Traveling alone can be a great way to explore the world without the pressure of keeping to others’ schedules and personalities, but it can also be dangerous. Below, we’ll look at a few tips to help you keep you safe when traveling outside of a group.
Know your destination
Do your best to research your destination city thoroughly. Don’t limit your search to tourist areas. Make sure you also know if there are any areas or neighborhoods you should avoid. Look for hotels or other lodging in the safest areas you can. Make sure you know if there are any areas that might be fine during the day, but sketchy after dark.
Look like you belong
A tourist traveling alone can be an easy target for pickpockets, thieves, and worse. Do your best to blend in. While researching your host city, try to find out what fashions are in style and stick to them if you can. Added research can also make you less likely to look lost (or get lost) and help you to move confidently from one area to another, minimizing your chances of catching the eye of a bad guy. If you do find yourself in need of directions or other assistance, duck into a nearby shop or restaurant to ask for help rather than risk asking passersby who might be tempted to take advantage of your situation.
Leave valuables at home
To the greatest extent possible, don’t wear any valuable jewelry in an unfamiliar place. Don’t flash a bunch of cash, either. If you don’t feel safe leaving cash in your hotel (or the hotel’s safe, if they have one), don’t keep it all in one place. For instance, keep some of it in your wallet and split the rest up among various pockets or in your purse. If you insist on carrying valuables as you travel, keep them on you while on the move. In other words, don’t check valuables. Lost baggage is bad enough, but losing valuables is even worse.
Keep your wits about you
This means that you should be wary of strangers, even those who seem well intentioned. It’s definitely okay to meet new people and make new friends, but don’t be too quick to let them know where you’re staying or how much cash you’re carrying. It’s just not worth the risk.
It’s also important to make sure you don’t drink too much. We definitely tend to let our guard down after a few, and after a few too many, we can lose the ability to think clearly or protect ourselves if necessary. Also, just as here at home, never leave a drink unattended.
Always have some emergency backup cash that will not be spent unless you find yourself in a jam. Make sure that you have copies of the front and back of all credit cards and ID in the event yours are lost or stolen. If you will be in a place with reliable internet access, you can keep this info on the cloud; otherwise, have paper copies safely stashed somewhere.
Stay in touch
Let your family and friends back home know your travel plans. Give them as exact an itinerary as possible. Your best bet is to check in with someone back home on a daily basis, though some locales might make that impossible. Let them know how often you will check in, via phone or social media, and then stick with that plan. When you check in, be as specific as you can about where you are and how you can be contacted (the name of the hotel, the name of town, etc.). Unfortunately, not every trip is a smooth one or one that is memorable for all the right reasons. Establishing a pattern of check-ins can alert loved ones if a problem does arise and can give them a good place to start any search.
While these certainly don’t cover every aspect of safe travel, they are a good start. Above all, always remember to trust your gut–if a situation doesn’t seem right, avoid it. One missed opportunity is better than making a decision you knew you’d regret.