As someone who’s spent most of his life living in the United States and the majority of that time residing in its most-popular city, New York, I can confidently say that yes, in general the US is a safe country for a female to travel to alone.
Many American women are doggedly independent. And the society reflects that reality in that it really isn’t anything unusual to see a woman moving about on her own.
But that said, this is the United States we’re talking about. When you look at America’s crime statistics against those of other nations, it may not seem like a particularly dangerous place. But sometimes, statistics can be misleading. So as a woman traveling through this country alone, you need to be wise and prepared instead of presuming that everything is all good.
Or put otherwise, the US is very forward thinking in terms of gender equality, women’s liberation and things of the sort. But it is also, most simply put, a violent nation. There are guns and other weapons floating about aplenty, and certain subcultures have hostile and/or criminal tendencies embedded into their norms.
So if you’re a woman trekking alone and identifiably an outsider, certain locals, such as in places like NYC, may see you as an easy victim and act accordingly.
So below are recommendations that you can consider following as a lone female traveler in the United States. Some of these suggestions may seem inhibiting or even puritan, but I’m not out to sit on anyone’s happiness or minimize a lady’s freedom as a traveler. To the contrary – all things considered, the travel experience will be a lot more enjoyable if you’re able to go to the US and come back without any horror stories to tell.
Restrict Your Solo Outings To The Daytime
Daylight is the world’s best crime deterrent, in a manner of speaking. That may not be true across the board, especially now in some major American cities where thieves are engaging in ‘smash-and-grab’ crimes and things of the sort. But for the most part, even the most unsavory of individuals don’t actually want to get caught.
So one of the best ways to minimize the chance of being victimized is to limit your solo adventures to the daytime as much as reasonably possible. And secondly, it would also be a good idea to limit such movements to highly-populated areas, such as city centers, since the presence of outsiders is more common.
Join A Tour Group
Even though you may come to the US alone, that doesn’t mean that you can’t join a tour group once you’ve arrived. Of course, being in a group makes you less attractive to the likes of pickpockets and muggers, and the tour guide operator should have a good idea of the safest places to venture to begin with. Also, being in some type of group is ideal if you plan on going out at night. And on that note, may I also recommend…
Establishing A Contact Beforehand
It’d be cool if you can establish contact with a female or even worthy male companion to show you around your preferred destinations before landing.
Yes, there are inherent risks in putting your trust in someone who you never met before that isn’t a licensed tourism-industry representative. But the good thing about living in the information age is that now, you can get a pretty-good glimpse into someone’s character and background just by frequenting their Facebook page for instance.
Penpals have always been a thing. But these days, travelers are able to establish even more meaningful and diverse contacts before even stepping foot into the country they’re traveling to.
Have An Itinerary
One of the worst mistakes any traveler coming to the US can make is doing so without an itinerary. Just as it’s a good idea to have certain contacts in place beforehand, it’s even better to already know where you’re going.
Having an itinerary minimizes the possibility of a foreigner looking like they’re lost. And let me clarify here that Americans aren’t monsters. Most are helpful, law-abiding citizens. But wandering about, especially as a sole female, is unadvisable. So it’s best to always have a clear idea of where you are going. And relatedly, another wise course of action is to…
Refrain From Using Public Transportation
In this case I’m not referring to the likes of Greyhound or Amtrak, which allow you to move from state to state cheaply and tend to be relatively safe. In fact even though Greyhound ride mostly on highways, when it comes to actually seeing the United States they’re a lot more preferable than flying from place to place.
What I’m rather referring to is the likes of a city’s internal public transportation system. Yes, it does suck to have someone tell you that if you were to visit New York City for instance, it’d be best as a solo, inexperienced female to refrain from using its world-famous subway system.
But that is exactly what I’m recommending, particularly for the more crime-ridden metropolises. Or if riding public transportation is on your bucket list, then try to do so within close proximity of a law enforcement officer.
When you’re traveling shorter distances, i.e. from one part of the city to another or in some cases even intrastate, in the name of safety it’s better to get a taxi from a reputable company or patronize an accountable brand like Uber. Other alternatives include renting a car or, as stated earlier, joining a tour group.
And yes, to be perfectly honest doing so is a lot more expensive than utilizing public transportation.
Maybe if you’ve already been to the US before and are confident within the system, that’s one thing. But if this is your first time coming, my opinion is that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Being robbed or getting accosted in some type of disrespectful way, even if you don’t suffer physical harm in the process, is never a good experience. So maybe when budgeting for the trip, you have to allocate some extra cash to the transportation column. And this goes back to having your itinerary already set, so that you’ll have a good idea of how much money is needed in that regard beforehand.
It’s pretty common knowledge that the United States is, by far, the most coveted migration destination on Earth. America is the premiere nation of the entire world. So accordingly many, if not most of us would like to at least visit. And logically, that would include a significant portion of solo female travelers since said demographic actually represents a major one as far as the tourism industry is concerned.
But at the same time, we also read the news reports coming out of the US – of the mass killings, of people murdering their own family members, of major cities rife with violent criminals, etc. So this is far from being one of the safest places in the world, especially for a tourist, i.e. someone who is likely to spend a significant amount of time in those selfsame cities.
Yet and still, you want to see the Empire State Building and the White House and Hollywood and the people and places that make America great. But as a woman traveling alone who is also an outsider, it’s always wise to keep in mind that there are probably Americans around who, in the very least, will perceive you as an opportune victim. So with that said, it’s ultimately up to you not to put yourself in a position where victimization appears even more appealing.