Solo travel can be a great way to experience new cultures and connect with a new place in a way that traveling with others might not allow. But being alone in a foreign locale can also pose some safety challenges. Before you plan your solo adventure, take a look at these four tips for staying safer on the road.
1. Tell Someone Where You’ll Be
It’s important or someone at home to know where you are and how to contact you during your trip in case of emergency. Before you leave, make a list of the places you’re staying — including travel dates, addresses and contact information — and give it to a friend or family member, Condé Nast Traveler suggests. That way, if you don’t check in with them for a few days, they’ll know approximately where you are and can try other avenues for reaching you, such as calling your hotel or your home-share host.
Bonus tip from Judith Fein, an international travel journalist, author and speaker: When you get to your overnight accommodations, ask for a business card with its address and phone number. Carry it with you in case you get lost and need to find your way back. Staying at a home share? Write the address and contact information in a note on your cellphone and on a piece of paper to carry with you in case your phone battery dies.
2. Protect Yourself From Pickpockets
“Remember that pickpockets can be found everywhere,” Fein says. “Get a lightweight wallet and attach it to the inside of your bag with a large safety pin so no one can easily remove it.” As an alternative, travel expert Rick Steves suggests wearing a money belt, a zippered pocket that secures around your waist underneath your clothing.
For extra security, make copies of your passport, driver’s license and other vital documents before you leave home, Condé Nast Traveler adds. Keep one copy somewhere safe in your hotel room or home share, and give another copy to a friend at home in case you lose yours and need them to fax it to you, Steves says.
3. Stay Safe in Your Room
Once you reach your lodging — whether a hotel, hostel or home share — take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with your surroundings, SmarterTravel.com suggests. For example, reviewing a hotel’s emergency escape routes (usually posted on the back of the hotel room door) may help you be more prepared in case of an emergency. At a home share, ask your host where they store emergency items like a fire extinguisher and how you should exit in an emergency.
While you’re thinking about room safety, remember to never open the door for anyone without first validating their identity. If you’re at a hotel and someone says they’re from maintenance or housekeeping, look through the peephole in the door and call the front desk to confirm, SmarterTravel.com says. At a home share, keep your host’s phone number handy so you can call him or her if someone says they’re there to do maintenance work.
“As soon as you enter your hotel room, lock the door and keep it locked,” Fein recommends. The same goes for a home share. “Do not open the door for anyone without first asking who it is and what they want. It is perfectly OK to speak through the closed door.”
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Finding your way around a new city is part of the fun of traveling alone, but don’t hesitate to ask questions when you need to. For instance, are there certain areas where it’s unsafe to walk alone at night?
Steves suggests talking to the representatives at your hotel’s front desk if you have questions, since they’re typically familiar with the area and invested in helping you have a safe trip. When it comes to home sharing, your host may serve this purpose. Check their reviews before booking to make sure they’ve historically been responsive toward guests when needed.
If you’re out exploring and need to ask for directions, you can also step inside the lobby of a national hotel brand you trust to pull out your map or talk to a concierge.
By taking these precautions, you can feel safer while enjoying time by yourself getting acquainted with a new city. Bon voyage!