Safety Tips for Traveling Alone | RatePunk
Traveling alone, particularly across the diverse terrains of unknown continents, is an exhilarating experience that many seek for personal growth, adventure, and self-discovery. The allure of solo travel, however, is accompanied by the need for heightened safety awareness
As a seasoned traveler who has wandered this year extensively across European cities, countryside, mountains, and coasts, I've gathered a reservoir of safety tips. Here's a distillation of that wisdom for fellow solo travelers:
1. Research is Paramount
Before setting foot in a new destination, immerse yourself in research. Familiarize yourself with the local customs, laws, and potential red-flag areas. Websites, travel forums, and local news outlets can be invaluable. Yes, don’t underestimate Facebook travel groups - there you can get up-to-date information and super useful tips & recommendations. Why is it necessary? Well, understanding cultural nuances, like appropriate dressing standards, can prevent unwanted attention.
2. Share Your Itinerary With Family or Friends
Personally, it’s my #1 Safety Tip for Traveling solo or even with friends. I always do that just in case something occurs (trauma, accident, or even scam call). You also should always leave a copy of your travel itinerary with a trusted friend or family member. Regular check-ins, even if it's just a quick message, can be reassuring for both you and your loved ones.
3. Accommodation Safety
Opt for reputable accommodations. Read reviews and ensure that they're in safe neighborhoods. Once checked in, avoid broadcasting that you're traveling alone. Always use the additional security chain on doors and check for secure window locks. By the way, RatePunk has several safety features: RateScore (blended hotel rating from the major hotel booking sites, so you can see the most accurate hotel rating); highlights the most frequently mentioned good or bad amenities & services; shows the property safety ratio (!), so with this tool you don’t need to google everything separately. Just download RatePunk - it’s free!
4. Stay Aware
One of the charms of Europe is its vibrant street life. However, bustling areas can be a hotspot for pickpockets. Moreover, I don’t want to get into recent sexual abuse accidents but even in the crowds you should be alert and don’t stay late in the unknown city. Maintain awareness of your surroundings, especially in crowded public places like train or subway stations, markets, or popular tourist spots.
5. Blend In
While it might be tempting to showcase your unique style, sometimes blending in is the safer option. Dressing like a local reduces the chances of being identified as a tourist and potentially targeted by scammers or pickpockets.
6. Keep Valuables Minimal
Leaving you sparkling outfits, bling-ring accessories is the best thing you can do for yourself. Only carry essentials when out exploring. Use hotel safes for important documents and excess cash. If you have to carry valuables, consider investing in anti-theft bags or money belts worn under your clothing. Be humble, and I’ll repeat one more time - “Blend In”.
7. Trust Your Instincts
Your intuition is a powerful magic. Wel, this safety tip for traveling alone can sound off, but. Trust me. If something feels off, it probably is. Avoid dubious areas, especially after dark, and always prioritize your safety over politeness. Always.
8. Limit Nighttime Explorations
While Europe has a rich nightlife, be extra cautious when out alone at night. People may look polite but many consume various substances, and some of them just seek problematic adventures. So stick to well-lit areas, be wary of accepting unsolicited company or drinks, and always have a plan for returning to your accommodation. I’d say you should skip going alone to the club and visit the place a bit later but with your friends.
9. Reliable Transportation
Ensure you're familiar with the local transportation system. Apps like Omio, Rome2Rio or local transit apps can be lifesavers. If using taxis, ensure they're licensed. The easiest way is to download Uber or Bolt and just manage your trips via App.
10. Digital Security - VPN
Public Wi-Fi networks can be breeding grounds for cyber threats. Consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when accessing public networks to ensure your data remains private. Also, keep digital copies of your essential documents in secure cloud storage. P.S. Few months ago I crafted a blog post about VPN necessity while traveling and which provider you should choose.
11. Stay Sober
Enjoying Europe's diverse beverage scene is tempting: the whole of Southern Europe is famous for wines, Western - wines & beers, Eastern - mix, and if you travel - you are curious about local heritage and tastes. However, it's essential to limit consumption. Being inebriated makes you vulnerable and affects decision-making abilities.
12. Language & Basic Vocabulary
While many Europeans speak English, having a basic understanding of the local language can be immensely helpful. Learning phrases like "help" or "police" can be crucial in emergencies. So before traveling, spend some time learning the most comon phrases and emergency words.
13. Emergency Contacts
Always have a list of emergency contacts, both for your home country and the country you're visiting. This includes the local embassy, police, medical services, and a trusted person back home. I know that this information can be found on the internet but you can be robbed so the tiny sheet of such information in your jacket will be invaluable.
14. Self-Defense Tools
While I hope you never have to use them, carrying legal self-defense tools like a whistle or pepper spray (where allowed) can provide an added security layer.
15. Engage With Locals
Locals are usually a treasure trove of information. Engaging with them can provide insights into safe zones, areas to avoid, and general safety tips specific to that region. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with random strangers, ask for recommendations from a barista, receptionist, or employees of a tourism center. For instance, in July I was passing Prague and had only 12 hours for sightseeing. Shout out to the Prague Tourism Center employees who were super friendly and suggested to me the great places (not overcrowded) so I could enjoy Prague to the fullest.
16. Health Precautions
Always have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies. European citizens must have a European Health Insurance Card so they can get free first aid. Otherwise, just book travel insurance. Familiarize yourself with the nearest medical facilities and keep a basic first aid kit. Remember to carry essential medications and their prescriptions.
17. Schedule Wisely
Arriving at a new destination during daylight hours is great. It gives you time to familiarize yourself with the surroundings and reach your accommodation safely. Nevertheless, always take extra time because you never know when a strike, accident or traffic can happen.
18. Avoid Oversharing
While it's natural to want to share your experiences, be cautious about divulging too much information to strangers about your travel plans or accommodations. Why? Well, some people can target you or track your activities so they can rob your house.
19. Respect Local Customs
Being respectful not only ensures a warm reception but also prevents unintentionally violating local norms, which could lead to uncomfortable situations.
20. Prepare Mentaly
It may sound funny but you should prepare yourself mentally. Solo travel can sometimes be mentally taxing. Stay mentally resilient, be open to changes, and always prioritize your well-being. Solo traveling can be tiring, I know. After one of my trip across Eastern European countries, I understood that I can travel alone but it's not my cup of tea. Why? Cause on some days I felt tired as a dog and sad being alone…
In conclusion, solo travel through Europe is an enriching journey of personal discoveries, historical tapestries, and cultural marvels. With proper precautions, it can be a memorable and safe adventure. The key is to be informed, alert, and proactive in ensuring your safety while also soaking in the European experience in all its glory. Safe travels!