Although travelling alone can be an adventure of a lifetime, it can also pose a big challenge, especially for a newbie. So, how do you relish in the experience of trying something new and refreshing, while staying safe and prepared?
Here are some essential safety tips for all of you gutsy travellers out there:
1. Don’t trust just everyone.
In an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, it’s usually not advisable to trust the first friendly face you meet. Telling people you are travelling alone is a dead give-away and might just be the invitation for bad things to happen.
To avoid this, tell people you are travelling with your family, friends, or a loved one.
2. Avoid getting isolated.
In addition to tip #1, it’s safer to stay in public with strangers. Don’t take rides offered by strangers or have a meal with a newly-found family. As much as possible, try to stay in the public eye where you can easily cry for help in a worst case scenario.
3. Refrain from looking like a tourist.
Avoid burying your face in a travel guide and walking with head constantly looking up at landmarks and street signs. These are dead give-aways that you are a visitor in the area. Just walk normally like you always do and do your reading before walking out the hotel door.
4. Get a map.
Maps can be really helpful in crucial times – it only makes sense if you take one with you. Know where you are, where your hotel is and familiarise landmarks using your map
A map is only useful when you know how to read one. Perhaps, when you get a map, learn how to use it too.
5. Stay alert.
Criminals are just waiting for perfect timing where their tourist victims are most vulnerable, least attentive and most distracted. It’s important to be attentive to your surroundings and the people around you.
6. Be prepared to lose things.
Losing important items and documents will always be a part of travelling. So, it’s better prepare ahead in the chance you lose something. For important documents and identification, make sure you have spare copies or scan them first before leaving. More so, bring only the things you are willing to lose and are easily replaceable.
7. Explore during daylight.
It’s not uncommon that exploring a strange place when it’s dark is totally unsafe. Do most of your adventures during the day.
8. Don’t be reckless online.
It’s not smart to do internet banking using public wifi. The thing is, it’s “public”. Unless you have a security PIN / 2 step authentication (which adds an extra layer of security), beware. Having had to do this in the past, if you simply must type in your passwords, type it in different pieces, and not in order. eg if your password is password123!, perhaps type it in this order 12worpasd!s (obviously using the arrow keywords to go back and forth).
9. Inform someone of your whereabouts.
Keep someone informed of your itinerary for the whole trip. This way, if something unexpected happens, they will know where you are and how to get in touch.
10. Blend in.
Travelling in certain countries may require more than just being friendly. You might need to know a bit of their culture, practices and even a bit of their language. For example, Asian countries such as Japan and Korea practice greeting people by bowing forward. The farther you bend, the greater the respect you are showing to people.
It’s always easier when you get familiar with the culture and practices of the place you are planning to go to. This way, it will be easier to adapt, understand why locals do the things they do, and blend in! It’s also a big help to know useful phrases like excuse me, good day, help, and thank you.
You will never know when these will come in handy.
11. Stay sober.
While getting drunk on a solo trip is quite an adventure, it can also be a bit stupid. Let’s face it. You’re all alone in a place you know nothing about. On top of that, you get drunk with people you hardly know with no one to look out for you.
I mean, you get the picture, right? You can be a magnet of all sorts of unpleasant scenarios here.
12. Travel light.
Imagine carrying a cabinet worth of clothes for a 3-day trip or bringing all your gadgets, when just your phone and a digital camera might do. Bring only the basics.
13. Ditch the jewellery and extravagant clothes.
The last thing you need is to draw unnecessary attention and give criminals a cue that you are not from around town. You can’t go looking like a millionaire on the streets with your expensive clothes and bling on, and expect not to attract criminals and thieves along the way.
Look and dress like a local, even for just this time.
15. Set your priorities right.
While protecting your belongings is important, it’s not as important as your safety – right? Remember, you can always replace the things you lose.
16. Use your sixth (and seventh, in this case) sense.
They say your sixth sense is your gut – some say it’s your common sense. I say, use both! Use your gut and common sense to protect yourself at all costs.
Even when travelling in a big group, the safety tips mentioned above can also come in handy. Now that you are informed and equipped, you can now dump the paranoia and enjoy your trip!