Safety for Solo Female Motorcycle Travellers

This packed guide discusses safety concerns for solo female motorcycle travellers. If you’re a woman considering an adventure bike trip and planning on going solo but put off by all the negativity, have a read of this first… 

How to Buy and Sell a Motorcycle in Southeast Asia

Contents

By Luiza Gojol

By Luiza Gojol

aka Lust 4 Life

Safety for Solo Female Motorcycle Travellers

If you’ve ever dreamt of packing up your motorcycle and heading off into the unknown for an adventure then this article is for you. Travelling solo, the fear of the unknown and the doubts and opinions of others are all things that can easily put us off our dreams, but we shouldn’t let them.

The world is not as scary as you might think and filled with wonderful people. That doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe, and there are steps we can take to help ensure we’re as safe as we can be, but there is uncertainty and danger involved in motorcycle travel regardless of gender. So, being a woman and wanting to travel solo doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Here’s my experiences and advice for the solo female motorcycle traveller.   

Solo or no go

I have been travelling as a solo female rider for many years now. It’s not because I don’t like riding with others, but more because I know I want to do the things I’ve been dreaming of in my own way – and without having to depend on other people to do them.

Travelling the world on a motorcycle is a unique experience, and certainly not something everyone wants to or is prepared to do and you may not be able to find someone else to go with you.

So, there are moments in life when you have to choose. Do you want something so much that you’ll do it, no matter whether it means going alone, or is your need to share the experience stronger than your desire to do it? 

This is one of the first questions you should answer before embarking on your adventure.

‘Am I prepared to travel solo on a motorcycle?’ Don’t overthink it because the answer is simple… yes, you are! If you’re lacking confidence, start off small. Take a few short day trips here and there. Perhaps ride somewhere close to home, camp out for the night. Keep going and keep learning. Always learn by testing, observing, failing and restarting yourself everyday in the saddle. You’ll soon be riding further and further until you’ve got the confidence to go wherever you want to go in the world. You’ll be surprised at what you can do if you just let yourself do it.  

READ MORE: Solo vs Two-up vs Group Travel

It’s not safe for women to travel solo

No matter what we do in life, people will have an opinion on it. Opinions are based on experiences or beliefs which do not necessarily reflect reality. Or, more importantly, your reality.  

So, we might hear biases like ‘It’s not safe to travel on a motorcycle as a woman.’ Well, maybe it’s not as safe as having a warm bubble bath, but that doesn’t mean it’ll kill you by default. My reply to phrases like that are, is it more dangerous for a women to travel solo on a motorcycle, or be a mother?

You have to ask these people (and even yourself). Why is it not safe? Would the risk it generates be so much higher than any other activity you would do in your life? Or is it just the unknown that’s scary?

Dealing with the naysayers and all the fear mongering is a big obstacle for a lot of women when it comes to solo motorcycle travel. Let’s look at what people normally say to put us off.

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Common reactions

Here’s a few of the many reactions I receive as a solo female motorcycle traveller.

  • Women are more fragile than men
  • It’s harder for a woman to find safe places to sleep
  • It’s not safe to camp alone as a woman
  • It is harder for a woman to ride a motorcycle than a man
  • Going to unknown places means men could approach you
  • Your bike might break down and you’ll get stuck

The list is endless. But what I’ve realised is that it’s often based on people’s own fears, thoughts, experiences or just what they’ve heard from others. The mass majority haven’t even tried it themselves but have still developed this fearful notion.

Ask yourself, what’s your response to the above? Do the statements trigger enough fear to really stop you from going on the adventure of a lifetime? Because it’s not the potential dangers people face, but instead it’s these questions that are constantly shouted at us that unfortunately stop some women from travelling. But they shouldn’t, and here’s why…

Fragile

Throughout the world, women are generally thought of as more fragile than men. But before you raise an eyebrow to this, consider that travelling means exposing yourself to different societies and cultures where your home mindset might not apply.

Sometimes, being  perceived as fragile might not be a bad thing, and we can even benefit from it while travelling. Keep in mind that packages marked as ‘fragile’ are generally taken cared of better than others! 

But we know we’re not more fragile and are capable of anything. Use your intuition, as sometimes you might want to play that card to benefit from it. And sometimes you do not want to appear fragile, when walking about towns or alone etc, carry yourself with confidence and be strong.

How to Buy and Sell a Motorcycle in Southeast Asia

Accommodation – solo

Finding accommodation as a solo female traveller is a different experience compared to riding with friends and partners.

It can be more costly having to pay for a room by yourself and most places don’t offer lower prices for single occupancy. But that’s your biggest problem when it comes to being a solo female motorcycle traveller looking for accommodation. Don’t panic about staying in places on your own, it’s no different whether you’re on a motorcycle trip or a business trip. If you are really concerned, then look up reviews and just make sure there’s a safe place to park your bike. 

An alternative is to just ask the locals. A solo female traveller is more likely to be accepted and invited in by local families and the experience is heart-warming and enlightening. You’ll get the chance to join in with the family cooking and eating together, local children playing around with you, the cultural exchange, overall life experience and giving a little donation to the family helps them too. This is what really makes travelling on a motorcycle special and is what you should be concentrating on – not reading reviews and rushing to lock yourself in a pre-booked hotel room.

Accommodation – booking in advance

Booking a hotel in advance or just turning up is a personal choice. Yes, book ahead if you like planning in detail and if you need to stick to a tight schedule. Knowing you’ve got a reserved hotel room at the end of a long riding day can save you the hassle of searching out accommodation, but it also removes any space for detours and improvising. For example, what if you meet a local on your ride who invites you over for tea with the family, but you can’t because you’ve still got a 100kms to cover before you get to your pre-booked hotel?

Pre-booking because you’re worried about where you’ll stay means you’ve already given into that fear and are restricting what you’re exposing yourself to on your daily travels. If you like exploring and going with the daily flow of a route that can easily change dependent on your day, then don’t book in advance. 

I almost never book in advance as a rule. Carrying a tent with me always provides backup for sleeping anywhere. An exception to this rule is to always book in advance if passing and visiting cities or more touristy spots, especially during public holidays.

Camping solo

Camping is another popular option amongst motorcycle travellers. You have a lot of choices here from registered campsites to wild camping if you can be self-sufficient. Or go in between and just ‘wild’ camp around people, who can help provide basics like water, food or a charging station. 

Finding campsites is an easy task in this internet era as they’re just a few clicks away on your mobile phone. Or you can use dedicated apps like iOverlander, CampMap, WikiCamps etc. Asking the locals can lead to an invitation to camp on their property and it will be your choice whether you feel it’s safe to do so or to decline. Assess the situation and trust your feminine intuition. 

Wild camping is the other option. You can reach amazing places on a motorcycle. The lighter the bike, the deeper into wild nature you can venture. Some find wild camping dangerous though, and ironically that’s just because it means being away from people. Well, sometimes hiding away is the safest thing to do. Just use common sense and try and get some local info on the area if possible.

For example, don’t wild camp if there is wildlife danger (like bears) or expect a fox to steal your food if you don’t secure it. Of course, you can also expect bugs, spiders, crabs, snakes etc. But that’s just part of it. Again, use your intuition. Have a read of the below guide as it goes into detail on wild camping. 

READ MORE: The Ultimate Motorcycle Camping Guide

Luiza Motorcycle Travel Safety for Women

Stay healthy

Being fit and agile improves your quality of life and the same applies to riding. If you know your physical skills, you will have more confidence. I like to keep myself fit and healthy on the road. Being out there riding doesn’t mean you have to be lazy. Get up, exercise and meditate before starting and the day will be brighter. You could also learn to defend yourself (at least at a minimum level). I took some krav maga training and now I’m not scared to hit and run if needed. You could also carry pepper spray if really want to.

READ MORE: How to Stay Healthy on the Road

Motorcycle mechanics

Most of us girls aren’t mechanics and maybe getting dirty on the side of the road is not what you want to do on your adventure. But knowing your bike when you’re riding as a solo female traveller can make a huge difference. So, the first step is to read your motorcycle manual! It’s not like taking on an advanced PHD, it’s only taking care of basic maintenance. This way, you could at least supervise and give some directions and help to someone else willing to deal with the problem for you.

I know ladies who dismantled their bikes just to learn how they work and to put them back together again. What a cool activity to learn and get closer to your adventure companion, right? But if this sounds too much, you could always sign up to a motorcycle mechanics course, or if you just want to learn the basics, then you could opt for a motorcycle travel specific maintenance course. You’ll find many off-road motorcycle training schools also teach basic mechanics. 

READ MORE: 

How to Buy and Sell a Motorcycle in Southeast Asia

Riding skills

Learn how to handle and ride your motorcycle before you go. Especially learn how to pick your bike up and turn it around in narrow spots because you might end up in a situation where there’s nobody else there to help you. If you can’t do this, then you may have to avoid those situations, or rides that could overwhelm you like on gnarly off-road tracks – or even consider changing your bike for a lighter more manageable one.

Once, two old grandmas helped me pick up my heavily overloaded BMW I was travelling on in Ukraine. Imagine the scene! Lesson learned, stop overloading, get a smaller and lighter bike and always be willing to share a good laugh – every during the tough moments. 

Practice as much as possible, take off-road rides, go trail riding, join local groups and get some proper training under your belt too.  

READ MORE: The Best Off-Road Motorcycle Training Schools

Luiza Motorcycle Travel Safety for Women

Meeting People

Communication

A huge chunk of humanity’s issues are caused by miscommunication. Anything you can do to prepare and prevent communication issues in your adventures will be beneficial. The language barrier is the first big step you must overcome if you wish to step off the beaten tourist track where employees and hosts are bound to speak at least one of the internationally widely spoken languages. If you are a native speaker of one of those languages, be humble and aware that everywhere you go, you are the guest and the locals are not supposed to speak your language. You should treat them with patience and respect.

READ MORE: How to Communicate When You Don’t Know the Language

Cultural differences

Cultural differences may also hit you while travelling to the level of cultural shock. Do not expect local people to treat or talk to you like you’re used to back home in your culture. In some countries, women are treated awfully but you are the lucky one because you have the option to leave if someone offends you. Many can’t. You could also wear a (fake) wedding ring to avoid unwanted attention. For example, I was chased in Egypt many times by men asking if I’m married and want a good local husband.

On the other hand, you may find that many times you’ll get even get better treatment than expected. You’ll just be amazed at how nice and helpful people are out there in the world. Let yourself be taught by them, widen your mind, smile and be easy going but have your limits and stick to them.

Do a little homework or pay attention to the locals and their living customs. Should you cover your body and your head in a mosque? Do it. Locals don’t get naked on a beach? Don’t do it either. Don’t be judgemental or worse – arrogant. Observe and learn, accept and go with the flow like a local. You can still culturally exchange with people and tell them about your experiences back home.

We are not better or worse, only different. Once I was in a cosmetic salon in Vietnam surrounded by Vietnamese girls. They were all hairy everywhere and proud of it. In my culture it’s the opposite and this is a complete no go for women. So, I told them and we shared a good laugh about the different beauty standards. 

How to Buy and Sell a Motorcycle in Southeast Asia

Boundaries

Being a solo female motorcycle traveller means you’ll attract attention. Many times locals will stop and talk to you, invite you over for meals, tea, coffee and even to stay overnight. Or sometimes they just want to take pictures. Be aware you can be thought of as a special guest, so say yes if you feel like it. Or no if you don’t. Just be kind and firm when you feel overwhelmed. Your wellbeing on the road is more important than being polite. Know your limits and stick to them.

Personally, I love to be with locals and melt in their lives. It’s one of the biggest reasons I travel. But sometimes, I get tired of always smiling, using Google translate for every word, answering the same questions over and over again, telling my story and doing things the host’s way. If I feel like that, I’ll take a break and get accommodation or just hide and camp alone to regroup. 

Personal information

You’ll be asked many questions when meeting new people on your motorcycle adventures, A lot of questions will feel too personal and perhaps they are. People like asking about family, husband, kids, status, your job and financial situation.

This can sometimes trigger some of your sensitive buttons. Don’t take anything personally. Just try to have a balance and share a little about yourself that you’re comfortable with so you can create a connection.

It really comes down to your ability to socialise with foreigners and adapt to the situation. Just think, it’s easier than in a normal situation at home or at work because when you’re on the move, you always have the choice to just leave if you don’t like something. A quick tip is to not feel like you always have to tell the truth about yourself. You don’t have to share your location, facts or info if there would be no gain or it’s not mandatory to do so. If people constantly ask where your husband is, just say he’s waiting for me at the next town, or the kids are back home etc. Be sensible and use your common sense, don’t necessarily tell people you’ve just met where you’re staying for example.

How to Buy and Sell a Motorcycle in Southeast Asia

Advice on Staying Safe

Choosing routes

Educate yourself about the countries you want to visit. Follow online groups and people travelling. Learn from them, but don’t think your experience will be the same. Hold on to your critical thinking on all the info you stumble upon. Two people can do the same route and have totally different experiences. You being a solo woman on a motorcycle will be completely different to a group ride for example. 

Do your homework but leave space for the unknown, be patient and accept changes. Check your personal situation when aiming for a country. Don’t just take any advice from the internet either because it might not apply to you.

What passport do you have (do you need visa) and how friendly is your destination to your nationality? How’s the destination’s political situation and what is the advice of your foreign affairs ministry for travelling there? 

Tip: official sites tend to be over protective and minimise any risks taken by giving red flags warnings. Cross check official info with other travellers or local people and groups. Stay informed and up to date as the political and social reality can be volatile. 

Also, make sure you have full personal travel insurance that covers you to ride a motorcycle. Check out the insurance guides for more info on this as it’s an extremely important one. You’ll find paperwork and insurance articles in the Admin section of this website.

READ MORE: Motorcycle Admin Guides

How to Buy and Sell a Motorcycle in Southeast Asia

Riding at night

Don’t push your luck. One of the rules for doing so is to avoid riding at night. No matter the route or delay, sometimes it’s better to just stop. You might need to carry camping gear for such situations. Don’t be afraid and don’t overthink the situation. You just need to take care of you because you’re your most important asset. Look around and ask for help (you might even get a memorable experience being hosted in the middle of nowhere). Or just hide in a bush and camp. All these situations are not more risky for you as a woman as they would be for a man. 

Stop your riding day with plenty of daylight to spare. This gives you lots of time to find a camp spot or hotel, setup and know your surroundings. It is safer to do so and also far safer than riding in the dark in foreign countries. 

Luiza Motorcycle Travel Safety for Women

Theft

Be smart with your important papers and money. I put my phone number in my wallet, on my passport and ID and contact info on my phone just in case I lose them and someone tries to return it. I also don’t keep everything together. Only carry on you only small amounts of money and hide the rest or just use cards when possible. Have backup credit cards and keep them separate. Have copies and pictures of your documents and save them (and your pictures) on the cloud. 

READ MORE: Tips for Keeping Your Motorcycle and Gear Safe

Personal protection

Let people know where you are. Keep in touch with friends and family, tell them where you are or just be ‘alive’ on social media. Carry a GPS tracker or emergency calling device if you feel like. 

You could also carry a little weapon if it makes you feel more comfortable, but make sure you know how to use it and it’s legal to carry in the country you’re travelling in. But, working on your self-confidence and reactions to critical situations may be a better choice because using weapons could turn dangerous even for yourself.

READ MORE: Staying Safe on a Motorcycle Trip

Solo female motorcycle travellers

Go and ride the adventure you’ve been dreaming about girl! Don’t stop just because people tell you it’s dangerous for a woman or you shouldn’t be doing it for whatever reason they have. They are talking about their own fears within their limits of knowledge. Be confident in yourself. Many other ladies out there have been before you and done it, so you can do it too. Look forward to your path and follow it even if you’re going solo. 

Remember, you’re never alone because the road is full of amazing people, don’t be afraid, get out there, meet them and have the adventure of a lifetime.

How to Buy and Sell a Motorcycle in Southeast Asia

About the author

Luiza Gojol aka Lust 4 Life

Luiza is a slow humanist motorcycle traveller who’s always searching for dirt roads to the very heart of local life.

Former freelance project manager and business consultant who got corrupted by story books, motorcycles and living anthropology. In love with people, cultures, food, nature and adventure. Years ago, I decided I don’t need or want a base anymore and surrendered to the travelling demon. Now I’m free to be anywhere I want, as long as I want and I travel slowly, melting in the local life, living with locals and avoiding touristic paths as much as possible.

Follow Luiza’s awesome adventures here:

And check out Luiza’s other article on Mad or Nomad:

How to Buy and Sell a Motorcycle in Southeast Asia

Read more on female motorcycle travellers

Thanks for checking out the Safety for Solo Female Motorcycle Travellers guide. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on motorcycle travel for women that we recommend you read next. 

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Do you have any questions about safety for solo female motorcycle travellers? If you have any tips or suggestions, let us know in the comments below. 

6 thoughts on “Safety for Solo Female Motorcycle Travellers”

  1. Great write up, Luiza!
    I would add a few facts, that are true for me:
    Some “fears” you never overcome them, you just accept them and carry on, despite the butterflies in your stomach. An example is a motorcycle breakdown in the middle of nowhere. I’ve had it more than once, solutions appeared but I still fear breakdowns.
    Being able to pick up your own bike is something I cannot do anymore, due to a severe back problem I’ve been postponing to operate. So I carry a motorcycle jack – but in steep, rocky terrain, it’s useless. So I tend to avoid these kinds of paths. But if I, inadvertently, get miself riding these kind of roads and get in trouble, there has always been someone, out of the blue, that came to help. It may take a while, though…lol

    Reply
    • That is true – accept the minuses and live with them. Me for e.g. don’t know if I would be able to fix a flat. By now I got lucky – only 2 and always with people around. For the next, my safety measure is to always have a tent and some food besides the repairing kit 🤣

      Reply
  2. I cannot break a bead to fix a tire anymore, 2 broken hands…lol
    And yep, having a tent, food and water is THE safety measure!

    Reply
  3. Well Andy, it’s a whole package: 2 broken hands (lost the strenght), a lumbar compression that leaves me with half sensation on my feet and a thorn rotator cuff 🥴.
    It’s nothing special, I’m lucky. There are people out there with far more and real issues 🤗.

    Reply
    • Oh!!! Omg Katia that’s mad! Well good for you, that’s amazing. And yeah you’re right there are people with serious issues, but not everyone is riding round the world like you. Respect.

      Reply

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