South Africa is a wonderful country that I am glad I finally got to visit this year! One of the biggest questions I had about traveling to South Africa as a solo female travelers was “is it safe”? Like all places, South Africa too has safe locations and places that are not so safe. You just have to use some common sense, be very aware of your surroundings and follow my tips for South Africa for solo female travelers below! I titled this solo female travelers as that is my niche and how I travel very often but these tips apply to anyone.
Tip the Car Guard
If you are wondering who that is, in South Africa there are people who will guard your car for a few rand. Don’t try to fight them or go without paying. As a best practice, tell them you will pay them when you come back and to look after your car. This will make sure they don’t take your money and leave without looking after your car. And yes, I did drive in Cape Town and was totally fine.
Don’t Leave Anything in Your Car
Car jackings and break-ins are not unheard of in South Africa (also not unheard of where I live in the US!). The best thing you can do is to lock your car and not leave anything in it. If you have to park it on the road at night, park it in a well lit area and a place where people go about.
Tipping is Huge
This is not a safety tip per se, but I wanted to include it in this tips post nevertheless! Tipping is HUGE in South Africa! Here are some of the instances you may need to tip.
- Car guard
- People who pump fuel
- Porters and bellhops
- Housekeeping at hotels
Uber at Night
This is a important tip in South Africa for solo female travelers! Don’t drive at night or attempt to walk alone outside even if your location is a few blocks away. There were two girls who joined me and a guide on the Lion’s Head hike and they walked in the dark to get to the trail head and our guide said they were so lucky they did not get mugged! Not trying to fear monger here! But sharing things that were said by locals and offering solutions! Staying safe is using some common sense and it’s common sense not to walk in the dark, even if you are not alone.
Don’t Hike on Your Own
This is another important tip for solo female travelers to South Africa, especially Cape Town! If you are visiting Cape Town and love to hike, then you have so many great trails to choose from. The more popular ones are the Lion’s Head hike and Table Mountain. If you are hiking these, do not go alone. Join a guided hike or go with other people.
Read all about the Lion’s Head hike HERE. I’ve included links to recommended guided hikes including the one I did.
Have Small Change and Cash
Have small change and cash with you for tipping as well as any emergency.
Don’t Wear Flashy Stuff
Keep those designer bags and jewelry at home. Don’t be flashy in your appearance. Keep your belongings on you at all times. A cross body bag or fanny pack is ideal.
Keep a Tight Grip on Your Phone
I was standing outside a restaurant looking at my phone to see where my Uber was and a gentleman who worked at the restaurant asked me to come inside and put my phone away. Apparently there are phone snatchers (not common to South Africa!) so keep a tight grip on your phone or put it inside your bag.
Keep Your Valuables in Your Hotel Safe
Store any extra cash, credit cards and your passport in a hotel safe. If you pulled money for the entire trip, just take what you need for the day!
Keep Copies of Your Documents
It is always a good idea to have copies of your passport and any other important documents you may have with you. I always do this where ever I go.
Keep Money and Credit Cards in Multiple Places
Stashing your money and credit cards in a few different places is not a bad idea! (Not just for South Africa but anywhere!)
Buy a Local Sim Card or e-Sim
A local sim card or an e-sim is a cheap and effective way to be connected during your trip to South Africa!
Buy Travel Insurance
I always purchase travel insurance no matter where I am going. South Africa was no exception. In my opinion it’s a relatively small price to pay upfront for peace of mind during your trip.
Read Hotel Reviews
Don’t book hotels without reading location scores and also pay attention to the number of reviewers! I will read reviews not just on Booking.com but also on Google and other platforms as well. Booking.com has a score for the location specifically and I always look at that before booking a hotel.
Trust Your Instincts
If the little voice inside your head tells you something is a bad idea or you should not be in a certain area, then you should probably listen to it! Our bodies and minds have an amazing way of keeping us out of danger if we learn to listen and lean in.
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See all my posts on South Africa HERE