Traveling solo can be a little intimidating for anyone, regardless of circumstance, age, gender, etc. A few small adjustments or general mindfulness can make all the difference and ensure that you aren’t unnecessarily putting yourself into harm’s way.
The first few times I traveled by myself, I found myself hyper aware of my surroundings, self conscious and slightly anxious. I knew I was fine, but I couldn’t shut off the part of my brain that was a little paranoid and over analytical of my situation.
Through integrating some of the following tips into my travel routine, I have been able to squash that anxiety and enjoy traveling more without feeling like I am on high alert. Some of these are common sense but every little bit helps, especially when traveling out of the country or to a location where you don’t speak the language. Take or leave what applies to your situation and adjust accordingly as every location presents different variables.
6 Ways to Stay Safe on the Road
1. Explore During Daylight Hours
One of the biggest ways to eliminate trouble, in my experience, is to stick to daylight hours. If you’re going to be out and about (especially in a large city), sightseeing during the day might be your best safety bet. If you don’t want to do this alone, find a daytime walking tour or sightseeing tour so you’re with a group.
2. Keep the Details to Yourself
If you find yourself chatting up others in your sightseeing group or someone in a restaurant, don’t tell them where you’re staying or details of your trip. They don’t need to know which hotel you’re in or how long you’ll be there. If you find yourself in Boston, Massachusetts, for example, and someone asks where you’re staying you can reply vaguely with “the south end”.
Along those same lines, I never let on that I am alone. One night while in my hotel I ordered food to be delivered for dinner from an outside service (not from the hotel itself) and when it arrived I did two things to not let on that I was alone. As I walked to the hotel room door to open it I (1) shut the bathroom door and (2) called out “Food is here…I’ve got it.” as I opened the main door so the person on the other side would assume someone else is in the room with me, just in the bathroom. Is it overkill to do this? Probably. However, it takes two seconds and is harmless, so why not?
3. Always Trust Your Instincts and Give Yourself Options
If you aren’t staying in a hotel and are using couch surfing services I’d suggest being extra cautious. Go with your gut and if you feel unsafe, leave. I’d make a point of having the names of a few nearby hotels in your head or saved in your phone, just in case you wind up leaving quickly.
If you are in a hotel, take a business card with you that has the address and phone number on it for reference or in case of a language barrier.
4. Do Your Homework
In line with researching beforehand, I’d suggest a general study session on the city you’re going into, especially if it’s out of your native country. Google the name of the town + travel tips, + safety tips, + local scams or + local dangers. There might be scams that are specific to that location that you may not have known about. Forum style websites can be helpful for this, such as reddit.com. There is typically a subreddit for most major cities or locations and you can ask those who either live there or go there often what to keep your eyes open for. This could also be a good way to find out if your cell phone will work there (if going international) and what you can do to keep service and contact. I would also recommend looking into cultural norms and how to best blend. You don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb with your clothes or some other factor screaming “TOURIST!” for you and drawing attention.
5. Leave Valuables at Home
This one should be common sense, but don’t walk around with flashy jewelry or goods in plain sight. If you have to carry something valuable, keep it concealed and don’t make a target of yourself. Keep cash on you, but make sure it’s not ALL of your cash and that it is in a place that isn’t easily pickpocketed. Walk with a sense of purpose like you know where you’re going and if you need to stop to consult the map, do so in a cafe or other public place. Not on the side of a street.
Along the lines of valuables, leave a front and back copy of your credit cards, license and passport with someone else back home. This way if it gets stolen you can call the issuing companies and have the numbers to reference.
6. Insurance and Medical Emergencies
Lastly, I’d highly suggest looking into travel insurance. It is inexpensive and can make the difference between landing on your feet in a rough situation and not. Many major carriers have options, so do your research and pick one that works best for you. Have a back-up plan in place in case you get sick or hurt as well and have a general knowledge of how to handle a medical emergency in the country you’re going to.
I hope some of these tips help you and I wish you safe travels wherever you find yourself!
The world has tons to offer, so get out there and enjoy it.
About the Author: ALYSE GRIMM
Alyse Grimm is a 32-year-old Pacific Northwest native who now resides in beautiful New England. After first visiting Salem, MA roughly 10 years ago, she fell in love with the old town and now runs “Things to do in Salem” which is a website focusing on tourism and visiting Salem. Outside of covering events in the witch city, Alyse is an avid reader, writer, artist, nap-taker and Red Bull drinker.