We’ve all been there. You get your heart set on a certain trip, then your traveling buddy backs out. Or, you get the urge to grab some cheap tickets for a quick vacation, but no one can get the time off work to go with you. Or you have your heart set on a destination that none of your family and friends are interested in visiting. So, what do you do? Do you ditch the trip, or take off on a solo adventure? An increasing amount of people are choosing the latter option. This is especially true of women, who have historically been discouraged from traveling alone.
If you’ve decided to take the plunge and head off on your first solo trip, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind.
1) Let someone know where you will be, and have set times to check-in.
Before you leave for your trip, print out your itinerary and leave it with someone you trust. Then set sometimes you will check in with this person (through phone, email, text or whatever method works for you.) This way, if anything unexpected happens, someone will know to check on you.
2) Understand the rules of the road.
If you’re planning on driving in your destination of choice, make sure you understand the local traffic laws. As the Ft. Lauderdale car accident attorneys at Rosen and Ohr explain you don’t want to end up in a dangerous crash because you don’t understand the rules of the road. Obey traffic laws. If you’re walking, be sure to obey the crosswalk signals, even if you don’t feel like you need to. As Benjamin Sansone, a pedestrian accident injury lawyer in St. Louis, MO explains, many tourists are injured each year in cities like NYC, simply because they don’t follow the crosswalk signals.
3) Arrive at your destination early in the day.
If you’re visiting a new country or city, you don’t want to arrive late at night. It will be harder to find your lodging, and in many places, getting lost at night can be dangerous. Arrive early, so that you have plenty of daylight to find your way to your destination and acclimate yourself to your location.
4) Make sure your valuables are secure.
Getting robbed while you’re in another country can be a horrible experience, especially if your credit cards and passport are stolen. Make sure you lock up your passport and any valuables in your hotel’s safe. To keep your cash and credit cards safe, you can invest in a small purse that can be worn under your clothes. It may seem like overkill, but it will keep you from becoming one of the many tourists who fall victims to pickpockets every year.
5) Be careful of things like Airbnb and rideshare services.
While services like Airbnb, Lyft and Uber can save you a lot of money and make travel more affordable, if you’re traveling alone, you need to use these services more carefully. Only stay at an Airbnb if it has tons of positive reviews and verified hosts, and make sure someone knows exactly where you are staying. If you decide to use a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber, you can text a photo of the license plate of the car to a friend. You should also take safety measures like staying inside of wherever you are at until your car arrives (so you don’t fall victim of someone looking for people waiting for rideshare services.)
6) If you’re doing outdoor activities, bring the proper supplies.
If you’re heading out into the great outdoors on your own, it is very important that you make sure you have everything you would need in case of an emergency. This includes food, water, a first aid kit, a phone charger, a lighter, and a compass. If you’re traveling in an area with dangerous animals, you may need pepper spray or some other deterrent as well.
7) Study your destination before leaving.
Before you ever even begin your trip, you should have a good understanding of your destination. What are the local laws and rules? What customs will you be expected to observe? Are there any areas in the city that are known to be unsafe? What language do the locals speak? Do you know enough of the language to get around if you need to? How will you pay for things? These are all questions to ask yourself before you ever even head to the airport.
8) Try to blend in if you can.
If you look explicitly like a tourist, you will likely be more a target for pickpockets and other criminals. To avoid drawing too much attention to yourself, study the culture of the area you are traveling to, and try to figure out what locals wear. Imitate the local style the best you can.
9) Don’t just trust anyone.
On that note, be careful who you trust. Many people may seem charming but could be trying to scam or cheat you, knowing that you are a tourist. Many times, con artists will befriend tourists in order to get around their valuables. They will make off with the valuables, leaving the poor tourists wondering what happened.
10) Look into travel insurance.
Travel insurance can be invaluable if you are a frequent traveler, or if you are traveling with valuable items. It is worth it to make sure you’re covered in the event that you are robbed or stranded during your travels.
These are just a few tips for people wanting to start traveling solo. While it may seem frightening at first to take off on your own, the more you travel alone, the easier it will become. Take precautions and stay safe, but don’t let fear stop you from following your dreams.