Many people, both men, and women, avoid travelling alone, especially abroad. They assume that it won’t be safe, and, in some cases, they are right. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever vacation alone. The benefits of solo travel are many and varied, ranging from increased flexibility to lower costs. Travelling by yourself also isn’t nearly as dangerous as most people first assume. As long as you know how to prevent problems from arising and stay out of hazardous situations, you should be safe. With that in mind, here are some essential solo travel safety tips.
1. Stay Close to Home
You don’t have to travel halfway across the world to go on vacation. In fact, some of the best breaks happen just a few hours away from home. When you’re new to solo travel, you might want to plan a trip that isn’t too far away. Not only does this mean that you’ll be familiar with the language and culture, but it also allows loved ones to get to you easily if they need to. If you want to travel abroad, then consider picking a destination that you’ve been to with friends before.
2. Research the Destination
Research is so important, especially when going away by yourself. Knowledge of the destination you’re heading to will keep you from putting yourself in any dangerous situations. Without first learning a little about the area, you might wander into an unsafe neighbourhood or get involved with unsavory individuals. You could also end up wasting your money or getting sick. There are many sources from which you could learn, including travel forums, guides, and agents.
3. Book Essentials in Advance
When travelling by yourself, you don’t want to arrive in a new city or country with absolutely nothing booked. This will undoubtedly be stressful, but it can put your safety at risk too. After all, not having a plan makes you vulnerable. You must have accommodation booked, as well as a way to get there. You could hire a T&A´s Chauffeur, for example, or schedule an Uber. When you know exactly where you need to be and how to get there, you make yourself a difficult target.
4. Pick The Best Lodging
Heading off on your own will always be scary, but the one place you should be able to relax is where you sleep at night. This means that you should consider all the accommodation options wisely and pick the best one for you. Sometimes you might have to pay a little extra to feel safe, but it’s more than worth the cost. No matter where you stay, there are a few ways to increase security further. You should ask for an upper floor room, for example, and use the security lock.
5. Learn to Defend Yourself
Although it is best to avoid any sort of dangerous situation, if you do happen to find yourself in one, then you must be able to defend yourself. Even if you don’t really see yourself as a fighter, it can help to take a self-defence class or two. Lots of places offer classes like this, including local police departments and even churches. There are also a number of safety devices out there that you could invest in. Just check the rules on what tools you are allowed to take on a plane.
6. Arrive During the Day
Travelling in the late afternoon and throughout the night might be cheaper than doing so in the morning, but that doesn’t mean that you should book a late flight. You don’t want to arrive in a completely new area after dark. Not only will it make it more difficult for you to find your hotel, but it also makes for a potentially dangerous situation. The darker it is, the more vulnerable you will be, so check that you have at least a few hours of daylight when you arrive at your destination.
7. Leave Those Valuables Behind
We travel with an amount of technology these days that was unfathomable just a decade ago. Most travellers carry a smartphone at the very least, but many also bring tablets, laptops, e-readers, and pricey cameras with even more expensive lenses. While you shouldn’t pack anything you can’t afford to lose, like family heirlooms and the like, you might not be able to leave these devices at home. That being said, you should lock them in the safe in your hotel room.
8. Dress Like A Local
Pickpockets, con artists, and other crooks target tourists much more than they do locals. This is why you should do all that you can to blend in with the local people. If they’re not wearing shorts and flipflops, then you shouldn’t be either. You also shouldn’t walk with your head stuck in a map, whether it be a paper one or on your phone. If you need to use your map or ask for directions, then pop into a store to do so. This will keep you out of sight, so you’re unlikely to be noticed.
9. Update Your Loved Ones
You might be headed abroad alone, but you shouldn’t cut yourself off from the friends and relatives that you leave behind. At least one of your loved ones should have a copy of your itinerary, as well as your flight details, the hotel address, credit card information, and your travel insurance details. You should also check in with this person regularly throughout the trip. This means that, if something bad happened, they would know, as you wouldn’t get in contact.
10. Watch What You Drink
We travel to have fun and relax, which means you might want a drink or two throughout your time away. Just make sure that those few drinks don’t turn into a binge. The more alcohol you have in your system, the more vulnerable you make yourself. This is because your awareness and inhibitions lower, while your reaction times increase. Always eat before drinking, only take drinks from the bartender, and figure out how to get back to the hotel before you even go out.
11. Connect With Other Travellers
There is no reason why you should spend your entire trip by yourself. In fact, it’s safer and a lot more fun to connect with other travellers in the area and make friends. You can do this by joining traveller pages, staying in hostels, and joining tours of the sights. However, you shouldn’t trust your new friends too easily. Con artists are very good at acting trustworthy so as to befriend and rob travellers. These people can be both men and women, so always be on your guard.
12. Practice The Local Language
You don’t have to know every language in the world to be able to travel. In fact, as long as you speak English, you can usually get by just fine. That being said, it will help you to engage with the people in the area if you know a few common words and phrases. It is especially important that you can speak phrases that raise awareness to the people around you, such as “help” and “go away”. Even if you don’t ever need to say these things, it will offer you peace of mind.
13. Always Carry A Map
You should never walk around with a map in your hands. This will make you a target for crooks, as well as make you more vulnerable to them. After all, it’s difficult to stay alert when you’re focused on a piece of paper. However, it is helpful to carry a map with you in your bag. If you were to get lost, having this map means that you can ask someone for directions. This tool is especially helpful when you don’t speak the language, as you can point to where you want to go.
14. Keep Emergency Cash Hidden
Having your purse stolen abroad is a nightmare, but it’s much worse when you’re alone. When you’re travelling with friends and relatives, you can always ask them to lend you some money, but without them, you have no access to cash whatsoever. This is why you must have a backup plan. Instead of keeping all of your money in your purse, you should leave some at the hotel each day. It’s also crucial that you have another stash of cash hidden away in case of an emergency.
15. Get Plenty Of Sleep
When travelling to somewhere new, you’re going to want to spend as much time out and about as you can. The trouble is, being jet-lagged and overtired will make you less alert, which puts you at risk. You must make sure that you get plenty of sleep each night of your trip. If you’re still feeling tired even with eight hours of rest, then you might want to rethink your itinerary. Take an activity or two off the agenda so that you have a little more time to rest and relax during the day.
Travelling solo can be scary, but with these tips, there’s no reason why you can’t keep yourself safe.