I have been traveling around the world for several years now, and I have come to the conclusion that the general public believes that solo traveling is not safe. People as a whole believe that the world is dangerous and everybody is out to get you…especially when you are traveling alone. I cannot stress enough how false this ideology is. Rather, it’s quite the opposite.
Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t any dangerous people in the world because there absolutely is! However, the percentage of bad people in the world that we are led to believe by our local media, is significantly higher than reality.
I also believe that one of the major reasons why people are fearful of traveling around the world solo is because the mainstream media convinces us that it is dangerous. What would be the purpose of this? I believe that many governments around the world do not want their currency (wealth) to leave the country. Rather, they want the money to stay circulating within the country.
One of the ways that they can achieve this is by convincing the people that the outside world is dangerous. Then, people will travel domestically rather than internationally. Now, the money stays at home. This sounds far-fetched, but, I’m a firm believer in this. Everytime there is a negative story that happens in a foreign country, they spread it. They share only negative stories. This convinces the people that country X is dangerous.
So is Solo Traveling Actually Safe?
Yes, Solo Traveling really is quite safe. Contrary to popular belief, the world is full of wonderful people who are kind and eager to help. Though there probably hasn’t been a study about ‘what percentage of people are good or bad’, I would guess that more than 99% of people are good (based on my own travel experience). Most of the local people that you will meet abroad have good intentions, rather than bad intentions. Staying safe requires that you protect yourself, and your belongings, while you travel. The key to staying safe is to be aware of what could possibly go wrong, and then to take measures in order to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Even though I firmly believe that solo traveling is generally safe, I’m going to continue this article in a way that will expose you to some of the things that you need to be aware of in order to remain safe while traveling. The safety of a traveler depends on several factors. I want to provide you with some of these factors.
Appearance & Safety While Traveling Solo
a) Safety and Gender
Between being a male or female Solo Traveler, females have a slight disadvantage. As we all know, there is a small percentage of bad people in every country. And I think the perception around the world is that it is easier to take advantage of a female than a male.
Why? Because 1) they are less likely to raise their voice out of anger and 2) they are physically weaker than the average male, so if physical confrontation happens, the male will usually win.
Taking advantage of someone could show itself and several different ways. One of the largest vulnerabilities of being a Female Solo Traveler is rape related incidents. Do I think that rape is common for Solo Female Travelers? No. But it does exist. More than that of males.
Without naming countries, I will tell you that there are certain cultures around the world that suppress women in a male-dominated society. There are some locations in which some males literally do not know the difference between a rape and concentual sex.
To me, this is mind-boggling. How can people not know the difference between consent and rape? I have no idea. But, in the world today, this is reality. Do your homework before you choose to visit each country. Make sure you stay safe in particular countries where females are treated unequally.
b) Safety and Ethnicity
There are some locations around the world that have racism. Sometimes, this racism is based on what country a person is from, or, by the color of their skin. I have seen this in multiple countries. I have witnessed extreme racism on multiple occasions.
Think about the pandemic in 2020. There has been a lot of media coverage around the world about how Chinese government covered up information about the virus, which then led to mass death around the world. This created a lot of angry people in many countries. People started to hold grudges against China. So if a Chinese person were to go traveling in certain areas, they may be treated poorly simply because of the country that they came from.
If you are from the United States, think for a moment if someone from a Muslim country walked down the street of a US city wearing a full Muslim outfit with the Muslim hat and a long beard. There’s a good chance that this Muslim traveler would be feard by Americans. Why? Because the media has convinced the majority of America that all Muslims are bad. This is terrible. But it is a fact.
But the reality is that your ethnicity may have an impact on your safety. It’s probably going to be difficult to research and identify if your ethnicity will play a factor on your upcoming solo travel. But I definitely recommend trying.
Very similar to the example I gave above about a Muslim man walking in downtown USA. He may be treated with caution simply because of the clothing that he is wearing. Imagine for a moment that you wear clothing from your native country while walking down the street of a different country. People may judge you.
In some cultures, showing skin may be a sign of disrespect. In some countries, it is okay to show your stomach but it is not okay to show skin on your back. In some countries, women can only show their face and every other piece of skin must be covered. In some countries, men should always wear pants because it is socially awkward to reveal your legs. The world is an interesting place.
It is important to understand that every culture is different. Be sure that you do a little bit of homework before you arrive otherwise you could end up in an awkward position.
Location Affects Solo Traveling Safety
It is no big secret that some countries are statistically safer than others. Yes, criminals are in every country, however, the percentages are slightly different in each. In addition, culture is different as well. There are some countries that I have visited in which I have felt unbelievably safe during the day and the night while walking alone. There are other countries that made me a little bit nervous while walking down the street at night. By the way, usually my fear came from street gangs or angry stray dogs.
The specific country is not only the only thing that will impact the safety of your travels. The specific location within the country will have an impact as well. Within each country, there are usually rich areas and poor areas. There are educated areas and undereducated areas.
Weather people would like to admit this or not, it does in fact have an impact on your safety. Generally, the wealthier an area is within a country, the safer it will be. The higher the average educational level of the local people in the area also increases your safety.
It is when you start to travel into areas that are less educated and as a result, poorer, the safety concern will start to rise. Some of the people within these areas may be opportunistic and look for a way to steal from you. But this is not always the case.
I have visited countless underdeveloped countries as well as developing areas within each country, and have found some of the kindest and most friendly people within these poor communities. Statistics show that it is more dangerous in poor communities, however, don’t always judge a book by its cover.
Type of Solo Traveling Will Affect Safety
There are a few different types of solo traveling. Guided Solo Travelers, Group/Couple Travel, and Introvert/Extrovert Solo Traveling. The type of traveling that you will be doing will absolutely have an impact on your safety.
For example, a tour company organized your trip and you remain with a tour guide during your entire trip, there will be an extremely high level of safety. Your tour guide will know where you are at all times, and they will only bring you to areas that are notoriously safe.
In addition, if you are traveling with at least one additional person or even in a small group, it will be a little bit safer than traveling completely alone. It is much more difficult for a person with bad intentions to take advantage of a group of people rather than a single individual who is traveling alone.
However, if you do not use a tour guide and you are an Introvert/Extrovert Solo Traveler, you will arrange everything yourself. You will arrange the flights, the hotels, the transportation, the restaurants, and everything else throughout your entire trip. If you are arranging everything yourself, there is always room for error.
Maybe you will choose a restaurant that will cheat you, or will serve you food that is not very clean. Or maybe you will wander in a part of town that is notoriously dangerous. Or maybe you will choose a taxi driver that has bad intentions. Unguided travel is definitely less safe than guided travel. But this does not mean that traveling completely solo is dangerous.
Solo Traveling Intentions Affect Safety
Are you traveling specifically to try new food? Or are you traveling specifically to convert people to a new religion? Are you traveling to see the beautiful beaches? Or are you traveling to convince people that they need to become more western? Do you see where I’m going with this?
If you are solo traveling with the intention to observe and learn, then generally you should have no problems. But if you go with the intention of changing people, then there’s a good chance that you will be met with some tension. Some of these tensions could lead to physical confrontation which would impact your safety.
Time Frame Affects Solo Traveling Safety
Always check with your local government to verify whether a country is currently safe or not. Whether it is a first-world country or a third-world country, there can always be random conflicts. Maybe it is a religious conflict which causes a riot. Maybe it is an athletic competition that has caused rioting. Or maybe there was a recent natural disaster.
Every country has problems. Including your own. If you try to visit a country during one of these problematic events, or even shortly after, your safety may be at greater risk than normal. Be smart about where you are going and when you are choosing to go.
This is why Travel Cancellation Insurance is important. If for some reason there is a problematic situation that arrises before your flight, you definitely don’t want to lose all of the money that you have invested in the trip. Be prepared.
Solo Traveling Safety & Unpredictability
Like I said earlier, there are bad people in each country. They are the ‘wild card. They unpredictable part of your solo trip. I honestly believe that the majority of these bad people are concentrated in the tourist areas. These are the hotspot areas where foreigners face the majority of problems, unfortunately. The vast majority of times that I have been cheated or approached by a cheater of any kind, has been in the tourist areas.
It is so interesting to see the difference between the tourist area and the non-tourist area of each country. It is like an invisible wall that exists between the two areas. The moment a traveler gets outside of the tourist area, people generally become significantly more kind, helpful, hospitable, and friendly. Cheating drastically decreases. This is why I spend 98% of my travels away from the tourist areas.
Solo Traveling Safety Depends on Each Scenario
This article may ‘appear’ to be negative, but my intentions were not to scare you. My intentions were to simply make you aware of some of the situations in which solo traveling may not be as safe as normal. But I can’t stress to you enough, in general, solo traveling is safe. In my years of solo traveling, I have only been concerned about my own safety, once.
There was a random riot that broke out between local people and the police. This escalated extremely quickly and soon there were thousands of protesters against the police. Angry mobs ran up and down the streets right next to my house. Once I realized the local people were angry at the police and not at me, I generally felt safe again. I just watched the angry mobs run up and down the streets from the comfort of my balcony. I just had to be aware of random objects flying through the air. I encourage you to read about the ways to stay safe while solo traveling!
Please note that most local people are warm, kind, friendly, welcoming, and hospitable. As human beings, we can all easily see that a solo traveler is quite vulnerable when they are on the road away from their home country. They are all alone in a foreign country, surrounded by people with a different culture, and can’t speak the local language. Most local people can see this and are extra kind and generous to travelers.
So my question to you is “why worry too much about the less than 1% of bad people when more than 99% of the local people have great intentions?”. If you ask me, worrying about less than 1% is a waste of my time and energy. I choose to trust in humanity rather than in fear.