Solo travel is not everyone’s cup of tea, but you will never know if it is for you unless you try it. So many of my friends, especially females, wonder how can I travel solo since personal safety is the biggest hurdle for them; and rightly so! Well, I follow few basic safety tips.
Everyday we hear such horror stories of crimes committed against females; but, does that mean women should stop going out altogether? Does that mean that nothing bad will happen if they stay indoors? I don’t think so. We don’t stop living because of the fear of death; if we do, we are dead already!!
I have been traveling alone, within and outside India, for a long time now. To be honest, I have not faced even a single security or safety issue anywhere during my solo travels, at least nothing worth mentioning or scary enough.
But solo travel does require special attention towards your safety, since only you, and not anyone else, has your back.
So, here I am sharing few safety tips and precautions, which have perfectly worked for me, to help you stay safe while traveling alone and enjoy the journey. Since this is a broad topic, I have divided it in several parts – Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. This is Part 1 of the post and contains safety tips no. 1 to 8.
1. Share your whereabouts with at least one person
If you have planned and finalized your itinerary, share it with at least one person who can help you out in case of any emergency.
But, if you are like me and prefer planning your trip once you hit the road without finalizing anything in advance (in a true backpacker style), then inform about your next destination as soon as you leave for it, share contact details of your accommodation as soon as you decide on that, and inform about your tentative sightseeing plan as soon as you finalize it.
Sharing such details not only give some comfort to your loved ones, but also act as a safety net in case of any emergency.
2. Do basic research
No doubt there is so much adventure in uncertainty and spontaneity, but it is still important to do some basic research about the place where you are going, especially when going alone.
Use technology to know the exact location of your accommodation beforehand, distance from station/airport and how to reach there. Similarly do some research about the places of interest. It is best to ask your host how to reach the destination.
Also, sometimes there are many scams and cons prevalent in a touristy area. One must do a little online search on such scams beforehand.
3. Use recommended services
While choosing a place to stay or booking any service like a tour or a vehicle, look for property/providers with good recommendations.
Now-a-days, almost all businesses are available online. Don’t simply go by what is given on their own websites. Instead, scan through the feedback and recommendations given on Google or travel related apps like Booking.com, TripAdvisor, etc. and their respective Facebook pages.
4. Reach your destination during day time
This is one of the important safety tips, especially for female solo travelers. Always prefer traveling during day time. This little step saves you from a lot of trouble you might face by traveling at odd hours.
I understand that it is not always possible to completely avoid traveling at night, for example – I myself prefer overnight bus over a full-day bus because it saves time. In such situations, make sure that you travel with a good transport company, and that you reach your final destination (not just station or airport) during day light.
5. Choose your accommodation wisely
While traveling alone, choose accommodation which is in the city, preferably in the main market area, instead of far-off isolated location. Not only does it provide an opportunity in terms of experiencing and exploring the city closely but is also safer than staying at the outskirts.
If traveling on a budget, hostels are better than hotel rooms as they come with dorm rooms, where you are not alone. Prefer women-only dorm rooms which are available in majority of hostels, instead of a private room in budget hotels.
If you want a more relaxing and luxurious stay in a private room, then a highly recommended property is a safer option than budget hotels in shady areas.
6. Carry your medicines, personal hygiene and sanitary products
If you are very particular about your stuff like toiletries and cosmetics, then don’t forget to carry them.
Always carry your sanitary or personal hygiene products and any specific medication that you use. Last thing you would want to do is to go out looking for them at odd hours.
7. Respect the culture and look like a local
If you are going to a culturally different place, then do some research on what to wear and what is an acceptable behavior in terms of norms prevailing in that society. Respect the culture of the place and habits of the people.
If you cannot behave like a local, at least look like a local by dressing like them. When you look like a tourist, you attract unnecessary attention towards yourself from antisocial elements.
8. Avoid displaying expensive or exotic things
Most of us have tendency to flash their expensive and exotic stuff. We enjoy showing off expensive clothes, hand bags, sunglasses, watches, mobile or jewelry, especially during vacation. But doing so during a solo trip is not advisable as it attracts a lot of unnecessary attention.
For example, some places like Noida/Greater Noida in India, Ho Chi Min City (Saigon) in Vietnam, etc. are infamous for chain or purse snatching. In such places, it makes more sense to not wear any prominent jewelry that could be easily snatched; also, carry waist bag or sling bag in a way that it cannot be easily snatched.
In fact, the most practical solution is to carry only that stuff, the loss of which would not bother you.
Have you ever faced safety threats during your solo travel? How did you face them? Do you have any other safety tips to offer? How do you ensure your safety when you travel alone? Tell me in the comments section below.