There are many benefits to traveling the world alone. It’s fun, liberating, incredibly exciting, and gives you the unique opportunity to plan your trip around your wants and needs alone, without the input of companions. That being said, tripping alone is also quite daunting, especially if you listen to the many horror stories there are surrounding the concept. Concerns about solo travel are valid, but they shouldn’t hold you back. Here are ten safety tips for your solo adventure whether it be your first time with international travel, or you’re an old hat at it!
Start Out Small
Depending on how you feel about being a lone traveler, you may not want to dive right in with a month-long trip to Israel or a grand tour of Europe. Instead, get used to the idea carefully and slowly, with a few shorter visits to towns and cities nearby. This can help to calm any anxieties you have, while also showing potential trouble or mistakes you may come across later, helping you to prepare for further travel. You may also want to visit destinations with friends or family before going alone.
Do Thorough Research
After choosing a potential vacation destination, you must spend some time thoroughly researching the area. Every city and country has its downsides, but some have many more than most, making them particularly dangerous, especially to those tripping alone. You needn’t avoid these places, but you should prepare for them. Ensure you read travel guides, blogs, and more, to learn of common diseases, laws, and the climate in the area you’re heading.
It’s also really important that you’re prepared with what you need legally. You need to make sure you know if you have all appropriate visas, vaccinations, and passport pages ready to go! It’s not a bad idea to check out travel advisories for the country you’re planning to visit as a lone traveller. You don’t want to be surprised!
And the final stage of your research should be what to do “just in case.” For example, do you know what to do if your passport is stolen? What if your ATM card doesn’t work, how will you get money?
Choose Accommodation Carefully
Heading into the big wide world by yourself is going to be pretty scary, but the one place you should always feel safe is where you rest your head. With that in mind, you must ensure you consider your accommodation options and choose the best one for you. Most assume that solo travelers should always stay at hostels, where you can meet like-minded people, but if you’d feel more comfortable in an international hotel chain, then that is where you should stay.
Hostels are great if you don’t like the idea of always being totally alone even if you’re tripping alone. When I’m traveling the world alone, I enjoy wandering around during the day by myself. However, at night, sometimes I want friends! Being in a hostel room with 4-6 people (I don’t like being in the bigger rooms because then there is too much noise!) provides a great opportunity to make a friend to grab dinner and drinks with.
However, sometimes I just want to be alone and have some privacy. Then I use Hotels.com (Stay 10 nights, get 1 free!) or Booking.com (10% off!) to find myself a nice place. Always check the maps to make sure the hotels are near public transportation or interesting sites!
I no longer recommend AirBNB because I’ve heard too many horror stories of hosts canceling or having filthy places. I’ve only used it in an emergency when I was in Iceland because everywhere else was booked or crazy expensive.
Invest In Safety
It doesn’t matter where you’re going to or how long you’re staying for; travel will always be a costly hobby. Because of this, most of us try our hardest to cut costs and save money here and there. That being said, you shouldn’t sacrifice your safety to do so. In fact, if necessary, you should spend more to keep yourself safe, whether that means paying for a cab ride to your hotel or buying a can of the best pepper spray you can find. However, pepper spray isn’t always available to travel with. Consider these other options to keep yourself and your possessions safe.
To keep your money safe, I suggest travel insurance. It’s not something that I used to get on the regular, but it is now. Travel insurance protects you if your luggage is lost, if your flight is delayed, if you’re injured, and if you need to be returned to your home country. It’s really not as expensive as you think!
However, safety can also include health! It’s important that you take care of yourself out there! You should check and see if you need any vaccines before you go! When you’re traveling the most common thing to look out for is traveler’s diarrhea! Read that link to get some tips on avoiding that!
Leave Valuables Behind
In this age of smartphones and handheld devices, asking anyone to leave all of their valuables at home when they head off on vacation is unrealistic. After all, even if these weren’t used for entertainment, they’re still important tools, helping you to get around, connect with loved ones, and so much more. That being said, you should avoid carrying these items around with you all the time. With the exception of your phone, it’s safer to leave them locked away at your hotel.
If you do bring them with you, consider getting an anti-theft bag like above. They’re specially designed to not be cut away from your body.
Know Your Limits
Traveling the world alone is all about getting outside your comfort zone and pushing your limits. However, there’s a big difference between being brave and being reckless. While you should push your limits at times, you certainly shouldn’t ignore them. Don’t go out if you’re exhausted, don’t swim alone if you’re not a strong swimmer, and don’t drink more than you can handle. These actions are incredibly dangerous and could put you at a lot of risk.
Share Your Itinerary
Although you’re off on your own adventure, you shouldn’t forget about those you’ve left at home. As much fun as you may be having, they’re going to worry about you now and then, so it’s crucial that you keep them updated on your whereabouts and share your itinerary. As well as providing peace of mind to your loved ones, this also ensures that, if anything were to happen to you, and you stopped getting in touch, they would have a better idea of where to start looking for you.
Walk With Purpose
Thieves, predators, and con artists tend to target tourists, which means that you should do everything that you can not to look like one. Instead of wandering around aimlessly with your head in a map, you should keep your head high and walk with purpose. If you need to check where you’re going, step into a store for a moment to ask for directions or look at your map. This means you’ll be less likely to attract unwanted attention.
Separate Your Money
Never keep all of your money and valuables in the same place. If you have a lot of cash, spread it around in your bags. If one bag is stolen or lost, you don’t want to be destitute. I like to keep my main amount of money in my hotel room and just take enough money to last me for the day. I also never take out a ton of money at a time.
Similar to checking the map out of the way from prying eyes, I like to handle my money as privately as possible. In my purse, I’ll have my money in different pockets as well. This is also a handy thing if you’re haggling because if they look inside when you bring out money, you can say “This is all I have!” and they will believe you.
Book a Tour
If you’re still feeling daunted about your first-time international travel trip, then do yourself a favor and just book a trip. It still counts as being a lone traveler because you don’t know anyone on the tour, but it takes a lot of pressure off of you. Everything is handled, and you know you’ll be safe because your guide is there.
If you’re unsure where to start, I’m a travel agent and can assist you with searching for companies, booking them, and creating a folder with all your information. I can also get you a discount! Contact me if you’d like to hear more!
If you think you’ve got a good handle on it, then I suggest looking into Tour Radar! Tour Radar is a search engine for tours! You can look up all the major companies at once, and maybe some you haven’t heard of! They are also very generous with sales!
Traveling solo is a scary concept, but, with the tips above, there’s no reason why you can’t stay safe.