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solo female travel to Central Europe - safety tips

Atlanta, Georgia
1 post
solo female travel to Central Europe - safety tips

Hi everyone,

I am planning my first solo trip to Europe (namely Hungary-Austria-Czech) next spring. I've been to Europe three times before, all in groups, and my only previous solo experiences were to several cities within US. I do not speak any Central European languages. I would rely on public transportation

Here are my major concerns:

1. I plan to stay in hotels for most nights and B&B for rare cases. But I read that many suggest all-female dorm in hostels would be a better and safer option for european trips. I have only stayed in hostel once and am not a big fan of it. What do you think of accommodation for a single female in mid-20s?

2. I am of Eastern Asian origin so I guess I will be identified as tourist instantly. And I am aware that there have been rampant petty crimes (and sometimes violent one) specifically targeting Eastern Asian tourists. I know tricks such as wearing a belt bag and splitting cash and cards. Do you have other suggestions or resources against pickpocket?

Thanks in advance for any advice/comments

17 replies to this topic
Illinois
Level Contributor
19,059 posts
16 reviews
11. Re: solo female travel to Central Europe - safety tips

The only one of those countries I've been to is Austria. I was there as a solo traveler and stayed in a hotel. I never felt unsafe, and pretty much everyone spoke English. (Even the bus driver.) I went to Salzburg and Vienna.

I agree that looking confident is key, particularly in places where there are a lot of scammers/pickpockets, like the petition girls in Paris. I didn't find that to be a problem in Austria. I was approached once in a train station in Vienna by some guy who asked if I spoke English and then wanted money to bring his wife and family from Hungary (?) - not 100% sure which country. I spoke with him but kept my distance and my hand on my bag. He didn't seem to want to take no for an answer, so I just walked away.

I prefer to have 2 closure systems (zipper + clipped flap, 2 zippers, etc) for the handbag pocket where I keep valuables. For sunglasses, etc I only have a zipped pocket. I use Google maps mostly for directions. At least 50% of the people in every European city I've been to walk around looking at their phones (probably more than that), so I don't think that makes you look like a tourist. However, I have seen reports of phones being snatched out of people's hands, so keep an eye out and don't ignore your surroundings. I've also developed the habit of keeping a hand over my bag pretty much all the time. It's crossbody and I keep it that way on my lap when I eat, etc.

Have a great trip! I love solo travel.

Seattle
Level Contributor
51,220 posts
22 reviews
12. Re: solo female travel to Central Europe - safety tips

Exactly, about the phone, not about not looking like a tourist but a phone is about the easiest thing to grab and run with (or a purse hanging over the back of a chair in a restaurant or cafe).

Normal, Illinois
Level Contributor
103 posts
204 reviews
13. Re: solo female travel to Central Europe - safety tips

HI at age 72 I did Eastern Europe solo and felt safe at airbnb/ hostels/ and guest houses. I prefer places with a kitchen to save on expenses. I did not go clubbing or wandering alone late at night. I often ate my main meal at lunch and then had deli or take out to eat at dinner on my balcony.I used bus and train no internal flights. I enjoyed time in Hungary and the Czech Republic before heading to Slovenia and Croatia. Younger clerks in stores helped me sort our directions. Fellow travelers in hostels shared travel tips. I found it best to choose a base for a 3-5 night stay and then take day trips on my own or a tour. I traveled for over 6 weeks without any problems as a solo senior who did not speak the language but knew how to smile and gesture.

London, England
Destination Expert
for Solo Travel
Level Contributor
10,973 posts
28 reviews
14. Re: solo female travel to Central Europe - safety tips

One advantage of maps over phones is that no one is likely to snatch a map from your hand. Most tourist offices give or sell maps and are willing to mark them for you, which can be very helpful.

There are also cities (London is one) where Google can be less than reliable.

I wear a conventional wedding ring when I travel solo (I don't in real life) and have been known to refer to a "husband" waiting for me at my hotel simply because it helps avoid misunderstandings.

I am a friendly chatty person and that can be misinterpreted. The ring helps keep the boundaries.

I like staying in family run B & Bs when possible as the people there will have lots of local knowledge and be willing to share it.

It sounds like a great trip.

Level Contributor
9 posts
3 reviews
15. Re: solo female travel to Central Europe - safety tips

Wherever you stay, you should be confident while traveling.

Bellingham...
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4,170 posts
1 review
16. Re: solo female travel to Central Europe - safety tips

ETA: I’m older than you. Most of my Hostel roommates have been around your age. So that aspect isn’t an issue.

I think it’s useful to consider location of lodging.

I’d argue that sometimes a Hostel is safer if:

1) it’s in a central location that is easy/well lit to get back to. Sometimes they’re near train stations, like many budget hotels, and that’s not my preference. I like the ones located in prime tourist areas—old towns.

2) I tend to make my lodging budget on the low side, and I prioritize safety. I’d rather stay in a legal hostel than couch surf, for example. And I’ve found that a lot of hostels tend to have better security than budget hotels.

Other than that, generally speaking, I think anyone would feel safer behind a locked door. I tend to do a mix of Hotels, hostels, and b&bs. I do hostels to save money, or when they’re unique, or for social reasons. I’ve never have any problems with safety. I do tend to stay in all female dorms, but that’s more for modesty/cleanliness/quiet reasons that safety. You need to consider why you didn’t like the Hostel experience before. Did you dislike it because it was a crap Hostel? Because I’ve definitely stayed places I would NEVER return to. I’ve stayed in even more crap hotels. Or did you dislike it because you didn’t like the bunk beds, lack of privacy, going down the hall to shower? I don’t mind any of that. But I certainly know people who wouldn’t like ANY hostel, no matter how nice, because they just don’t like the communal idea. If you have the money, hey, definitely go for that cute little boutique hotel in old town.

The racial/crime aspects—honestly, I think both are pretty overblown. A lot of people who warned me of that stuff got those ideas from media or people who had never been to those locales. As far as race goes—I encountered some hostility towards Chinese tour groups, and the keywords there are tour groups. Twenty years ago, it would probably have been directed towards American tour groups. People are generally really helpful and friendly. The only time I saw rudeness towards tourists were in situations where the tourist was clearly causing problems, like blocking train doorways with their oversized luggage.

Edited: 7:42 pm, September 19, 2018
Wales, United...
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for Bargain Travel, Cruises, Swansea, Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Neath, Port Talbot
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17. Re: solo female travel to Central Europe - safety tips

OP, if you are still reading this thread, I'd like to know your sources for

>>>rampant petty crimes (and sometimes violent one) specifically targeting Eastern Asian tourists.<<<

and where these attacks are taking place. Petty crime is an issue in many large cities across the world, but as far as I'm aware, tourists form particular regions ar enot being targetted. I think that tourists are targetted regardless of where they have come from, and it's the ones that make it easy for opportunistic thieves that are targetted the most.

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