Solo female travel is a little different than travelling with a partner but can be just as fun and just as safe. Travelling solo can be inspiring and uplifting as you navigate the roadways and attractions. Whether you travel by plane, train, or automobile, travelling safely to your destination and back is what we all strive to achieve.
I have been a female solo traveller on and off for most of my life. It can be a scary experience for some and exhilarating for others. I have travelled many miles alone and have been to many places in my custom van as well as my Class B RV. Living in my RV alone has also allowed me to explore many places by myself. I have also had the opportunity to fly. Landing in places like O’Hare in Chicago, the busiest Airport in the US, and Vancouver in BC can be intimidating. But once you have done it, the second time is much easier.
There are certain things I do and don’t do when I travel in places that are both familiar and unfamiliar to keep me safe and ensure my time there is a beautiful memory. I hope some of the things I do will help you stay safe and keep your mind at ease when travelling.
1. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
No matter where you are, be aware of your surroundings and the people that are standing in it. You do not have to be hyper-vigilant but scan around you and know what is and is not around you. You will be surprised what you pick up by doing that. Is there a person who is watching you or someone else? Are they acting nervous or apprehensive?
Observation also is an excellent tool when you pull into a parking lot to boondock. I will park and sit in the driver’s seat and just watch. Get a feel for where I am. Is there a lot of coming and going? Are there many people standing around or loitering? Some parking lots have security. Are there security cars on the lot? Get a feel for the place you are spending the night for a restful nights sleep.
Knowing what is around you, taking it at face value and acting on that knowledge is half the battle. If you do not feel comfortable, move. If you are touring an attraction, shopping on a popular street or parking in a parking lot and feel there is something not right, move to where you feel safer.
2. Know Where You Are Spending the Night
Travel apps can also give you piece of mind when you are both on the road and off. There are a ton of apps that can give you accommodation, campgrounds, and/or boondocking spots. Knowing where you can park safely for the night gives you a much more relaxing day. Check out my favourite travel apps that help me safely down the road.
When I am driving two-lane highways, I try my best to never drive after dusk or before dawn. Animals tend to come out to travel at that time. Meeting any kind of animal on the road is never a good time.
When I am roadtrippin with no real destination in mind, I always know that at some time during that day, I will decide where to spend the night. Anytime between 4 to 5 hours before dark, I start looking. I will peruse my boondocking apps like Ioverlander and my campsite apps to find places in the area I should be in by then. I always err on the side of caution and try to choose a place I know I will get to with plenty of light left. Slowdowns can happen, or they no longer accept overnight vehicles, which will require you to pick another spot. Give yourself the time and space to make adjustments as you go for a much more relaxed ride.
3. Be Friendly But Not Inviting
What do I mean by that? I am a chatty person and will talk to anybody. People are interesting, and 90% of the people you meet are friendly and helpful. There are those 10% though that we have to watch out for.
When talking to people, I never invite a stranger into my van or my campsite. Many have asked, and I say it’s a mess or I really don’t do that as it is my home. When I am having a conversation, I never give out too much information. The information I do give out is usually general, and I keep it to the area or attraction and less about me.
An example would be, “Where are you from?” My answer is Ontario or southern Ontario. A general answer but no specific place. Answering this way also lets the person know that they can not get too close. That there is a distance to be maintained.
Have you ever started chatting with a person, and they just want to keep you engaged? When the conversation is over for you, just end it. A “Thanks for the chat, gotta go,” and turn around and walk away is all you need. If someone is being too pushy and making you uncomfortable, leave and go to your van or RV or walk to a place with people. I have done this a few times when on a tour of an attraction. My Roadtrek was in the parking lot, and I was uncomfortable. I moved where there were more people, turned my back on them, and blended in with the other people. Do NOT be afraid to hurt someone’s feelings or seem to be rude. I am rarely rude, but very matter-of-fact.
4. Do Not Put Your Current Location on Social Media
I see this all the time. It is great that you want to share the beautiful destination you are at with family and friends. If you are at the top of a mountain and going to be there for 10 minutes, that’s fine, but if you are spending the night, that is a post for the next day. Letting every Tom, Dick and Harry know where you are is just downright dangerous.
Social media is a wonderful tool. As a travel blogger, I want to post the cool and beautiful places I find to inspire people to check out my blog and learn more. More than 95% of my location posts are the next day or after I have left. Even when I am in a campground, I do not usually post where I am until I leave. There, as always, are a few exceptions, but it is a posting rule I closely follow. The few times that I do post when I am there I am already in a safe environment or not staying long.
5. Lock Your Doors
I know it seems silly to say this, but please lock your doors. When I am sitting in my van working in a parking lot or on a bluff, my doors are locked. While driving through cities, my doors are locked. Even when I am sitting in the van with the windows open, I lock the doors. Yes, I know they can reach over and unlock the door, but it gives me an advantage because of the sound of them trying the door
When I am sitting in the back of my Roadtrek, no one can really see me unless they stand in front of the van and peer in. I can see them but because of the curtains and tinted windows, they can not see me.
Let me give you an example.
One day, sitting by the water in a parking lot, working on my blog in the back of the van, I noticed a young man walking towards the side of my campervan. My work phone was on the console, and he had his eye on that. Sitting in the back, I watched as he looked into the open window. He tried the door, but it was locked. As he reached through the window to reach for the phone (he could not have reached anyway), I yelled from the back of the van. He jumped so hard his arm slammed into the plastic shroud above the window, and he gave a yelp and ran. I bet he will think twice before he did that again. At least I hope so.
If the door had been unlocked, even though I was in the van, he could have been in and out before I could react. Locking your doors no matter where you are is an important part of keeping you safe.
7. Let Someone Know Where You Are
Sometimes, in a quest to be on our own, we overachieve that. I am guilty of this as much as anybody else. I am lucky to have a girlfriend who will not let me get away without her knowing at least the area I am in.
It is especially important if you know you may not have a cell signal in the area you will be travelling in. Tell someone when you enter and when you think you will be back online. If anything were to happen, then when you do not return, they will know where to send the search party.
Travelling solo can be daunting but also an experience of freedom we will not soon forget. I hope the things I do to help keep me safe will make your travels a little more stress-free.
Share your favourite way to keep yourself safe in the comments below. I would love to hear them.