When I published my article about the ten things you should know before traveling solo, I never thought that it would become one of the most popular pieces of work on my website. Historically, many of my readers told me that they prefer traveling with a friend or a partner but it’s hard to discount the numbers associated with my article. I’ve come to the conclusion that more people would travel alone if they weren’t so concerned about safety. Safety is a valid reason for worry – but it shouldn’t entirely deter you from what can very well be the most powerful experience of your life. Below are some tips to help you get over this hump!
1. Join An Online Group
One of my favorite groups on Facebook is Girls LOVE Travel. In it you will find nearly 700,000 members from all over the world and they will quickly turn into your family away from home. GLT is strictly for females (sorry fellas), but the point is that groups like this exist for female travelers, male travelers, adventure seekers, yogis, and the list goes on. There are many benefits to being part of a group: 1. If you are ever feeling lonely during your trip, you can simply post in the group and there is a very strong chance that you will find a like minded individual to meet you. Or you can simply exchange numbers just in case you need a local to reach out to 2. You can find advice, tips and help quickly and seamlessly. 3. Most importantly, if you need any sort of help – the internet can work wonders. If you are in any sort of trouble, you should absolutely call local authorities first (tip: always know the local emergency contact information before you travel).
2. Safety Words
It goes without saying that if you are traveling alone, you should always have service. Although with some providers this may be an expensive investment, it is the most valuable investment you can make. Having phone and data service allows you to easily access maps and quickly research anything you need. I advise accessing a map on your mobile device rather than having a physical map with you simply to avoid any unnecessary attention by being an “obvious tourist.” Having phone service also allows you to keep in touch with friends and family back home. Whenever I travel, I always keep at least one of my close friends or family members in the loop of my whereabouts. One thing that I do is set up a code word, such as “CALLNOW”, so that when I am in danger they can get in touch with my hotel or local authorities. Thankfully, I never had to use this before but it can certainly come in handy to have someone reliable help you when you need it.
3. Don’t Put All Your Eggs Into One Basket
One of the biggest mistakes you can make while traveling solo is carrying your passport, credit cards, documents and cash at the same time. To be safe, I keep my passport in the hotel room safe and if there isn’t one available, I carry it with me. Instead of carrying a passport with you at all times, bring an ID. When it comes to cash, I only carry what I need. Rule of thumb is to never take all your cash with you to be safe. I typically resort to a travel credit card with no international fees, or my debit card for a worst-case-scenario money withdrawal. Regardless of how you allocate your belongings, don’t have all of them with you to avoid losing everything simultaneously.
4. Insurance is Worth It
If you’ve read my blog in the past, you know that I am a big fan of travel credit cards, particularly the Chase Sapphire Reserve (U.S Audience). Aside from offering enough points that I use for future travel, travel credit cards usually come with other crucial travel benefits such as insurance. Insurance is one of those things that many people don’t add on to their itinerary because they feel like nothing can go wrong. When it comes to safety while traveling solo, insurance should be a priority. Luckily, when you use a travel credit card such as the CSR card to purchase your flight or vacation package, you are automatically insured for things such as trip cancellation/interruption, roadside assistance, medical and more. Having travel insurance can offer you an incredible peace of mind and will help you feel safe while you are traveling solo.
5. Stop by a Hotel
Regardless of where you are staying, a hotel, an airbnb, or a hostel – you can walk into virtually any hotel for help. Hotels not only act as a “safe haven”, but usually staff can speak many languages, you can use a restroom or telephone or cell phone charger, and even exchange money (exchanging money at hotels should be a last resort because of the inflated fee structure).
6. Your Gut is Right
If it doesn’t feel right … it isn’t. If you feel uncomfortable in any given situation or place, leave as soon as you can and remind yourself of the old saying: “trust your gut.” To be safe while traveling solo, know the con artists! Every country you go to, there will be con-masters so it’s a good idea to research cons in your future travel destinations. There are a few of the more obvious ones such as unmetered cabs at the airport (which you should never take), or someone giving you something for free on the street (nothing is ever free) – but there there are cons that are less easy to spot, such as someone asking for help in a medical emergency (in which case, you should call the proper authorities before rushing to help!)
7. Health Safety
We all know that drinking tap water can be unsafe in different areas of the world, even developed countries.GoPure PuriBloc, is a small portable purifier that ensures clean, healthy and great-tasting water whether its tap water or simply unfiltered water, it will absorb many soluble impurities and other contaminates, including Lead, Arsenic, Chlorine and Fluoride.
8. Charge / Re-Charge!
To be safe while traveling solo, t’s important to have your phone charged and available for use at all times – here is a small and light portable charger or if you have more space, this charger is solar powered.
Traveling solo can feel overwhelming at first. Here are some common mistakes I’ve made before:
- Feeling overwhelmed and taking an expensive cab from the airport: I always research public transportation options to and from the airport to avoid paying a lot of money. I strongly recommend you do the same because chances are, there is a shuttle/train/bus available. Take your time, sit at the airport longer or ask an employee to help guide you. Don’t be rushed. You are on your own time.
- Exchange cash before your trip. Airports, hotels and exchange locations usually significantly lower your exchange payout because of fees – banks in your native country should be able to exchange prominent currencies at the branch. If you do exchange money at the destination, do it in less touristy areas where fees will be higher.
- It’s ok to say no! If you are being lured into a purchase, shop, restaurant, etc. – it is okay to say no, always. Even if I am interested in what the person is telling me or selling to me – I will still walk away and do my research before committing to any purchases.
- You can probably find a better deal online. Tour services are typically cheaper online than they are in person or [especially] in hotels. Always do your research before making a spontaneous purchase on the spot because there is likely a cheaper option available! When traveling solo, I am a big fan of tours or hop-on-hop-off experiences; overall I feel safer being around people and tours keep me busy!