Solo Travel Safety Tips
For the past three years, I’ve done almost exclusively solo travel. That means I started traveling alone at the age of 19 and was told by many people that I was crazy for doing so. But I’m here to tell you that it’s not crazy, it’s not necessarily any more or less dangerous than traveling in a group, and it’s lead me to some of the greatest experiences of my life. If you’re new to solo traveling, however, it can understandably be a little intimidating, both for men and for women. So, here are some basic safety tips that can help any solo traveler.
1) If you’re lost and feeling unsafe, pretend like you know where you’re going until you’ve reached a safe space.
This is a tried-and-true method I’ve often used when feeling uneasy, watched, or even targeted. If you feel like you stick out as a foreigner and have found yourself lost or in a dangerous area, try to walk with confidence and purpose as if you know where you’re going. Don’t stop and pull out a map or your phone until you’re inside a building or out of sight. My best suggestion for a safe stopping point or a place to ask for directions is in a grocery store, a pharmacy, or maybe a restaurant. That way you’ll be the one to approach someone instead of the other way around and you can be fairly certain the person working won’t follow you, but will genuinely be willing to help.
2) Avoid loudly speaking your native language in public places if it’s not the language spoken in that country.
This is the easiest way to draw attention to yourself and make it clear to others that you are a foreigner. It causes you to become more of a target and also might open the door for people (taxi drivers, vendors, etc.) to take advantage of you and charge unfair prices. If you can speak the country’s language, even just a little bit, do it! It’ll show people that you understand what’s going on and can’t be taken advantage of.
3) To avoid pulling out a map in public, look up directions ahead of time and write them on a piece of paper or in your phone.
To avoid having to ask for directions altogether, try looking up where you need to go while you’re still in your hotel/hostel/AirBnb. If you’re in a country where you feel uncomfortable taking your phone out in public, write the directions down on a piece of paper along with an alternate route or bus route to use as a last resort. If you can use your phone however, try writing the directions down there or download an App like Maps.Me for offline map services.
4) Spread out your valuables.
If you are carrying all of your things with you at once, spread out valuables. Put some cash in a zipped pocket, a backpack, a shoe, etc. and then put back-up cash or credit cards in a different place like your suitcase or purse or whatever it may be. That way if one of your bags is stolen, you’ll have an option to fall back on.
5) Make copies of your passport!
Make several copies of your passport before leaving for your trip and spread them out through all of your belongings. Also leave one copy at home with someone you trust so they can send it to you in case all of your copies are lost or stolen.
These are the main basic tips I have for solo travelers. I hope they help! They’re tactics that I’ve frequently used and *knock on wood* I haven’t had any of my things stolen or had any other big problems yet. If you have any more questions, feel free to email me personally or leave comments on this post!