When travelling alone you need to have a travel plan. I have updated this post again to keep it current. This post is aimed at solo female travellers but, it’s not solely for women as men need to stay safe too. So here’s my list of safety tips, I hope that these tips will help you
Be mindful of where you eat
Street food is delicious and usually safe to eat. Don’t worry about getting sick if you spot kids eating from a street stall it means it’s safe to eat there. Still it’s good to avoid places that seem unsanitary. A couple visiting Egypt fell seriously ill I read about the tragic story recently. Apparently their food was undercooked and this led to one of the travelers passing away from serious food poisoning. Stear clear if your gut instincts tell you to.
Be careful when taking photos
In my city, it’s not uncommon for thieves to grab phones or camera’s and run off with them. If you want to film something or take photo’s do so quickly. Then there’s the issue with personal safety. If you are hiking don’t stand on the edge of an unstable cliff. Risking your life isn’t worth Instagram likes. A couple who were on holiday in Portugal ended up dying as they tried to get to a phone which fell after they took a photo along a wall. To read more click the link: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1734271/9-selfie-gone-wrong-tourist-couple-dies-portugal/
If you are in a area with wild animals go with a guide and be aware of your surrounding. Check the weather reports if you at a beach for example a rip tide current can pull you in. It’s great to take a billion photo’s but, do stay aware and safe whilst doing so.
I can’t believe I forgot to mention this before. You should know the emergency numbers of the place you are travelling to. Have them stored in your phone but, don’t forget to write them on a piece of paper and keep it with you. You will need these numbers if something does go wrong. I always had these numbers with me. Try to book a place with good Wi-Fi reception, a phone, CCTV and 24 hours reception. This way you are connected in case of an emergency. Ask about the secureness of your rooms door and key access elevators all strengthen the security of where you are living.
Read reviews of the hotel/hostel/Airbnb/ CouchSurfing accommodation which you plan on staying at. Research the area where your room will be located. Find it on Google maps and also read about it online. This way you won’t be stuck in a crime-ridden area. Also find out where the nearest police station is and keep the directions saved on your phone and write them down somewhere. If you can rather avoid staying on the first floor because other residents will see that you are living alone. Living on a higher floor means more privacy. And if you aren’t in your room still hang up the do not disturb sign up on your door. It’s a small deterant to potential theives.
Across Asia there are female only accomodation spots opening up. If you are travelling solo this could help you feel more relaxed. But, women are just as capable of stealing as men are so protect your valuables and stay safe.
To read more on accomodation safety for solo women travellers follow the link: http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/travel-leisure/article/2136399/tips-solo-female-travellers-booking-safe-accommodation-plus
Be prepared. This means charging your phone. Packing in a good power bank. Purchase one with high wattage depending on what you plan on charging. I still have mine which I bought in Germany in 2015, it has 3 charging ports and an inbuilt cable plus it stays operational for a long time and charges up my phone and camera quickly. My camera died in Amsterdam and I prepared myself better after that. You should ask an in-store assistant more about this and or click here for more information on how to chose the correct power bank: https://www.hardwarezone.com.sg/feature-5-tips-when-buying-portable-battery-pack-your-mobile-device
Facebook allows you to check in during natural disasters to let loved ones know you are safe. There’s also a number of apps out there that allows trusted loved ones to track you using your phone location. Trusted contacts by Google is one of them. The app sends you notifications from time to time and you have to check-in to show you are safe. If you don’t your contacts will be alerted. It has had mixed reviews thus far but if you want to try it for yourself click here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/trusted-contacts/id1225684042?mt=8
Check the weather report a few times for your travel destination. You don’t want to waste your souvenir budget on buying a poor quality umbrella for example. And you will get ripped off most likely when you need to buy an umbrella in a hurry. I knew I was going to a very rainy Paris on the 30th of April 2016. I dressed warmly my shoes let me down a bit since they weren’t waterproof I was generally warm though. I could even borrow my gloves to another traveller. Rather click here for the weather report of the place you plan to go visit and stay comfortable: Accuweather
Use Google maps but, also find out where the tourism office is of the place you are visiting. There’s often free maps available at these offices. If you do get lost stand inside a coffee shop and get your bearings. Or ask a female staff member for directions, especially if you are female. Click here for the link to Google maps online: Google Maps
If you are concerned about your internet connection or data costs then download the Maps.me app. Map.me allows you to access free offline maps. Just download the map before hand and then use it later.
You don’t want to run out of cash, create a budget and stick to it. Find out about the exchange rate. Don’t carry all your cash in one bag spread it out on your person and leave some in your hotel room safe for example, just in case.
Find out more about the place you are going to. The customs, style of dress and accommodation. You can dress like a local to not stand out to potential criminals. Also, find out how safe the accommodation is, and the area it’s in by looking at TripAdvisor comments. Other sites like Oyster and Hotelz can also help you out. I wouldn’t couch surf alone or use Airbnb but, if you choose this kind of accommodation book a place with tons of good reviews. There are many travellers who couch surf and have wonderful experiences as a South African I’m very wary though but, if you plan on choosing this kind of accommodation like a said read the reviews and also have a backup plan so that you don’t have to sleep on the street.
Plan tours, most big cities have free walking tours. There’s also the ever popular red bus tour. Going on a tour will allow you to get your bearings in terms of direction. You will also be part of a tour group. It’s a great place to meet other travellers.
Be aware of scams
Basically, you need to follow your gut instinct. In Italy, there are men who tie bracelets on to unsuspecting tourists which can’t be untied easily for money. Once the bracelet can’t come off they charge for it. There are gambling games in Budapest where you get pickpocketed whilst the game is on. You can Google search travel scams. Ask trusted locals, however, your common sense is your best guide. People tend to treat travellers well in most places but, don’t be too trusting.
Someone needs to know when you plan on returning back home. Where you are returning and your trip itinerary. Also, have check-in times so that someone knows where you are. This person can report what’s happening to the authorities. In case something does happen.
If you are travelling alone don’t get intoxicated to the point where you are vulnerable. This is a fairly obvious tip. Since your judgement will be impaired and you could get lost in your new surroundings. Eat before drinking, snack and drink water in between drinks. And never leave your drink unattended. Watch the bar staff pouring your drink. Drink spiking happens all over. Have fun but be careful. You can download the following app to track your drinking just click here: alcodroid
Don’t be flashy
Keep your valuables protected and don’t show off with them. Many women travellers have told me they only ever wear fake jewellery to avoid being robbed. Be aware and be safe.
Having tons of luggage will make it difficult for you to walk. It makes you look like a target to criminals. So pack light. You can always wash your clothes find out if the accommodation you are staying at allows that. Plus you will want space to bring back things. Buy clothes during your trip if you can. I went on a lot of day trips or weekend trips and I will share more information on how to pack light.
Ask questions, ask the staff at the place you are staying if the places you intend to visit are safe. If you are lost ask the staff at shops or restaurants for directions. Some other travel guides suggest that you make friends with the staff at the hotel, hostel or B&B where you are living. I personally feel like you should be friendly but, be careful about being over friendly with the staff. After all, these people know where you live.
Don’t tell people you meet where you are staying. You can give them a nickname or even a fake name if you feel you need to. You don’t owe anyone your phone number, Facebook details or any other details. If you’re feeling uncomfortable you don’t have to say you are travelling alone. Your husband or boyfriend could be meeting up with you. For women sadly, this is sometimes necessary.
Put a ring on it
This sounded very strange to me but, my US friend Julie told me about this. She completed an internship with me in Cape Town and told me that interns from her university who go to certain countries are advised to wear a wedding ring. The US state department advises women travelling to the Middle East to wear a wedding ring. The ring might prevent unwanted attention.
Your travel documents are important. Keep them safe. Send copies to trusted friends and family. Have the copies certified and scan them Send your documents to yourself to. Inbox them to your email and upload them to Google drive.
Book a taxi from the airport or train station upon arrival if you know you are getting to your destination at night. Walking alone at night in a new place that you don’t know might make you feel nervous. That nervous energy can attract chancers. Have a fund for when you need to take a taxi sometimes walking alone might be unsafe.
Keep it on lock
Find out if there’s a safe in your room. If not take a bicycle lock with and your own locks to keep your things safe. Always leave the TV on and the do not disturb sign on your door. If you can get a slash-proof bag for key valuables.
Consider getting travel insurance. Plus travel medical insurance. If you lose all your belongings travel insurance will save you.
Also, find out where the pharmacy is and the closest hospital at your destination. Carry your prescriptions with you find out if you can from the embassy of your destination in your country. Ladies do carry emergency contraception if aren’t using any form of birth control. You might need it and depending on where you travel to it could be difficult to find contraception. Pack a travel sized first aid kit to and some pain pills.
Learn the lingo
Learn a few phrases or keywords in the local language. At least know how to say help, stop, no. In case of an emergency, this might be important. You can use Duolingo to learn a bit of the local lingo it’s free and easy to use. Click here for more information:https://www.duolingo.com/
Carry pepper spray, a whistle or any other device which you can use to deter attackers. In Europe, pepper spray is categorized as a concealed weapon you can use deodorant or hairspray instead the travel-size bottles are smaller and will cause damage to a potential attackers eyes.
Before getting into a taxi or cab take a photo of the license plate. Then send this to a trusted friend or family member. Whilst in the cab you can track where you are going to by using Google maps. Make a real or fake call to someone and say you are on your way if you feel uneasy. This way the driver will think that you aren’t alone.
Don’t get distracted
If you are using earphones don’t have both ears covered. You need to hear what’s happening around you. I have used audio tour guides whilst travelling and have done so with one earphone in my ear it is doable.
Carry a portable door and window alarm. You could also simply get a door stopper but remember depending on how your room door opens the stopper might not work. Rather buy one that looks like this one which you can view by following the link: https://lewisnclark.com/travel-door-alarm/
My mom has a body alarm which she can carry around and that thing makes a screeching sound it will definitely scare off attackers. This will add to your peace of mind. You can find a body alarm on this U.S site: http://www.womenonguard.com/personal-alarms
It is sold at Cape Union Mart in Cape Town: https://www.capeunionmart.co.za/keygear-mini-personal-alarm these devices are available in different countries a quick online search will help you find them.
Carry your bag all over. To the bathroom on buses or trains. Don’t leave your bag unattended at restaurants. Also when doing something distracting like booking a tour, or show make sure to put your bag on the counter or press it up against the counter with your body. You can even hold it between your legs. There are bag alarms out there to ward of thieves check it out: Bag alarm
If you are living in South Africa you can find theft proof backpacks by clicking here: SA anti theft backpack
An anti-theft bag is available on Amazon just click here: Amazon slash proof bags
Have a hard copy of your travel itinerary and important numbers. Write down the address of where you are living and keep it safe. You can show this to taxi drivers if need be. Not all drivers speak English so you might need to point to the address.
Let your country’s official travel office know that you are travelling. You can register most of the time online. Find out where the embassy of your country is too. You might need to contact them in an emergency.
Talk to people, follow your instincts. Talk to other travellers. Sit at the bar at restaurants, bars and clubs. Go to the same local coffee shop daily and speak to the staff. Smile and be approachable. If people talk to you they will notice when you go missing. If something does happen.
Befriend a local
You can do this by asking a friendly looking person for directions. You could ask them what their favourite restaurant is and start a conversation. Join up for events such as surfing lessons or cooking lessons. You can also use online resources Tinder or Meetup. For women, there are sites like sheswanderful as well. There are more sites like this so just do a bit of research.
Follow your instincts
Say no if you feel something is fishy. You can be assertive without being rude. If you need to be rude so. Don’t accept a drink or ride if you feel uncomfortable. Your safety comes first.
You might need a cover story. The wedding ring might not be enough. If you feel strange start talking and start using the word we a lot. Say something like my friends and I love this place, we are planning on returning again someday. Having a preplanned story could help you in a dangerous situation.
I really hope this helps solo travellers. Please feel free to let me know what advice you can give to solo travellers. I plan on travelling solo again some day so your tips would be highly appreciated.
Thank you for reading my blog. I’m still new to blogging and trying to improve. Did you like this post? do you have any tips to add? feel free to comment and let me know. I love reading comments on my blog they make my day.
Wishing you happy travels through the journey of life!
xxx Nikki xxx