Traveling solo can be a bit out of anyone’s comfort zone, but being smart and relying on your gut makes all the difference when safety is concerned. Keeping your money and backpack safe is important, but keeping yourself out of harms way really is your numero uno concern when traveling alone.
Also something else to consider – there is a slight chance you could be involved in a natural or man-made disaster. Earthquake, hotel fire or break in, terrorist attack, and more, are all possibilities While these are not common, in today’s world they do happen, so it is worth it to consider and prepare. Here are a few ways you can stay safe when traveling solo abroad:
Consider the company that you keep
This usually means keeping your wits about you when you’re with strangers, even if you meet them in your hostel or at a local bar. Always research your destination before you go, so you know what is culturally acceptable and what is not. You want to blend in. So don’t wear crazy jewelry, inappropriate clothes, or anything fancy. You want to meet great people as you travel, not be targeted for being from out of town. It makes a big difference.
If men are giving you trouble, be cautious, but remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. Change seats. Give them the evil eye. But don’t exit anywhere without knowing exactly where you are – you don’t want to put yourself in a worse situation. My role has always been to ignore it, and normally it goes away. Be careful if anyone is following you though, and report any suspicious behavior to the local police immediately.
Choose destinations that work for you
The world is gigantic, and that makes choosing where to go a very fun challenge. The key is to narrow down your choices, and base it off a few categories. Do you like cities? Being in the country? What do you like to do? Do you want organization (i.e the excellent rail system of Europe) or do you like adventure (South America and a Machu Picchu trip might be nice!) Also consider time. I will talk about this more later, but consider your level of comfort traveling solo, and decide where to go based off other travelers recommendations. If you want something remote, this might not be as safe. Just consider all of this when thinking “safety” and “destination” together.
Securing your location
When staying in a hotel or hostel, always know the location of where you are, even if it is for only one night, and let someone know where you are going (This is when sending an itinerary to someone you know comes in very handy!)
Try not to be on the ground floor. It is safer as a solo traveler to be a little higher up. Always lock your door – when you are in the room or not. Never leave any valuables out on the bed or in your closet. Lock everything up if you can! I have heard of people who left their iPhone on their bed on the 2nd floor, and someone climbed through the window and grabbed it. I am telling you, lock yo’ stuff.
And if you are on a bus or train, hold your bag close to you. Don’t let it out of your sight! People are smart, and quite tricky, and have been known to swoop in and steal your passport or wallet at the blink of an eye. Hold it close to you and never leave it wide open for people to look in. Your seat is your domain, so post up and hold on.
These can be anything from an tsunami to a sketchy neighborhood robbery. Simply stay away from places that are known to be dangerous. You’d be surprised at how many people know the risks and go there anyway. Read travel warnings before you go for each country you plan to visit. Go to the government official website for information that you know will be up-to-date and reliable
Choose your season wisely. It is not impossible to stay out of the path of a natural disaster if you follow nature. Don’t mess with it!
Lastly, if you are staying in a country a couple weeks, register with the embassy. If something bad happens, they will know you are there and always do their best to help out. This is when someone having your itinerary comes in handy too! You want people to know where you are at all times, just in case.
The most important thing is to TRUST YOUR GUT. If it feels weird, out of place, dangerous, or like something you wouldn’t do at home, DON’T DO IT. You want this to be the trip of a lifetime, for all the right reasons.