Tips For Staying Safe When Solo Traveling

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After years of global shutdown, you may be chomping at the bit to get out and explore the world. And there's no need to wait for family vacations or that long-delayed girls' trip — if you want an adventure, why not try traveling solo? Many of us are unaccustomed to vacationing alone, but as Insight Guides explains, there can be a number of unique benefits. Perhaps the biggest is that, as a solo traveler, you have total control over your trip, from must-see destinations to the length of time spent exploring and taking photos at each.


However, some social butterflies may prefer travel buddies on their trip, and only seek out solo vacations due to convenience or circumstance. In that case, there are also curated experiences and tour groups designed just for individual travelers. You can even find groups catering specifically to your preferred demographic, such as singles, females, or particular age groups (via Trip Savvy).

Whichever way you like to travel on your own, there is one drawback: the lack of a personal support network. That's why it's important to take measures to protect yourself on your adventure. Fortunately, there are ways you can set yourself up for an excursion that's not only fun and fulfilling but as risk-free as possible. To start planning your next trip, here are a few tips for staying safe while solo traveling.


Share your itinerary

Just as you probably wouldn't risk going on a date with someone you met online without telling a friend or loved one about your plans, it's important to keep your support system in the know when you're planning to travel solo. Forward copies of flight itineraries, hotel reservations, hiking routes, and other bookings to someone you trust. Also let them have any temporary contact information, like prepaid cell phone numbers. That way, if there's an emergency — whether at home or in the area you're visiting — you have an advocate who knows where you are and how to get in touch.


For extra safety, you can also alert your local U.S. embassy about your travel plans by signing up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Plan (STEP). This program will keep you updated with travel alerts, and help authorities locate you if necessary.

Research emergency resources

Hopefully, your trip will go smoothly without any crises or medical issues. But if an emergency does come up, wouldn't you rather be prepared in advance? Before your trip, take note of emergency services around the area you'll be visiting (per Pointship). This may include phone numbers for local police, the addresses of nearby hospitals, and the contact info of your nearest embassy or consulate. The Washington Post also suggests carrying a cheatsheet of your medical history, just in case. When time is of the essence, you'll be glad to already have these details close to hand.


Take medical precautions

If you want to truly enjoy your trip, it's crucial to stay healthy while traveling. But many areas of the world are home to unique illnesses, diseases, or health conditions that could end up affecting you during your voyage. To help you dodge the worst of these, it's important to take any available medical precautions before you travel, such as getting relevant vaccinations, packing prescriptions or painkillers, and carrying masks and hand sanitizer.


If you do choose to take medicines along during your travels, just be sure that they are legal in every country on your itinerary. You don't want to risk entanglement with law enforcement or an international incident just for the sake of some Benadryl — which is, by the way, banned in Zambia and tightly controlled in Japan (per Reader's Digest). If necessary, ask your doctor for temporary alternatives to your usual medications or acquire a medical certificate to document why you need to travel with certain prescriptions (via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Consider travel insurance

If you're the type of traveler who always ticks "No" on the box to add insurance to your trip, you may want to consider this — particularly while journeying solo. Recent years have seen a lot of travel upsets, and you don't want to be stranded anywhere without sufficient funds to get home. Depending on the type of travel insurance you choose, policies can help protect you from ticket cancellations, itineraries interrupted by illness or natural disaster, emergency evacuation expenses, and lost or stolen baggage (via Travelers).


Keep valuables and important documents safe

When traveling, protecting your valuables can be a war on two fronts. You want to ensure they're as secure as possible both on your person and in your accommodations. When out and about, only carry the things you need, such as your ID, phone, a copy (not original) of your passport, and a reasonable amount of money. Be mindful of your bag or purse, and don't place important items in a loose pocket.


Keep all other important items — such as your actual passport, jewelry, and additional funds — secured at your hotel, ideally in a safe or lockbox if one is provided. AARP also suggests leaving an extra copy of your passport information pages with a loved one at home. And for extra security when traveling from destination to destination, you can also consider some less-accessible storage than your backpack. Nowadays, you can get money belts, boots with hidden pockets, and even secret bra wallets for a discreet way to carry cash and other items.

Keep your wits about you

While everybody loves to cut loose and have a good time on vacation, it's important to stay aware of your surroundings and avoid reckless behaviors when traveling — especially when traveling on your own. For instance, moderating your drinking can help you avoid vulnerable situations. As sober traveler Sarah Fay points out to The New York Times, "As a female solo traveler, it's safer."


And as always, you should be mindful of strangers around you. If you're walking or hiking on your own, try to stay close to other groups of people so you aren't easy to single out. Wherever possible, avoid being alone with strangers, and don't let them know you're traveling solo. Don't tell strangers where you're staying, and if you need a ride somewhere, ask your hotel for the number of a trusted taxi service. Most importantly, trust your gut. If your intuition starts sending you danger signals, pay attention and take whatever steps you need to extract yourself from the situation (per Solo Traveler).

Monitor your Wi-Fi settings

One important but often overlooked travel tip for both solo and group travelers is to keep an eye on your various devices' Wi-Fi settings and limit the confidential information you're making available. As the Travel Channel suggests, it may be safer to turn off file sharing, only visit websites with HTTPS in the address, and activate two-factor authentication on apps and accounts. It's tough to be certain that a network is safe while traveling, or what even qualifies as "safe" locally. So also consider delaying any unnecessary account access like online banking until after you're back on familiar soil.