I had made some huge safety mistakes while traveling. It is funny now and I am happy that it ended just losing my things, but if I were more careful my whole trip to Barcelona would be way nicer. I’ve been robbed because I was too tired, all my expensive things and money were in my bag, I was followed by men who probably saw how much money I had while I was buying coffee and the biggest mistake was that my bag was next to me and I was not holding it. It is a good lesson which I learned in a hard way and now I am always extra careful, especially while traveling solo. Here are some safety tips which I always use while traveling.
Travel solo safety tips
1. Plan your trip
Firstly, always make research before traveling to a new country, especially if it is not in Europe. Learn about the culture, religion, learn some basic words, phrases in the local language. When I traveled to Spain for the first time, I couldn’t even order food in the restaurant, because nobody spoke English. I was lucky because the waiter was so nice that she brought me to the kitchen and just showed me the food. Some topics about which you should make research:
- What actions are considered appropriate and inappropriate in that country?
- Are there any different body language behaviors in that country?
Additionally, if it is possible to try to arrive at a new place in day time and check how to reach your hostel or hotel from an airport or train station before.
2. Take pictures of all your documents
Make pictures and hard copies of your all tickets, reservations, passports, and IDs. Upload everything on Google Drive or DropBox, to any cloud which you can reach from any computer. That way if you lose your phone you will always have a plan B and your holiday won’t be ruined.
3. Inform your friend/mom/ boyfriend where you are
Do not go too solo! Always inform at least one person who is not traveling with you where you are and what your plans are. In case something bad happens they will react way quicker. If you planning a more dangerous trip like hitchhiking then I recommend you to schedule a regular check-in with somebody at home.
4. Charge your phone
Always have a full phone battery, you can’t allow yourself being unreachable. I recommend you to buy a portable battery for traveling. I actually sometimes travel with two phones, if my main cellphone will be stolen then I have this old-school, button cell phone.
5. Look like a local
If you do not look like an obvious tourist, you won’t be the target for pickpockets.
6. Pack light
It is not only easier to travel, but also safer, because if you wheeling two huge luggage and carry a large backpack it is impossible to keep track of every bag you have. Also, you will get tired of all your stuff quickly and it is easier to be more mobile with a smaller bag.
7. Don’t keep all your money in one place.
Have some money in cash and some on a card. Some cash put in the bag and some in the inner pockets. I always put my extra cash at tampon case or patches box. Also, leave some extra cash at a hotel or at the place where you are staying.
8. Self-defense tool
If you are not traveling by plane then I suggest that you have pepper spray. I had it for years, I never used it, although I always felt more confident in scary situations. Also, what I learned from my Muay Thai classes that if you are going in the dark places always hold your keys or something similar in your hand, because if you have to hit somebody then it will be way stronger punch than without holding something. For my next trip, I am buying a whistle, because it is small, you can carry it on the plane and it is so loud that it will definitely scare bad people away.
9. Don’t tell everybody that you travel alone
You do not need to show how badass you are traveling alone by telling all the strangers about it. I personally even lie sometimes to people who I met while traveling. Usually, I just say that I have a friend in the city with whom I am visiting tomorrow or something like that. Use your gut instincts about any new people you meet. Also, try to always stay in a public place with a new acquaintance.
10. Social media
Think before you post it, especially in a real-time when you travel solo.
If you must make a post in real time, I recommend tagging a general location instead of the exact place where you are. You never know who is following you on social media. I suggest you tag yourself at the place when you already left that place.
11. Never look lost
Always, always look confident, no matter how lost you are. Also, do not look for directions in the middle of the street, I personally go to some cafe or even to the toilet, then check the map and continue my trip. You do not need that extra attention which you will get if you’ll check your phone all the time. If I am super lost then I just open Google maps, put earphones and confidently listen to the directions. It looks like I am listening to music
12. Feel your bag
If you enter a crowded bus then take off your bag and put it in front of you so you could see everyone who is touching it. If you enter a market and you have a handbag then put your hand on your bag while walking and admiring the place. Also, take your bag with you to the bathroom every time. If you stop to buy something and your attention is away then put your bag between your body and the counter instead of beside you or between your legs. Your bag now is your body part, you can’t leave it anywhere.
13. Don’t be too tired or drunk
You can’t allow yourself to drink too much, you have to know your limits. Additionally, always keep an eye on your drink even water. If you feel dizzy, search for help, ask a bartender to help you or go to a woman toilet and search for a lady there who can help you.
If you can’t help it and you feel that you are falling asleep then hug your bag or use it as a pillow. Exhaustion can compromise your judgment. Being alert is important. Always be aware of who is with you, where the exits are and where is your hotel.
14. Snap a picture of license plate before you get in the car
It is a safety tip more for hitchhikers. Make a photo of the license plate and the place where that car took you before entering a car and send a picture to a friend. You can even tell the driver that you did that. If you are not feeling safe with your cab also take a picture of the license plate. Additionally, track your cab via Google Maps to see if you are not going off route.
15. Use public WIFI carefully
It is so strange that still a lot of people use technologies without any safety. Public WIFI means that it is public and your personal data can be stolen. If you are booking a room then your credit card data can be stolen or all your photos from the cloud. The main solution is to use a VPN which is an app that can be added to your phone.
16. Fake call
When you are in a cab or walking, make a fake call and talk loudly “Hi, Sorry that I am late. I’ll be there soon, I am so happy that we will meet” or something like it. If somebody is listening to you then they will think that you are meeting somebody at your destination. I recommend you to practice fake call at home.
17. Trust your Instincts
Always trust your gut, if you feel that something or someone is not right then it is true. Do not be afraid to seem rude and leave the person or situation. It is okay to say no for the invitation to a party, to turn help with your bags or say no to a shot of vodka if you will feel safe. Do not be polite if somebody bothers you and use your voice. Also, Never save money on safety If it is dark and your instinct says that it is dangerous to walk alone then call a taxi. Safety is always a priority.