By: Sarah Stone
Traveling the world is among the most exciting and rewarding things that you can do. You have the chance to see incredible landmarks, taste delicious food, and meet amazing people. And traveling solo adds another layer of adventure—when you’re on your own, you’re able to see and do whatever you like, and because you’re always “on,” you are more aware of your surroundings and miss out on less than you might if you’re checked out occasionally and traveling with a companion or a group.
If you’re a solo female traveler—whether that’s your default or if this is your first time traveling alone—feeling safe when you’re on your own is tricky. You may feel targeted or watched, you feel more vulnerable, and your senses may be heightened to potential dangers around you. To help put your mind at ease at least with your lodging while traveling, here are a few basic hostel, hotel, and B&B safety tips for solo female travelers, so that you can stay cautious but still have an amazing vacation!
1: Don’t tell strangers where you’re staying
Traveling is a wonderful way to make new friends—you may find yourself at a bar or cafe chatting up locals or fellow travelers, swapping fun stories, and exchanging Whatsapp info. Even if everyone you meet is super friendly, be sure not to tell them exactly where you’re staying. You could become a target of theft or worse by a new “friend,” or by someone overhearing your conversation. Just as you might be hesitant to tell strangers your exact house or apartment number day-to-day in your own community, be cognizant of providing too much personal info while traveling.
2: Buy an alarm doorstop
One of the less obvious ways to keep people out of your room is by actually alarming it or putting a door stop in place—in fact, you can purchase a portable alarm door stop like this one for less than $15. It’ll alert you if someone is breaking in, and it’ll also slow a person down if they’re trying to muscle their way into your room. Chances are you won’t need it, but it’s always good to be safe when you’re sleeping alone.
3: Lock up your things
This is important no matter where you’re staying, but should definitely be a priority if you’re staying in a hostel or other shared space. If there’s a safe in your hotel room, put your documents, extra cash, laptop, or other valuable items in there if you don’t need to carry them day-to-day. When staying at a hostel, see if there is a locker that you can use for your valuables.
4: Get to know your host before traveling
Renting a room or a whole house or apartment through Airbnb, Vrbo, or another platform is a wonderful option especially if you’re traveling for longer than a week or two. When choosing a place to rent, it may be good to only look at places whose hosts have a large number of positive reviews (as opposed to one or two—while hosts have to start somewhere, it’s in your best interest as a solo female traveler to be cautious). Getting to know your host before traveling can help put your mind at ease, and remember: if you feel uncomfortable once you are there, it’s ok to leave.
5: Stay at quality places
Jumping on the last point—read reviews for ANY place you’re staying, whether it’s a hotel, B&B, hostel, campsite, or any other type of lodging. It can be tempting to stay at the cheapest place you can find, but that pricing may reflect the neighborhood, which unfortunately can be sketchy or unsafe for solo female travelers. While you don’t need to stay at a luxury hotel to be safe (and of course, a luxury hotel doesn’t equate to 100% safety!), compare your options, learn about different neighborhoods, and choose accommodation in an area and with reviews that you are comfortable with.
6: Put a “do not disturb sign” on your hotel door
Mostly used for when you’d like to sleep in, this sign also is useful for letting people know that someone is currently in that hotel room even if they’re not—making thieves less likely to break in and steal valuables.
7: Avoid staying on the first floor
If you’re staying in a hotel or bed and breakfast with multiple floors, try to get a room on the second level or higher. Oftentimes if someone is trying to break into different rooms, they’ll go for the easiest access, which will be the first floor.
8: Check for all-female rooms
Many hostels offer rooms that are separated by gender—if you feel uncomfortable sleeping in the same room as a guy, you don’t have to. When looking for the right hostel to stay in, check which rooming options they may have (you can even spring for a private room in some locations!).
9: Trust your gut
The most important thing to be in tune with when you’re traveling solo is your gut. If you walk into a place and find yourself feeling “off,” even if it’s within the first few minutes, don’t feel obligated to stay. Our gut instincts are almost always right even if our brain hasn’t caught up with the reason why, and safety is much more important than saving money or trying to prove that you can push through something.
What other lodging safety tips would you recommend for solo female travelers? Do you have general travel safety advice to share with fellow travelers? Join our community and share your stories!