Solo Traveler Safety in Developing Countries

finding-love-with-the-locals-in-st-lucia

Whenever travelling solo, it is imperative that we do our research to determine the best and safest destinations to visit.  We ask ourselves, is it safe for a woman to travel solo to a Developing Country?  The short answer is yes, absolutely!

It is the perception that travelling solo certainly has its limitations, especially being a female travelling solo!  What do we do? Do we let this stop us from travelling wherever our heart desires?  Not me!  Absolutely not!

I have now been travelling solo for 9 years, and many of these solo trips have been to  Developing Countries.  Yes….it can be, and is intimidating, and more than a little scary.  But I will not let this stop me.  The fear I feel is nothing that a little preparation, a few precautions and a huge amount of courage can’t overcome.

beach-in-mexico-on-ocean
Beach in Mexico

It is important that we learn the true meaning of a “Developing Country”.  It does not mean that the people are lesser than us, or that they are less educated.  The simple way to describe a Developing Country, is that it is a lower to middle income Country which hasn’t yet reached the same level of sophistication as North America and Europe, with respect to its economy, infrastructure, health care, police protection or education, and in some instances, human rights.  This does not necessarily make a Developing Country dangerous.

Do Your Research

Extensive research is something that should be done wherever you travel.  Every destination has its sketchy areas, and they should be avoided at all costs.  It is our responsibility to determine the areas to avoid prior to leaving home.

Related:  Solo Travel – The Good, Bad and Ugly Truth

Crime

Developing Countries may have more crime per capita than our home Country, which does make it slightly more risky to travel solo to these countries.  Although the majority of the crime is non violent, and consists primarily of petty theft and muggings, there has been an increase in serious crimes in recent months, which include sexual assault and murders.  These crimes are occurring more regularly on resorts and in tourist areas, so we must choose our destination with an abundance of caution and heed any government warnings.

st-lucia-country-side
Terrain in St. Lucia

Common sense must always prevail and certain rules must always be followed:

  • stay in well-lit areas
  • keep all valuables at home
  • carry a cross the body purse and keep it on while eating, touring, shopping, etc.
  • lock your passport and other valuables in a safe
  • do not venture out on your own after dark
  • avoid excessive alcohol consumption
  • never disclose where you are staying

Related:  Let’s Get Ready for Takeoff

It is my opinion that Developing Countries get a bum wrap. Whenever and wherever I travel, I always take the exact same precautions as I would when venturing out on my own at home.  Remember, a Developing Country is no different. 

 

Accommodations

The accommodations you choose will depend solely on how comfortable you feel when travelling on your own.  I have found that I usually feel safest staying at a resort.  A resort is slightly more secure than hotels and much more secure than renting a cottage or staying at an Airbnb, as you are always surrounded by people and resorts tend to have security on-site.   Most resorts offer concierge service and tours right from on site.  If you don’t feel comfortable venturing out on your own, it is easy to book a tour.  There is absolutely no reason for you to miss out on the adventures, and this is also a great way to meet new friends.

mexico-hotel-california
Mexico Resort located beside Hotel California

If you are more of the adventurous and courageous type, then by all means book an Airbnb or rent an apartment.  I have done both while travelling in Developing Countries and have never had any issues.  If you do choose to rent or book an Airbnb, always remember to research the person or company that you are renting from, as well as the location of the property, before handing over any money.

Transportation

As in almost any Country, the public transportation in an Developing Country is safe and efficient.  In fact, I have found that the transportation has been more efficient than in North America, as the locals depend on public transportation for their day-to-day activities.  If you opt to use the public transportation system, make sure that you are fully aware of the location of your destination.

 

If you don’t feel safe using the public transportation, there will always be an abundance of taxis.  My only suggestion here would be to negotiate your price before you get into the vehicle, and ensure that the taxi is a properly licensed taxi.

People

It is the people that keep me coming back to Developing Countries.   It doesn’t matter which Country I am visiting, the people have been the highlight of my time spent there.  I have been blessed to have met the most fantastic, friendly and loving people, while travelling to Developing Countries.   The people continually pull at my heart strings, making it just about impossible for me to leave.  I even fell in love with one (perhaps a topic for another blog).

For the majority of these Countries, tourism is the number one means of income, and  the locals go out of their way to welcome us to their community.  They are extremely proud people and are anxious for us to explore their Country and learn their culture.  It is always a compliment to them if you attempt to learn and/or speak their language.

fishing-village-in-st-lucia
Fishing Village in St. Lucia

Having said that, I am not going to sugar coat things and make it all seem like roses when visiting Developing Countries.  Unlike North America and Europe, most of these Countries are not multi-cultural.  Keeping this in mind, do your research to ensure that you do not offend the locals by your dress, sexual orientation and beliefs, behavior, etc.  Remember at all times, that you are a guest in their Country.

All in all, travelling solo to a Developing Country is no different than travelling solo to any other Country.  Yes, there are precautions to take.  Keep your head on straight, be sensible and be aware of your surroundings at all times, and you will be just fine!

“The only thing to fear, is fear itself” (Franklin D. Rossevelt)

SAFE TRAVELS!

Kelly xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

36 thoughts on “Solo Traveler Safety in Developing Countries

  1. memorialbenchstories

    Thank you for this, it is a really useful guide that I would recommend to anyone thinking of travelling alone. Although how safe anyone feels is an individual thing you highlight all the things to consider to help someone find what suits them.

    Like

    1. Just One Passport

      Thank you. You are absolutely correct in that everybody has their own comfort zone. 9 years later I still feel anxious but once I get to my destination I’m fine. It’s the fear of the unknown

      Like

  2. Soumya Gayatri

    I loved your perspective on traveling in developing countries. I hail from a developing nation and agree on many of your points. It is true that some amount of research and a lot of patience in these countries can make your trip memorable. These people are no different, only they are in different stage of development. They key is to understand that.

    Like

    1. Just One Passport

      Thank you Soumya. I love how you describe the people as also being in a different stage of development. I’ve never thought of it that way in terms of the people. I also don’t think of that as being a bad thing either. Those of us in North America can certainly learn something from them

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Freya Lundgren

    This is a great post to help put people’s minds at rest. Most of the comments I get on my posts express concerns about the safety of the destinations that I visit. Research is key!

    Like

  4. Trail-stained Fingers

    This is an important point to address. I have found that solo travelling is easier in big cities with good transport networks. In the interiors, it’s always more difficult, more so in lesser developed countries, as you say.

    Like

  5. Sharon

    You have quite an inspiring story! I’ve read a lot about traveling solo to large first world cities. I think this is the first post I’ve read on going solo to developing areas. I think you may want to write a book about your travels!

    Like

  6. arv!

    Crime is everywhere. The difference exists between developed and not so developed nations. You need a different set of skills for each. Thanks for highlighting through this post.

    Like

  7. Laura Grip

    I feel like you were reading my mind with this post! I am a fan of traveling off the beaten path and going to places that aren’t as touristy, which is often to developing countries. It is so important to realize that the majority of people are good and you just need to have a good head on your shoulders. One thing I love to do is zoom in close on Google maps so I really feel like I know a place before I go there!

    Like

    1. Just One Passport

      Laura using Google maps is a great idea. I Google all of the surrounding areas and read about them and look at the pictures. I use Google maps frequently once I get to my destination. I’m going to start using it before I go.

      Like

  8. 2 Backpackers

    Firstly, thanks for explaining what a developing country is! The tips for safe travel in developing countries are quite helpful. And these tips can be used for any country! And yes, it is the people who make the place. These people are warm and friendly and will take you into their fold.

    Like

    1. Just One Passport

      Thank you. I totally agree with using these tops for all countries. We must take precautions wherever we travel, especially when travelling solo. Developing Countries are typically perceived to be “dangerous”, when in actuality most of them are not.

      Like

  9. Webb of Learning

    Traveling solo can be so daunting, specially in developing countries and when you don’t speak the language. These tips are so helpful!

    Like

  10. Emily

    As a solo female traveler, I absolutely loved your tips.

    Most of which is common sense and just doing your research.

    I love that you specified that developing countries are not ‘lesser’ than the USA, they’re just not up to our technology on all the mentioned topics.

    Great read!

    Like

  11. brennathreatt

    Yes! It’s important to be wise, but I think too often people get worried about the reputation of a place and miss out on incredible opportunities. Thanks for the advice and the push to keep seeing the world!

    Like

  12. Michelle

    These are all such good tips. I think they are useful whether you are visiting developing or established countries. These are just great reminders to do your research, be smart, and trust your instincts.

    Like

  13. itsasweetsweetworld

    I agree. In order to have a successful trip you need to do some research not only to find out the best places to visit, but also other factors like safety. It is very important to know a lot of things before hand.

    Like

  14. Sarah

    Attempting to speak the language goes a long way, even if you are terrible at it! When I was in Senegal, I would always try to communicate in Wolof with market vendors and taxi drivers, not only to practice, but sometimes they gave you better prices!

    Liked by 1 person

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