Despite much buzz around the solo travel trend, 30.4 percent of Americans say they have never traveled alone, according to a survey conducted by Allianz Global Assistance—with safety being the biggest issue for these respondents. More than a quarter (27.5 percent) of Americans have traveled alone for business domestically and 21 percent for leisure, while only 3.2 percent have solo traveled internationally for business and 4.8 percent for leisure.
Women are 10 percent less likely to travel alone than men, with 35.2 percent noting they have never traveled alone, compared to 25.2 percent of men. Regarding the perception of safety, 76.6 percent of men saying they have never felt unsafe while traveling alone, while 60.3 percent of women say the same. To note: Almost 40 percent of women (38.9 percent) have been catcalled while traveling alone, compared to just 11.6 percent of men. However, solo male travelers seem more susceptible to theft, with almost ten percent (9.7 percent) reporting having been mugged or pickpocketed (versus 6.1 percent of women).
More than a quarter of Americans (25.6 percent) say they have been overcharged or ripped off while traveling alone.
The security and safety of accommodations is top-of-mind for all solo travelers, with 26.6 percent of Americans listing it as the factor they are most concerned about when traveling alone. The remaining factors of concern vary significantly between male and female respondents. The next most pressing concerns for male travelers include: Violence/terrorism (17.8 percent), a natural disaster (17.8 percent), being out after dark (14.8 percent), riding public transportation (10 percent), security/safety of drivers (6.9 percent) and visiting a restaurant/bar (also 6.9 percent). Being out after dark is the second-biggest concern for women (26.3 percent), followed by violence/terrorism (15.7 percent), a natural disaster (9.6 percent percent) riding public transportation (9.4 percent), security/safety of drivers (7.8 percent) and visiting a restaurant/bar (3.7 percent).
Nearly sixty percent (59.9 percent) of women avoid walking at night to keep themselves safe while traveling alone, while 47 percent inform others of their location. Avoiding conversations with strangers (32.8 percent), dressing in a way that won’t draw attention (30 percent), moderating alcohol consumption (27 percent) and steering clear of busy tourist areas (14 percent) are other methods used for safety, while the survey found that 18.9 percent of women use none of these.
Over one-third (34.1 percent) of male solo travelers don’t use any of these tactics, while 34.9 percent avoid walking at night, 22 percent inform others of their location, 16.9 percent dress in a way that won’t draw attention, 16.7 percent avoid talking to strangers, 16.1 percent moderate alcohol consumption and 8.4 percent avoid busy tourist areas.
In addition to these tactics, Allianz suggests following these safety tips when traveling alone:
- Save your emergency contact in your phone under “ICE” (In Case of Emergency)
- List your emergency contact or next of kin on all travel documents
- Keep your passport in your hotel safe, and leave copies of it with a friend or family member at home
- Bring the following to store in your hotel safe:
- Copy of driver’s license
- Credit card information
- List of medications
- Any past medical history
- Copy of health and travel insurance cards
- If possible, arrive at your destination while it is still daylight and pre-plan your ground transportation to your accommodations
- Bring band aids, antibiotic ointments, antidiarrheal and analgesic medications with you
- Keep your belongings close to you at all times; if using a purse, make sure that the strap is worn across your body, so it can’t be grabbed off your shoulder
Many Americans also research safety advisories before traveling alone; as many as 34.8 percent say they do so regularly while 29.3 percent do sometimes. Women are more likely to do so (40.6 percent) than men (28.7 percent).