No matter your destination, traveling solo can be a fun, exciting and empowering experience. And while safety is less of an issue today than it was in the not-too-distant past, it should still be your number one priority. Thankfully, there are lots of ways you can protect yourself, without sacrificing any fun or excitement.
Keep reading for pointers on keeping yourself safe on your next solo trip.
1. Know Your Destination
When traveling, and especially when going abroad, knowing your destination is essential to safety. And for women traveling solo, understanding the laws and customs of a particular place is even more important. Before packing, do some research. Some countries, such as Iran, have pretty strict laws when it comes to female behavior and attire, and others have less-than-desirable reputations when it comes to their treatment of women, in general. In order to avoid a snafu (or worse), do your homework.
In addition to understanding the laws and customs, it’s also a good idea to research your destination so you can get a feel for the environment. If you know the address where you’ll be staying, go online and check out the neighborhood. Check your proximity to hospitals, police stations, embassies and the like; this way, you won’t feel totally out of place upon arrival. This will also make you less vulnerable to predators, as you’re less likely to look lost or confused.
2. Keep Your Eyes Open
Paying close attention to your surroundings is crucial. Remain alert and aware at all times, avoid alcohol and drugs, and always pay attention to the people around you. This is true while en route to your destination, as well as while you’re there and on your way home. Be on the lookout for overly-friendly strangers, and remember not to speak to anyone if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. And if you happen to find yourself in an awkward or dangerous situation, assert yourself, run away or scream for help.
3. Prepare for Emergencies
Even when every precaution is taken, emergencies can still occur. Thankfully, having a backup plan, or backup plans, can help keep you out of harm’s way. For example, if you’re the victim of theft, plan to have a friend or loved one send money online so that you can pick it up wherever you are. It’s also a good idea to keep a little cash stored away in a secret location, e.g., a shoe or bra, or someplace else where it’s less likely to be stolen.
Also, to protect yourself from theft, remember to keep jewelry to a minimum, keep your bag close to your body at all times (cross-body bags are great for travel), and refrain from flashing your cash in public.
4. Share Your Itinerary
No matter your travel plans, it’s essential that you share your itinerary with a friend or loved one. For added safety, you could arrange to call, text or email a particular friend or family member at a certain time each day. Bottom line, someone needs to know where you are at all times, and they need to know when they can expect to hear from you.
5. Trust Your Instincts
When traveling alone, as well as in most other situations, listening to your gut is crucial. If you feel it best to avoid a particular place, person or situation, trust your instincts, and don’t feel guilty or uncool for doing so. Remember: this is your life and your safety, and you should protect yourself at all costs.
When you’ve taken the proper safety precautions, you’re free to experience all the fun and excitement traveling has to offer. Stay safe and have fun!