Have you ever considered backpacking alone? Maybe you don't have a travel companion. Maybe you've wanted to see the world on your own schedule.
Whatever your reasoning, safety always comes first. Without company to watch your back, would you know how to stay safe while backpacking?
Is Solo Backpacking Safe?
Backpacking on your own is just as safe as backpacking with anyone else. The key is knowing what to expect when you're out of your element and plan well for your trip.
Safety Tips for Backpacking Alone
Having a safe solo backpacking trip is as simple as putting the time in. Check out the tips below before going out on your adventure.
1. Research Before You Leave
Knowledge is power when you're packing for the unknown. You don't want to be so naive that unsavory individuals will take advantage of you.
Do solid research on the areas you will travel to. Understand the currency you'll need to use. Know where unsafe areas are to stay clear. Make note of where you could go for help if you need it.
Don't forget to research health concerns as well. You may need to get vaccinations before you leave to stay clear of health problems. Check out this backpacking travel blog to get started.
2. Use Common Sense
This seems like a no brainer, but it's an important rule to keep you safe. For example:
- Don't bring a large, unopened purse. You could get pickpocketed.
- Stay in public areas
- Make regular phone calls home
- Don't flash expensive items
- Be aware of your surrounds (exist, who is with you, landmarks)
- Stay sober and well-rested
- Lock your rooms and use a safe for valuables (passport and other important documents)
3. Check Your Government's Travel Site and Buy Travel Insurance
Chances are, you'll need travel documents when you leave for your destination. Your government's travel site should have a list of these to review. It will also alert you if there are any warnings you need to know before you go.
Travel insurance covers almost anything that can go wrong. Lose your gear while traveling? Get sick after eating food you aren't used to? Miss a flight due to illness?
Travel insurance will cover it all, including if you need emergency tooth repair.
4. Don't Trust People Too Quickly
If you feel unsafe, please draw in on the support of those around you. However, don't jump into immediate friendships or relationships with just anybody.
Being on your own, you might feel like it's a good idea to latch onto a seemingly helpful person. Be careful. There are con artists who target travelers. They master the art of gaining your trust through quick "friendship." Then, they get you to leave your valuables unattended to take later.
You might ache to be part of a group so much, you want to trust others quickly. Be cautious. It's not rude to keep your guard up when safety is a concern.
5. Don't Drink Too Much
It might sound fun to get yourself a drink while you're on the vacation of a lifetime. Keep it minimal, if you decide to drink.
When you drink alcohol, your senses are dulled and so is your reaction time. This makes you vulnerable and a target to others.
Be smart about your drinking. Pace yourself. Eat a meal beforehand. Enjoy a glass of water after. Of course, only take drinks directly from a bartender.
6. Blend In, If You Can
This doesn't mean to leave your whole personality behind. You just don't want to be a target for pickpockets.
Find out what type of clothing people wear where you are going. Pack clothes similar to the norm attire there.
If you wear shorts and a university sweatshirt in the middle of neatly dressed Paris, you're going to stand out. People will automatically label you as someone who is unfamiliar with the area. This makes you more vulnerable.
When walking around, make sure you hold your head up and shoulders back. Walk with purpose. You'll want to intentionally appear to know where you're going.
If you get lost, find a shop or cafe to slip into. You can safely consult your map or ask for help there.
7. If it's to Add to Safety, Spend the Extra Money
You might find it hard to justify spending a few extra bucks here and there. If you are concerned about your safety, though, don't skimp on the cash.
- If your flight will land you in a rough city at night, spend extra money on a good hotel. Pay a little extra for the hotel to send a car to pick you up so you don't have to navigate the streets on your own.
- If you don't feel comfortable walking the streets at night, pay to take a taxi back to where you're staying.
- Forego the cheap, secluded hotel. Spend a little more on one that is around more activity.
8. Know the Typical Con Games
Wherever you go, there will be people waiting to carry out a tourist scam. Different areas have their own typical scams.
Some scams to avoid:
- The Friendship bracelet: Someone offers you a friendship bracelet. They'll grab your wrist and start making it on you. It's a distraction for pickpockets.
- The Thrown Baby: A woman will throw a baby (a doll) into your arms. As you're shocked, accomplices will go through your belongings
9. Have a Backup Plan
It's good to think of the worst-case scenario and plan for it. Your purse could be stolen. You could max out your credit cards. You could end up sick in the hospital.
Keep backups of everything. Copy the front and back of your credit cards and save them to cloud storage. Keep important phone numbers stored on a document.
Keep back up cash in a secret spot in your luggage. You might want to consider a secondary stash hidden somewhere on you (other than your purse). It'll be a temporary solution, if your credit cards or purse get stolen.
10. Trust Your Instincts
Your instincts are there for good reason. Trust them. If you're in a situation that doesn't feel right, leave. It's best to get out and get help when something feels wrong.
Staying Safe When Backpacking Alone
Backing alone doesn't have to be scary. Make sure you do your research and plan ahead.
The most important thing to keep in mind is to use your common sense. Keep these tips in mind and you'll have a great backpacking experience with safety intact.
Check out our blog for more travel tips and inspiration to help you every step of the way.