Traveling solo can provide you with some of life’s most rewarding experiences. The independence can be liberating, and by physically exiting your comfort zone you learn more about yourself than any school course, television show, or blog post could ever teach you. However, in order to exit that comfort zone you sometimes have to enter a space that may be less safe, especially if you are a woman. Many articles out there inspire and teach you how you can stretch your dollars in order to travel farther and for longer, but there are some things that are not worth skimping on. Invest in your safety! Some of the below tips require you to spend a little more money than the cheapest option available, but many of the tips below are free. Keep in mind that these tips are good to practice anywhere, whether you are traveling abroad, domestically, or staying in your hometown.
1. Guard your room number
When checking into a hotel, make sure the reception or clerk is discreet about telling you which room you are in- suggest they write it down and pass it to you rather than say it out loud for someone to overhear. If your room number is inscribed on the key, be very cautious while you are out and about and don’t let anyone see it, especially if they know which hotel you are staying in.
2. Keep all of your electronics charged
Carrying a portable charger can keep you powered longer. Even if your phone dies, a charged camera can help you take photos and records of a path you’ve been walking so you can retrace your steps or find your way back home if you need to. Use your electronics as tools even in extreme situations. If there’s an emergency and you don’t speak the local language, you can communicate with a translation app or by searching images of whatever you’re trying to express.
3. Choose an international phone plan
Before you depart on an International trip, call your service provider to see if your phone will work and how much it will cost to use. In many cases it is less expensive to buy a SIM card locally to use in your unlocked phone. Research other options including WIFI hotspots because sometimes they can even be cheaper than a SIM card. I always opt to buy the SIM card as soon as I arrive in the airport. It may be more expensive but I would rather have it right away, especially because as soon as I arrive in a country is when I am least familiar with it. It’s good to have a phone ready and capable to be able to make calls and use a map with GPS.
4. Try not to take out your map in public
Research where you are going before you leave, and never look like you are lost. It helps to use a smartphone map if you need to because it is much more discreet than a paper map, but remember to always look alert and never distracted.
5. Wear a discreet wedding ring or band
Even if it’s a harmless little lie, wearing a wedding ring can signal many things. It shows that you are not alone, that someone is expecting to hear from you regularly, and that someone is aware of your whereabouts. Wear a ring that isn’t flashy and doesn’t garner unwanted attention from someone who may want to take it from you- a simple band is enough to get the message across. If you already own a nice engagement or wedding ring, consider swapping it to something more discreet to wear while traveling.
6. Never tell anyone you’re alone
When you are at a hotel or meeting a new friend, never mention that you are traveling by yourself. When checking in to your hotel request an additional key to signal it could be for someone else joining you. If you feel uneasy or uncomfortable while getting dropped off in a taxi, you can casually mention you are going to meet friends. If you feel like being creative, you can fake a phone call letting someone know you are arriving for the driver to overhear.
7. Never tell anyone it’s your first time anywhere
I seem to always get asked this question as soon as I’ve arrived in a new place while I’m leaving the airport. It may be someone making kind conversation and generally offering to give you recommendations, but if you don’t feel like sharing you don’t have to. Don’t tell strangers it’s your first time in their country because it can signal you are unfamiliar. If you are worried they will follow up with questions asking about your last visits, you can instead tell them a little lie and say your many friends that live locally have been giving you recommendations or will be showing you around.
8. Don’t wear headphones (or at least don’t wear both)
Wearing headphones not only signals that you are distracted, you in fact are distracted. Listening to music can take your attention away from potential dangers or emergencies that can only be heard. Additionally, wearing headphones can make you a target and you can easily be caught off guard. If you insist on wearing headphones while traveling, opt for a wireless Bluetooth design that isn’t obvious.
9. Bring emergency contraception
You never know what could happen to you or a friend while traveling abroad, and in some countries it may be difficult or even impossible to find emergency contraception or birth control. When it comes to medications you take regularly always bring more than what you anticipate needing, and consider properly storing them for the duration of your travels.
10. Store cash or valuables in a tampon or pad box
If someone trying to steal something is rummaging through your belongings it is the last place they will look!
11. Take a cab or Uber
Try to avoid walking alone at night, or any time you feel uncomfortable. Transportation expenses can add up, but it is always worth it to feel safe. Using an app like Uber can be especially helpful if you need to track your driver in case you leave something in the car. For $10 off your first Uber ride, click here.
12. Find out what time the sun rises and sets
Depending on what time of year you visit a place can determine how much daylight you will have to be able to explore! Many women rightfully feel safer walking about a town while the sun is still out, and if your destination is far from the equator, you could be limited by a few hours each day. Plan your schedules accordingly to avoid being out alone in the dark.
13. Schedule your travel so you arrive during the day
There are many things to consider when booking flights and transportation, one of them being cost. It may not be the cheapest option, but it is always safer to coordinate your tickets and timing so you arrive while it is light out. Especially if you are in a new, unfamiliar place, it is better to get acquainted during the day. If you can’t adjust your arrival time to land in the day, consider arranging private transportation to take you to take you to your accommodations.
14. Learn the local emergency number
The emergency number where you are may be different than the one you know from your home country. Make note of it so you can be ready to call if there is an emergency or need to report a crime. It’s also helpful to make note of where police stations are or the address and phone number of your country’s embassy. Refer to Wikipedia’s list of Emergency Telephone Numbers: click here.
15. Dress appropriately
Find out how the local women dress- research local trends and brands and get inspired! Have fun and feel like a local while not attracting unwanted attention. Especially if you are sharing photos of your outfits in the countries you are visiting, keep in mind you are inspiring others to do the same and you want to show them to dress appropriately and be respectful.
16. Keep your hotel information on you
Take a card from your hotel and keep it on you at all times to get you home safely but be very cautious who sees it. The hotel card will usually have the address or location written in the local language so you can show to cab drivers. However, be careful with this information and don’t let anyone accidentally see it and learn where you are staying. Keep in mind if someone has stolen your wallet or your purse and you have your hotel information inside, you should alert your hotel, change rooms, and deactivate old room keys.
17. Don’t write your home address on your luggage tag
Instead, just write your email address or use a business card so someone can get in touch with you. Especially if you are on your way home after a trip – you don’t want anyone on your flight home or your driver to see your address and know where you live.
18. Stay in touch with your friends or family back home
Schedule a time to check in with someone to let them know your whereabouts. This could also mean updating your social media regularly so others can follow along on your journey!
19. Work With Companies That Cater to Singletons: As the number of solo travelers continues to grow, more companies are catering to the trend by eliminating single supplement fees. G Adventures and Intrepid both specialize in small group travel and will pair up single travelers of the same gender in rooms without extra charge. Exodus off ick up the latest tour book on the city. Since you’ll be relying on yourself, read up on the weather conditions, special events, and political climate for your time there so that you’ll appear informed to the locals and be prepared for any possible detours.
“To be original you must separate yourself from others. You must find new languages, semantics, aesthetics, experiment with new material, and behavioural approaches. Always remember obvious human issues like emotion, ease of use, humour, positive energy and proud spirit. This is what is missing in creative acts.” -Unknown