Safety has always been one of my primary concerns during my past 10 years of solo traveling.
I always plan ahead, from downloading maps to researching my destination.
When I'm exploring a new destination I'm assertive and I try to appear confident.
I've traveled solo many times in the past 10 years, and there are a few things I always do to try to stay safe.
I always tell close friends or family members my travel plans and share my location
As a solo traveler, I keep close family or friends in the loop back home by sharing my plans and my location.
This can help my loved ones know where I am, especially when I'm traveling with an open schedule.
I never tell strangers I'm traveling alone
I don't tell strangers I'm by myself when I'm adventuring around foreign places.
If someone asks about my plans, I make up stories and say I'm meeting a friend for dinner. I never share personal details or my itinerary with strangers, either.
And when I book Airbnb or hotel reservations I add a second person's email to my reservation so people don't think I'm traveling alone.
I download offline maps before my trip
I regularly reference maps, whether I'm walking around a city, hiking on trails, or traveling on public transportation.
Internet connections aren't always reliable so I download maps to be accessible offline using Google, Apple Maps, and Maps.me.
That way, I can still find my way around even if I don't have Wi-Fi or an international phone plan set up.
I avoid pulling out my phone or map if I'm lost in a sketchy place
I avoid pulling out my map or phone if I'm lost in a place I'm uncomfortable. Although using a map is very helpful, in most cases, it can also flag me as a tourist.
In these cases, I walk into the nearest café, restaurant, hotel lobby, or spot that looks safe before pulling my phone out to figure out my next move.
This is also important in countries where pickpocketing is common. I'm more focused and aware when my phone is away.
I try to look confident when walking around
When walking around an unfamiliar place I try to look confident and stay assertive, even if I don't know where I'm going.
I keep my chin up and my head held high. I walk at a steady, consistent pace. I'm not afraid to make eye contact with anyone.
Looking lost or confused could signify you're not from the area and may be vulnerable, so confidence is key.
I think it works because I've even had other tourists ask me for directions in places I've never been.
I always research legitimate taxi and public-transport options before I reach my destination
I seek out certified and legal transportation options when I travel.
This helps me avoid travel scams, where uncertified drivers offer a lower prices for rides. Although this sounds nice, many people end up overcharged, dropped off in random places, or worse.
One way I avoid fake taxis is by checking for licenses and badges on a vehicle before I get inside.
I try to arrive at new destinations in daylight
This isn't always possible, but I feel a lot more comfortable flying into a new country or crossing a border when it's light out.
I can see a lot more and have a better idea of my surroundings.
If I'm checking into an accommodation where I have to wait outside with all my belongings, I'd also rather do that when I can see everything around me.
I always travel with emergency cash and extra savings in my bank account
I always carry at least $200 in case of an emergency.
I keep this somewhere on myself or my belongings, separate from my wallet. That way, if something happens to my wallet, I have money to get by while I figure things out.
I keep the cash in USD because, throughout all of my travels, I've found it's the easiest currency to convert.
It may not be feasible for everyone, but I also make sure I have a couple thousand dollars in my savings when I travel.
You never know what will happen while traveling. For example, I've had to take expensive emergency evacuation flights because of the coronavirus pandemic and political unrest.
I trust my gut
My safety is the most important thing while traveling. If something feels off, it probably is.
If I'm uncomfortable, I do whatever I can to get out of that situation as quickly and smoothly as possible — and I keep friends and family back home updated.
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