10 Ways to Stay Safe While Travelling Solo
Solo travels are increasingly popular. Hostelworld saw a 42% increase in solo traveller bookings between 2015 and 2017 with women leading the charge. Solo female travels went up 45% compared to men at 40%. Making it easier for the lone traveller are tech aids like the Internet, Google Maps and travel apps.
Solo sojourns are certainly a cinch and they can be safe, too, if you follow these guidelines.
1. Have Safe Accommodations
Stay in a hotel where there is staff around 24/7 instead of a homeshare. Security is better in places like that. Make sure you arrive in the day so you can scout out your surroundings.
If possible, pick a room on a higher floor. Ground-floor rooms are easier to break in. Security experts say that rooms between the third and sixth floors are ideal. They are high enough to avoid being burglarised and low enough to easily escape from during a fire.
Then, when you are riding in a lift with a stranger, let him press the number of his floor first. If it is the same as yours, go up another floor to be safe.
2. Be Aware of the Cons of Your Destination
In several Asian countries, you might encounter child beggars or women begging in the streets with their toddlers. They are part of a crime syndicate. In European countries, you might be surrounded by children begging for money or trying to sell you something. While you are distracted, someone will pick your pocket. Also in Europe, a stranger might offer to take your picture. Best case scenario: He demands to be paid afterwards; worst case scenario: He makes off with your handphone or camera. Someone may offer you something for free only to demand an exorbitant sum when you accept the item. Be aware of the scams.
3. Go Public
Keep to open public places and well-worn paths, particular at night. Never leave a public place with a stranger.
4. Don’t Tell People Where You Are Staying
Do not tell people where you are staying or that you are travelling alone.
5. Be Vigilant
You may be used to walking around with headphones or earpieces plugged into your favourite playlist. Refrain from doing that when you are in a foreign place on your own. Be aware of your surroundings instead, especially when you are in crowded places because there may be pickpockets and snatch thieves just waiting to strike when you least expect it. This means you need to stay sober as well. Being drunk compromises your judgement.
6. Blend In
Dress like a local, don’t look like a tourist (with a map and camera always at hand) and walk with confidence like you know where you are going and what you are doing. Looking lost and alone make you an easy mark for cons.
7. Guard Your Wealth
Do not wear expensive jewellery, accessories or clothes that will draw attention to yourself and attract pickpockets. Carry only enough cash for the day and put them in separate places – pocket, bag, money pouch and, as some people do, shoe.
Do not leave your handphone on the table while you eat. This tempts snatch thieves. Put your wallet in your front pocket not your back one. If you are carrying a sling bag, make sure it hangs on the pavement side of you when you are walking and not on the road’s side which make it easier for snatch thieves riding on motorcycles to grab. In the same way, when you are sitting in a tuk tuk (open taxi popular in Southeast Asia) ensure that you loop the strap of your bag around your wrist and hug the bag to your body. It is common for snatch thieves on motorcycles to reach into the vehicle to take your belongings before riding off.
8. Stay Connected
Keep your phone unlocked and emergency numbers on speed dial. Make sure you have data and a portable charger with you. Have the business card of your hotel on you so you can find your way back.
9. Speak the Language
Do not just learn how to ask for prices or bargain in a foreign language. Learn important phrases for emergencies like: Where is the hospital? or Call the police. This will make it easier to get help.
10. Keep in Touch
Make sure someone knows where you are at all times. Leave a copy of your itinerary and your travel information – flight, accommodations, land travel - with someone at home. Contact your loved ones at least once a day. This way, they will know when you are in trouble within 24 hours and know to call for help.