Solo travel as a female to East Africa

by Anh on 04.11.2019

Tips for solo female travellers in East Africa

Setting off on a solo travel as a female can seem like a far off idea that most of us would put to bed rather than considering the “I can do that” possibility. We get it, it sounds scary, intimidating and unfamiliar, but setting off in the unknown and testing our boundaries can have more positive effects, more rewards and more surprises than we could ever even imagine. Here are our top tips for having a solo travel as a female to East Africa.

1. Be Confident

solo travel as a female to East Africa - be confident

We feel this should be your motto in and outside of travelling, especially for solo travel as a female! Having confidence is one of the best keys for ensuring you have enjoyable your travel days. Don’t doubt your decisions and trust yourself a little more than usual when navigating yourself through a new destination. It has been said that solo women who look lost or confused can often attract the wrong kind of attention. Stride with pride as you walk around trying to find the place you need to go.

2. Plan the First Night Always

plan the first night when travelling alone as a female

At minimum, be sure to book a place to sleep on the first night of every destination during your trip. It’s important you give yourself daylight time to find your hostel or hotel to avoid any unwanted interactions while you walk around trying to find your sleeping spot. Avoid arriving at night.

3. Keep Quiet

The fact is that solo travel as a female to third-world countries is quite dangerous. You should think of your accommodation as your safe spot. Don’t tell people where you are staying - even if they seem trustworthy or nice. If they ask, give them a roundabout answer without giving it away. “I am staying close to the center”.

4. Blend In

It’s unfortunate we have to worry about such things, but one of the easiest ways to attract negative attention is to wear clothing that gives off the wrong ideas, or that makes you stick out as a tourist. Especially in places like East Africa, you will already stick out by the color of your skin and your hair. Most of the time, the attention we get is warm and inviting, but sometimes we stick out as a target because we look so different than the local people. Try to blend in with the locals, dress conservatively, or simple clothing to avoid being singled out as a potential target.

5. Meet Other Women

meet other women on solo travel

You will be surprised to see that you are not alone and a lot of other women embarked on the same journey through East Africa. Take this opportunity to meet them and share the same exciting experience hand in hand. You can build strong friendships with women all around the world, that you may never have had the chance of meeting before. While having a solo travel as a female, it is a good idea to post your trip to and see if any other women want to join you halfway!

6. Stay Connected

Well, solo travel as a female does not mean that you are completely isolated. Keep family and friends rest to sure that you are safe and having the time of your life. Letting people know where you are acts as an extra safety blanket - while friends and family can follow along, you are also leaving a safety trail and reassure everyone you’re safe and enjoying your travel days.

7. Keep Possessions to a Minimum

We know how nice it is to have all electronics on hand while travelling, but you must remember this is only going to attract more attention from thieves. Try avoid flashing these items around and only take them out of your bag when it’s absolutely necessary. Perhaps leave the laptop at home if you can manage without it.

8. Avoid Too Much Alcohol

avoid too much alcohol when travelling alone

This one may be obvious, but let this be a friendly reminder. Enjoying a drink or two with a new travelmate is great, but it can quickly turn dangerous if you over do it. Drink in moderation and always be aware of your surroundings. If by chance, you do over do it, never walk home alone and have a walking buddy to safely get you to your hostel or hotel.

Cultural Differences to Keep in Mind

  • In Tanzania, if you shake hands with a male and his finger rubs the palm of your hand mid-shake, he is very interested in you. This will feel a little strange at first, but rest assured that it is not a traditional tribal handshake and under no circumstances should you enthusiastically recreate it as you shake hands with this gentleman’s family.
  • What you deem as a friendly encounter can mean something completely different for the other person. You have to keep in mind that for a lot of African men, meeting a western woman is high on their priority list. If you have a friendly chat with a man, he can easily interpret this as the start of a romantic relationship. Sure, this conversation may pass the time while you’re on the bus, but you may be giving the impression that you are interested in more than just a general chit chat.
  • If you’re in Malawi, you could notice a hand signal used by young men where they press their thumb in between their middle finger and forefinger and laugh at you while you walk past. It’s best to ignore these gestures and carry on your way.
  • To prevent unwanted attention or gestures, it’s best to invent a boyfriend and produce evidence of him. Carry a photo with you at all times. If you’re really concerned, the best is to wear a wedding ring.

Do your Homework

Always read up on your destination and the surrounding areas where you’ll be staying. Don’t leave it to the last minute when you have already put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation. If you’re unsure, there is always online forums where people talk about recent experiences.

Above all, follow your instincts. If you have a weird feeling, chances are you should listen to it. You’re probably somewhere you shouldn’t be.



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