Safety Tips for Solo Travelers
Are you planning a solo trip? One survey shows that 48% of people plan to take a solo trip in the next year, so you're in good company with plenty of fellow solo travelers.
Traveling by yourself gives you total freedom over where you go and what you do when you get there. You can completely disconnect from your life and return refreshed. Solo travel also gives you the chance to meet new people that you probably wouldn't meet if you traveled with others.
Despite its benefits, solo travel also comes with risks. You become more of a target when you're by yourself. If something happens, it might take some time before someone realizes you aren't where you're supposed to be.
Keep reading to learn safety tips for your next solo travel experience.
1. Research Your Destination
Choosing a destination that's safe overall makes your solo trip less of a risk. Even the safest locations often have some areas that have higher crime rates. Knowing the risks and areas you should avoid in your destination help you make safer travel plans.
Before booking your trip, check current travel advisories to look for potential risks. It's a good idea to keep checking the advisories until you leave for your trip since the conditions can change without notice.
Research where the safest hotels and accommodations are in your destination. You don't want to risk staying in an unsafe neighborhood where you have a higher chance of becoming a crime victim. Find out about the safest transportation options.
You'll also need to check the list of destinations that require vaccinations before traveling overseas. The CDC offers a list of countries with the required and recommended vaccinations to keep you informed on what you need to do before you travel.
2. Understand Local Customs
Your research isn't over just yet. You'll also want to know about the local customs in your destination, especially if your travels take you out of the country. Many foreign countries have cultural norms that are very different from the U.S.
Dress is one of the biggest things to consider when traveling to a different country. Many countries prefer conservative dress. If you wear revealing clothes or wear your swimming suit through town, you'll likely stand out as a foreigner and become more of a target.
Some popular tourist spots have dress codes. Cathedrals often require conservative clothing. If you don't follow those dress codes, you won't be able to enter.
3. Limit What You Pack
Having lots of flashy, expensive jewelry, designer handbags, and other valuable items with you instantly puts a target on your back. Thieves see you as the perfect opportunity to score high-end items.
Leave anything that is valuable or attracts attention at home. Packing light also makes it easier to navigate your destination. If you're struggling to maneuver your bulky luggage through the airport, you might not notice that someone is watching you and waiting for the perfect moment to pick your pocket.
When you go sightseeing, bring along just what you need. Use the hotel safe if your room has one to lock up other valuable items. Keep your money, phone, and other valuable items in a safe spot inside your bag while you travel around the city.
4. Practice Self Defense
Ideally, you'll never have to use self defense tactics while traveling. But traveling alone means you don't have someone else to help defend you if you get attacked. Learning some basic self defense moves can prepare you if you encounter an attacker.
You can learn self defense tactics online for a quick course in staying safe. You can also sign up for a self defense course before you travel to get instruction from professionals. Check with your local police department to see if they offer self defense classes.
5. Pack Self Defense Products
Another way you can protect yourself is by packing discreet self defense products. This might include a stun gun, pepper spray, or personal alarm.
Carrying these items while you travel can make you feel safer, which can make you come across as more confident. This can make you less of a target. You also have a way to defend yourself if someone tries to attack you.
6. Plan Your Arrival
Arriving in a new destination by yourself, especially if you're in a foreign country, can be one of the scariest parts of solo travel for women and men. You don't know where you're going, and you don't have a travel partner to help navigate.
Try to schedule your travel so you arrive early in the day. This gives you plenty of time to get to your accommodations while it's still light. You also have more time to settle in, get your bearings, and rest before you start sightseeing.
If your flight arrives late at night, make sure your hotel, hostel, or vacation rental will be available when you arrive. Some have limited check-in hours. Finding public transportation late at night can also be difficult in some areas.
Know how you plan to get from the airport to your accommodations. Determine the public transportation and taxi options as well as the safety of each in that location. Knowing how to navigate your selected transportation makes it easier when you arrive.
7. Share Your Itinerary
You might not have a travel partner, but it's a good idea to let someone know where you'll be throughout your trip. This helps them keep tabs on you and makes it easier for someone to track you down if you go off the grid. Things to share include your flight numbers, hotel location, and daily plans.
8. Check in With Someone Regularly
It's also a good idea to check in regularly with someone you trust, ideally the same person who has your itinerary. Let the person know how often you plan to check in. That way, if you miss a check-in, the person knows to follow up with you to see if you're safe.
Be careful about telling too many people about your travels. If you post about your trip on social media, you could become the victim of burglary back home while you're gone.
9. Blend In
When you do your research on the local customs, you're better able to blend in with the crowd. By looking like a local, you reduce your risk of being targeted for a crime.
Being prepared and knowing where you're going also helps you blend in. If you're constantly looking at a map or look like you're lost, you're making others aware that you're not a local. Walk with confidence, even if you're not sure where you're going, to help yourself blend in with the locals.
Carry a discreet bag similar to what others in that area carry. A bulky backpack or other tourist-type bags are another giveaway that you're not from that area.
10. Take Group Tours
If this is your first solo trip, you might feel more comfortable joining a few group tours once you arrive. This gives you a natural group of travelers to get safety in numbers. It's also a good way to meet fellow travelers.
You don't have to book your entire trip as a group tour. Many destinations offer group excursions that last only a few hours. Doing a shorter group tour helps you get the lay of the land and become more comfortable in your destination before you head out on your own.
11. Travel During the Day
Daytime travel offers the safest option when you're by yourself. You have the advantage of natural light, which can help you spot dangerous situations. More people are typically around during the day, and you can find where you're going more easily.
Violent crimes by adults increase the later it gets, peaking at 9 p.m. when it beings to drop again. Statistics show that adults commit 24% of violent crimes between 8 p.m. and midnight. By traveling and sightseeing during the day and returning to your hotel in the evening, you avoid that prime crime time.
12. Prepare for the Worst
Even with precautions, you could be the victim of theft. If you lose your credit cards, cash, passport, or other important items, you could be nearly helpless.
Make copies of all travel documents and keep your credit card service provider contact information on hand. Being able to contact your card company immediately if your card is stolen can help get the situation fixed. It's also a good idea to keep a small emergency cash stash in the hotel safe or hidden in a discreet spot so you're not completely without money.
13. Remain Alert
One of the best ways you can protect yourself is by always remaining alert. It's okay to relax and enjoy your trip, but you need to stay aware of your surroundings. This allows you to notice something that doesn't seem safe so you can get out of those dangerous situations.
Part of staying alert is avoiding alcohol or limiting how much you drink. Becoming intoxicated means you won't be aware of what's going on around you. You might also be less able to protect yourself in a dangerous situation.
Always trust your instincts when you're traveling by yourself. If you feel like something is off, get yourself out of the situation or ask for help. You might seem overly cautious or silly if it turns out to be nothing, but it's better to be wrong about something than to ignore a feeling that turns out to be correct.
Practice Safety for Solo Travelers
Solo travelers can have a unique experience, whether traveling domestically or internationally. Being aware of your surroundings and practicing basic travel safety precautions makes your trip safer.
Check out our selection of personal alarms and other self defense products to feel more secure on your next trip.
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