I often post videos of my travels on YouTube, and a common question I get asked online is "how safe is it to travel solo?" Especially as a female, I'm always very conscious of safety while on the road and alone. With proper precautions and common sense, it can be perfectly safe and highly rewarding. Here are my top tips on how to stay safe while traveling by yourself:
- Look Confident! Of course it's great to feel confident, but appearing confident is key to warding off suspicious people. If you look lost or confused, someone may try to take advantage of that.
- Study the locals. It can be hard to not stick out as all, but try to not look like a obvious tourist. Study how they dress, their body language, how they speak, etc.
- Plan your arrival beforehand. I'll all for going with the flow and exploring with a plan, but the minimal planning I will always have to do is how I will get from place A to place B when I arrive. For example, how do I go from the airport to the hotel? What's the fastest way? What's the cheapest way? What time does public transit run until? I definitely prefer to land during the day time so I'm not wandering around in the dark with bags.
- On stranger danger. I've made some great friends while traveling! We've helped each other out figuring out bus schedules and directions, teamed up when we decided we needed a travel buddy, and exchanged tips for what to see and do. But, I will refrain from over sharing private information, like how long I'm traveling alone, which hotel/room number I'm staying in, and so on. Better safe an sorry!
- Don't get wasted. Just don't do it. Drinking and having fun is one thing, but getting drunk, passing out in who knows where, or getting picked up by a stranger is risky business! If you do want to go out and explore the nightlife, consider making some friends with people staying at the same accommodations and making a pact to stick together!
- Stay vigilant. It's always a good idea to keep an awareness of the people around you. If you start to notice someone following you, or popping up more often than coincidence allows, pop into a store or hotel and talk to the concierge! They can call you a taxi to take you to you somewhere else, or you can wait it out until the person making you uncomfortable leaves.
- Keep to busier streets especially at night. Don't go down a dark and sketchy alley even if your phone tells you that's the shortest way. Just walk the extra couple blocks if it means you can stay on main streets that are lit and have other people walking on it.
- Stay in a busier area of town. I know that when traveling on a budget, I'm always tempted to pick the cheapest option, but they're often not the best places to stay. They're farther from the center of town, in quieter or not as safe areas, and often don't have any security that a hotel or larger hostel would have. Do a little research on areas you may stay in. It's worth paying a little extra to stay in a safer area.
- Do your research beforehand to learn the culture of your destination. How do they dress? What's considered modest or indecent? How do they act in public? Do people talk in trains or is it pretty quiet? Even small things like hand gestures can mean something in your home country but something completely different in another country!
- Check in regularly. Give loved ones a copy of you itinerary, when they should except to hear from you, and how they can contact you. You can also register with your local embassy. This is often free for citizens and they will have great info on safety conditions and contact you in case of emergencies.
Overall, traveling solo can be very safe and rewarding. Just be smart and don't be afraid to say "no" or remove yourself from situations where you're uncomfortable. Also consider reading my tips on how to keep your belongings safe from pickpockets & theft when traveling.
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