Don’t deny yourself the adventure of a lifetime, because as long as you follow the basic safety tips for solo traveling, you CAN go to that dream destination on your own. Solo travel presents the opportunity to see the world how you want to see it. You can go where you like, when you like and for however long you are away for, you can be completely selfish and just do everything for you. Solo travel has so many benefits so be brave and embrace the opportunity. Remember these safety tips for solo travel and you’ll have the time of your life.
1. Always Be Prepared
Not just a boy scout motto, the first of my safety tips for solo traveling is that you should always make the proper preparations prior to leaving home – i.e. keep copies of your passports and visas on hand, your ATM card and credit card information, your birth certificate and driver’s license info, as well as any other important documents. You might also consider leaving a second copy with someone you trust back home. If any of these documents or resources are lost or stolen, you will have a backup, providing you the information you need to cancel credit cards or apply at your local embassy for replacement documents.
2. Learn the Local Tongue
It’s not necessary (nor is it likely feasible) to become fluent, but you will certainly not regret learning a few phrases in the local language. Knowing greetings, numbers, practical questions (such as asking directions to the nearest bathroom or metro stop), emergency phrases, and the like, will make your travel experience that much easier and yourself more culturally adaptable. Also, you will win favor with the locals if you make even a smidge of effort.
3. Be Vigilant
Always be aware of your surroundings and of the people near you. This will prevent you from being targeted for pickpocketing or other unwanted attention. Don’t become distracted from your valuables, as creating diversions to distract is one of the most common tactics used by thieves and pickpockets. They might create a situation to draw your attention away or otherwise engage you. Don’t allow chaos or interest draw your attention from your personal items, and always carry your bag in front of you, held tight against your frame. Or invest in some gear which prevents pickpocketing, such as the Clever Travel Companion T-shirt ( clevertravelcompanion.com)
4. Drink in Moderation
If you’re on your own, then you should always keep your awareness is intact (see above), and as alcohol tends to lessen awareness, making you more vulnerable in a foreign country, then you should keep your alcohol consumption in check. You are especially vulnerable if you’re solo-traveling, as there’s no one to watch your back if you become intoxicated. This doesn't mean you can't have a drink or two at the local pub; just be sure to drink in moderation. Keep in mind that you also have to navigate yourself home at the end of the night.
5. Don’t Be Averse to Group Outings
Yes, you’re independent – you’re solo traveling; but that doesn’t mean you should discount all group outings from your itinerary. The thought of a tour group might make you reluctantly wrinkle your nose, but there are certainly situations where outings are better in numbers. Whether you’d like to hike a remote area or you wish to partake in a pub crawl, befriending someone, or a group of someones, will allow for a safer adventure. Going solo is thrilling and all, but safety in numbers is sometimes the better alternative.
6. Don’t Call Attention to Yourself
Being an obnoxious tourist is a great way to receive unwanted attention. So instead of standing out, try to blend in. Research the culture and the customs before you leave home, and “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Don’t disrespect the people or their culture; align yourself with it, as tourists are targeted more often by pickpockets, thieves and other miscreants than locals. If you are in a country where your very nationality makes you stand out like a sore thumb, then just do your best to familiarize yourself with your surroundings and act assertively. Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of.
7. Trust Your Instinct
One of the most valuable safety tips for solo traveling is to always trust your gut – it’s there for a reason. If you feel unsafe in your surroundings, they’re probably unsafe. If you feel uncomfortable with a person you’ve just met, you should probably avoid him/her. If you feel you’re being cheated, then walk away. Intuition is your guiding light; you should always follow it.
Safety tips for solo travelers are a combination of common sense and advice that savvy travelers have learned over the years. There are no guarantees, but being aware of how to stay safe and secure will be a comfort if your resolve to set off on your own wavers just a little. I’m happy to travel solo and highly recommend it. Do you or will you travel solo? Any other solo travelers care to pitch in with their favorite tips?