Travelling alone is an incredible experience. If you still need a little persuasion, see if these 5 reasons why you should solo travel can persuade you. But it of course comes with a layer of vulnerability. Especially as a female travelling alone.
Even travelling in taxis in our hometowns. As women, we usually grow up with a very different perspective on safety compared to men.
When you throw in an unfamiliar location, culture and language, travelling alone in a taxi as a solo female traveller comes with extra layers of risk.
How to be safe in a taxi alone as a female traveller
I hope these taxi safety tips for solo female travellers will give you some extra confidence when using taxis in unfamiliar countries. This advice is universal, so you can apply these taxi safety tips for solo females in any country. Even in your hometown!
If you’re looking for more reassurance for your entire solo trip make sure to read this guide to staying safe as a solo female traveller. It’s filled with general advice on how you can stay as safe as possible as a solo female travelling alone.
1. Make sure it’s an official company
Before you book, hail or climb into a taxi, you need to make sure the car and driver are legit.
Signage and licenses
Each country will have its own official taxi licensing system. For example, here in the UK, taxis will display a special licence for whichever local authority they’re registered in. However, in Vanuatu, taxis are marked with a ’T’ at the beginning of the number plate.
Look up what kind of signage you should be looking for in that country. And also what a license looks like.
Look for official ride shares
From Uber to Grab, choosing to book through a well-known ride-share app if available can be safer than as you know exactly what you’ve booked.
Just remember to double-check the car reg, make, model and driver’s name before you hop into a car that’s claiming to be the one you booked.
2. Discuss the price beforehand
Some drivers can be a bit cryptic about price before. If they can’t give you an estimate and other options are available, walk away.
In some countries, where women may be less respected (especially solo females), some drivers might try to take advantage.
3. Should you sit in the front or back of a taxi?
When I first started travelling solo, I used to opt for the front passenger seat. I felt like it made me seem more dominant somehow. As strange as that sounds!
But by far, the place that people feel the safest is in the back seat. Logically, you have a view of the driver and remove yourself from the possibility of any inappropriate gropes etc.
The backseat passenger side is usually best, as you’ve placed yourself at the furthest point from the driver. It’s where I choose to sit now.
4. Follow your route on maps
Following the route can help you spot any anomalies in the journey back home or to your accommodation.
Make sure you have enough data to follow your route home on Google Maps. Especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area. Ideally, you should have already downloaded an offline map of the area around your accommodation.
By following the route you’ll be able to notice if the driver heads in an unusual direction. If you notice that happening, ring someone on your phone so the driver knows you’re in contact with someone. Ask to be let out and say something like “Oh I can see you!”.
5. Avoid pushy drivers
In some countries, taxi drivers can be pushy at tourist locations. Whether that’s at the airport, port or major attraction. If it helps, sit somewhere nearby and watch. You might be able to notice the better companies or just gain a bit of confidence from observing how locals are bartering etc.
6. Don’t tell the driver that you’re travelling alone
If you’re having a conversation with the driver, never let them know that you’re travelling alone. No matter how friendly they are.
Mention you’re heading back to meet up with your friend or partner. Anyone travelling alone is more vulnerable — no matter your gender.
7. Make sure your phone is usable
Before you hop into any taxi, your phone needs to be usable.
Make sure it has plenty of charge. But also, more critically, you need to have phone service with a working SIM.
If you’ve just arrived at an airport or international port/station etc. make sure your phone is usable and you have a working SIM card.
I mention this on my pre-travel safety checklist for female solo travellers too. When I arrived in Vanuatu, I forgot to check if my SIM card would pick up service there. I assumed it needed a bit more time to connect so I left the airport without buying a SIM card. Long story short, it didn’t ever connect…
I ended up catching a bus with other solo travellers I met at the airport. But without meeting them, I would have hopped into a taxi without a working phone.
It’s important to make sure your phone works so that you can call someone if needed.
Whether you call a friend or family member for reassurance and connection throughout the journey.
If your phone is out of battery
If you need to use a taxi and your phone is damaged or unusable etc. it’s best to opt for a more reputable (expensive) taxi company or service.
8. Know emergency contact numbers
A critical tip for any traveller, but particularly important for solo female travellers. Make sure you know the emergency contact number of the country you’re in so you can make the call if you’re ever in an emergency situation.
9. Write down the number plate before you get in
Before hopping in, make a mental note or even take a photo of the number plate. Write it on your phone as soon as you get in so you don’t forget it.
This means that if you notice you’re heading off-course (like mentioned above), you can message family and friends with the number plate. And if it becomes a real emergency situation and you can call emergency services, you can call out the number plate.
10. Stay aware
As a solo female traveller, we do unfortunately need a heightened sense of awareness. Just staying vigilant and aware of your surroundings can help to keep you safe.
It can be easy to get lost in your own world, staring out the window or at your phone. But be aware of where you are and what’s going on so you can react if needed.
Another thing to keep an eye on is the meter. Make sure it’s not increasing excessively (if it is, try and ask to get out sooner).
No matter how tired you are or how late it is, stay vigilant and don’t just hop into the nearest taxi.