, where people have been roofied and robbed, assaulted or worse (this happens to men too). Don’t let your drink out of your sight and be wary of people who offer to buy you drinks.


Pay attention to what kind of car you are getting into. If you are concerned, have your guesthouse call a taxi for you. If your bag is in the trunk of the taxi, don’t pay the driver until after you’ve recovered it.

Some rights reserved by

Know Your Surroundings

I love to wander aimlessly in new cities, but at night I try to always know where I’m going and to avoid dark streets or alleyways if I can help it. I also always right down the name and address of my hostel, or grab their business card on my way out the door, just in case I get really lost.

scream and shout

photo credit: mdanys

It’s Okay to Be a Jerk

Don’t worry about manners if you are genuinely feeling unsafe. Women in particulare are conditioned to always be polite, even when we feel uncomfortable. Predators know this, and they take advantage of your good nature. But safety always trumps manners. Don’t be bullied into giving out information or agreeing to things you’re not comfortable with. If someone is making you feel weird, just leave or tell them to get lost. Don’t even worry about looking weird or rude.

Look Out for Each Other

Do you believe in karma? I do. And even if I didn’t, I believe in being a decent human being, so I always keep an eye out for travelers who might need a helping hand. At hostels I always have my eyes peeled for girls who maybe had too much to drink and need some assistance, or people who look like they need help getting out of an uncomfortable situation. If we all help each other out, then we’ll all be better off as a result.

Ultimately, safety on the road (or at home really) is about trusting your instincts and not being afraid to advocate for yourself (like I said, it’s OKAY to be a jerk). I recommend that anyone traveling alone check out the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. While a little paranoia-inducing, there are some really great tips about learning to assess the safety of a situation, and how to listen to you “gut.”

That said, I don’t believe in living in fear. The world is by and large a safe place, full of amazing things. 98% of the time when I’m traveling I’m absorbed in the culture, the people and the sights, but there’s always that 2% of me that feels the need to be vigilant.

What safety rules do you follow on the road?


13 Responses to Staying Safe When You’re On Your Own

  1. Danielle September 13, 2011 at 10:43 PM #

    Great tips. I always stay aware of my surroundings no matter where I am. I also am aware of my purse– that it’s zippered and close to me so I don’t get pickpocketed or get it stolen off my shoulder!

    I think the most important one you mentioned here, is that it’s okay to be a jerk. I sometimes feel obligated to be polite, but ultimately my comfort and safety comes first.

    • Steph September 18, 2011 at 8:36 PM #

      I always carry a zippered purse as well and always tell my friends to do the same- makes pick pocketing just a little bit harder!

  2. Claire September 17, 2011 at 10:47 PM #

    Always go with my gut-if the hair on the back of my neck is standing up, there is a reason. It’s time to get on out of there!

    • Steph September 18, 2011 at 8:09 PM #

      Smart move! Sometimes our subconscious knows what our conscious mind hasn’t figured out yet.

  3. Pippa September 19, 2011 at 4:05 AM #

    Great tips once again Steph!
    I’m embarking on a three month tip around the states by myself soon (not the worst place to travel alone I know) but your tips always reassure me!
    Thanks for your awesome blog 🙂

  4. Lusso Bags September 20, 2011 at 4:38 PM #

    Zippered purse AND one that slings over the front so you can place your hand on it if necessary in a crowded area where pick-pocketing could happen. Once, I moved a hand out of the way when placing mine firmly on my purse when riding a crowded metro in India.

  5. Becci September 26, 2011 at 4:59 AM #

    I’m always so grateful of advice on how to stay safe being a solo girl traveller! I think when I leave (in two weeks! aargh!) for my rtw the hardest thing for me will be that I see the good in everyone and often forget that the whole world isn’t my best friend! So for me the best thing about this post is that it grounds me.

    • Steph September 29, 2011 at 4:20 PM #

      Happy to help! Just trust your judgement, and your gut.

  6. Bernardus October 4, 2011 at 8:53 PM #

    As a tourism promoter and occasional party tour guide 🙂 in a beautiful yet somewhat hostile country I suggest to always ask your guesthouse holder or promoter for advice on safety around there. I’ve seen people lose their belongings, money and even passports the same day they arrive just for not knowing when it’s too late at night to be somewhere. It’s the perfect way to ruin the perfect trip.

  7. Jeff Dobbins March 21, 2012 at 4:59 PM #

    As a frequent solo traveler, I find this is excellent advice. Even experienced travelers can become complacent and need reminding of precautions. Thanks

  8. Audrey April 10, 2012 at 12:34 AM #

    I just want to hide all my money in my bra! haha! have never done it before though because I’ve been to relatively safe countries (Asia) where there’s not much pickpocketing. I think.

    Also, one tip I’d like to add, learn some self defence! 😀 That’s what I’m learning now. You never know when it might come in handy. Don’t be afraid to kick someone in the nuts or gouge them in the eye when in a desperate situation. Haha.

  9. Rocky Travel Blog August 8, 2013 at 3:14 AM #

    That’s great advice! I cannot agree more with beign constantly aware of what’s going on in your surroundings which is no 1 tip for staying sare when travelling on your own. Also helping each other out. I find it beneficial to both, travellers who receive help and advice and to those who are giving it. 🙂


  1. Travel Excuses: What's stopping you from travelling? • Endlessly Exploring - September 17, 2015

    […] Staying Safe When You’re On Your Own by Twenty-Something Travel […]

Leave a Reply