Always carry emergency contact numbers of important people on speed dial of your mobile.
Carry contact numbers of concerned persons at the hotel/hostel you are staying, driver’s mobile number in case you booked a cab, and the tour agency’s contact number if you booked a tour.
Also, keep handy the contact numbers of police and hospital in the area/city you are visiting. If you are going out of India, keep contact numbers of Indian Embassy/Consulate as well. You never know when you might have to use it.
18. Be very cautious while hitch-hiking or couch-surfing
Hitch-hiking and couch-surfing are great ways to travel on a shoe-string budget in a typical backpacking style; but the risk involved in doing so, especially for female solo travelers, is far more than rewards they offer.
However, if you have no other option, be extremely cautious while hitch-hiking and couch surfing. Do not hitch-hike late in the evening or night, do not try hitch-hiking in isolated lonely roads (rather do it on busy routes), and select a female host with great recommendations for couch-surfing.
19. Be aware of your surroundings
In the excitement of travelling and exploring the city, do not put your guard down and get lost in the surroundings Always be aware of what is happening around you. For example, if you hire a cab, instead of leaving everything on the driver, keep checking the route on your mobile.
Being aware of your surroundings will save you from the most common nuisance which tourists face like pick-pocketing and purse/mobile/camera snatching.
20. Stay fit and learn self defense
It really helps, physically and psychologically, if you know self-defense techniques or if you play sports like Martial Arts, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Taekwondo, Tai Chi, or Kung fu, etc.
Before starting my 6 months long backpacking trip in South East Asia, I joined MMA classes. Unfortunately, during my first sparring session, I sprained my ankle, which resulted in ligament tear and one month of bed rest. Nonetheless, being at the peak of my fitness (as I had just finished Ironman 70.3 – a triathlon consisting of 1.9 km swim, 90 km cycling and 21 km running), I was confident. I knew, in case of any emergency, I could run fast and run far.
Bottom-line is, it really boosts your confidence if you know basic self-defense moves; if not, then being physically fit would also suffice. And for the rest, always carry a small and handy pepper spray bottle.
21. Avoid taking private cabs
While travelling alone, going out in a group even with strangers, is actually safer than going all alone. So, prefer public transport or shared cabs over private cabs.
When taking a shared cab, prefer the one with at least one more female co-passenger. Also, it is better to go in a cab where your co-passengers are a family, rather than a bunch of male friends.
22. Don’t share everything on social media
In the world of social media, it is almost impossible to completely shut yourself from it. However, exercise caution while sharing your travel related information or updates on any of your social media platform.
Do not share any kind of personal information, like the exact location of your stay, or time and duration of stay, on real-time basis. Instead, give broader information, like do the check-in at the city/area, instead of the exact location.
Alternatively, you can also share your travel details on social media after a delay of few days or at least a few hours. Social media doesn’t have to be on real time basis.
23. Stay in mobile network area
As far as possible, do your solo trip only where mobile network is not an issue. Try to find out in advance which mobile network works in the area you are planning to visit.
For example, in Jammu, Kashmir, and Laddakh area, only post-paid connections work, no pre-paid connections work. The best network there is BSNL, and then Airtel; these days, Jio network is also getting ramped up pretty fast.
In case you are going to a place where the mobile network might be sketchy, inform about it to your family in advance.
24. Don’t trust anyone easily
We humans tend to trust other people too soon (I too am guilty of the same). You definitely meet a lot of people when you travel alone; but, do not trust anyone too soon. Take your time to know the person before trusting him/her.
I was visiting Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, and went to see sunset at Bada Bagh which is famous for the cenotaphs a.k.a. chattris whenever a ruler died. Since I went to Jaisalmer during off-season, there was hardly anyone apart from me at Bada Bagh. I met one local person there, who resided in nearby village. He was extremely friendly, and after the sunset, he invited me to his place for a cup of tea.
Although my curious-self wanted to go with him to meet his family and get to know local culture, my protective-self stopped me from doing so as his village was little farther from the city and it was getting dark. So, after declining politely, I came back to my car where the cab driver was waiting. After seeing me talking to that local guy, my driver told me that the local guy was not trustworthy at all and could have looted me if I had gone to his place alone.
So, be extremely cautious while trusting anyone, especially when you travel alone.
25. Be confident
No matter what, always be confident, or at least look confident. It’s okay if you forgot your way, it’s okay if you are not able to find your destination, it’s okay if you are not able to get the onward/return tickets, but never look lost or confused.
It is easy to manipulate someone who looks confused and vulnerable. So, always walk with confidence. Just ask people politely.
Although I firmly believe that the world is a lot safer than people think it to be, that doesn’t mean one should not be cautious. With these little tips and tricks, you can safely enjoy your solo travel.
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.