Whether flying to Denver on business or Puerto Vallarta for pleasure, females face unique challenges while traveling solo. Safety challenges remain at the top of the list, and major threats can be hidden under the guise of “safe” hotels and “secure” transit systems. Pervasive financial perils can also confront even the most seasoned woman traveler.
Despite these challenges, females make up the bulk of solo travelers at home and abroad. Hostelworld, the largest online hostel-booking platform, said that between 2015 and 2017, its female solo bookings bloomed 45 percent.
According to a Booking.com survey, 72 percent of American women have embarked on female solo travel trips and are most likely to take three trips or more in a given year.
If you’re a female adventurer or businesswoman traveling alone, follow the steps in this guide to mitigate the challenges you may encounter. Our guide will cover several ways to protect your finances, stave off theft and deal with it if it happens to you.
Myths of solo female travel
Though it’s true that worst-case scenarios do exist, know that several myths abound:
Myth #1: It’s too risky. Solo women travelers can stay safe, provided you follow precautions and visit the safe countries listed in the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisories listing.
Myth #2: It’s more fun to take someone with you. More and more women are considering solo travel plans every year, and all ages are going. Chances are, you’ll encounter at least a handful of these adventurers. A 2017 Princeton Survey Research Associates study revealed that 58 percent of millennials worldwide are willing to travel alone, compared to 47 percent of older generations. The Princeton study found 26 percent of millennial women have already traveled solo.
Myth #3: It’s super-expensive to travel alone. Single supplements tend to be expensive. (Single supplements are extra charges for a solo traveler to compensate a hotel or cruise line for losses incurred because only one person is traveling.) However, some companies offer low-cost supplements, and others, such as AdventureWomen, allow you to share costs with other solo travelers to reduce single supplement charges.
Safeguarding your money and identity
If you’re on the hunt for the best travel credit cards, you may want to apply for one of these prior to your trip. It is important to check to see what each credit card company will do for you if your cards are lost or stolen. Do they offer digital wallet, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or other virtual assistant options? Every credit card company is different, so it’s a good idea to compare before you travel.
Take financial travel precautions seriously – before you even finish packing your suitcase. Prior to your departure:
- Make copies of your debit and credit cards and the phone numbers to call in case your cards are lost or stolen.
- Alert your credit card company that you’ll be out of town.
- Copy down your bank account information and store it in a safe location.
- Make a copy of your passport if you’re traveling internationally.
- Leave one set of all copies with a friend or family member, upload one set to a secure site and carry one set with you, separate from your credit cards and passport.
- Limit the cash you take with you.
- Check over your balance and transactions so you can detect fraudulent activity immediately.
- Know your credit card benefits, including rental car insurance, free checked bags and emergency assistance, as well as travel insurance coverage.
Stacey Wittig, travel journalist for unstoppablestacey.com points out, “I could take photos of my credit cards, but if my smartphone were stolen, that information could be breached.”
Once you arrive at your destination, it’s always smart to limit the amount of cash you carry. Never take more than what you need for the day and leave extra cash in a secure spot in your hotel or hostel. If you have more than one debit or credit card, secure them in several different places, including in the hotel safe and on your person. If you get pickpocketed (solo female travelers are prime targets!), this ensures that you have other sources of money in reserve.