Travel allows for the discovery of new places, learn new experiences and to take back memories that will last for a lifetime. But at the same time, there is always a concern for one’s safety when travelling solo.
Whether you’re a male or female solo traveler, there is that vulnerability when visiting an unfamiliar place. I know from my experience of travelling solo, that as a female I certainly felt a little vulnerable at times.
But in our experience, most places in the world are perfectly safe, as long as you stay vigilant and don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do back home.
But to put your mind at rest, here are some of our top tips on how to stay safe while travelling solo.
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How to stay safe while travelling solo
We share our tips on the most important ways to stay safe while travelling solo:
Keep in touch with loved ones
Keeping in touch with your family or friends on a regular basis during your holiday, is a great way to share your memories of your trip. BUT also, if something was to happen, then they could raise the alarm.
Even if it is a short message to your parents, or a sibling saying good morning and to confirm your plans for the day.
You could then contact them of an evening to share your experience of the day.
If something was to happen to you and contact wasn’t made, they could raise the alarm sooner and they could provide the authorities of the travel plans.
We would also recommend sharing your travel itinerary or travel plans with a family member or friend, so they know what your itinerary and plans are for the entire trip.
Research, research, research
We mentioned earlier, that most places are safe to travel, but there are some exceptions. There might be areas of a city that tourists just shouldn’t go, there could be higher levels of serious crime, a country in conflict etc.
Doing your research before you travel, will help you to avoid putting you into compromising positions that risk your safety.
There are so many platforms out there to help you research your travel destination. We use guide books, such as lonely planet who offer detailed guides on a specific country and location. Local government websites often provide some good safety information to prepare you for your travels.
Travel bloggers are full of wealthy knowledge, they have experienced these places first hand and they definitely don’t want to put you in a dangerous position.
We offer knowledgeable information on our travel destinations we visit, so you know you can travel with comfort. You can subscribe to our newsletters and social media platforms to stay up to date and in the know.
Pinterest is another useful social media platform to help you plan and research your holiday destination. And what makes it so simple, is that if you like something you have read, you can pin the post for later and come back to it when you’re ready. Join us on Pinterest here.
Joining Facebook groups specific to travel, is a great way to ask experienced travelers about a destination. You can ask for recommendations on where to go, if there are any tourist scams to look out for, or just to put your mind at rest about the safety of the location.
You can join our Bev & Shams Adventure page, where you can ask any travel related question and either we will help out, or we are sure someone in the page could answer the question.
At the research stage, you would have checked where you shouldn’t go, this also applies when booking your accommodation. You should also research what areas you should avoid staying.
In our experience, hostels are a great place to meet likeminded solo travelers or backpackers and they are budget friendly.
When I was travelling through Australia on a gap year, I stayed in hostels in Melbourne and Sydney. I loved the experience and met some wonderful travelling companions along the way.
If you do book into a hostel, check into a same sex dorm. I stayed in an all-female dorm in Melbourne and Sydney.
Hostels are cheap places to stay, but you may not like staying in a hostel, or have your own reservations about hostels. If this is the case, the same principal applies, with staying in a hotel, B&B, apartment or whatever your accommodation preference.
How do you intend to get from the airport to your accommodation? Are there direct trains? Is there a bus to take? Are there taxi’s that you can book on arrival such as Uber etc? Plan exactly how you will safely make it from the airport to your accommodation.
Once you checked into your accommodation, have a look around the room, do all the windows and doors shut properly? Can you lock the door from the inside? Is there a safe to secure your valuable items? A solo traveler will want to make sure the room is a safe haven.
Copies of documents
Keeping your personal belongings safe, such as your passport, money, credit/debit cards, money and important document, is paramount.
Take copies of your important documents with you and send a copy via email to you and a family member. That way you have backup copies should any get lost or stolen.
If you have somewhere safe at your accommodation to store the originals, then take the copies with you as your proof of identity. That way you won’t lose the originals.
If you can’t store your valuable items at your accommodation. Take a bum bag to store the items in.
Our bum bag is perfect, as it fits around our waist and we can hide it under our clothing, which is a deterrent against theft.
Anti-theft bags are great too, they are designed to prevent your belongings being stolen, which is another deterrent against theft.
Never place all your important documents in the one place. Put money, credit/debit cards, passport etc in different pockets and bags. If you are targeted by pick pockets, the chances of all your personal belongings being stolen is slim.
Only take small sums of cash
Taking enough cash with you in smaller denomination for the day, will prevent all your money from getting lost, stolen or scammed.
And don’t put all your money in one place. Put money in different pockets and bags.
Have you ever tried a pre-paid travel card before? They are very similar to a credit/debit card, the only difference is, you store money, which you can use for transactions at home or abroad. And most companies have an online service or an app, so you can manage the account at just a click of the button.
You can pick them up in your local post office, travel store, online, in bank and some airlines offer airmiles with their travel card.
Don’t drink too much alcohol
Drink responsibly, as alcohol can severely impair your judgement on a situation, which could place you in a compromising position.
Never leave a drink unattended and if someone is generous to offer a drink, always know what is in it and watch it being made. It is still possible for your drink to be spiked.
Have fun but know your limits.
Travel solo at night
Would you travel at night solo in your own city? If not, then you wouldn’t want to go it alone at night in an unfamiliar location.
If you have made some new friends on your travels, suggest going for a night out as a group. That way you can share a taxi back to your accommodation and you can all look out for each other.
What should you wear on a night out, when travelling alone? Dressing appropriately, to draw less unwanted attention.
If you do happen to venture out at night alone, be aware of your surroundings and don’t do anything you wouldn’t do when you’re at home on a night out. For example, would you walk down a dark alleyway at night to get home quicker?
We certainly wouldn’t, we would keep to the busy main roads, where we will be seen by other passersby. Even if it meant taking a longer route.
You have to think of your own safety when travelling solo and never put yourself in a dangerous position.
Travelling Solo on public transport
Taking public transport can be cheap and a great way to explore most of the city.
But before jumping on to the bus or train, take a bit of time to understand it’s route, timetable and when the last bus or train departs at night.
The London underground can get very confusing, with all the coloured lines and routes. We still get confused with the Circle and District line sometimes, as you have to watch which train is coming into the station, so as not to take the wrong train.
A solo traveler, should also avoid public transport at night. But if there are any delays, always get onboard a busy bus or train carriage. Never sit alone in an empty carriage or bus.
If you are getting a taxi on your own, then make sure you book the taxi in advance, take the drivers details down and what vehicle they will be picking you up in. You could ask your hotel or accommodation provider to book you a taxi on your behalf with a reputable company.
AND provide a friend or family member the date, time and contact details for the taxi firm.
Never assume a vehicle that looks like a taxi is for you. Always check the details before getting into the vehicle.
Uber are a well-known firm in most countries. You can download the app and book a taxi. For your own safety as a solo traveler, you can share the trip details with a friend or family member. In most apps, you can share live feeds of your trip and payment is done through the app, so no cash transactions are needed.
If Uber isn’t available in the country you’re travelling, check if there are other apps that are similar.
We have used Pickme in Sri Lanka, which is similar to Uber, but we can choose from a Tuk tuk, or cars and you can share the taxi details and the live trip with family and friends.
This is great if you need to book a taxi for someone else, you can see exactly where they are through the app.
Take a mobile
Do you have an old mobile phone that you could take with you? If not, then buy a really cheap phone that you can use while you travel along with your new mobile.
We would recommend a smart phone, so you can still use Google maps and make sure it is unlocked, so you can use a local sim for internet, maps, etc.
Trust your instincts
If something doesn’t feel or seem right, then get out of that situation quickly. Trust your instincts, as most of the time they are right.
When you travel solo, there are just a few things you should consider when packing.
Firstly, you’ll want to pack light. Don’t pack unnecessary things and definitely don’t pack your valuable items, leave those at home, it’s unlikely you’ll need them.
We love our bum bag, which we take on every trip. We store some money, debit/credit cards and phone. If we can’t leave our passport in our room, we will also carry this with us in our bum bag too.
Our bum bag is discreetly hidden around our waist and beneath our clothing, which does help to deter our most important possessions from being stolen.
We will also pack a small homemade first aid kit in our bag. Should we become unwell or injured that doesn’t require medical treatment, we can simply patch ourselves up and get back on the road.
We store our medication, plasters, antibacterial hand wash, wipes, and more.
In our day bag, we will pack just the essentials that we need for the day. We will hide a little bit of cash in different pockets of the bag, a camera and snacks if we need it, a layer of clothing in case it gets cold and that is it. If we don’t need it, it will either stay in our room back at the accommodation or back in our home country.
If this is the first time travelling solo, then maybe plan your first trip to somewhere local or a staycation.
You’ll be familiar with the language; you will understand the customs and laws of the country and could use it as experience for when you do take the plunge to go off travelling solo.
My first solo trip was a one-year gap year to Australia. Where I lived, worked and travelled. I made some amazing memories along the way, while staying safe and had an awesome time.
I jumped in with both feet, never travelling solo before and it was the best decision I made, with no regrets and I am here to tell the tale.
Take a group tour
Taking a group tour is a safe way to see places as a solo traveler. You could book a group walking tour around a city, an excursion, or a planned group tour around various locations in a country.
A group walking tour, is a great way to meet new people and to get the layout of the city. Many group walking tours are free, with an experience guide providing knowledgeable information.
When I visited Australia on my solo gap year, I booked a tour through the Northern Territory. I met some amazing fellow travelers from around the world. I got to visit Uluru and sleep under the stars, I held a Joey (baby kangaroo), went hiking and plenty more adventures. I felt so safe on the tour and would love to do it again, but this time I would take Shams with me.
As a travel couple, we have also taken tours in the U.S. We took a coach tour from New York to Philidelphia, Washington DC and to Niagara Falls. It was well organised, we didn’t have to worry about transport, accommodation or food, as it was all included in the tour.
We have also taken a day trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon with another organised tour.
Tours such as this are not only safe, but a convenient way to see the site as a solo traveler with little to no planning required.
If this is the first-time solo travelling, then you may find booking an organised group tour as a safe option for you. If you plan to take a tour, then you must book through a reputable company and not from a tout on the street, as these are often scams.
We use Get Your Guide, who are reputable and easy to book. We have selected some of the best tours to book from around the world.
Alternatively, book through a reputable travel agent, or your hotel might be able to book you onto a reputable tour for you.
Tourist scams could leave you out of pocket, or worst in serious danger. Always do your research prior to departure.
Even if something does look and seem genuine, never trust someone 100%, as it could still be a scam. If you’re not sure, or it seems too good to be true, just walk away.
There is nothing to worry about, travelling solo is perfectly safe, as long as you stay vigilant, are aware of your surroundings and you do your research.
All of these top tips on how to stay safe while travelling solo, is nothing we wouldn’t do in our home country, so why would you change anything when you travel.
As we have said, travelling solo is safe with millions of people around the globe doing it annually, why should you be so different.
Both Shams and I have travelled solo and we are still here to tell the tale, so it really isn’t that bad.
There is nothing stopping you, so start planning your solo trip.
Do you travel solo? Do you feel safe when you travel solo? Do you have any tips on how to travel safely alone that we haven’t mentioned? Maybe your scared to travel alone? Let us know in the comments below.
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