Going away with family and friends can be fun, but there’s nothing like the freedom of solo travel. Exploring a new city on your own time, with no demands to alter the route or having to sit down for a break when you are ready to go. Read on for more about staying safe as a solo traveller.
The idea of travelling solo can scare some people, but it isn’t necessarily dangerous. It’s all about being prepared and knowing what to do if you get yourself in a difficult situation. Knowing the better destinations to visit and how to hold yourself when you are walking around. But be realistic, there will always be risks, even staying in your own country is no guarantee of safety. Knowing and preparing for these risks is the best action to take.
Your journey begins before you board the plane. From the moment you start planning your solo travel, you want to be prepared. Start with your travel insurance, providing as much information on destinations and activities as you can.
Learn about the areas you are going to visit. Read up on other travellers who have gone either solo or as a group. Find out areas to avoid or if there are certain times of day, or even year, that are considered unsafe.
Plan your initial route to your accommodation. Then consider planning routes between your intended destinations. This will save you some hassle on your trip and give you more time to explore.
Learn about the local customs and cultures, for instance, common clothing found in the area. When travelling, you want to be able to blend in, rather than accidently declare yourself a naïve tourist. Or worse, culturally offend someone! Learning some basics in the native language will also benefit you greatly. Being able to speak a few words will almost certainly help locals warm up to you more should you need help. Being able to read a few words will really help you too.
Familiarise yourself with the types of scams you may find in the area, this will allow you to avoid them and walk away when you suspect something isn’t right. Although you should always be aware of your surroundings, rather than expecting to be picked for a con.
Check out this Foreign Travel Checklist for some more guidance from Gov.UK
When choosing your accommodation, try to choose somewhere that someone you know has used and had good experiences with. If this option is not available, find somewhere with good quality reviews across a number of trusted sites.
Consider quality and safety as well as budget. Hostels can be great fun, not to mention nice and cheap, but come with increased safety risks. There are plenty of hotels, boutique and chain offering cheaper rooms for solo travellers without compromising on safety and comfort.
For example, the Crash Pad rooms in a Nottingham city centre hotel – these rooms are designed to be stylish and comfortable, but for use of solo travellers only.
Time of arrival at your accommodation is important. Arrive as early as you can in the day. Not only will this help you find your location easier, but you’ll get a better feel for the surrounding area. If you come to find your accommodation isn’t going to be suitable, you’ve also left yourself some time to find alternative arrangements.
Never give away your accommodation while you’re travelling, close friends and family being the exception. Your base of operation is your area of safety and given this information away could cause you trouble in the future.
While You’re Travelling
Be a smart traveller and make sure you’re prepared for when you are travelling around. Keep the number of personal items to a minimum so you have less to worry about (and check!) and make sure they are kept hidden securely on your person at all times.
Keep spare cash or an alternative credit/debit card hidden away from your main purse or pocket. If you are caught out by a pickpocket, at least you won’t be stranded with no means to pay your way.
Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. You don’t need to be suspicious of everyone but certainly be more reserved than you would be at home. You’ll want to keep a clear head, steering away from drink and drugs – this could impair your judgement and make you an easy victim. Never give away personal information and make sure that you stay in populated areas.
Make sure you are polite while travelling but know when to make a fuss. Should you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation you shouldn’t be afraid to alert those around you.
Anywhere you travel, make sure you do so with confidence, you don’t want to make yourself look like a nervous traveller or an easy target for scams.
Before heading away, you can also register your journey with your government and/or leave your journey details with friends and family. This way if there is any unrest in a destination country you will be advised and it’s easier to track where you might be.
When you’re sufficiently prepared, travelling alone can be an enjoyable experience where you can learn a lot about yourself.
Where will your next journey take you?