Embarking on an adventure by yourself can be a truly thrilling experience, especially if you’ve never traveled alone before. But, it’s important to be aware of the dangers of traveling solo because you become more of a target for pickpockets and dangerous people if they notice that you don’t have a buddy tagging along with you. It’s easier to take advantage of people who don’t have another person watching their back, particularly if the person is traveling in a foreign country.
Certain factors like wearing expensive gold chains or becoming too intoxicated can make you even more of a target. It’s not unusual for a solo traveler to get distracted by the sights and sounds of a new place, but, as long as you keep these essential tips in mind, you should have a smooth and exciting vacation experience.
Stay in Touch with Someone from Home
Since you don’t have anyone physically with you on your trip, you should try to keep in regular contact with a few friends and family members from home. This will ensure that someone knows where you are at all times and they can verify that you are safe.
Thanks to today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to be connected in some way at all times of the day, between phone calls, iMessages, and social media. Even if you’re unable to call your friends or family, connect to Wi-Fi when you can and try to send them a message or post an update on one of your social media accounts to keep everybody in the loop.
If you can, try to arrange specific times during the day that you will reach out to someone from home; that way, if they don’t hear from you within that time frame, they’ll know to be concerned. You should also share your daily itinerary with someone close to you. This is another great way to ensure that someone is keeping track of your whereabouts even while you’re on your own.
Keep Your Valuables in a Safe, Secure Place
Of course, while traveling, you’ll need to have certain valuable items with you at all times—like cash and credit cards—but if you keep all of your valuables in one place, you’re putting yourself at risk of losing everything that you need. Even if no one picks your pocket, there’s a chance that you’ll forget your wallet or your purse during your travels—in which case, you’ll be stuck without identification and/or money.
Every time you leave your hotel or vacation rental, be sure to bring some of your cash and cards with you but leave some behind in a secure place like a safe in case you need backup money. You can also hide your money in multiple places while you’re out. Keep some in your wallet, some in your shoe, etc. This also lowers the chance that you’ll lose or have all of your money stolen. You may also want to take steps that make you less obvious a target. For example, avoid wearing flashy jewelry, as this might help you stand out to pickpockets and give the impression that you have money. If you do decide to bring your gold chain or other jewelry pieces, keep them hidden away in your suitcase until you’re ready to wear them.
Carry a Copy of Your Passport Information
Unless you need your passport in order to travel that day, you should also leave your original passport behind. If you lose this piece of identification, you’ll have a very difficult time making it home.
Instead, you can carry a copy of your information in case you need to access it without the risk of losing your actual passport. If you’re skeptical about leaving your passport at the place where you’re staying (perhaps you’re staying in a shared hostel room), then try to keep your passport on you without putting it in an obvious place like your purse or wallet. You can purchase a passport carrier and wear it around your neck underneath your jacket, so it’s not visible to others.
Familiarize Yourself with Your Destination
Before your trip, try to do as much research as possible so that you feel completely familiar with your destination even if you’ve never been there. The more thoroughly you understand the layout of the city or town, the less chance you have of becoming lost or heading into a sketchy area. Familiarizing yourself with the streets and neighborhoods of your destination is a great idea, but you should also read up on which areas to avoid. Locals and people who have traveled to the area will often post on travel forums and other outlets to let people know places that they should be avoiding, especially when traveling alone.
Be Mindful of How Much You Drink
Going out to bars and having a few drinks is a normal part of traveling, but drinking too much can often lead to problems, especially when traveling alone. After a few drinks, your judgment is impaired and you may be more likely to leave the bar with a stranger than you would if you were sober. If you’re going to go out while traveling alone, be very conscious of how much you drink and be sure to always get a cab or an Uber back to where you are staying instead of accepting a ride from someone at the bar.
Ask Locals for Advice
If you’re ever concerned about directions or the safety of a neighborhood, it’s always a good idea to ask a local. Seek out someone who works in a restaurant or store because they are probably more likely used to dealing with travelers and can give you good advice on whether or not you should be traveling in a certain part of town.
If you’re going to get advice from locals, it’s important to also be able to use your own judgment. If your gut instincts are telling you that something is wrong or sketchy about a person, follow your instincts. It’s not worth the risk.
Be Smart About Your Travels
As long as you’re taking the proper precautions during your travels, you shouldn’t have any issues traveling on your own. Try to keep your appearance inconspicuous by avoiding wearing expensive jewelry. You should also try to conceal your money and identifications in multiple places to lower your chance of losing everything that you need to get home. As long as you keep in regular contact with someone from home and have a system for reporting your safety, then your travels should be nothing but smooth sailing.