The Ultimate Guide to Staying Safe while Solo Traveling + Top Safe Solo Travel Spots (Updated June 2023)

Your ultimate guide to safe solo travel and top spots for 2023. Explore worry-free adventures in complete confidence and safety!

The Ultimate Guide to Staying Safe while Solo Traveling + Top Safe Solo Travel Spots (Updated June 2023)

You may already know solo travel can be one of the most novel and freeing experiences to have. But you also realize how important it is to do it safely–or you know, to give your mum peace of mind.

Knowing how to travel solo can mean literally stepping outside of your comfort zone. And you may understandably feel hesitant. It’s truly something to gear up to travel without friends and family. Once you do, though, you’ll find solo travel helps you grow and evolve.

You don't have to trade excitement/off-the-beaten path/spur of the moment adventures for safe, completely pre-planned trips. And that’s what we’ll be discussing today. From research to keeping yourself safe as you travel, we’ll tick all those boxes for you. Who knows, once you have our solo travel tips down, traveling by yourself may not seem as daunting!

Here's how to stay safe while traveling solo - and some of the top places to go!

Top destinations

We’d recommend these as the best countries for solo travel:

  • Italy
  • London
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Iceland

Why? traveling to Europe is mostly safe.

Looking for something more tropical or adventurous? 

Here are other countries with fairly safe ratings 

Asia

  • Nepal
  • Thailand
  • Laos
  • Indonesia
  • India

Find more options here!

South America

  • Colombia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Uruguay
  • Bolivia

Check this out for more options and which cities to travel.

Middle East 

  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Read up on the do’s and don’ts when traveling to the Middle East here.

Australia/Oceania

  • Palau
  • New Zealand
  • Fiji
  • Australia
  • Guam

More about solo travel in Oceania here.

USA

Want to travel solo in the United States? 

Here are the best states (and cities!):

  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Thousand Oaks, California
  • Bellevue, Washington
  • Roseville, California
  • Fort Collins, Colorado

You’ll find more options here.

Choosing a destination

Okay, you have a wishlist of gorgeous pics saved on instagram, but you can’t decide where to start? Get out your (digital) pen and start narrowing your options.

1. Checking out your government’s travel warnings

We’re not former security guards, but if the government says they can’t get you out in an emergency, then it’s best not to risk it. For instance, the US government advises researching a country’s stance on:

  • Prohibited items
  • Freedom of rights
  • Healthcare policies
  • Local customs/norms, like modesty of attire, etc.

P.S. Did you know, asking your Egyptian host for salt is an insult? Find out more interesting customs!

2. Comparing it with reviews from other travelers

Pay special attention to travelers who are like you (gender, race, age, sexual orientation, etc). It might go without saying, but a gay white man traveling alone in Sweden is going to be perceived much differently than one in Thailand. Same with a middle-aged Asian woman traveling alone in Buenos Aires vs Berlin. 

3. Deciding the cities to see 

Even in safe countries, some cities are super safe, some are not. As you look at the warnings and reviews, see if there are cities that pop up as must-gos and no-gos. This will also help you decide what order to plan your stops and help pre-plan your transportation - and what airports to fly in and out of. For instance, Zakynthos has overall low crime stats, but a high petty crime rate and tourists are often targets of fights and pickpockets.

Things to keep in mind in choosing your solo travel location 

Generally, countries safe for women = okay for solo travel for men. That said, you should also be thinking along these lines: 

Need more information? 

One of the biggest online communities run by women and for women who travel! Abundance of resources and a variety of subgroups ensures all women travelers are welcome.  

Not specifically for women but can be a good source of advice and shared experiences for solo travelers. Be sure to search posts to see if your specific questions have been answered already. You can even google “travel destination, r/SoloTravel” to pull up exact posts for where you’re thinking of going!

The Backpackr app nets you various discounts on food, local tours, and travel accommodations. Make travel plans with other users and use the interactive map to find offers wherever you are! 

Get free room and board when you work on an organic farm through WWOOF. You can also use it to pay for transportation costs as you travel between different locations.

Getting prepared before you go

 

1. Booking flights

This is easily a whole process and each solo traveler has their own preferred way to do it. We love Scott’s Cheap Flights (now Going) which will send you flight deals for top 5 airports of your choosing. They also have excellent guides for quick trips and what to do during a long layover in most major airports. 

Here are some other places for flight deals for solo travelers:

2. Making safety arrangements

Now that you’ve picked the right destination for your solo trip, visit both your government’s website and the other country’s embassy online. 

Buy worldwide travel insurance if you’ll be leaving the country. It can be a lifesaver if:

  • You lose your luggage
  • Fall sick and require urgent/costly healthcare
  • “Life” happens while you’re out and about - down to your phone screen breaking!

Check out Investopedia’s recommendations for the best insurance offerings. Then use sites like Compare the Market to find the best-for-you packages. 

Next, arrange for a way of notifying your friends or family of your whereabouts. You can use these apps for peace of mind:

Or, you can enroll in a government-run program like Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Since they will have your details, they'd be able to track your movements, and know how to contact you if there’s an emergency.

Finally, if all else fails, your loved ones can also get through to you through your travel insurance providers! 

In short:

  • Check consulate & embassy advisories
  • Get travel insurance
  • Stay in touch with your embassy
  • Arrange for emergency contact

Once you get there

1. Check for scams

Here’s where those fellow traveler reviews come in handy again! Reading reviews can also clue you in about the common scams befalling other tourists. For instance, take care to only use ATMs within banks when in Mexico. Or, when in Bali, beware of fake taxis! Go here for the full list of tourist scams.

2. See the corruption levels - and what that means for you 

“Corruption” is a big, bad term in UN reports, but when you travel, it means what the law says and how it actually is practiced can be completely different, and to be aware if people expect bribes and the like. For instance, in some places, corrupt law officials will flag you down and only let you go after a heavy bribe. There are ways to deal with them. But we’d advise checking up on the corruption stats before deciding on a destination!

3. Check vaccination requirements

COVID-19 might be one more disease to keep in mind, but different countries have different nasty bugs you do not want to bring home as a souvenir. Even if you’re traveling in the United States, it’s best to double check, especially if it’s one of the far-reaching states or territories. For instance, while Hawaii is very safe, you’ll need multiple vaccinations, from Hepatitis A and B to pneumonia and influenza. So, make sure you know the requirements for COVID-19 and other vaccination protocols.

4. Check country customs

For example, in the United States tipping is expected every time you eat out, and if someone helps you with your luggage, etc. Knowing this in advance and keeping cash on you for it (or adding it to the cost of meals when you’re on a budget!) is crucial. 

Here’s a breakdown of tipping expectations for different scenarios around the world. 

5. Check exchange rates and money requirements

In the first place, confirm whether you’ll even need to pay in local currency where you’re going. If you do, use these tips to go about it smartly.

6. Make sure to book lodging hotels/Airbnbs/hostels well in advance

Doing so will ensure you’d have your own room once you arrive in a new place. Don’t forget to specifically ask about safety measures, such as:

  • If upper floors are available
  • Or if you can stay on a women-only floor/hostel room instead of a co-ed one
  • Locks and lights-out times
  • Whether outside guests are allowed
  • If they lock the hotel/hostel’s front door
  • The Airbnb owner’s access to your building/room 
  • Whether there’s security and what places they are allowed in and when
  • If there are alternative exits–both for your room and the hotel
  • Whether your room phone allows outside dialing
  • What the area’s like and when you can venture out safely

You may also want to tip well to make a lasting impression on the hotel staff. Finally, always inform the front desk before you leave for an outing. Exchange numbers so you/they can reach out.  

7. Make (your core) activity bookings ahead of time

This is a combo of safety and ease of traveling. In a post-COVID world, lots of places have a limit on the number of people in the building (say, a museum), even if it’s free admission. 

This includes food reservations too! If there’s a restaurant you HAVE to try on the Amalfi Coast, then it’s best to get the sunset reservation in. 

Cross-reference your preferred reservation times with safe times in the city. If after nightfall you shouldn’t be out as a woman, then make sure you don’t get a 9 pm dinner reservation. 

8. Research transportation options 

Some countries have great public transportation, others rely on informal transportation, and some (like the USA!) are a funny mix of both with Uber thrown in depending on where you are. See if there are day or week public transportation passes and whether plane, train, automobile, or bike is a better option. Also see how walkable the city is and how locals tend to get around. And check to see if different transportation is different kinds of safe at different times of day or night. 

9. Decide your non-negotiables

Are there foods you have to try in a specific country, or a spot you need to hit at the golden hour? Factor that into your plans so you don’t miss out on something you were dying to try or see. 

10. Try to choose a mix of local and tourist activities 

Also see what locals suggest - check local travel blogs and the city’s tourist department for spots that no one else knows about. 

LookieLoo is a great app for this too!

It collects recommendations from travelers from all over the world. You may find hidden gems authentically local, and off-the-beaten-path places where you are through this app.

During your trip

1. Note down all local emergency numbers

You need to be able to call for help if you need to. So, make sure you have these numbers saved on your phone:

  • Local police
  • Local fire stations
  • Your country’s consulate/embassy 
  • Local cab companies

Also write them down and stow them somewhere in your backpack, so you can get to them even if you lose your phone.

2. Make sure you don’t have an unwelcome guest

Once you’re inside your room, check any space that can fit a person, like:

  • Under the bed
  • Inside closets
  • The loo

While you shouldn’t be carrying jewelry or other valuables when on a trip in the first place, bundle everything and lock it in the room’s safe.

3. Make it look like someone is always home (like Home Alone!)

When leaving, remember to turn on the TV or a light. You can also hang up a DND sign on your door. It’s best if your room doesn’t look vacant to outsiders.

4. Tell the right people where you’re going

We’ve covered using Google Maps and other options to help your trusted friends or family members track you at all times. You should also set up an emergency contact and panic button on your phone (Android; iPhone) or smartwatch.

5. Don’t be blingy 

Leaving all your precious bling at home is a part of learning how to travel alone. Place all valuables into a small, body-hugging bag when out and about. Get a money belt or pouch for your cash. That way, you won’t advertise your tourist status to pickpockets and robbers.

6. Take pictures with care

7. Wait to post

We can give you at least three reasons why this is a good idea:

So, what should you do with the pictures you’ve been taking? That’s easy! Use DropEvent to bulk/live upload as you go. Your images will be safe in your gallery, ready to be used or edited when you want to post. Here’s how to do it

8. If you’re going to ask someone to take your glam shot

You may ask others to take your picture, but we’d recommend caution when approaching strangers and handing them your camera/phone. But if you’d do the job yourself, use these tips for best results:

  • Set your camera to continuous mode, so it will keep taking pictures while you change positions or try different poses.
  • Buy a tripod so you won’t end up with shaky or blurry pictures
  • Use a remote shutter so you can confirm everything is in place before you click
  • Bring motion to shoots for those Instagrammable images by using the burst mode on your phone/camera–it can snap as much as 5 photos/second!

Once you return home

The smoother your transition from vacation brain to getting work-ready, the easier you’ll settle in. Here are some things you can do to get there quicker:

  • Re-secure your home
  • Check yourself for travel-related illnesses
  • Shop to restock essentials and staples
  • Go through your finances–credit card and bank account statements 
  • Focus on wellness–hydration, nutrition, and sleep schedule
  • Put away travel docs safely
  • Reconnect with your loved ones/emergency contact
  • Print your travel photos

DropEvent makes sorting and organizing your photos simple. For instance, you can group your images and videos into galleries for the different cities, days, or trips you took. You may choose which ones you want to show off/share. Add tags and captions to those pics and directly share them via QR code. Or, you could set up slideshows to play during family gatherings. Find out all the options here.

Happy & safe travels!

FAQs

1. How do you take pictures if you travel alone?

Traveling by your lonesome? Then you should know how to take photos of yourself alone because asking people around you for help may not always be an option. Get great pictures by: 

  • Using reflective surfaces like mirrors
  • Putting random parts of your body in different shots
  • Using a wide-angle lens for close-ups
  • Reading this blog on beach photography

2. How do you keep yourself safe when traveling alone?

Most parts of Europe and the US are considered the best places for solo travel. However, you should always take the following precautions for your security:

  • Have an emergency plan, including a place to stay, cash stash, and someone dependable to call/check in
  • Behave sensibly, such as stay in well-lit and populated areas, be back at your hotel before dark, etc.
  • Stay close to your luggage at all times

Scroll above for more tips!

3. How can a single woman travel safely?

Besides the solo travel tips we’ve already mentioned in the blog above, here are some safety don’ts for women:

  • Pick a destination popularly known as safe for female solo travel
  • Visit sites like couchsurfing for secure accommodations 
  • Take a picture of the license plate when using taxis and rideshares
  • Drink, party, and date responsibly
  • Walk purposefully, note emergency exits, and interact carefully 
  • Dress to culturally blend in
  • Keep your phone on you and buy a local sim card

c