Is it safe to travel alone? A female solo backpacker.

Is it Safe to Travel Alone? 10 Scary Dangers & Safety Tips

The most commonly asked question amongst both male and female solo travellers is “is it safe to travel alone?” 

Yes, solo travel is safe. However, you must take special precautions that other types of tourists may not have to think about.

Most importantly, you should choose a destination that is suited to your level of travel experience.

In this article, we share some encouraging safety statistics about solo travel and reveal the top 10 dangers that you need to be aware of when travelling alone.

We’ve also listed our top ten solo travel safety tips! 

Keep yourself free from harm with the solo travel safety advice on Nomadic Yak!

Facts and Statistics: Is Solo Travel Safe?

A female solo traveller in Barcelona, Spain.
Solo travel safety is a concern amongst both males and females.

You are not alone if you are asking yourself, “is solo travel safe?” Other travellers have the same concern:

  • About 45% of women and 20% of men report safety concerns as their main reason for not travelling alone (Tourlane). 
  • About 75% of solo female travellers worry about their safety (Condor Ferries). 
  • Safety is the #1 concern for female solo travellers and #2 concern for male solo travellers (FlashPacker).

However, despite their fears, nearly 60% of female solo travellers would travel alone again in the next 12 months. And nearly 50% of solo travellers travel 3 or more times per year. This indicates that solo travel is safe.

The majority of solo travellers overcome their fears and anxieties after taking their first trip alone. You will too, as long as you’re aware of the dangers involved and the precautions that need to be taken.

Are you cut out for solo travel? Take the 15-question quiz: should I travel alone?

Dangers of Travelling Alone

The dangers of travelling alone. A police car in Victoria, Australia.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to travelling alone. One of the disadvantages is the unique safety risks that solo travellers face.

The dangers involved in solo travel are dependent upon your destination and travel experience. In general, however, the ten biggest dangers of travelling alone are:

  • Scams and corruption
  • Theft
  • Assault
  • Getting lost
  • Drunkenness and intoxication
  • Illness and disease (including mental health and solo travel depression)
  • Natural dangers (e.g. earthquakes, animal attacks, etc.)
  • Traffic accidents
  • Cultural and legal differences (including language barriers)
  • Terrorism

With these dangers in mind, is travelling alone safe? The truth is that no form of travel is perfectly safe.

But you can reduce your exposure to the dangers of travelling alone by following the solo travel safety tips below.

10 Solo Travel Safety Tips

A world map with pins in it.
Some solo travel destinations are safer than others. Use the tips below when choosing yours.

Do not let the dangers of travelling alone crush your dreams. Instead, plan your trip accordingly and see my full list of 30 solo travel safety tips to remain as safe as possible when travelling alone. 

1. Research your solo travel destination 

Some destinations are safer than others. Use government websites like the US Travel Advisory, Australian Smartraveller and GOV.UK to make sure that your chosen destination:

  • Is free from threats of terrorism, political upheaval and internal conflict.
  • Is accepting of your gender and sexual orientation (particularly important for female and LGBTQ solo travellers).
  • Is free from widespread disease or pandemic (get vaccinations if required).
  • Provides access to quality doctors, hospitals and healthcare. 
  • Is popular amongst tourists and offers reputable accommodation.

Based on these factors, the safest countries to solo travel to in 2023 include:

See my full list of the best places to solo travel – I’ve scientifically ranked all 193 countries in the world and given a safety rating for each.

2. Travel during the day 

It’s safest to solo travel during the day when you can see your surroundings and are more aware of the dangers around you. 

Plan transport so that you arrive at your destination during the day. It can be dangerous trying to find accommodation or local transport (e.g. a bus, train or taxi) in the dark of night when visiting a foreign place for the first time.

If you have no choice but to arrive at night, try to pre-book local transport so that your driver is waiting for you. Don’t forget to also tell the hotel or hostel that you will be checking in late.

Make your travel as safe and comfortable as possible with my guide to flying alone for the first time.

3. Read up on the local laws

Not all legal systems are the same. Some solo travel destinations have very strict laws that you may not be familiar with. Breaking these laws could see you arrested, trialled and criminally punished. 

Make sure that you have read and understand the laws of the destination that you are visiting. 

4. Read reviews before booking accommodation 

Most people read accommodation reviews to find out whether the stay is comfortable and well-facilitated. However, reviews can also offer great insight into how safe fellow travellers felt during their stay.

Try to book accommodation that:

  • Is located in a popular and safe part of town (close to attractions, transport and eateries).
  • Has trustworthy and friendly staff.
  • Has locks on the doors and windows.
  • Offer lockers to secure your bags and possessions.
  • Isn’t suspiciously cheap compared to other options.
  • Offers female-only dorms for solo female travellers.

5. Only share your itinerary with people you trust 

Before leaving for your solo travel adventure, share your itinerary with your family and friends.

It’s beneficial for them to have a copy of your plans so that they know where you are if you need assistance. If your plans change, make sure to keep your family updated as you move around.

However, don’t share your solo travel plans with strangers you meet whilst travelling. You don’t want strange or dangerous people to know when and where you will be travelling to, as you could make yourself a target. 

6. Keep a photocopy of your documents

Scan and photocopy your important documents before leaving on your solo travel adventure:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Vaccination documents
  • Driving licence.

Store electronic versions of these documents locally on your laptop and digitally on your email or cloud storage. Also, send a copy to a family member.

Keep a photocopy of these documents in your bag as well, as backups in case you lose the originals.  

7. Lock up your valuables

Buy a few numeric padlocks so that you can lock the zips on your day bag and travel bag. If your hostel has lockers, use another numeric lock to secure your items when leaving them behind for the day. 

I’ve Never Had Anything Stolen From My Bags
2x Puroma Numeric Padlocks
  • Stop thieves from getting into your bags or hostel locker.
  • Don’t worry about carrying and losing keys.
  • Just remember a 4-digit code of your choosing.

8. Dress for the local culture 

You don’t want to stand out from the crowd too much. Drawing attention to yourself can make you a target for scammers, thieves and other dangers.

The best way to blend in with the locals is to dress to their cultural standards and expectations. For example, female solo travellers should cover their shoulders and legs when visiting Islamic countries.

Dressing down can also help introverted solo travellers to avoid unwanted social interactions.

9. Avoid partying alone 

Solo travellers should avoid going out at night alone, particularly when partying and drinking. If you do go out, take it easy on the alcohol. You don’t want to make yourself vulnerable to assault or theft.

If you’ve made a few trustworthy friends whilst travelling, ask them to accompany you on nights out.

10. Avoid these local scams

As you solo travel to different destinations around the world, you will become aware of different tourist scams taking place.

Get a headstart on scam artists and research some of the more common scams before you arrive. 

Common tourist scams that you need to be aware of include:

  • Overcharging: Merchants, taxi drivers and local tourist agencies overcharge you for products and services.
  • Taxi scams: Unlicensed or unmetered taxi drivers offer overpriced flat-rate fees that are higher than metered fares.
  • Vehicle hire scams: Car, motorcycle and jet ski hire companies demand money for alleged damage.
  • Wrong change scams: Merchants, taxi drivers and local tourist agencies return the wrong change when you pay in cash.
  • Credit card skimming: When someone illegally copies your credit card information.
  • Pickpocketing: When thieves steal your possessions from your pocket, often after creating a diversion. 

Is it Scary to Travel Alone?

Given all the dangers of travelling alone, it is also common for first-time solo travellers to ask: is it scary to travel alone?

It is scary to travel solo – but it’s not due to the ten dangers listed above.

Solo travel is scary because you are throwing yourself into a new experience where you face the challenges of life alone and independently.

The biggest fear for most solo travellers (including myself) is not wanting to seem weird, awkward, lonely or boring in front of other travellers.

Perhaps that is why first-time solo travellers also ask questions like:

The quickest way I overcame all of these fears was by throwing myself into my trip. I quickly found that I was surrounded by like-minded solo travellers looking to make friends.

In my 6 years of solo travel, I have now made 100s of friends all over the world and these worries no longer cross my mind at all.

However, if you’re still lacking in confidence, you may want to join a tour. This should give you the confidence you need before taking your first trip all alone.

I still join tours as a solo traveller if I’m visiting a particularly dangerous or difficult destination. See how I compare my solo travel vs group travel experiences.

Summary – Is it Safe to Travel Alone?

A male solo traveller looking over the Grand Canyon, USA.
Solo travel is just as safe as any other form of travel if you use caution.

Is it safe to travel alone? Yes, it is safe to travel alone if you follow the safety tips above. 

Whilst you might be scared before setting off on your first solo trip, your fears will quickly wash away once you find yourself surrounded by other solo travellers. The more you solo travel, the more experience you’ll gain and the more comfortable you’ll feel travelling alone. 

Perhaps most importantly, remember to trust your instincts when travelling alone. If you follow these precautions and use common sense, solo travel is just as safe as any other form of travel. 

Related Posts

Find More Solo Travel Tips on Nomadic Yak

Nomadic Yak Solo Travel Logo Circular
Find more solo travel guides and tips on Nomadic Yak!

Is travelling alone safe? Yes!

But there is more that you can do to stay safe during your solo travels.

Nomadic Yak provides travel guides and tips for adventurous solo travellers. 

Every article is written by me, Harry. I’ve travelled to 40+ countries over the last 5 years – alone.

I’ve shared everything you need to know about solo travel safety.

You’ll also find 100s of solo travel tips on how to save money, make more friends, build a social media following and much more.

Plus, you can use my solo travel destination guides to discover international sights and attractions that few other travellers get to witness.