Hiking Tips for Women – Safe Solo Hiking

Hiking Tips for Women… Is it Safe to go Hiking Solo? People often wonder. Is it safe to walk alone as a woman? All alone in a remote nature area? Already when I was young (more than 30 years ago) I cycled home alone through the forest and was asked, or more like, warned that I should cycle a different route. It was safer if I would make an extra kilometer and not cycle through the forest. I’d better choose the road, along houses, where probably someone would come to my rescue if I called for help.

Actually, not much has changed yet and we still get those warnings. So I like to share some Hiking Tips for Women and say YES wholeheartedly! Safe Solo Hiking as a Woman is The Best thing to do!

I can see where the warnings are coming from. They’re well-intentioned… but nothing’s ever happened to me in all these years. When I used to cycle through those woods because I was stubborn, of course… and of course I didn’t cycle an extra kilometer, I had prepared myself for a possible reaction that I would give if it did happen.

A warned person counts for two, right? At that time I still smoked ( I know, I quit more than 12 years ago!) and made sure I had a burning cigarette between my fingers in case I was attacked. I had planned that I would burn that person in his face and that that person would at least be recognized the next day or in the days after.

So I did go through the woods…but I had taken precautions 🙂

Het bos waar ik vroeger wel doorheen fietste - Doktersbos
The forest I used to cycle through – Doktersbos

Hiking Tips for Women

And I still believe that. I won’t be stopped by all sorts of well-meant warnings. I’ll take them with me and see what I can do with them to make it safer for myself without restricting myself. In the old days I never had to push that cigarette butt in his face, even though I went over that same forest path in the dark year after year!

To what extent should you allow yourself to be guided by this and to what extent is this fear based on actual figures? Am I not going to do fun activities because they are really dangerous or because people think there might be a possibility because they have heard that… etc….

Get ready to go!

Tips voor Vrouwen - Veilig Wandelen als Vrouw Alleen
Only on the route Hermannshoehen – Germany

Minimize risk by visualizing

The first thing you can do and what I definitely recommend is visualize. That’s what I did when I used to cycle through those woods. What if… Imagine what could happen and what you could do in response.

Research has shown that you react faster in a situation that is unknown to you and in which you might stiffen up once you have considered the situation. Your brain is searching for a previous experience and is trying to find out what to do with it. If you have never experienced a situation before and therefore cannot open up a window of experience, you may freeze. If there is a latent with possible reactions to be given, then you draw from that.

So visualize what might happen and think about what you would do in detail. Visualize it in such a way that you really feel yourself doing those actions. Let your body feel what you want to do. Make the chance as big as possible that your body will act when you are under stress!

Read these Hiking Tips for Women

Be Confident

By walking upright, by raising your head and by just looking at people you appear confident. Don’t look away, don’t look at the ground, just walk into your situation with your head held high. See what’s there, see what you’re walking towards and evaluate your surroundings. By looking away, you miss certain nuances that allow you to make a correct assessment of the situation in which you find yourself.

Fake it untill you make it you can really apply to this. See how people react to you when you pretend to be super self-assured. You will be approached differently, as if people show more respect for your place on earth.

If people notice that you need help they will offer it to you, this can be abused by malicious people. If people notice that you don’t need help, that entrance just isn’t there. People then have to think of something else to get access to you. You are self-assured, you don’t need help and you stand your ground as they call it. This is one of my main hiking tips for women. Be Confident!

Tips Voor Vrouwen
Do your own thing… Even if it that means standing on your head!

Because what if you don’t come across as confident:

If you are shy or insecure, the other person is more likely to see you in a victim role. They are more likely to assume that you are easy to dominate. If he says you have to be quiet because he will hurt you otherwise, he is more likely to believe that you will do as he says. An attacker also makes an assessment of his chances of success. Make sure that you beat that assessment and that he thinks that you will not listen, that you are not an easy victim and that he will let you pass…

It’s not that you’re not accessible at all, but you’re not accessible to people who only want contact with you from a dominant and abusive role. And so the attackers or abusers…

Take the lead in contact with others

Look at people coming up to you, or coming up from behind you. Be alert and notice when people walk behind you. Let them know that you’ve seen or heard them. Say hello. Take them in, what kind of person is it? Do the same as a possible attacker does, evaluate them.

Take the lead in this. Be the first to say anything, chances are bigger you are the one to stop communication if it goes in a direction other than what you want. Just be clear about that. Short conversations are fine about small talk, but after that you walk on. In this way you keep control and you are in charge.

Be self-assured in that, too.

Wandeling door wijken van Haifa - Israel
Walk through districts of Haifa – Israel

Trust your gut feeling

It does not feel good? Then just don’t go! I’d rather have one less experience than one too many! I can’t say it often enough: Trust your gutfeeling. Does a certain path or place have a bad atmosphere or whatever, you can skip it, huh? You don’t have to go anywhere and everything is allowed. So you can turn around and choose a different route.

Also in my work I often tell people who doubted whether they should call us (the police). Really! Believe me, we’d rather drive once too often than once too little. We are there and we are there for you! Call us if it doesn’t feel safe!

Trust your gut feeling on your hike!

What if you come across someone on the way where you feel that it’s not right or that it’s going in the wrong direction. Then react to that. Stand back, lie that you have agreed to meet someone and that they will be right there where you are. Or whatever, lying is always allowed in these kind of situations 🙂

Get yourself out of the situation in any way you can. Be creative, everything is allowed if you ask me. (Within the limits of the law : You are not allowed to kill as a maniac, bury, and then go through like nothing had happened 🙂 I’ll just mention it anyway… )

But talk to strangers, walk illogical routes, change your plan and change your goal. Anything is allowed to get into a safe situation.

Solo hiking makes you self-confident

You have to stand up for yourself and you will find out you can do it. If it doesn’t go the right way, you’ll probably find a detour to get there. So just go for that walk and find out that you like your own company as well. You probably have enough thoughts to think about, there are fun things you can prepare for the future and in the meantime you enjoy the surroundings.

Society teaches us too often ( unfortunately ) to be afraid by warning you about everything that could happen to you. Maybe you even know of one situation in your environment in which someone was not doing well. Is that a lot?

Then what are the chances of it happening to you?

Strandwandeling Zweden

I always think of the fact that when I put someone on the side of the road in my work for a check that they say very often: Well, this is the first time I’ve been sidelined by the police and I have to show them my driver’s license.

Somewhere the chance feels real but in reality it turns out to be very small.

Hiking Tips for Women
Safe Solo Hiking

Facing your fears

The other side is… People who have been through certain situations noticed to themselves that they could handle it, that they came out of the situation in which they felt that maybe it could have gone wrong. They get to know themselves so much better. Become so much stronger and dare so much more.

I’m not saying you have to take risks… I’m just saying you should do what you want to do. If you encounter situations along the way, you have to face them Head On. Self-assured and confident of yourself. Bet you can do it, bet you win?

Always use your mind. If it doesn’t feel safe don’t do it. Hiking tips for women doesn’t include anything that could bring you harm. But if you see people walking there an dit is only you having fear? Maybe you need to get over it and go for it!

Bet you feel so much better across the road?

Of course, we also have other challenges along the way.

Don’t avoid those situations that others just do and don’t find scary or awkward, like walking through a meadow with those very large cows, Scottish Highlanders. Walk through it, if you really don’t dare wait for another walker and sneak in and walk along. Notice that they just keep lying there and maybe they don’t even look at you at all 🙂

Tips voor Vrouwen - Veilig Wandelen als Vrouw Alleen
During the Lee Trail in Luxembourg – Narrow, slippery path at height with a ravine on both sides

Or walk that high path along an abyss or whatever fear you have. Do it, do it well thought out and carefully but do it!

Grow and feel that you can handle more than you thought before!

Really! There are so many advantages to (safe) walking solo as a woman! That’s why I’m going to list those benefits! You can never get too much walking inspiration!

Safe Solo Hiking

Advantages of hiking solo!

You become more handy and resourceful and therefore more independent. Notice from yourself that you can do a lot of things. You also notice that you are not always dependent on someone else but that you can do it yourself. This is perhaps the best lesson you can learn in life. There are so many situations to think of and when you are on your own so many solutions come to you. If you have to, you succeed…if you have no other way out, then you can do it!

By hiking solo you get to know yourself better. You enter a kind of meditation state and process all kinds of thoughts and situations. You can clear your head and let your thoughts flow away. This is so important and so good to let happen. Lately this is called mindful walking, meditative walking. Unconsciously this happens.

You notice that about yourself?

Try to keep up the meditative walking consciously. Try to let the thoughts come and go. Don’t give it any emotion but be aware that the thoughts are there, that they are allowed to be there and also leave again.

This is the Vipassana meditation that lets you process deeply rooted emotions by not giving them any emotion. No pain, no remorse, no jealousy, just realizing that you still remember the situation… nothing more. Slowly this emotion will take root less deeply in you.

Hiking solo makes you so much more self-assured. You will feel more and more at ease in all kinds of situations that come your way. You notice that you can handle them and that is what you radiate. This radiance influences your surroundings and the reactions you will get from others. There are some of Murphy’s Law things that also work the other way around, in a positive sense… This is one of them!

Preparation for safe hiking as a solo woman

What’s a good thing to do before you go for a hike? Also read these hiking tips for women!

Of course, there are always a few preparations that you can easily do and that you can benefit from afterwards. I have shared before how you could use your trekkingpoles for your own safety but of course there are many more tips!

Tips voor Vrouwen - Veilig Wandelen als Vrouw Alleen

  • A Whistle on your backpack

Did you know that a lot of backpacks have this standard on their backpack? On the strap that is attached to the top. So if something happens and you want to warn people remotely you can blow this whistle and attract attention.

  • Know what you can and can’t do, and don’t cross the line

Don’t plan a 30K walk if you’ve never done this before and you don’t know if you can handle it. This seems so logical but it happens.  Also don’t go hiking in heat or when it is very cold when you can’t handle the heat or the cold very well.

Know what you can and keep it safe for yourself!

  • Always let someone know where you are and when you’ll be back.

If you go hiking make sure that someone in your area or from the home front knows that you are in nature. That you are on a hiking trip and which walk you’ll do. Indicate how long it will probably take you and when you can be expected back.

A while back there was a call in a Facebook group from someone who was lost in Laos and didn’t know where to go. It would almost get dark and he became very worried. In the group was a woman who knew an employee of a cafe in the area and she made contact with her. Some time later the message was there that he had been found.

Use the roads we have now! Social media can do so much good!

Google maps GPS
These kind of screenshots are beautiful, aren’t they?

Location sharing via google maps

Since my last longer trip ( 2,5mnd ) last September 2019 I share my location via google with my brother. So I can always see where he is…and he can always see where I am. Of course we usually don’t look at this but if necessary my brother can see my last location. When he clicks on my profile he can even see how full my battery is 🙂

I’m sure all kinds of people will have all kinds of reasons not to do this via google maps.

Privacy issues etc. but I don’t bother that my brother can always see where I am. If google would like to make a timeline of where I am and maybe base something on that in terms of providing information to me then that’s just it. In my opinion, the possible advantages in case of an emergency do not outweigh the disadvantages. I often make no secret of the fact that I’m on holiday or that I’m walking.

The advantage of this way of location sharing is that it requires almost no battery power. Disadvantage is that it goes through the network, so if you’re in nature and you don’t have wifi or network you don’t share a location anymore. Your last location is available. If there is a real need, rescue services can use GPS to locate your phone, but then you have to use the official roads.

Tips voor Vrouwen - Veilig Wandelen als Vrouw Alleen
In The Middle of Nowhere – Kyrgystan

Go well prepared for your solo hike

Always leave your GPS on on your phone.

This way, emergency services can trace your phone in case of an emergency. It’s also useful to attach your location to the photos you’ve taken. I check often where I took a picture on a trip.

  • Make sure your battery is full from your phone

Make sure your phone has a full battery when you leave. On a long or multi-day hike, take an extra battery with you! Mine is heavy, half a kilo but I’m definitely taking it with me. I’ve been taking pictures with my phone lately for this website too… They’re getting better, aren’t they? There is even an night shot of my phone 1.5 by 2 meters at an ambulance station (proudly) and it still looks good!

When I walk in the Netherlands I always have 2 phones with me. The one I can use for the pictures and when needed navigation and if necessary I always have 1 to use for callling or what ever. Lighter than the external battery 🙂

To save battery you can remove your phone from the network. This way the internet won’t work and your battery won’t be drained so quickly. I often do this on hiking trips. Only during a break do I turn the network back on so I can put something on Instagram or Twitter and check my Whatsapp.

  • Stay alert

I want to know what is happening so one of the reasons I never wear headphones and don’t hear what’s going on around me. Do know what’s going on in front of you and behind you, look wide. Don’t be surprised by another walker or other person in your path.

By being alert and staying alert you can give the right reactions to the situations that may come your way.

Also in traffic it is useful to hear what is happening around you. If you really want to listen to a music or podcast during your walk, make it so soft that you can still hear the sounds around you. Can even save lives….

I hope these tips are useful to you.

If you have any additional hiking tips for women in addition to these,
I would love to hear them from you!

And most of all!

Do go hiking solo!!

If you found these hiking tips for women useful, would you share them?

Want to read more?

Safety tips in general

Anti-theft tips day bag – Safe Travel

5 Tips to increase you Safety in the Dark Hours

Almost Victim of a Changing Scam – Mumbia

Hiking Inspiration

Pilgrim Path St Olavsleden – Norway

Poon Hill Trek – Nepal – 8 days

First 200K of my Camino Frances – Spain

Or go Hiking in Germany

Hiking the Rheinsteig – Koblenz, Germany

I hope you enjoy this world as much as I do!