Although a lot of people like to go with a companion, travelling alone can be quite the adventure. It is different in the sense that you can do and go wherever your heart desires and at your own pace, without really having to discuss it with anyone. Not only this but you also push yourself further out of your comfort zone for a really unique experience. However being alone in a strange country can have its dangers so here’s a few tips on how to stay safe if you do decide to go it alone.
Do Your Research
Research everything! Researching before hand will make you feel much more at ease once you reach your destination and will also leave you clued up about some of the dos and don’t of your trip. Firstly get to know your travel route so that you don’t end up lost or confused when trying to make your way anywhere, you will know exactly where it is and how long it takes to get there. This is also good because you wont have to whip out a map in public letting everyone know how much of a tourist you are! When looking online try to find out where the dangerous areas are for that particular country you are going to, so that you can easily avoid them as well as the possible dangers and scams to look out for that are common in the area. Researching before hand or purchasing a good travel guide can additionally bring your attention to some local customs and laws that you may want to be aware of.
Be Wary Of New Friends
Of course when you are on holiday you are likely to want to make new friends, particularly if you are traveling solo, however be wary. When meeting new people it is important to remain somewhat skeptical and not to give them your complete trust straight away, because after all you only have yourself if something goes wrong. Sometimes lonely travellers can seem an easy target to people with ulterior motives so keep this in mind, especially when they may seem overly friendly or inquisitive too soon. Some people may be aware that you are alone and looking to make friends, and so could take advantage of that. When you do make friends it can be helpful to let it happen gradually over your stay so that you have time to feel them out, and not be too quick to go and socialise with complete strangers
Keep Your Wits About You
This point is linked to the previous one because when making news friends it is important to have your wits about you so you can stay in control of the situation. One major way to try and ensure this is to limit your alcohol consumption. As we all know after a couple cocktails your judgement can get a little cloudy and your guard gets let down, but without a friend watching out for you it can lead to unwanted situations such as theft or loss of your belongings. You can still enjoy yourself while keeping a limit on the number of drinks you consume, but it ensures you stay alert to people and situations around you. In regards to the drinks you do allow yourself to have, make sure you never leave them unattended! Another way to keep your wits about you is to make sure you take in your surroundings at all times, scan the road before you leave your accommodation or cab, and make sure you feel safe before continuing. Remember this is an unfamiliar country.
Be Discrete With Your Valuables
When travelling it can be tempting to whip your camera out at every opportunity or simply have it hanging around your neck for the duration of your journey, but be careful not to be waving all your valuables around like jewellery and gadgets because some of the local thieves may pray on tourists so do not make yourself a target. It could be advisable to keep valuable possessions in your bag close to your person, and/or buy a small neutral coloured bum bag/money belt for your passport, money and cards, which you can wear underneath your clothing for discretion. For the lady’s, your bra can even be a good hiding spot for some items. It is also good to separate your money for the day from the rest of your budget to avoid it all getting going missing in one go, and also preventing you having to pull out a huge wad of cash every time you want to buy a bottle of water.
Have Your Money In Order
Before you go away you should always contact your bank to let them know that you will be travelling and where to, because if you fail to do so they could freeze your card as an anti-fraud measure. Contacting them may also alert you that a particular card of yours does not work in the country you are going to, for example Cuba does not accept American Express. Although cards can be handy another tip would be to ensure you go with some local cash and during your stay ensure you always have some with you, because your card will not always be accepted at every place you go. This tip could mainly come in handy when dealing with transport like taxis and buses where you will more often than not, need to have some of the local currency. You are not going to want to any sort of money problem when you don’t have a friends card or cash to bail you out until it is sorted out.
Learn Some Of The Local Language
This is a very undervalued tip. You are not expected to become fluent in a countries language all because you are going to visit the place, but it is very helpful to familiarise yourself with some of the basic words and phrases. Being someone who clearly knows non of the local language can in some cases draw unwanted attention to yourself and also prevents you from being able to ask people questions or letting them know you need help. It may sound easier said that done, but you can simply download an app on your phone before you leave to helps you with the words and pronunciation, or simply buy a phrase book. These basics will certainly come in handy, even if all you end up learning is “where is the train station” and “how much is this”.
There’s a world of opportunity out there just waiting to be explored, so make sure you don’t miss out! Remember, the only thing that’s limiting you is your imagination.