Traveling solo has many upsides – total freedom over your plans, never having to share your meal and getting to sleep diagonally across a double bed. Unfortunately, there are also some downsides. Most aren’t too serious, like the dreaded single supplement (the injustice!) or being forced to operate a selfie stick. However, safety is definitely a valid concern for many would be solo travelers.
For the most part, solo travel is perfectly safe. Nonetheless, it is important to stay vigilant when it comes to your own safety. Here are some easy safety tips to ensure that you get home safely and happily from your amazing solo sojourn.
1. Tell people where you’re going
Although your family might still remember the days when a postcard was the most efficient means of communication from abroad, today’s travel is totally different. Many a traveller has in fact noted that they probably call their mother more from the other side of the world than they do from across town.
Not only is it nice to be able to share your travel stories, but it’s also good to keep in constant contact so people can quickly notice if something seems unusual (please, though, tell Mom if you’re going out of a WiFi zone for a few days. 48 hours without a status update and you may be getting a call from your embassy).
It’s also a good idea to alert the hotel staff where you’re going. That way they can keep a bit of an eye out – and it’s always nice to feel like someone on the ground is looking out for you!
2. Leave the flashy jewelry at home
This is for the guys as much as the ladies! No matter how nice your watch is or how well your bracelet matches your outfit, leave it at home.
Any outward display of wealth is likely to attract attention and make would-be pickpockets and thieves think they’ve found a good target.
3. Always use official taxis/apps for transport
Sometimes heading off the beaten path is great; one of the greatest tours I’ve ever been on was delivered by the hostel receptionist/jack of all trades who insisted we call him ‘our friend’ to anyone official.
However, when it comes to taxis, it’s not worth the risk. Use official taxi services, or ask your hotel to book them for you. Restaurants can also help you, especially if you’ve indulged in one too many beverages.
Although most of the time you will probably be fine, fake taxi drivers are a well-known scam in many countries and can risk both your financial and physical safety!
4. Hide your bills
Similar to #2 above, never flash your cash while traveling. Round-the-waist money/passport bags might not be the most glamorous of accessories, but they’re well worth it for the sense of security.
There’s only one thing worse than losing the money you’d planned to spend on vino on Madrid – and that is knowing that some dodgy pickpocket is enjoying it instead.
As a rule, only carry around as much money as you can afford to lose, and always keep it well away from your back pocket.
5. Keep your wits about you
Okay, so you’re probably rolling your eyes and nodding noncommittally at this point. However, take it from an expert, it’s easy to let your guard down and let the nice helpful local show you the ‘best’ ATM with no line.
Next minute your bank has called to politely let you know that you’ve just footed the bill for a thousand-dollar online shopping spree.
If a situation seems odd, it’s best to remove yourself quickly and head back to familiar territory.
6. Trust your instincts
It is a cliché, but don’t ever be afraid to trust your instincts. Often as travellers we try to be friendly, polite and laid back – which is great, but it doesn’t need to be at the expense of your better judgment.
If something doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to say no, or walk away. Even run if you really want to. At worst you’ll give someone a great story about that crazy running foreigner.
You should never feel guilty about putting your own safety first.
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