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Woman alone in london

I am 73 and Hope to travel to London for two weeks. I am looking for advice and ways to stay safe. Thank you

Posted by
4408 posts

Just do as you would at home, unless that involves carrying a concealed weapon!

Posted by
2907 posts

Find a comfortable hotel in central London within walking distance of restaurants and attractions you want to see. Bloomsbury/Holborn are one of our favorite areas, others prefer different “safe” neighborhoods. Only take a cc and £ for the day with you in a small purse worn cross body. Most important safety precaution for any 70+ person unfamiliar with London traffic is to check traffic before crossing ANY street—Look Right.

Have a wonderful time exploring at your own pace.

Posted by
2486 posts

If you want to be safe and see a lot, assuming you are in good shape and can walk, navigate steps, consider the RS Best of London tour. You’ll see more in a week than you likely would in two on your own. You can always opt to stay on a week on your own or visit elsewhere in Great Britain.

Posted by
2634 posts

London is a very safe city. I feel safe in London, even at night after the theatre. Just use your common sense like you would at home.

Posted by
1012 posts

I'd say if you stay in the tourist areas and practice normal safety precautions you will be fine. I rode the Tube alone from Covent Garden to Gloucester Road many times after the theatre 11pm and had no troubles as it's usually still crowded at the time of night. I'm skinny and short but never had a problem and I've seen many single older women in London. You could also go on a London Walks Pub walk in the evening for some company. It's more history than drinking but you meet some nice people and it's a fun night out.

I would stay in an apartment if you're going to be there a couple weeks. It's been a few years but I stayed twice at this flat near Kings Cross and I highly recommend it.

London is a relatively safe area for travelers. Enjoy

Posted by
2751 posts

London is a very safe and enjoyable city, but no city is perfectly safe, particularly for women, so don't let people make you feel uncomfortable about asking this question. That being said, the most likely danger is falling or losing something...not other people. My technique for staying safe is to always be aware of where I am placing my feet, never back up without looking, and always be prepared to grab the handrail (I take a lot of photos so I need to force myself to be aware of my footing). When you leave somewhere, always look back to make sure you have everything.

I always stay at the small Cherry Court Hotel, which has a lovely owner, Mrs Patel, who is helpful and aware of all her clients. The rooms are clean, safe, great mattresses, but small...if that's a problem. Pay for a double if you can, if you stay there. It is very close to Victoria station, but is on a quiet street. It is very near many restaurants in Pimlico, just a few blocks away. Also, in Victoria Station there are necessary stores; a Boots (CVS type) and a grocery store, which is handy.

London is a busy city so there are many people on the streets at night, so safe, IMO. That being said, I tend to be back in my room later in the evening as the day tires me out! If you decide to attend the theatre, the tube or bus back to the hotel would be fine, but you could also splurge for a taxi if you were uncomfortable. You do not say where you live so I'm unsure if you are used to an urban environment or not. Women always need to be a little more aware than men, but the older we get, if we look strong, the less of a target we become. IMO. Walk with confidence (whether you feel it or not) and with your head held high in the evening. YMMV London is wonderful and you will have a great time. Solo travel is extremely wonderful!

Also, I'd recommend a cross body purse that you can keep attached to you the entire time you are out and you don't accidentally leave it somewhere. PM me if you have any questions that you don't want to ask on the forum.

Posted by
2 posts

Oh, many great replies. Thank you. I am gaining confidence. This may a my best adventure yet. I am mobile but slow and feel like a burden for the standard tour groups. Again, thank you.

Posted by
1130 posts

I applaud your travel and believe you will experience a great time in London. Of course it is reasonable to seek to be safe in your travels. Hence the reason Rick Steve's always wishes everyone "Safe Travels!"

London is wonderful in offering a rich diverse menu of experiences. Will you please share with us the dates you will travel, hobbies you enjoy, experiences you seek and the answer to the following question:
"What would be a "dream fulfilling" experience for you while visiting London?"
We always ask ourselves that question when we travel and seek opportunities to fulfill it. This year we went to Wimbledon and fulfilled our dream with a day of wonderful experiences.

Please be sure to create a new post with the answers to the above inquiries.

Safe Travels!

Posted by
3554 posts

I totally get mobile but slow. Don't worry about being a burden on a tour. I'm 72 and have been on 2 RS tours solo. I stopped worrying about being the slow one on those tours. It's amazing how helpful the tour guides and participants are. Keep in mind that somebody has to be the last person in the group. Why not us? The buddy system really helps people keep track of each other. Also keep in mind that you won't always be in the back alone. Photographers are often right there with you.

I haven't done an RS tour in England. I did do a self-planned six-week tour in England and Scotland 2 years ago. I finished it with a week in London in a studio apartment at the Citadines Holborn-Covent Garden. I found that to be a good location. Public transportation was easy and readily available. I used the tube only once, to go to the airport. The rest of the time I took buses or walked. I wasn't in a hurry to get anywhere and I much preferred seeing things along the way than not.

I like staying in apartments and would recommend that. A place like I stayed is ideal for security, advice from the staff and flexibility for your daily routine. My studio was quiet even though I was on the street side. There were 2 grocery stores nearby, one right across the street. A Boots (like Walgreen's) was down the street. And I could walk to the British Museum, only about 6 blocks away. Sir John Soane's Museum is about a block away if you cut through a passage between buildings.

I don't think the map link from the Citadines website is that useful for seeing the neighborhood. Do a Google search for Holborn Underground, click on the Google map that comes up and zoom in and out to see what all is in the neighborhood. No matter where you stay or what you do, doing a Google search like that is very helpful to see different parts of town in a map view or a satellite one.

The Apart' Hotel as they call it has an elevator and a laundry room on the ground floor. The fridge was an under-counter one and there was no oven, but with the store right across the street, I had no problem with getting food that I could cook on the stove top or in the microwave. There was no coffee pot, so I boiled water in the pot provided and got instant coffee from the store. Or I got free coffee from downstairs. There's a coffee shop across the street and the inevitable Starbucks around the corner.

I'm not much of a foodie, so I found the cafes and restaurants in the area fine. I do tend to eat at museum cafes fairly often.

If you are there at the right time, and you like Shakespeare, I cannot recommend attending a performance at the Globe enough. It's a replica of the original and it's quite the experience. If you do it, be sure to get a seat. The seats are benches and not the most comfortable, but much better than being a groundling where you have to stand the whole time. I attended a matinee. I sat on the front row, section J of the Middle Gallery, so I was able to see everything and to lean on the rail. I got a cushion. I should've gotten 2! There is no elevator so you have to go up and down the stairs.

I never felt unsafe anywhere I went. But I must say that it was summer and I rarely was out after dark. If you're there in the summer, it could be almost 21:30 before the sun sets.

Remembering all this makes me want to go back. Thanks for your question.

Posted by
8390 posts

I like Wray's suggestions for a small, centrally located hotel with friendly proprietors. I stay at the Lime Tree for that reason as well. I WANT the folks on the Reception desk to know who I am and reach for my key as soon as they see me come in the door. I know many like the apartment rental situation but really, I want someone to know I am coming and going. Many of the hotels listed in Rick's books will fit this bill.

Her advice about watching where you are going is sound. I fell in London a couple of years ago and altho I did not hurt myself it kind of scared me in to being more careful. I tend to be a fast walker but I try to slow down and walk purposefully when I am on vacation. I do not try to run myself short of time so I have to hurry to get somewhere. I take the Underground (really I need someone to give me a lesson on how to take the bus!) but I make sure I use the handrail going up and down and just stay to the side if there is a crowd. I know big city people probably just think touching the handrail is germy and awful but I'm holding on and will clean my hands later.

I'm late 60's and really, really enjoy London. I live in a small town of 800 and will never have big city smarts but I feel very comfortable in London. One thing I also do is to watch expressions on people's faces. I was threading my way thru a crowd at the corner of Victoria Station a few years ago. I picked out a tall young man to follow and just happened to be watching his face when he suddenly got a concerned look and u-turned. I quickly peeked around the corner and saw a fist-fight, so I followed him as well. I actually caught up with him and thanked him for allowing his facial expression to alert me.

Posted by
383 posts

Pam— you mentioned wanting help navigating the busses....have you tried the CityMapper app? Makes it easy.

Another suggestion is to download from the TfL website the “spider map” of bus lines serving the area of your hotel. For example there are three spider maps for busses serving Victoria and one for Belgravia in the list for Westminster:

Kba5588 have a great visit!

Posted by
383 posts

Emma, just finished reading your wonderful guide to London busses - and now, thanks to the new bookmarking feature, I've saved it for future reference (I return next month). Thanks for posting this.

Posted by
11266 posts

You've gotten good advice.

One thing no one has mentioned, but is very important. Assuming you are from North America, a big safety issue in the UK and Ireland is that since cars drive on the left side of the road, they will be coming at you from the OPPOSITE direction of the one you expect. You go to cross a street and look left, only to be nearly run over by a car coming from the right - or vice versa on certain one way streets.

This is a particular problem the first day or two, when you're jet lagged and tired, and so are going on instinct.

Therefore, my biggest safety tip for travelers to London - of all genders and all ages - is to look both ways, several times, before crossing any street.

Other than that, a lot depends on what you're used to. If you know how to be safe in a big city like New York or Chicago, you'll be fine in London. If you're from a smaller town, a suburb, or a rural area, you may need some "big city tips" that those of us who live in big cities take for granted, but which definitely aren't second nature to those who don't. I don't want to waste time going through these if you already know them, so do tell us the kind of places you're used to, so we can give more targeted advice.

Posted by
5689 posts

You’ve received excellent advice, especially about looking both ways before crossing any street. To be absolutely certain you don’t become a statistic wait for the light to change to cross the street. You aren’t in any hurry so just wait.

I’ve been traveling solo to London for along time. Have never felt unsafe at anytime. I keep my money in a moneybelt except for coinage which I carry in a coin purse that is in my jeans pocket. Rarely carry a purse and if I did it would be a cross shoulder bag.

Have you decided on the time of year you are going to travel? I’m a November and December visitor. I like seeing Christmas decorations, Pantos, church services, markets, and coming from LA appreciate being able to wear, gloves, scarves and a slouchie.
Odd but true, I enjoy the change in the weather.
I also like that the days are shorter as I’m an early riser and unless I’m going to theatre I’m not a late night person so safely ensconced by 7pm. I also find cheaper airfare and accommodation costs.

London is a hustle and bustle city and it never fails to intrigue. Go and enjoy yourself.

Posted by
8390 posts

Thanks for the help on buses, lol! Emma, I too am bookmarking your lesson. I do understand the TFL website but I am intimidated about knowing where to get off and even with TFL, how to figure out the routes. Altho I have never lived where there is any kind of public transportation the Underground/Metro systems are easier for me to wrap my head around.

Posted by
1012 posts

Actually, the buses can be better than the Tube-at least if you want to see the sights rather than some dark tunnels underground. The TfL journey planner is very easy to use on their website and you can even send it to your mobile phone. The hardest thing is to try and figure out exactly where and what side of the street the bus stop is located, though usually there is someone around to ask or you can ask the next bus to arrive. Only caveat is not to ride during rush hour. I once had to get off and walk as we sat in traffic forever, not to mention the daring cyclist that try to outrun buses.

But I would recommend doing some London Walks during the daytime. Many times, I've seen singles go off and have a cup of coffee or go to another attraction people they met during the walks. For me, London is probably the ultimate city to be a single tourist.

Posted by
2265 posts

kba5588, I will keep you safe, and show you a very good time, Willing to stop traffic for you to cross the street. Just send air ticket, first class preferred, but business class would be acceptable if absolutely necessary. ( :->)

Posted by
10 posts

Hi, I'm 71 and travelling solo to London for two weeks in October, so this thread is very interesting to me. My main safety plan is to look both ways before crossing streets, or to cross with others, and to try not to gawk at the sights so much that I trip on curbs or uneven pavement! Otherwise I'll carry on much as I do at home, using a cross body purse and not walking through skeevy neighborhoods at night. I feel much safer in large European cities than in some American cities, especially after dark. And Europeans are much more likely to help with luggage and bus seats than Americans.

I have found I'm much more comfortable in Airbnbs than hotels. They are more homey, and have at least minimal kitchen facilities so if I don't feel like going out for breakfast I can eat in, and if I want to have put my feet up and eat dinner at an unpopular hour I can pick up whatever goodies I run across during the day and have a luxurious spread in my pajamas, accompanied by a bottle of screw top wine if there's no uncorker. It's also a good way to avoid eating too-large meals solo all the time in restaurants if that bothers you.

Go, explore, and enjoy, but watch the pavement!

Posted by
3319 posts

I'm 53 and often end up in London solo. I always try to stay in a hotel that is small enough that I develop a rapport with the staff and they know me. If I have an issue I know I can call them. If it's very late, and I don't feel comfortable taking the tube back alone, I hail a cab - although I have to say that there are always people of all kinds on the tube and there have been very few instances where I wanted to do this. London has always proven to be a safe city with friendly people in my experience. You never really feel alone as there are almost always others around.

Posted by
2163 posts

I'm 54 & just returned from my second solo trip to London and again I was impressed by the efficiency of their public transport system, the helpfulness of the people & overall feeling of safety--even walking at night. This trip I stayed in a somewhat more residential area of Bayswater, previously in Kensington just across from the Gloucester Rd tube station. Generally I like to be near the tube, though the buses do come in handy. I prefer a full service hotel and make good use of the front desk if I need a local's advice on something. As others mention, not only do they drive on the other side of the road, they walk that way, too--it took me a minute to realize that my usual stay to the right mindset on the sidewalk just led to perplexed looks from a local who had to detour around me--same on stairways & escalators--stay to the left. It also seemed at every crossing the street was marked with "look to the right" or left, once you got to the middle island--very helpful indeed.

Posted by
2751 posts

RE: If you don't want your smartphone in your hand all the time (assuming you have one, I don't right now), go to a Tube cashier and ask for the 'really detailed bus map'. You will be given a different, much larger map that has every bus on every route on a map. This is what I use when I'm in London. It will also help you to read the maps at the bus stops. I'm 64. I'm sure you will have a great time.

Posted by
4671 posts

The full-size London paper bus map has been withdrawn due to funding cuts and isn't even available electronically on the website in up-to-date form. Unofficial maps published by an enthusiast can be bought online here, or once you are in London from the London Transport Museum shop or from the Ian Allan transportation bookshop in Lower Marsh near Waterloo. (If you go to either of those shops, make sure you buy a current one and not a reproduction historic one from 1934 or so)

Posted by
2751 posts

Philip, I'm so sorry to hear this!