Nothing beats a long stare outside the airplane window lost in thought. Solo travel is one of the most therapeutic experiences especially when you want to beat the accustomed milieu.
I was much inspired to take this valiant step for the first time in 2019 after reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, a travel memoir detailing the author’s experience on solo trips. And whereas to many, it sounds erratic to move across the world all by yourself, solo travel is one of the most authentic spiritual remunerations you will ever experience. However, decisive precaution and planning have to be exercised before setting off for a wild trip to a foreign country.
What are the vital safety tips for solo travelers to note?
Here are some safety precautions for solo travelers.
Always research your solo travel destination
While most solo travel destinations tend to be safe, making research is essential. It is often said that knowledge is power. Read as much as you can about the country you are planning to visit and learn about the culture, safety concerns, and locations to avoid during your trip, transit options, and anything else that will make your trip safe and enjoyable.
Reading other travelers’ experiences will help you make a super fun itinerary for your trip. You want to make sure that there are no threats to you as an individual before you travel.
Get travel insurance
Solo travel is by many counts an investment in yourself so you need to protect your investment. Buying insurance before you set off for your trip will protect you from unforeseen events like the loss of your belongings and untimely trip cancellation.
In case of losses on your travels caused by natural disasters, poor weather, sickness, or any other issues. There are different insurance options to choose from whether it is to guard yourself against natural disasters, war, theft, or sickness. Contact an insurance agent and have them explain to you what insurance plan is best for your solo travel destination.
Keep virtual copies of your important documents
Losing your luggage in a foreign country is one thing, losing your passport is entirely another thing. Whatever you do, you have to make sure you secure your important documents.
Scan your passport, driver’s license, and any other important documents you may travel with. Upload them to the cloud, email them to yourself, share with a family member just in case and print out a physical copy you can use once you have reached your destination.
Having virtual copies will save you a lot of trouble in case your passport is misplaced during your solo travel. My friend Louis got stuck on a solo trip to Dubai, and the scary experience he went through has stayed with us in all of our escapades. We are always quick to remind each other and other solo travelers we meet about the importance of virtual copies.
Share your itinerary with someone you trust and stay connected
When it comes to solo travel, no detail is too small. Share your itinerary with someone you trust. It could be family or a friend. Keep in touch, let them know about your hotel and daily activities, and let the hotel staff know before you step out for any solo excursions.
Find out about the nearest embassy or consulate to your home country and keep their contact information on you at all times. Keep in contact with friends and family. Following these steps will make it easier to track you in case anything happens.
Choose your accommodation carefully
The significance of safe accommodation for a traveler cannot be stressed enough. Research options for your destination and check out other travelers’ reviews on booking sites. Make sure the hotel or motel is in a safe area in the town, close to restaurants, transport, and at least a grocery store. After deciding upon your accommodation, know how to reach it.
What is the country’s transit system and can you book your transportation online? If not, where can you find transportation on arrival and how much will it cost? Knowing all this assortment of information beforehand will save you from being overcharged and other risks.
If possible, arrange for daytime arrival
Arriving before nightfall is a key safety precaution for a solo traveler. I once arrived at 2 am in a foreign country. Making it to my hotel as the taxi drove through a dark town left me fairly unwell. I have opted for daytime arrivals since the incident. If it is not possible, opt for first-time accommodations very close to the airport if you don’t trust the town’s general safety.
Arriving during the day gives you a feel of the area where your accommodations are and flexibility to change accommodation in case the area looks unsafe or dissatisfactory. A dangerous neighborhood will certainly look dangerous during the daytime.
Learn a courtesy words in the local language
Being able to communicate with locals may help keep you safe during your solo travels especially if you are going to tourist hotspots. Learn simple words of greeting, how to ask for directions, and how to call for help in case you run into trouble. Communication is key.
Always trust your instinct
One of the biggest challenges solo travelers tend to face is fraud. If you meet some weirdly friendly strangers who offer to take you to special places only locals would know, or even offer to lift your things in transit, be quick to act on your instinct. To avoid fraud, you have to trust your instinct and remove yourself from any situation that doesn’t feel right.
Do not get me wrong, I like taking a cold beer at the end of the day to unwind. However, as a solo traveler, your responsibility is to ensure your safety so you need your wits about you to do exactly that. Drink only a beer or two when you go out and keep your drink in sight at all times. And most importantly, avoid taking drinks from strangers to avoid being drugged.
Blend in with the locals
Appearing different in a community will compromise your safety. Choosing to dress like the locals, speak their languages, and appear confident as you walk will help you blend in. Study the map beforehand or discretely use headsets to navigate the area using google maps.
What should you pack for your solo travel?
Every time I travel, I prepare for the worst case scenario and hope for the best. Having once been a scout, I am a stickler for their motto, “Be prepared.” Here’s some of the gear always pack for my solo travel expeditions; pick-pocket-proof clothing and backpacks, a first aid kit, whistle, an extra stash of cash in case of emergencies, a water purifier, recommended travel medications, sanitizer, pepper spray, VPN app on your phone, and a leather wallet.
Taking precaution is how to stay ahead of inconveniences on your trip. Travel is meant to free our minds and not raise stress levels. Take effort and follow these steps for a fun trip.
This article was initially published by Trip Dhow.