When I tell people that I’m traveling by myself, I often get comments on how brave I am or questions about whether I feel safe. I find that funny, because for me, that was the least of the issues when planning a solo trip. Wherever I have been, I have never felt unsafe, alone or with someone else. I think there are a few reasons to this.
First, I may be naive and trust people even a bit too much sometimes, but in a general manner, I believe that people are fundamentally good. And for now, I haven’t had any experience that would make me change my mind. If you constantly believe that people want you harm or that there is something sketchy in everything, you will have to travel with a very restless mind, you won’t enjoy your trip as much, and that makes totally sense. I don’t mean you should not consider these things at all, but don’t worry excessively about it. With which I’m getting to my second point.
I use common sense. Even if I believe that people are good for the most part, I know that all sorts of atrocities happen, and I don’t deny that fact. On the contrary, I am very aware of it and use my common sense to keep myself safe. I keep my stuff safe and close to me, I try to not draw unnecessary attention to myself, I avoid sketchy dark alleys by night. It’s that simple, really. You can always happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but with a few simple things in mind, you can avoid a lot of trouble.
Third, I do my research and choose destinations that I can enjoy without having to worry constantly about my safety. I know that some parts of the world are more challenging if you are a woman traveling alone than others. I choose destinations that I trust to be safe because I have been there before or because I have done enough research on them. Personally, I feel that less touristy destinations require knowing local culture and habits a bit better or having some previous solo travel experience than big backpacking destinations, in order for me to feel safe. I get off the beaten path only as much as I feel safe to.
If you are hesitating to leave on a solo trip because of safety reasons, I think the key is simply to know yourself and your destinations. You should do enough research to know local habits, read experiences from other travellers to know how you should behave where you’re going. Then you should ask yourself where your comfort zone is and get out of it enough to get that wonderful feeling of outdoing yourself, but not so far that you can’t enjoy your trip because of fear. It’s also about testing the water and learning to know where those limits are for you. Maybe start small and go from there?
I don’t believe safety is as big of an issue when traveling solo as many people that I’ve talked about it with feel. It’s important to be aware of risks, just as it’s important to be aware of risks even at home on something as normal as your way to work. There are risks everywhere, but if we live in fear, we don’t do anything. So acknowledge those risks, act according to them, and get out there.