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 before taking your first solo trip.

It is always beneficial to have some self-defense moves stowed away in your back pocket and get some much needed self-defense tips for women. Not that I want to scare you off from travelling alone, but so many things can happen. It’s not uncommon to get lost at some point during your travels, and pickpocketing is a huge problem in many countries. It is wise to know how to deal with these issues by knowing basic safety tips.

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 is the odd badass 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 when you are a woman travelling solo 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 alone, or even when travelling with a travel partner, refer to Let’s Get Ready for Takeoff.  Together with AVOIDANCE, it is also extremely important to be 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, which unfortunately are typically solo female travellers, so it is important to always look 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 basic 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.

when travelling solo, be prepared to fight back
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.

JUST ONE TIP: If you are unable to escape, stay as close to your attacker as possible. He has now just become your new best friend.

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

I have talked a great deal of the importance of “shocking 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! The following are some simple ways to shock your attackers system and through him off guard:

  • 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

JUST ONE TIP: The most important thing to remember when having to defend yourself as a woman is to “shock the system”

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.

the female solo traveller should learn some basic self-defense before travelling alone
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


99 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

  13. oldbirdtravels

    Excellent advice. I’m getting my gym in London to help with a class for this very thing. I was in an attempted mugging situation in Sicily with a guy trying to grab my gold chain, (they hadn’t finished cleaning my room when I arrived so had nipped out to the supermarket) I automatically went into a possibly dangerous situation by grabbing it back and shouting like a mad MAN, he was totally shocked and ran away . I know this was foolish in case he held a knife but it was instinctual. Nobody came to help and I was standing in the street with my chain in hand … amazing how fast you react when you sense danger.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Anonymous

    Excellent tips Kelly, all women need to be prepared to defend themselves if necessary. Of course, ideally, we wouldn’t ever have to defend ourselves against physical attacks. I believe self-defense classes should be mandatory in schools. As a fellow martial artist, I’d love to know which art you practice? I practice Kumdo (Korean sword) 🙂


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  17. Adventuring with Shannon

    I love this! My dad made me learn self-defense when I was growing up, and I ended up working toward my black belt. I think this is such a great post and important for anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. SherianneKay

    Great advice to keep chin tucked to not be strangled. I wouldn’t have ever thought to stay close to the attacker but it makes sense now that it’s explained

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Sage Scott

    Oh, holy cow, you’re a bad ass! And here I was thinking I should get a gun and learn how to shoot it before I did my solo RV trip. Really great tips! (Plus, my college roommate is a black belt and could probably teach me a few things before I go!)


  20. Jordin

    Excellent advice! I honestly would love to take self defense classes just for my everyday life. Having the skills and knowledge would give me some peace of mind that in a crisis I would have some form of preparedness. I have yet to travel solo, but would FOR SURE take classes to prepare myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Amrita

    I totally understand the importance of self-defence while travelling solo. I have travelled to a lot of places without any difficulty yet, but it is always better to be ready than sorry. The tips for surprising the attacker by shock is so useful. And so is the mention of the vulnerable spots. I wish that we all travel safely, but we should also be ready for any unforeseen circumstances. Thanks for sharing this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Carol Kubicki

    These are useful tips for any traveller. I like the shock to the system ideas, I will try and remember these if I ever need to! I practice tai chi which comes from martial arts and it does teach you to stand with your feet well placed so you are harder to knock over, always a good start.

    Liked by 1 person

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  27. Michelle Segrest

    This is a truly helpful and useful article and I truly appreciate your posting it! I especially love the tips on the shock factor like spitting in the attacker’s face or poking them in the eye. I never thought of things like this. Every female traveler should read this!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Marisa

    These are amazing tips and seriously so important to learn as you never know what could happen! These are even valuable tips not just for solo traveling but being in your own hometown as well! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Jiayi Wang

    These are SUCH valuable tips, thank you so much for sharing them!! I never thought of the top of the foot or bottom of the nose as vulnerable spots!

    Liked by 1 person

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  33. Kelly

    These are all great tips for women to take into consideration! I remember taking a course like this while in highschool and have always kept it in the back of my mind when out alone 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Mindy on the Move

    This is such a genius and original post! I’ve been wanting to take self defense classes for awhile now as I’m very interested in learning and I loveee this guide and tips! Certainly pinning and saving to refer to as I practice! ☺️💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      Thanks Mindy! I strongly believe that everybody (especially women and children) should have some form of self-defense training. It doesn’t necessarily have to be martial arts, but just learn some “street smarts”.


  35. Kiara Williams

    These are always good to know, even in just your everyday life when you’re not traveling. Thanks for the tips, I must keep them in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. bye:myself

    I actually don’t know what I would do if someone attacked me. I think I would panic and scream like a crazy woman. And I have a terribly loud voice. I hope that would shock them since I don’t see myself defending myself in a more sophisticated – and probably efficient way. The best way is to stay safe 😉 So: safe travels to all you wonderful ladies!

    Liked by 1 person

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