It can be daunting to travel alone as a woman, especially in parts of the world where women are viewed and treated very differently from what you are used to. Fear for personal safety, fear of getting mugged or robbed and fear of getting attacked are all legitimate worries for a solo female traveller. But you can have a lot of control over keeping yourself  safe with a little forward planning, a dash of common sense, and a few little tips and tricks up your sleeve. Then you can be free to enjoy yourself and have one of the most liberating and confidence boosting experiences of your life!

Here are some of the things I did and found useful on my solo travels. I hope they help.

1. Arrange your travel plans so that you arrive early in the day at your destinations. This way, even if you haven’t pre-booked accommodation, you have plenty of time and daylight to make the arrangements you need. It also means you don’t get stuck somewhere at night with nowhere to stay, or having to stay somewhere that you are not totally comfortable.

2. Keep spare money in different places – some in your personal bag, some in your main rucksack, some on your person. At least this way if your bag gets snatched you know you have backup. It’s also a great surprise when you find some secret money stashed somewhere months later after forgetting all about it!

3. Dress Conservatively. Travelling is not the time to show off your latest cute top. Save it for when you get to where you’re going and you know it’s appropriate. You can save yourself a lot of staring, unwanted attention, gropes or worse if you just cover up. In India, for instance, I had a few tunics and trousers made up for very little money, and kept them as my travelling clothes. I never had any significant hassle from men. Bear in mind that local women will prefer it if you cover up too, and they are likely to be a lot more friendly and helpful if you dress appropriately.

4. Learn about the culture you are visiting, as this will help you to understand the best way to respond to unwanted attention. It is not a ‘one size fits all’ kind of thing. In India, for instance, it is perfectly acceptable to shout and embarrass a man in public if he is inappropriate towards you. However, in Thailand, it is a very bad idea to cause a Thai man to lose face in public, and could end you up in more trouble. Don’t just apply a Western approach to the situation – know your audience.

5. Walk with confidence and in brightly lit areas. You get told this at home all the time, and you must do the same abroad. Do not assume just because you are on a chilled out tropical island that this automatically makes it safe to walk home alone at 3am.

6. Look at maps of your destination before you get there so you have an idea of the lay of the land. Try not to get your map out every five minutes in public either, as this makes you look vulnerable and could attract someone looking to take advantage.

7. In some countries, it can help to wear a wedding ring and let people assume you are married. This can often be enough to keep unwanted attention at bay. This worked very well for many women who I met travelling around Asia, where it can seem very strange to locals that a single woman is travelling around alone.

8. When you choose accommodation, consider what it will be like to walk there after dark.

9. Make sure your room is secure – if necessary spend a little extra for a better room with a decent lock and close to other people. A lot of places expect you to have your own padlock to secure your room, so bring one with you.

10. Make friends. Having other people to keep an eye on you is always going to help. And of course you can return the favour.

11. Make sure people know where you are and where you are going. If possible, have someone at home who you always tell your plans to, and check in with them regularly.

12. Trust you gut – this will be your best friend. Don’t be afraid of looking like you are over-reacting to a situation. If you are not comfortable, get out.

13. If you are in your room at night and are worried that someone is creeping around outside, ask your imaginary boyfriend very loudly to go and see what’s going on outside.

14. In hot countries, you may well not be able to sleep with the windows shut, so choose rooms either high up, or with bars on the windows if you are on ground level.

15. Invest in some pepper spray.

16. It’s a common one that applies everywhere, but be careful about getting too drunk and making yourself super vulnerable. If you are in a place where you know you are going to want to go out partying,  then get accommodation very close to where you’re going out.

17. Choose your destinations carefully. As annoying as it may be, there might be some places that just really aren’t wise to go to on your own. If that’s the case, try and hook up with some other travellers for those particular destinations.

Finally, don’t get paranoid and ruin your trip. Keeping you and your belonging safe when you are travelling alone can easily just become a part of your routine. I’ve always found that the more aware you are, the easier it is to avoid trouble without it becoming a big deal. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself!