Travel is never going to be one hundred percent safe. Nor is staying home or never leaving your postcode. And besides, part of the thrill of traveling is to leap into the unknown, to take risks and to challenge yourself. Especially when you travel alone. But if you’re wondering how to stay safe when you travel solo, there are some tips to help you along on the journey.
Staying safe while you travel
In a perfect world, we’d never have to think about our safety when we leave our home country. But the truth is, different cultures and customs are what make travel interesting and unique. And more often than not, the place we are visiting is invariably different to our home city or country.
Especially for women, traveling solo can be confronting and daunting. But that shouldn’t stop you from doing it. It simply means you need to be prepared before your trip and know what to expect. With these trusted tips (and take it from me – with nine years of experience traveling solo as a woman), you can feel secure knowing you are making your best efforts to stay safe.
Take a photo of your passport
After almost ten years traveling the world solo, I have never had my passport stolen or lost it (touch wood!) But the truth is, this happens often. The best thing you can do is have a digital copy readily available in case you lose your passport. But in case your phone also goes missing, be sure to email a copy to yourself and a family member or friend back home.
Check in regularly
Along with sharing a rough itinerary with your parents or a friend, be sure to check in with them regularly. Keeping someone informed of your whereabouts will come in handy in the rare event something happens to you. By knowing where you are and who you’ve met along the way, your family will be able to keep tabs on your whereabouts in case they don’t hear from you for a while.
Travel during the day
Let’s face it, train stations are often some of the sketchiest places to find yourself in the dark of night. By traveling during the day and arriving in daylight, you will not only feel safer but there will also be many more people around.
Keep your money in your front pockets
The back pocket of your jeans is the single-handed worst place you could keep anything valuable. Instead, keeping your money in your front pockets where you have the benefit of your peripheral vision to keep an eye on things (literally!)
Don’t stare at maps
Petty thefts are skilled at what they do. For many of them, it is their job to steal from tourists. To avoid being recognised as a tourist, try not to stare at maps either in physical form or on your phone. And by all means, don’t tell a stranger you are traveling solo!
Learn to trust your instincts
As a solo traveler, you will be approached a lot. And not all of these strangers have your best interests at heart. There are con artists and petty thefts everywhere in major cities and part of their act is to approach you. This mainly occurs in train stations and tourist hot spots, such as monuments and must-see attractions.
But you will also meet many great people while you travel. The trick is to stay vigilent without completely closing yourself off to meeting new people. Be aware of common scams and if a situation feels shady to you, known that it probably is! Know when to be firm or even rude with someone to get out of a situation you feel uncomfortable in.
Avoid making eye contact
This is a tip applicable mostly to major tourist attractions, where you are much more likely to encounter petty theft. Sometimes the easiest way to avoid being their next target is to avoid making eye contact – as they can easily sniff out a tourist this way! When you can sense someone is trying to make eye contact with you but feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to keep your head down and walk away.
Don’t drink too much
Especially as a woman, I make a point of never drinking too much when I am traveling alone. There have been times where I have been out with friends and realise I still had to make my way back to my hotel alone, so it is important to keep this in mind as well. The truth is, you lose your inhibitions when you’re drunk. Save those nights for a party of one back at your Airbnb balcony with a bottle of Burgundy red wine and a selection of cheeses to indulge in for yourself.
The old saying goes that if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. And if you ask me, this is entirely true. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have travel insurance to cover you in case something goes wrong. It will give you peace of mind and ensure you feel safer on the road.