Solo Travel Safety Tips
Honestly, who wants to think about the negative “what ifs” when you are planning an awesome adventure. Travelling safe is all about planning, prevention and having a safety strategy in place to deal with any situation that may happen as you travel. Safety is not about creating fear about travelling or travelling solo. Common sense and planning will allow you to travel solo with confidence.
These tips are relevant for all travellers but have been developed for solo women travellers who are new to the solo travelling experience. A key part of travelling solo is learning that you are capable of planning a trip along with being safe and taking care of yourself.
Top 10 – Safety Categories
There can never be too much planning. Planning to be safe and planning to be capable in any situation allows a solo traveller to take full advantage of the enjoyment of the trip. Planning for safety impacts each element of trip planning from destination, accommodation, transportation and more.
- Choose a destination that is appropriate for your travel experience and one that is considered “safe”.
- Use a high profile guidebook or website for guidance on initial planning.
- Prepare a detailed itinerary of your travels with dates, flights, accommodation including any planned excursions.
- Gather key emergency contact info for embassies/consulates and police/fire.
- Purchase an appropriate purse and/or backpack to keep your belongings safe.
- Learn some key safety sentences in the local language.
Managing your documentation ahead of time will make everything so much easier if something is stolen, lost or an emergency occurs during your travels.
- Make two paper copies of your important documents, keep one copy for yourself and give the 2nd copy to your travel contact at home. Documents include passport, travel insurance, prescription details and credit cards.
- Depending on your destinations, register with your government, most governments have online registration available to all travellers.
Planning for safety around arrival at your destination is important because you are likely tired from your travels, you’re arriving in an unfamiliar city and you will likely be distracted because of excitement too.
- Study a city map and become familiar with where the airport is located in relation to your accommodation. How far away and how much time will it take to get to your room?
- Arrive in the daytime. It is much easier to know where you are in daylight and also, to get a feel for the area that will be your home base for the duration of your trip.
- Arrange for a car to pick you up from the airport. I usually ask my accommodation for recommended car service or refer to my guidebook for recommendations. For travel in Europe, I always buy Rick Steves guidebooks for guidance.
Planning for safety around accommodation is important because you want to be able to rest and have a goodnight’s sleep wherever you choose to stay. Being well rested also keeps you alert to your environment and safe.
- Choose accommodation in or near tourist zones and near the sights that you’ll want to visit.
- Depending on whether you choose hotels, B&B’s, Airbnb read reviews. Sometimes reviews are about personalities but check for commonalities on the negative comments that should be acknowledged and a different choice should be made.
- Have an email conversation with the host to check out personalities and to ensure the accommodation will be comfortable and safe.
- Know your exit route from your room in case of emergency.
- Bring a cheap plastic door stop to use on the door when you are in the room.
Planning and understanding the transportation options, routes and schedules will ensure that you know where you are at all times and ensure that you know that you have arrived at the correction destination. It’s also important to know your route to avoid getting lost or being in an undesirable neighbourhood.
- Know where you are going and how to get there by studying the maps relating to routes for trains, subways or buses. Use a public transportation APP, I use Citymapper.
- Carry a map and know how to use a map in case your phone dies or is lost/stolen.
- Use public transit during the day, avoid the subway late at night or early in the morning and take a taxi or bus instead.
Planning for “what if?”
Planning for the “what if” is the scary part of planning for a holiday or adventure. It’s really not fun but if you are prepared for situations, you are more likely to recover quickly and carry on with your travels.
- Identify “safe havens” – embassies/consulates, Starbucks, McDonald’s, police stations etc.
- Take a business card from your accommodation to ensure that you know your address.
- What if there is a terrorist incident? Know how to get to safety and how to notify loved ones at home that you are safe.
- Carry and/or hide extra cash and/or credit card for use in case of emergency.
- Know your options if your phone is lost or stolen.
We are all aware of physical safety regardless of whether we are at home or travelling. All the same basics apply when you are travelling and some of the tips are enhanced because you are on your own and in an unfamiliar location.
- Know where you are.
- Use the same safety common sense that you would use at home.
- Listen to your intuition about people, places and situations.
- Walk and demonstrate confidence by standing straight and use your eyes to observe the environment.
- Protect your back, stand with your back against a wall if you’re looking at your map/APP.
- Consider taking a self-defence course before you leave home.
- Be aware of scams in the area that you are travelling, there are many.
- Carry a zippered purse across your body. Use the connecting straps on your back pack to attach to your body or belt loops. All zippers should have loops to weave together.
Who wants to get sick or be challenged physically when they’re travelling? Preparing your health before travelling will provide you with maximum benefit from your adventures.
- Buy travel health insurance.
- Go to travel clinic prior to travel to get any required vaccinations.
- Start exercising prior to travelling to ensure that you can walk endlessly.
- Ensure you bring enough and all prescription drugs with you.
- Use sunscreen, hat and drink lots of water.
- Know your physical limits.
Food and Alcohol
Your destination will determine how much caution you will need to take while you are enjoying drinks at the bar or delicious food at a restaurant.
- Avoid food poisoning or digestive issues by checking out restaurant reviews. Observe a restaurant or food vendor for cleanliness and busyness which will be an indicator of fresh food.
- Limit alcohol intake. If you are going to have a drink, enjoy one or two near your accommodation.
- Always carry a bottle of water and a snack (energy bar).
Solo travel is a time to learn about yourself, explore a new culture and disconnect from home. It is still important to let people at home know that you’re safe and for them to also be a source of protection while you are away.
- Choose a travel contact at home and agree on a “check in” schedule. Your travel contact will contact the hotel or police if you have not checked in as scheduled.
- Ensure that someone at home is responsible for receiving your text messages, emails or phone calls.
- Give a copy of your complete itinerary to assigned person.
- Keep your phone charged throughout the day.