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Solo travel can be an incredibly enriching and empowering experience. The main concern for many solo travelers is their safety.
Here are my top 10 safety tips for solo travelers.
Tip #1: Research your destination.
Understand the local customs and traditions, and research any potential safety concerns. Check for any travel advisories. If you’re traveling to another country, register with your country’s embassy.
Tip #2: Share your itinerary, where you’ll be staying, and your contact information with a family member or a trusted friend.
Update your friends and family regularly during your trip. Talk with them before you leave so they know how often to expect you to check in, and talk about what actions you’d like them to take if you haven’t checked in when you were supposed to.
Tip #3: Plan ahead of time where you will stay, and choose reputable accommodations.
Choose centrally-located accommodations. Check out the most recent online reviews. Also, even if you are in a private room with locks, consider bringing a security alarm that wedges under the door to alert you if anyone tries to enter the room while you are sleeping or are in the bathroom.
Tip #4: Be cautious with your personal information.
Don’t share too much personal information with strangers, such as your full name, your address, where you are staying, or other travel plans. Be careful how much you share on social media about your travel plans and your real-time location.
Tip #5: Keep your valuables secure.
Use a hidden money belt or a RFID travel pouch to store important documents, cash, and cards. Also, consider putting tracking devices in your suitcase and other bags, like AirTags. To use the AirTag, you just press it to activate it, put it where you want it to track an item, and then use the Find My app on your iPhone. There are also various types of protective covers, like keychains, to put your AirTags in. There’s also a safety feature about AirTags that I really like. It’s designed to alert you if someone else puts an AirTag in your stuff to try to track you. If an AirTag that isn’t yours is near you, you’ll get an alert on your iPhone that reads “AirTag found moving with you.” At that point, you can open the Find My app and disable the tracking of that AirTag, or you can choose to have the AirTag play a sound. If you have an Android phone, you can use the Tracker Detect app. If you haven’t found it in a certain amount of time, the AirTag will start playing a sound, a beep. Another part of keeping valuables secure is to avoid showing in public expensive items like jewelry, smartphones, or cameras. If you use your phone in a public place, consider putting a privacy screen protector on your phone, and it’s always good practice to have a phone case to protect your phone if you drop it.
Tip #6: Blend in with the locals.
Dress so that you blend in with the local culture. Also, learn a few basic phrases in the local language to improve communication with locals.
Tip #7: Always stay aware of your surroundings.
Be vigilant, especially in crowded or unfamiliar areas. Trust your instincts. If you feel uneasy or unsafe, don’t hesitate – move somewhere else. Also, avoid using headphones or being distracted by your phone in public places. Avoid walking alone at night, particularly in unfamiliar or more desolate areas. Instead, take a taxi or ride-sharing service. Consider carrying a self-defense tool, such as pepper spray or a personal safety alarm. I like this pepper spray because it has a practice spray. If you are traveling in the United States and you plan to carry or purchase pepper spray, read the pepper spray laws for the states you’ll be traveling in. Pepper spray is legal in all 50 US states, but several states have certain restrictions.
Tip #8: Use reputable transportation:
Choose well-known, licensed providers for taxis or any other public transportation. Avoid accepting rides from strangers. Use the official taxi line or a ride-sharing service, or go on public transportation if you consider it safe. Always know the route before you start your trip. On rideshare apps like Uber or Lyft, share your location with a friend or family member so they can receive your driver’s information and see where exactly you are.
Tip #9: Be cautious with your food and drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
Limit your alcohol consumption, and never leave any drink unattended. When traveling to different countries, know where the tap water comes from. If you have any doubts about its safety, only drink bottled water. Also, be cautious when trying new foods, especially street food. Go to reputable places. When you arrive, observe their food handling practices if you can.
Tip #10: Always have a backup plan.
Carry photocopies of important documents (your passport, visas, driver’s license, insurance cards) in case you lose them or they are stolen. Save emergency contact numbers, including a friend or family, and if in another country, your country’s embassy, on your phone, and keep a physical copy. Keep some extra cash in a separate location for emergencies. Also, be prepared to not be able to charge your phone for a long time – carry an external charger for your phone.
With some pre-trip preparation and then awareness and alertness while you are traveling, you can have a safe solo traveling experience that you will enjoy.