I won’t lie to you, traveling solo was a very scary thought and I’m ashamed that it took me this long to actually build up my courage and start traveling alone. It was scary and nerve-wracking to go on my first trip alone, but now I wouldn’t do it any other way.
I’m an introvert in nature and won’t initiate a conversation with strangers or make any friends, so the biggest challenge was knowing that for the duration of my travels, I will be on my own. With time it got easier. My last trip was 3 weeks across 6 countries where I only had a couple of friends in Tunisia, then I was on my own for the rest of the trip.
Over the years, I created a set of rules for myself to ensure my safety and have fun at the same time. So without further ado, check out my list below
Research the destination
As obvious as this sounds, but I can’t stress enough how important is to research your destination before embarking on that trip you’ve always dreamed of. Especially if you are traveling solo or new to solo traveling, it’s no secret that some destinations are not as safe as the others. Make sure you know the dangers that you might encounter. I, personally, am a chicken and I would never go alone to a destination that is above medium danger. But that’s just me.
Plan your trip
Whether you’re staying in the same city or traveling around, make sure you know where you’re going and how to get there. Look for the best ways to move around. Are you gonna walk around? Use public transportation? Uber? Just make sure you have all the needed information so you can have a peaceful and enjoyable trip.
Research the accommodation
Especially when I’m alone, I always go for hotels. I’m not a fan of Airbnb or couchsurfing. I always research the place to make sure I’m in a safe area (mostly downtown where are plenty of people around all the time) and the hotel ratings are good. I actually take time to read the bad reviews and decide which ones are relevant to me.
Share your plan with a family or friends
There is no harm in sharing your overall plan with someone you trust. At least they will have a general idea of where you will be and which hotel/accommodation you’ll be at.
Be mindful of the destination and pack your clothes accordingly. Get a general sense of what people wear in that country and what can be considered inappropriate. For example, going to most Arab countries and walking around in mini shorts and crop tops is frowned upon and you might even get physically harassed or even jailed. Also, it would be a good idea to avoid looking “too touristy” or “flaunting your jewelry”. You can leave your gold and diamond jewelry at home.
Make a few copies of your passport/ID
Instead of carrying your passport/ID with you everywhere, you can make a few copies that you can keep with you at all times.
Insurance, Insurance, Insurance
There are hundreds of insurance companies that offer travel insurance online at very reasonable prices. Research the best one for you and please don’t be a cheapskate. God forbid you lose your camera or your phone, miss a flight or lose your luggage, the insurance will cover your belongings or stay at a hotel so you don’t have to stay in the airport.
Roaming or no roaming?
Personally, I prefer to get a sim card and data from the destination I go to. Roaming in my country is quite expensive and to make sure I’m always connected.
Plan your transpiration to hotel/Airbnb/accommodation
Find the best and easiest way to get to your hotel/accommodation from the airport. Some cities have a very reliable public transpiration, some don’t. Also pay attention when taking a taxi and make sure it’s an official one, not one of those random cars that will charge you triple the amount. I had a couple of experiences where I wasn’t really clear about the taxi system in the country and had to pay a ridiculous amount for a 5 minute drive. If you can, always go for Uber and try to track your location. Turn on your google maps and keep an eye if he goes the right way and actually tell him that he took a different route.
Check the room/apartment
I admit that I don’t always do that, which is wrong. When you walk into your room, always leave the door open (keep your luggage outside or to hold the door) and search the room. Look behind the curtains, search the bathroom, and open the closet. Once you are sure you are safe, close the door and make sure to lock it. It might be a good idea to get a portable door lock.
Keep your belongings in the room
You might not agree with this, but after I make sure the room is safe and the security safe is actually legit (pinned in the wall for example), I keep most of my money and passport in the safe. If there isn’t a safe, I would keep them with me in my belt under my clothes. If I need to show an ID, I have my copy.
Make sure to carry cash with you
There are 2 reasons to do so. First, if god forbid you get mugged, not having anything might make the aggressor angry and result in physical harm. If you have $100-$200, you can just give it and hope nothing else goes bad. Second, you might need to pay a taxi or someone and they don’t accept card. I once took a taxi in the middle of a horrible snow storm only to realize that I don’t have cash to pay him. Luckily, the guy stopped at an ATM where I was able to withdraw money (and he didn’t steal my stuff or hit me on the head to steal my cash) and pay him.
Be careful what you post on social media
We all love to share our trips on social media. That’s the main reason we go on holiday, no? Just me? Ok But just make sure you don’t share your exact location at all time. It’s fine to share a few pictures a few hours later after you’ve left that place. Don’t give weirdos the opportunity to follow you around and know your location at every turn. Better safe than sorry, no?
Your safety is your main priority
Keep that in mind at all times. If you like to party, make sure you are aware of the places you go to and who is with you. Don’t go overboard with the drinking, no matter how high tolerant you are. It’s so easy to slip something in a drink or even your water. Keep an eye on what you put in your mouth. Also, don’t go out walking around at night, especially if you don’t know the area, and if you must, share your live location with a friend – I do that all the time when I feel unsafe and share my live location with my best friend via whatsapp, or follow a family or a couple. Even if you have to talk to them, do it. Ask them if you can walk with them.
Be aware of your surroundings
It’s better to be rude than getting mugged or assaulted. Keep an eye on who’s around you, if you feel someone is following you or looking at you in a weird way, just change your way, or go into a shop or a restaurant. Make sure you’re always surrounded by people.
Familiarize yourself with the popular scams in your destination
Every destination has its famous scams that people use to rob people. It can be from a simple game that they play in the streets, or someone that puts some weird friendship bracelet on your hand, or a kid that pretends to be lost. Better yet, in Poland I came across a group o teenagers that claim to be from an organization that collects donations for sick kids or something. They had badges and everything. I fell for that and gave whatever change I had in my pocket, but I just wanted to get rid of them because they were so annoying and didn’t leave me alone. Sometime you have to sacrifice a small amount to gain your peace of mind.
Look for walking tours or other female solo travelers
I discovered this in Poland and was amazed that I never joined them before. There are plenty of free walking tours (you pay what you think the guide deserves, and you’re free to not pay of you don’t feel like it). They will take you around the town and share some cool stuff that only a local would know. They are also a great source of info about places to eat and go for a drink if you feel like it. Plus, you can always find other solo travelers that you can hit it off with and maybe meet later or hang out with for the rest of your trip.
Don’t trust strangers easily
Try to avoid asking people about destinations or places to go. I know this might be a bit extreme, but try not to count on random strangers to get around. The internet is your best friend. Look for good places to eat close to you, or directions to that place you want to go to.
That’s a no brainer. Make sure you have internet at all times and your phone battery is sufficient to last you for a few hours even if you have to carry 4 power banks with you. I always have a backup battery cover with me that is always 100% charged. I use it at first, once its empty, I charge it, then use it again after its fully charged. I kid you not, but I walk around with at least 2 fully charged power banks.
Trust your gut
No matter how silly it looks, but always trust your gut. I was in Austria in Jan 2018 and wanted to go from Salzburg to Hallstatt. My mistake was not buying the ticket in advance, but when I bought it, the gentleman on the counter heard Radstadt (which is also a touristic destination but in the other direction) and was at the exact same time as the train to Hallstatt but on a different platform. I assumed Hallstatt was one of the stops so I didn’t question the gentleman. After I settled in the train, I still felt that annoying feeling that something is wrong, so I kept asking until the lady next to me told me that it’s the wrong train. Luckily I managed to leave before the train took off, but missed the train to my original destination and had to go through hoops and loops to reach my destination during a bad snow storm.
When it comes to travel, I feel like my mistakes now after years of traveling are more frequent than the ones I did when I started traveling, but I always keep my guards up and trust my gut.
Do you have other tips? Share them in the comments below