Solo travel has a lot of upsides and it’s the only way I travel. I like the challenges it presents when being forced to figure out a solution, meeting new people in the most random of places, and even the solitude that allows me to really appreciate where I am and how lucky I am to be there. However, there are challenges that are unique to solo travel. Although these challenges aren’t isolated to single travellers, the consequences could be more challenging because you don’t have anyone to lean on. With that in mind here are some tips to being safe and prepared.
Before you book your lodging, do some research as to the area it’s in. It’s always easy to book a hotel online with some photos and think we’re safe but the last thing you want is to find out the safe area is actually 5 blocks away and your hotel is actually in a not so good part of town. One of my first international trips was to Sydney and I blindly booked a hotel in the city outskirts called King’s Cross. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it and thought it was a decent hotel in a nice area. It wasn’t until my first night there that I was told by hotel staff that the area isn’t really that safe at night and walking around the streets alone may not be a good idea even though it was perfectly fine during the day. Had I done a little research before booking, I probably would’ve known.
Leave a copy of your itinerary to your family, friends, or coworkers. Basically, someone you can depend on if you’re in a jam. Now I’m not saying you should have a daily itinerary detailed out before you leave, but a very basic one of which cities you’ll be visiting on what nights, hotel and flight info, and anything else you might feel is important. If something happens, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to find you.
Make copies of all important documents and save them in the cloud, secured USB, or at least some electronic form. I’m referring mainly to your passport, green card, birth certificate, phone numbers to financial institution, etc. Look, the hope is that you’ll never have to use these resources. But if you lose your passport or get robbed on a bus, how do you intend on getting home? Getting an expedited passport at an embassy is possible (though not cheap but at that point, money is the least of your problems) and having a copy of your passport would go a long way in speeding up that process.
Check in with your loved ones back home at least every couple of days. I do this not only to let everyone know that I’m safe, but also to feel some connection to those back home. I love getting emails from my friends when they travel because it makes me feel like I’m a part of the trip in some way. I hope my friends feel the same way. If you don’t want to send out emails, at the very least post updates on your social media accounts.
Most importantly, be smart and listen to your gut. I’ve been fortunate enough to make it through my travels without problems but that doesn’t mean they’ve all been without incident. As a solo traveller, I rarely drink anymore mainly to keep my wits about me. Look, have fun and enjoy yourself. There’s nothing wrong with going out to the bars or clubs at night to meet people and have a good time. But remember, this isn’t like your home town where you know the streets. If you don’t feel comfortable walking home, don’t be afraid to call a cab just to go a few blocks. You can always say you didn’t know and the embarrassment you might feel will be short lived to the alternative. Finally, the most obvious rule is if you think someone is acting in a way that might be weird behavior where you live, it’s probably weird there as well.