We’ve all seen the various solo travel memes:
Although the quotes may have some accuracy, traveling alone- especially for the first time, may be easier said than done. Below are 9 things to consider when taking your solo trip.
Tips on Your Valuables
1. Limit the Valuables You Bring
You may be tempted to bring your laptop, high-end clothes, jewelry, and other valuable items when you travel. I would be cautious on doing this, especially when traveling alone. Think thoroughly on what valuables you absolutely need on your trip. My frame of thought is to only bring items that I wouldn’t be upset if they went missing.
2. Be Creative with the Valuables You Do Bring
Of course you can’t travel without any valuables. You’re going to need money and possibly a passport. Where you store those items when you’re not in the room is important.
Be Cautious with In-room Safes
I personally do not use the safes provided in a hotel room as I’m not certain if and who has the master code. My preferred method is to creatively hide my valuables within my belongings. For example, on a recent trip I hid my money within my sanitation kit, between my masks.
I recently learned about a portable safe that appears as a book from the outside. If you want to use a safe, this could be a great option. You can find it here.
Secure Your Passport
Your passport is the most valuable item that you have when traveling abroad. Do not leave your passport with anyone, even as a deposit for something. Similarly, it is not recommended that you keep your passport on you when leaving your hotel. Find a safe place to store it within your belongings. I personally keep a picture of my passport in my phone and hide the physical one within my dirty laundry. My thought is, who wants to go through my dirty underwear?
3. Beware of Pickpockets
Anytime I am traveling, especially alone, I believe that there is a potential for pickpockets to be around. I’d recommend doing a quick Google search to see if that particular city and/or site is known to have pickpockets. Not as a reason to not go, but as a FYI to be more diligent about how you handle your belongings. Before leaving the hotel room think about how accessible your valuables could be to a stranger. Personally, I don’t recommend putting all of your cash and valuables in the same pocket/compartment. That way someone can’t grab all of your belongings in one fell swoop.
Tips on Not Looking Like a Tourist
4. Ditch the Map
Try not to be that person with the big map in hand trying to figure out your current location. Instead, use an offline maps app like Google Maps or HERE WeGo. These apps allow you to download a map, including navigation support. With the map on your phone, it’s less obvious that you’re a tourist looking for directions. To a stranger’s eye, you could be doing anything.
5. Be Open to Meeting New People
Just because you are traveling solo, doesn’t mean that you can’t talk to anyone else. One of the gems of solo travel is the amazing people that you may meet. Despite potentially feeling awkward the first time, it’s important to be open to starting a conversation with others when traveling alone. You’d be surprised how many folks have met lifelong friends doing just that. Just be sure to use the same caution that you normally would, if not a bit more, when telling strangers your personal information. They don’t necessarily need to know that you’re traveling alone when you first meet.
6. Use a Reputable Tour Company
We were on the tour of the Great Wall of China together and ended up becoming hiking partners.
Booking with a tour company not only gives you the opportunity to meet new people but it also creates a community of people who inadvertently look out for you. The last thing a reputable tour company wants is for one of their customers to not return to the bus.
Learn more on how to find things to do while on vacation, here.
General Safety Tips
7. Do Your Research
Before you book your ticket to a new city make sure to research safety precautions there, especially for your demographics. Tripadvisor and even Facebook travel groups will give you tips on what to look out for in a specific city. Also be sure to read your hotel reviews. A lot of times you will find how safe others felt not only at the hotel, but its surroundings. Doing your research is paramount when traveling alone, especially for the first time.
Be sure to share your location with your close friends or family – which hotel you’re staying at, what attractions you’re planning to visit that day, etc. You can do this the old school way by verbally telling them or you can share your location via your phone. This allows them to know the exact location of your phone. It is just as important to inform a loved one if you decide to go out with someone you just met. Most folks are on social media, so at the minimum, share their handle with a close friend or family member.
9. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
I hate to sound like your mom but this is important. When you’re traveling alone it’s paramount that you limit distractions like talking on the phone or listening to music when out and about. You want to be aware of what and who is around you. This is for your safety, but also to soak in the culture of the area you’re exploring.
When traveling alone, especially for the first time, there is going to be fear. That’s totally normal. But try not to let that fear stop you. Do your research, take the necessary precautions, and enjoy a new city.