There are benefits to travelling alone which you just can’t get when you’re with others. You have the opportunity to do what you want without upsetting others. Plans can easily be made or broken at the drop of a hat. Solo travel also increases the chance to interact with locals. With no one to answer to your possibilities are limitless. However, this may mean that you’re more prone to making wrong decisions or mistakes. This article will outline some safety tips when travelling alone.
Solo Travellers are Not Alone
The first thing, and maybe most defeating, for any lone traveller, is to remember that you’re rarely alone. The world is full of friendly people who are willing to make new friends and help those in need with advice.
When travelling alone make sure you reach out to locals. Befriend the barista or bartender as you sip your cappuccino. Meet-up with local couchsurfers or even connect with other travellers. People who know the area can give you advice on places to avoid. They can highlight the areas you should visit and provide general tips on getting around safely.
Locals can also provide insight on places to see and visit in the region. Better yet, team up and spend some time exploring together and making new friends. Even if you can’t speak their language and neither they yours, you’ll be surprised how far you can get without it.
If you can’t find a real person keep in mind that technology is a solo traveller’s best friend. Like every other facet of our lives, the internet also provides an invaluable resource of travel information. These days almost every far-flung corner of the world has been reached and reviewed with travel safety hints and tips.
Solo Women Travellers
Most of the time the rules for women and men are generally the same. The reality is, however, that there are certain places where female solo travel safety needs a little more attention.
Appropriate dress varies across cultures and often a women’s clothing reflects her intentions to men. When travelling in more conservative countries it is best to cover up to avoid unnecessary attention. At the same time remove jewellery, be it expensive or cheap, to avoid theft and potential physical harm.
Refraining from visiting unfamiliar areas, particularly at night, is also basic travel safety. If you do wish to explore a new spot then perhaps connect with other solo female explorers. Like you, they’ll probably appreciate the extra security in larger groups.
Guided and group tours are a good compromise for cautious solo female travellers worried about safety. Besides meeting a host of fellow travellers they also promise a more educational experience of the local area. Tours can vary in what they offer but luckily most cities have a variety of options to suit any taste.
Keep Your Wits About You
One of the benefits of travellers solo is that it lowers your inhibitions and enhances a sense of freedom. The opportunity to make new friends comes easier and usually leads to drinking alcohol in most cultures. One drink often leads to another and while it’s tempting to indulge be aware that your rationally is hindered. Lowering your already low inhibitions can lead to a dangerous situation.
Once under the influence, it can be hard to determine what you should do to remain safe. Strangers often seem more trustworthy than they actually are and unusual money can easily be misunderstood. Additionally, your awareness of your belongings is lost and abnormal neighbourhoods become even more unfamiliar.
On top of this, when the drinking begins after night-fall, drunk and confused travellers become key targets for criminals. While it’s essential to let your hair down when travelling, it’s more important to remain alert and safe in new settings. By all means drink, but do it responsibly to maintain your instincts.
Remain Aware of Your Belongings
Travelling alone means that you can’t leave your stuff with someone else or ask them to keep an eye on it. You are entirely responsible for all your things and need to stay extra alert. Whether valuable or not, no one wants to lose or get their property stolen.
When protecting valuables such as money, passports or credit cards keep them as secure as possible. If the hotel provides a safe in the room this is usually the best spot. Money belts and zippered pant pockets help if you must take cash and valuables outside with you.
If you’re cautious about carrying or leaving a large amount of money then separate it. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and divide it between the accommodation and on yourself. If something happens you won’t lose it all.
To avoid pickpockets there are several safety tips for solo travellers. When carrying a backpack in a crowded area wear it on your front so you can keep an eye on it. When wearing it behind make a habit to move it about now and then to deter any would-be thief. Using a small padlock on the zips is great but keep in mind it won’t prevent cutting the fabric.
In certain cities, you should be extra vigilant when using cameras and phones. Be aware of your surroundings, particularly near busy streets, in crowds and at famous sights where attention is distracted.
Scammers work by distracting you taking advantage of your ignorance but are more often than not than harmless opportunists. Once again this is another travel safety concern which all travellers are susceptible to. Those travelling or backpacking alone however are much more prone to them.
Transport is a common area to get overcharged and every seasoned traveller has at least one or two horror stories from riding in taxis or tuk-tuks. To avoid being overcharged make sure the meter is switched on otherwise agree on a set price before moving. Prior research, either online or with a local, will help in these situations. Learn the procedures, rates and know who the reputable transport providers are.
When shopping in markets or on the streets never feel pressured to buy anything you don’t want. Before any purchase estimate or find out the rough value, or at least settle on a price you’re happy with paying. Be prepared to walk away too, besides, you can always come back.
Be wary if someone tries to put an item of clothing or jewellery on you. Sometimes if you’re wearing it, this means you’ve bought it! Don’t ignore the need to walk away or simply ignore a seller if you are feeling unnecessarily pressured.
Rely on Your Instincts
The world is not as dangerous as it seems, however, it’s important to remember that it’s not always safe either. The most important thing for a single traveller to do is to maintain that happy medium between relishing the freedom but remaining vigilant. Without this balance then you’re going to miss some of those amazing moments that solo travel provides.