You’ve taken a big step to decide to take a trip completely solo! No matter if you’re new to solo travel or if you’re an expert lone traveler, solo travel can be a daunting feat; but traveling alone can be one of the most fulfilling things you ever do. To ensure that your adventure is all that you imagine it will be and goes off without a hitch, safety should be one of your top priorities. Follow these steps to ensure that you have a great time jet setting off by yourself:
Be aware of your surroundings
When you’re traveling in a group or with a partner, you have extra sets of eyes looking out for you and situations that have the potential to go awry. When you’re traveling solo, the only eyes that you have to depend on are your own. For this reason, it’s imperative to always be aware of your surroundings when you are traveling alone. Notice the people around you. Notice the area that you’re in. Does it look safe? Is it less populated? Are there fewer travelers around? Just to be safe, ask the concierge or front desk of your accommodation for directions before you leave and an idea of areas to avoid. Of course, you want to have a great time, but don’t get so caught up in having a good time that you find yourself in a bad situation.
Give someone your itinerary
When you tell your family that you are traveling alone, their first reactions will probably be concern for your safety. Ease their fears by giving a trusted person a copy of your itinerary. Let them know where you’re going, where you’ll be staying, and when you plan to return. If you’re an iPhone user, you can take it a step further and allow someone access to your location by using the Find My Friends app. With your permission, they will be able to see where you are anywhere in the world. Also, when traveling alone, it is good to check in with someone periodically, so that someone knows that you’re safe.
Keep your valuables secure
Everyone can be subject to theft and pickpocketing when they travel, but when you’re alone, you may be more vulnerable. Minimize your chances of your stuff being locked or stolen by carrying only the things you need on your person. If you’re having a relaxed day and are not going to be taking too many pictures, leave your expensive camera in your hotel/hostel and just take pictures with your phone that day. Not going to be doing a lot of shopping one day? Don’t take all of your cash. Just take some and leave the rest in your room. For the valuables that you decide to carry with you, make sure they are in a secure bag close to your body. If your bag has various compartments, make sure your valuables are in the compartment closest to the inside. Crossbody bags are ideal, because the strap across your body keeps the bag to the side or in front of you instead of behind you, and it makes it difficult for someone to snatch it and run off. Opt for zippers instead of snaps, and keep your belongings close. And for added safety, leave flashy, valuable accessories at home to prevent attracting too much attention.
We all like to have a good time when we take trips, and for some, alcohol may be apart of that equation. However, when you are traveling alone, alcohol could place you in a vulnerable position. Solo female travelers, should always take care when drinking while away. In no way am I saying that you shouldn’t drink; I just advise you to limit your intake. Ordinarily, you may have friends to look out for you while out having a good time. But when you are a solo traveler, the only one looking out for your wellbeing is you, so make sure you are in adequate shape to take the best care of you.
Take extra care at nighttime.
Traveling solo doesn’t mean that you should always end the day when the sun goes down. Of course you want to experience nightlife, but the key is to be safe while doing it. So, when you’re out, take care to stay in well-lit, well-populated areas. It may be safer to take a taxi back to your hotel/hostel rather than walking back. Stay aware of your surrounding and have a good time.
Learn important phrases in the country’s native language.
If you happen to be out and in the need of help, it would be beneficial to know a few emergency phrases in the language of the country that you’re in if you are abroad. Phrases such as “help,” “hospital,” and “I’m lost” are a good place to start. We hope you’d never have to use them, but they are a good to know if you find yourself in a bind.
Write down important addresses and phone numbers.
It’s great to record important data in your phone, but what happens if your battery dies or you lose your phone? Would you remember the address of your hotel? Will you remember the number of the U.S. consulate, if you happen to need it? Just in case the worst happens, it’s nice to write down important things on a note card and carry with you.
Gather your confidence
This is not a tangible tip, but it is just as important. People who prey on tourists can spot a tourist from a mile away. They can also identify who is an easy target. While you may be alone, you have prepared for this trip, so there is no reason to be afraid. Gather your confidence and know that you’ve got this. You’ve got everything under control, so internalize that and exude that confidence.
Carry copies of important documents
When you’re out and about, it’s not ideal to keep important documents like your passport on you the entire time. Chances are, you won’t need it, and if something happens that separates you from your day bag, you don’t want to take the chance of something as important as your passport being in it. Make a photocopy of your passport and other important documents, and leave the real things locked up at your residence.
Get travel medical insurance
You know the phrase: “Expect the best, but plan for the worst.” This definitely applies to solo travel. We completely expect for your trip to go seamlessly, but on the off chance of illness or injury, you want to be prepared. Travel medical insurance is cheap and easy to get, and it will come in handy if you find yourself needing medical care. Even if you don’t plan on doing any extreme activities, additional insurance is always nice to have when traveling abroad.
***Bonus Tip: Don’t be afraid to lie sometimes. You may encounter people that will inquire if you are traveling alone. Let your gut determine your answer. If I’m out of the country, I will usually say something to the effect of, “No, I’m just on the way to meet my friend.” Other times, I may be honest. It just depends. Trust others to an extent, but most of all, trust yourself.
If you’re traveling solo for the first time, have no fear! Your trip is going to be an amazing, eyeopening experience. Follow these tips to stay safe and be prepared to have a blast!