Last Updated on June 30, 2021 by Christine Kaaloa
A YouTube viewer asked What are some safety tips that I’d recommend for solo travelers?
In the last video post, I spoke about a smart traveler being thoughtful of safety, making smart choices and decisions and taking preventative measures to deter crime. In this video, I’d like to share some of my 8 smart safety tips for solo travelers.
Now some of this stuff may seem like every day common sense. When doing this video, I had to constantly remind myself that what may *seem* like common safety sense to me, isn’t always common sense to everyone else. If it were, I wouldn’t see tourists dressing inappropriately, encountering crime or allowing themselves to appear like fresh targets for theft, when they wander around looking lost and dopey-eyed.
Being a smart traveler is in part, thinking in the way of both, a criminal and victim. You need to have an idea of what a criminal is looking for in a perfect target and you have to be worried enough about being a victim, in order to want to prevent crime from happening. This is all part of travel survival.
But travel safety isn’t full proof, no matter where you are. Most crime in general happens when we let our guards down or when we’re too assuming of the safety of our environments. If you’re a traveler, you may already know much of these tips I’m sharing. You’ve probably gotten burned or encountered your own share of “exciting stories”. Travel will keep you on your toes. I’ve encountered many travel mishaps along the way; luckily none really bad, but I try to make safety one of my travel religion.
8 Street Smart Safety Tips for Solo Travelers
Going through our daily lives, we often place common safety sense at the back of our thoughts. We take our safety for granted. The ongoing question many ask is — is solo travel safe? Dealing with your worries can feel challenging and after you finally convince yourself, you have to deal with naysaying family and friends .
I’m going to share are safety tips that we use on a daily basis but forget that it applies to travel as well.
1. Be Aware of your Surroundings.
Be aware of what’s around you and who’s around you. The idea is “If you can see it, you can deter it”. This example is much like driving a car. We take special attention in observing and being keen to things going on around us so we can make quick decisions to avoid accidents. I always scan my surroundings. I scan it a lot, not only because I’m sightseeing a place but also because I need to be aware of entering my safety space in an unusual manner.
2. Hold Valuables Close to your Body
Thieves and pickpockets always search for the most vulnerable target. Usually these are travelers who aren’t paying attention and leave their belonging unattended. Here are some ways to hold your valuables close to you, so as to make yourself a difficult target for thieves. For those with backpacks, the method I show looks silly and awkward, but this is a common precaution to take and one you’ll see solo travelers using, as well.
3. Act Confident
It’s all in the attitude. Criminals target tourists who look distracted, lost, vulnerable and naive. Learn to develop your street smart look. I lived in New York for some time and if you look at an every day New Yorker, you’ll notice they have a bold and confident stance. They look aware, focused and like they know exactly where they’re going. This is a look to develop. If you don’t have the confidence, fake it.
4. Trust your Gut
Always listen to your gut and intuition. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right. Trust that. As a solo traveler, reliant on the helpful strangers trusting your gut intuition is key. There are many good and helpful people out there, but there are some bad ones too. Your gut is your radar that can help you sift them out.
5. Avoid sharing personal information with strangers
Never give stranger personal details about your relationship status, whether you’re traveling alone or what hotel you’re staying at. When you tell people you’re traveling alone, you’re telling others that you’re unaccounted for. No one will miss you if you suddenly disappear.
6. Avoid Dark and LonelyPlaces at Night
People are often surprised when I tell them as a female solo traveler, I go out at night. I take overnight trains and buses. I like to take photos and explore the city after dark, because a city has a completely different look and feel at night.
But it’s certainly open to danger, so I take stronger precautions and preventative measures regarding my safety. With my night activities, I crank my alert on high. I make myself ultra sensitive to the sounds of my environment and more observant of things around me. I scan my surroundings a lot. I’m make myself more aware of potentially dangerous zones and peoples’ proximity to me.
Avoid dark and unlit areas. Instead, go around them, avoiding any areas where you might be pulled into dark corners.Stay on the main street in well-lit zones. Avoid having earbuds in your ears, so you can hear the sounds around you and be alert to anyone coming up behind .
Simple objects can be used as weapons.
I also carry a small weapon, like a pen. I hold it in my hand vs. keep it in my bag. If someone jumps me, I won’t have time to dig in my bag for it. If I’m in an uncertain area, where I notice people watching me, I make it obvious that I’m carrying it. I flash it around. This is my way of letting potential attackers or criminals know that I won’t be an easy victim to jump.
Check my Packing List for Solo Travel to see some extra safety devices I pack.
7. Dress Appropriately
Research the country dress and dress appropriately. It may be a 100 degree Indian summer, but if I’m in India, I know it’s a conservative country. Showing your shoulders or wearing mini skirts in the open is not cool. India has a strong problems with sexual harassment and as a foreigner I know I’ll stand out. So I dress to respect the culture. Even to blend. Some travelers will buy the clothes of the country so they can blend more. This also helps.
You’re single and you want to find love or meet men. I get it. But the way to go about it is not to tempt every male in the surrounding area by dressing opposite of their norm.
8. Research the Country
Research Safe Countries to travel to (especially if it’s your first solo trip). Ask friends what they’d recommend and read up on the safety of the country. Choose countries that would be considered safe for women to travel in.
9. Check Travel Alerts
Americans travelers have a website to get up-to-date information on country alerts and travel warnings. The site is www.travel.state.gov and it let’s us know what countries are safe for Americans to travel. Check your government site to see what’s considered safe for you to travel to.
10. Know common scams and dangers of the country
I’ve been scammed more times than I’d like to admit to myself. This has all made me a wiser (and slightly more jaded) traveler. On a good note, you learn to spot scams quicker.
I always like to read up on the crimes prevalent in the country I’m traveling to as well as, those targeting travelers. If I know what the crime is, I can avoid it or take precaution. Sometimes, scams can be as simple as a taxi driver wanting to drive off-meter. Or maybe it’s thinking you’re being taken to the Tourism Information Office and discovering its a scam tour agency. Or it can someone telling you your hotel burned down or the tourist site you’re visiting is closed. The scammer will redirect you to another hotel where they get a commission or lead you to another site where there’s either a larger scam. Here’s an awesome article by Traveling Canucks about When Travel Bloggers Get Scammed.
How do you deal with a scam? The best thing is to take precaution to avoid it.
Hopefully, this was helpful to you.
What are your Street Smart Safety Tips for Solo Travelers ? Leave them in the comments.
Pin this to your pinterest board as a reminder.