Travelling alone can be a daunting experience, but also a hugely rewarding one. However, it’s important to remember that being by yourself makes you responsible for your own safety, and sadly means that you are potentially more at risk than people travelling in a group. Don’t worry though – follow these simple solo safety tips and your travel experience will be one to remember for all the right reasons.
Chris Robbins/Mood Board/Rex Features
Research the area
Before you even set off on your journey, try to do some research into your destination. Check out which areas are known to have higher crime rates, and if anywhere sounds particularly risky be sure to make a mental note and avoid it. Keep in mind that while certain hotels may be slightly more expensive than others, it might be worth paying that little bit extra to ensure you are staying in a safe area.
Let family know what you are doing
Although travel is often about independence and proving that you can cope on your own without family or friends, it’s still important to let them know what you are doing. Give somebody a copy of your schedule, and let them know roughly when you will get in contact with them. This way, if you get in trouble, somebody at home will know something is wrong and can send help.
Check your taxi
It might be tempting to hop in the first taxi you see, but if it’s not a licensed vehicle steer well clear. Unlicensed taxis can be driven by anyone, and it’s likely that they haven’t passed the required safety checks and tests that licensed cars and drivers have. Research the reputable taxi companies where you are staying beforehand, and note down their phone numbers so you can call for one if you need to.
Confidence is key
Even though you will be in an unfamiliar place, do your best to give off the impression that you know what you are doing – request directions at your hotel or look them up online, so you know exactly where you are going and what route you need to take before you set off. Seeing a nervous tourist stopping to ask for directions is a clear sign to thieves and criminals that they’ve got an easy target on their hands.
[Related feature: How to stay safe on holiday]
When leaving your hotel for the day, only take essential items and money that you know will be needed, and store the rest of your belongings in your room (preferably in a safe). If you are the unlucky target of a thief or pickpocket this will mean you don’t lose everything in one go, and you will still have money to fall back on.
Holidays are meant for relaxing, but this shouldn’t mean you let your guard down. Always be on the lookout for potential threats and dangers, and be sure to trust your instincts – if a situation feels suspicious or dangerous, calmly walk away before things escalate. This is especially important when travelling alone, as you are responsible for watching your own back.
Carry hotel information
Write down the address of your hotel and keep it in your pocket at all times. This means if you get lost you can simply jump in a licensed taxi and show your driver the location of your hotel and ask to be taken there. Make sure you have it written in both English and the native language to avoid any problems with the language barrier.
It only takes seconds to make, and keeping a copy of your important documents can be a huge help when abroad. The hassle of replacing a lost passport or bank card will be greatly reduced if you can provide a copy as proof that they belong to you. Before you leave, consider emailing these copies to yourself so that you can always access them even if you lose the copy too.
Drink in moderation
Nobody expects you to be a teetotal saint when you go travelling, but try to limit your drinking to a sensible amount. With nobody else to look out for you, you are responsible for your own safety, and inebriation can inhibit your ability to do this. If you do go drinking, do so relatively close to your hotel so you can easily find your way back.
Beware of the dark
It’s a simple fact that more crime happens at night, so be extra cautious if you are out and about after dark. If you find yourself alone after hours, don’t be afraid to tag along at the back of another group of tourists until you get back to where you are staying. There is strength in numbers, and you are far less likely to be targeted by criminals when in a crowd.