Tips for Safe Solo Travel
Sometimes, you want to travel as a couple or family, and other trips are all about solitude and the need for space. Taking trips solo is healthy. Helpful tips you can follow are outlined below. Keep in mind that you will need to take some precautions prior to travel, and, of course, it’s all about your sense of concern and what you find easy to do, manageable, and that makes sense.
Register your trip with the STEP program, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. You can enter the itinerary, emergency contacts, and whether you want media or no one to know, outside the government, to release your name in case of any incidents. Many news reports can state an estimate of how many Americans were overseas during a certain incident; media check with the program for information that is part of public record. It’s also useful for your government to know so they can alert the consulate/embassy in your destination.
Know where the nearest consulate is located, which is not always in a capital city nor within the proximity of your location, but it’s helpful to know if there is one, and where.
Send your itinerary details to family or friends you trust. Email them the full itinerary, places you might think of going, hotel details, etc. Include those confirmation codes because if family tries to track you and has to call the airline or hotel, they will need to provide detailed information. Airlines allow you to call after you’ve made your online reservation and add a security word so that anyone who knows you’re traveling to Paris on the only direct, nonstop flight can’t access your flight information as easily as it seems.
Download useful apps to stay in touch. Whatsapp is the best for sharing and communicating. When you use Uber, make sure someone can track your ride/whereabouts. Allow your phone to allow key family members to know your location. Drop pins. Download maps and routes prior to walking out of the hotel room (and when you’re in a Wi-Fi free zone trying to agonize remembering metro stops). Make screen shots as needed.
You may not be willing to sacrifice social media so post wisely. Find your comfort level of posting where you are and what you’re doing every waking minute. Short of telling people the ‘key is under the mat,’ make sure that your posts still have an air of mystery about when you are in a certain location and away. Mix it up and throw in a random photo you’ve been holding onto. Unless you’re intent on live blogging, just post smart.
“The obvious – don’t walk down dark alleys, if you want to take the road less traveled during the day, know your route.”
Watch your back—backpacks, headphones on, depending on the destination, you’re inviting a potential scuffle. Yes, you’re traveling with a backpack but you can pare down before the day’s adventure. Take a card from the hotel or screenshot your info if it’s in email. Believe it or not, some hotel names may sound alike or you may have multiple hotel names run together, even boutique hotels that are one-of-a-kind are likely part of a regional, national, or international chain.
Emergencies and how to contact for help locally, how do you call or reach 911 where you are.
Watch those cocktails. When you’re on vacation, you are naturally going to want to kick back with a drink. Be careful, keep it reasonable, and watch the drinks being made.
If it’s not too much hassle, check in regularly with someone you trust, family or friend. Let someone who cares know you’re safe. Social media broadcast doesn’t count.
Dress like a local, as much as possible. Anyone traveling should follow this guideline.
Don’t just think about safety; consider attitude. If you feel unsure, bring a book, notebook, magazine or look at your phone if you feel self-conscious. Stay alert but act as if you’re indifferent and uninterested. Yes, you can take in the surroundings with awe but try not to be too ‘newbie tourist’ with the look on your face.
Whatever works for you, put the passport, cash, credit cards, etc. in different places (don’t forget where) and make sure you have access to it all. Before leaving for the trip, make copies of doc pages in passport. Put itinerary copies in envelope, seal it. Address it to a friend or family member (if you’re in real stealth mode and would prefer not to mark it “important docs”). Keep information handy—insurance details, blood type, any meds you’re taking.
Traveling internationally means you’ll likely be reliant upon hotel and café Internet/Wi-Fi. Try not to check bank, credit card, etc. on these public networks. The obvious – don’t walk down dark alleys, if you want to take the road less traveled during the day, know your route.
This article isn’t meant to scare. It’s about being aware, enjoying yourself but practicing good safety measures, and getting home safely and happy.