Ten Top Tips for Travelling Solo Safely
“Aren’t you scared? Don’t you feel lonely? Isn’t it hard being alone?”
When I tell people I am a female solo traveller, they usually ask these questions. My answers are always the same. Yes, unpredictable events occur but great preparation makes you feel safe. When I am alone, it’s because I want to be.
Here are my top ten tips for travelling solo:
1. Know your money.
Your budget – whatever the figure is – should stand proud in your head, and in your bank account. Get yourself financially literate. The pre-paid travel card is generally a secure and cheap way of making payments abroad. Whilst away, that fun and spontaneous activity, like a scuba trip, might have immediate appeal, but sit and think about whether the money is needed elsewhere.
2. Buy comprehensive travel and medical insurance.
This is such an obvious tip! But, know your stuff and don’t necessarily purchase the cheapest package. Instead, look at what you’re protected against; in 2021, you definitely need full Covid-19 cover. You should check the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) website for travel advice. If it declares a destination unsafe, then your insurance will probably become null and void. Get all your paperwork in order before you leave home!
3. Pace yourself physically and mentally.
Travelling is often seen as an endurance exercise, which it can be, if not planned correctly. Solo trips are especially exhausting, as nobody else will look after you - or your stuff. Schedule rest days, where you can recuperate and revive energy.
4. Research your destination.
Every country has a current climate, which is forever changing, especially with the presence of Covid-19. Learn the important issues, like political and economic status. Try to understand the culture and attitudes before you visit, especially if you are travelling alone as a woman.
5. Befriend staff at your accommodation.
Air B’N’B, hostel or hotel, there is normally at least one member of staff on site (if there isn’t, then I wouldn’t book it). Creating a rapport with this person is important, as it will be them who notices you’re missing if you don’t come home. Take their number in case of emergency.
6. Listen to a local.
If you make friends with a local (such as the staff member at your accommodation), then ask them for a list of ways to stay ‘streetwise.’ Worldwide rules exist, like not getting into a stranger’s car, but nothing beats home-grown knowledge. They will also be able to provide recommendations for great places to eat and drink!
7. Consider your food and drink.
On that note, try new dishes, but watch what you’re eating and drinking, especially if it involves the local tap water (e.g., ice, washing fresh fruit and veg, etc.) In my luggage, I carry a medical kit full of useful medication. Rehydration packs and diarrhoea tablets help if you eat something dodgy. Not pleasant, but you can’t afford to get ill alone. Being ill is being vulnerable.
8. Use your bra.
Where to hide that loose change and money? Avoid pick-pocketing with this nifty place. If it doesn’t fit into your bra, you probably shouldn’t be carrying it out with you! Use the safe in your accommodation to store your cards (and other valuables, like your passport).
9. Design opportunities to meet others.
Social media is a great way to connect with fellow travellers; a few months ago, I met three other incredible women on a Facebook ex-pat group! But, be careful. Social media can be a double-edged sword. It frequently presents a perfect image but a false reality, so only meet strangers in a public place.
10. Trust your judgement.
Instinct and gut feeling should lead all your decision making. Generally, if it feels wrong, then it probably is. No explanation or justification is needed. You will meet some incredible people but don’t follow the crowd, if something sits uncomfortably. The key to success is taking ‘educated risk.’ People can be really kind, so find your voice and listen to it!