Self-Defense Tips for the Solo Female Traveller

As a black belt in martial arts, as well as a former martial arts instructor, ladies self-defense instructor, and a female solo traveller, I highly recommend that some form of self-defense class be taken if you plan on venturing out into the world of solo travel.

It is always beneficial to have some self-defense moves stowed away in your back pocket……just in case.

Should I Take a Self-Defense Class if Travelling Solo?

I know that this is a subject that not many women want to hear about, but my motto is “better safe than sorry”.  I truly believe that most people in this world are kind and honorable, but there are the odd bad ones out there.  My intention certainly is not to scare you off of travelling solo.  That is the last thing that I want to do, as travelling solo is the most liberating thing that you will ever do, and for the most part it is extremely safe.  I am also not saying that something bad will happen to you because it likely won’t, but there is always that very slight chance and it is best to be as prepared as possible.

When travelling solo, we are completely dependent on ourselves for our own safety.  The best form of self-defense is always first and foremost…..AVOIDANCE!  For basic precautions to take when travelling solo, or even when travelling with a travel partner, refer to Let’s Get Ready for Takeoff.  Together with AVOIDANCE, it is also extremely important that you are aware of your surroundings at all times and show an extreme amount of confidence (whether you feel it or not).  Attackers usually seek out vulnerable looking people, so be alert.

In the unfortunate event that you find yourself in a precarious situation, it is helpful to know some of the following self-defense moves.  These self-defense moves are basic and can be learned in depth by taking a women’s basic self-defense class.

Self-Defense Awareness for the Female Solo Traveller

Before I begin, you should be aware that if you are a female travelling alone and you are physically attacked, there is more than a pretty good chance that it won’t be by another female. It is only natural for our male counterparts to out-perform us women with their superior physical strength. Because of this, it is imperative that we always remain calm and out-think our attacker.  Here are some self-defense tips to put in your bag of tricks should you find yourself in trouble during your travels:

Self Defense for Frontal Attacks

If you are attacked from the front, it is always important to keep your balance throughout the attack.  The last place you want to end up is on the ground!  In order to do this effectively, make every attempt to keep your upper body centered over your feet.  If at all possible, make yourself more stable by keeping your feet spread approximately 1 foot apart, with your upper body centered in between your feet.  This is known as the center of gravity.  If you are not centered, there is a very good chance that you will be thrown off balance, and potentially even fall.

Don’t be afraid to fight back!

If your attacker is close and you are unable to escape, make him become your best friend.  Stay as close to him as you possibly can!  By doing this you  will be in a position to utilize your maximum amount of strength.  Imagine yourself picking up a heavy package with your arms out-stretched in front of you.  How difficult is that?  How much strength do you have just using your arms?  The same theory is applied in this situation.  Since it is likely that your attacker will have superior physical strength, you will need to use your maximum strength, engaging your entire body as you defend yourself.

In addition, the closer you are to your attacker the less opportunity he will have to strike out at you, grab you or choke you.  You will be limiting his attack options.

The following are some basic self-defense tips that can greatly increase your chances of escaping your attacker:

  • STAY CALM and be patient
  • Wait until your attacker is slightly distracted and “shock the system”See below for various ways to “shock the system”.
  • Take advantage of his loosened grip and run like hell
  • Make lots of noise when running away to bring attention to the situation.  Do not yell “rape”, as most people do not respond to that.

As you may have already guessed, a frontal attack is the easiest attack to defend yourself against.

Self-Defense for Rear Attacks

Being attacked from the rear is much more difficult to defend against, as it is the attacker’s intention to take you by surprise.  This is where AVOIDANCE and AWARENESS come in handy.  However, if you do find yourself in this situation, the same rules apply as with frontal attacks.

  • Maintain your balance
  • Stay as close as you can.  This is extremely important if attacked from the rear.  Since you wont be able to see your attacker, you want to be able to feel him so you know what he is doing.  Remember who your best friend is
  • Keep your chin tucked down towards your chest to avoid being choked
  • Stay calm
  • Shock the system
  • Once the attacker’s grip is loosened slightly, run
  • Make as much noise as possible

Self-Defense for Ground Attacks

If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself on the ground and having to defend yourself, don’t give up hope yet.

  • Stay close
  • Stay calm and be patient
  • Shock the system
  • Do not turn over onto your stomach
  • While lying on your back, keep your legs bent with feet planted firmly on the ground approximately 1 foot apart.  When the attacker’s grip is loosened, or he becomes distracted, thrust your hips into the air while pushing your feet into the ground, with as much force as possible.  The goal is to throw the attacker off balance enough so that you are able to escape. This is most effective if done immediately after shocking the system
  • Get up and run when his grip is loosened
  • make plenty of noise

In all types of attacks, if you are fortunate enough to escape your attacker whatever you do, do not stick around.  Escape the situation as soon as feasibly possible.

Shock the System

There are various ways you can shock the system, none of which are for the faint of heart.  The trick to shocking the system is to catch your attacker off guard so that his grip will loosen enough for you to escape.  It you are able to achieve this, don’t waste time.  Run for your life!

  • Spit in your attackers face
  • Poke or eye gouge
  • Punch your attacker in the throat
  • Punch or elbow your attacker in the kidneys
  • Clap your attacker’s ears with both of your hands as hard as you can
  • Hit/kick to the groin.  CAUTION:  If you choose to shock the system this way, be sure you hit the groin square on, otherwise, you will just make him angry
  • Kick  the shins
  • Stomp on the top of his foot (especially effective if wearing high heels)
  • Head butt.  This is best when being attacked from the rear

Sensitive/Vulnerable Spots

The body has numerous sensitive spots, which are the spots you want to aim for whenever you are shocking the system.  Some of the most vulnerable spots are:

  • groin
  • eyes
  • throat (adams apple)
  • ears
  • bottom of nose
  • shins
  • kidneys
  • top of foot

If you are able to shock the system in any of these vulnerable areas, you will have a better chance of escaping.

Take a women’s self-defense class if you travel solo

Women’s Self-Defense for the Solo Traveller

This article is intended to outline the bare basics of women’s self-defense that you should be aware of when travelling solo (in addition to the precautions outlined in Let’s Get Ready for Take-off.)  If you choose to travel solo, it is always advisable to take a ladies self-defense class so that you can practice the moves, and learn how to effectively perform the self-defense techniques.  A black belt is not necessary when travelling solo, however having knowledge of some self-defense basics is not only smart, it is necessary.

It doesn’t matter how adept you are at self-defense, always remember that the best self-defense is AVOIDANCE, AWARENESS and CONFIDENCE.


Kelly xoxo



32 thoughts on “Self-Defense Tips for the Solo Female Traveller

  1. Michelle

    These are great tips. My husband is a police officer and these are some of the same things he teaches me. Of course, it is so important to practice, practice, practice 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sana

    I have traveled solo for many years. And I understand the risks of traveling solo for women. Your post explains In detail what to do in a difficult situation. Shock the System sounds pretty effective but I think it would need good amount of practice

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jen

    Thank you so much for these important and valuable tips. It’s so important to be on guard and prepared – esp when traveling alone. I especially liked your “shock the system” suggestions. Thank you for this helpful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Catherine

    I’ve never actually traveled alone, but I love having the knowledge of what to do no matter what situation I’m in. I’ve heard of terrible things happening just walking outside of your hotel room! Great article! Made me thing about what I would do!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. SecretMoona

    Very good tips not only for female solo travellers but female travellers in general. It’s important to always be cautious when travelling in an unknown location. And if you know some self-defence moves, then that’s even better!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Aditi Sharma

    These are really helpful tips for defending oneself in difficult situations. While I’ve never come across a problematic situation until now while traveling alone, it’s always good to know how to stay safe with these defensive tips. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reina E Conboy

    Very well written post and I laughed-out-loud with the picture you provided! I firmly believe that learning basic self-defense for solo female travelers is important so I’m very grateful you provided this information!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. perfectdaytoplay

    I am lucky I always travel with my husband everywhere. I do however want to eventually take a self-defense class. This post was extremely informative and yet again reminded me to sign-up for the actual class in the upcoming months. thank you for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Albi Mrázová

    That is a lot if helpful tips! I didn’t know that I need to stay out of the ground, but thinking about it, it only sounds reasonable. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  10. bianca8080

    This is something I was actually thinking about just today when I stopped some Krav Maga lessons on Group. Considering the number of times I have travelled solo when men making some of the crudest comments you wonder if they have any sisters in their lives. It really makes me wonder if I should consider getting self-defense lessons for just in case. These are definitely some great tips in the meantime.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. gofargrowclose

    It is a sad world when an article like this is needed. But, of course, better to be prepared than just stick your head in the sand and pretend risks aren’t there. Lots of great suggestions that all of us should learn regardless of whether we are in a foreign country or home.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Razena

    Thus far I have been fortunate to have never encountered situations where I felt unsafe or in danger because I avoid engaging in high risk behaviors when I travel. However it has occurred to me that not all places are safe and that I do need to know some basic self defense techniques and you have provided some excellent tips.

    Liked by 1 person

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