How to travel alone and do it safely

Posted June 26th, 2021 by SimpliSafe

How to travel alone and do it safely

So, you’ve decided to embark on a solo trip in the near future? How exciting! There must be tons of questions running through your mind, many of them coming under the umbrella of ‘safety’. We’ve got plenty of advice to share with you on how to travel alone safely; read on to find out more.

Don’t forget about keeping your home safe, first

Before we even begin to go into the travelling tips, make sure your home will be well-protected for when you venture out, especially for a longer time period. This is where a smart home alarm system is fantastic, as you can use apps to check in on things when you’re away. Integrated with professional alarm monitoring, you can rely on security specialists to be on call to deal with any alarms - whether false or real. You will be alerted and kept in the loop all the way through with professionals dealing with it for you; requesting emergency dispatch if an incident is visually verified. What’s more, they’re wireless, so you can set them up in minutes!

Why travel alone?

For many, travelling alone is simply the only option. Whether you’re single or your family and friends can’t get the time off, solo travel can help you get away and refresh. When you travel with others, you need to compromise on trips, daily schedules and where to eat. Planning can be hectic and arguments can arise. When going solo, it’s just you and your wants and needs totally catered for (aside from any travel hiccups). 

Tips for travelling alone

Just like any trip you plan out, regardless of who you go with, planning and preparation is essential and will help you deal with any travel issues more smoothly. It’s also better for budgeting and more cost-effective to have a good plan in place. With that, we’ve got plenty of tips for travelling alone.

Itineraries and planning

Research is everything, especially when travelling on your own and heading to a foreign country or two, three or more! Even if you want to be spontaneous and go with the flow, it’s still better to plan ahead. 

  • Get the map out and pin your routes. If you’re more digital-minded, you could use Pinterest, or if you want to stay old-school, use a physical board

  • Look up the areas within the countries you want to visit and those to keep away from. We’re lucky enough to have incredible information at our fingertips thanks to the internet, so look up travel sites and forums to find out from those who have first-hand experience of the places you plan to visit

  • Research attractions and excursions online so you can get the best deals. Booking online will often save you money and you can find out if they do certain discounts for students, for example. This is also great for planning out your itinerary and giving you more structure

  • Make sure you have budgeted for the different plans you have for your trip

  • Learn about the exchange rates for the countries you are going to and do your research on where to get the best currency deals and travel money cards. There are even apps you can use to help make the process of transferring money abroad easier and cheaper

  • Research the transportation for the places you are visiting to save money and add this into your itineraries so you reduce the risk of being stranded or late for events

  • Learn key phrases from the countries you are visiting and buy some phrase books to carry around. Or use helpful apps and the trusted Google translator

  • Take the time to read hotel and Airbnb reviews to get a good sense of where to stay

  • Check your government’s travel website, as they may have information on certain travel requirements needed - see the foreign travel advice from the UK’s government website

  • Don’t forget about travel insurance before you go and look up the medical resources over there - emergency numbers, doctors and hospitals etc. - so you know exactly where and who to turn to that’s official - write it all down

  • Try to schedule your arrival times during daylight; this is both safer and makes it easier for you to get to your destination, in case you need to make arrangements

  • Research the culture and etiquette of the places you are visiting to avoid any embarrassment or unneeded quarrels

Keeping safe when travelling alone

There is no doubt that you will have to be extra cautious and vigilant when travelling solo. It’s ingrained in us from an early age to be careful around strangers, and it’s still true for when you grow up and start to travel.

  • As soon as you check into your hotel or hostel, inform the staff that you won’t be expecting any visitors and to not give any knowledge of your accommodation or spare keys to anybody and to inform you if anybody asks

  • Make sure you know about the fire exits at your accommodation for an easy emergency escape

  • The safe may be a good idea, but it’s best to keep important documents on you, so you can be 100% sure where they are

  • When going up to your room, be mindful of anyone following you. If something doesn’t feel right or you feel like you’re being followed and watched, mix up the route back to your hotel room and mention it to reception so security and police can be informed 

  • Maintain good communication with your family and friends back at home. It may be extreme to you, but you could even share your itinerary or a basic plan so they know where you are and when to expect a call or message from you. Try to plan communication so you have someone who will inform the authorities if you don’t make that call you promised and it’s been a considerable amount of time

  • Be aware of hustlers and cons. A single traveller can be a prime target, especially in a foreign country, so familiarise yourself with common ones for travellers

  • Stick to busy, public areas and streets as much as possible and do not follow people to remote paths or off-the-beaten tracks, especially if they’re offering you something free 

  • Try to be discreet as much as you can and don’t give too much away, especially if your gut is telling you something. If somebody is prying too much and is asking where you are staying and if you are alone, don’t be afraid to move away, lie or change the conversation

  • On the note of gut instincts, use them! If something doesn’t feel right, trust that feeling; it’s there to tell you something

  • Be vigilant and maintain situational awareness at all times - this means staying sober and keeping your wits about you

  • Have a pad on you at all times of emergency numbers and places in case your battery dies

  • Try not to look like a tourist, as you don’t want people to take advantage. Walk with confidence and like a local as if you know exactly where you’re going

  • Keep your belongings close and don’t be too flashy; read our guide on how to avoid being mugged - consider carrying a dummy wallet or purse, or if you’re a woman, have a bra stash

  • Carry the business card of the accommodation you are staying in around with you, this will help with language barriers if you ever are struggling to get back

  • Study the area and routes back to your accommodation, so you can be alert if any taxi drivers are taking you somewhere odd

  • Again, in case your battery dies, carry a little map around with you

  • Use official travel sites and look at reviews when looking for excursions to try out or restaurants to dine in 

  • Be cautious about ‘need help’ scenarios, get someone else to help and don’t go in places on your own, look for a local to help. A local will not only be better equipped to help but it’s better to have someone with you in case it’s a con game

Travelling at night

The night is so much different than the day, and it can be more dangerous when you’re out on your own. Dangers that we think or worry about are often connoted with the night. So, when you’re travelling and exploring a new area, it’s best to follow these tips:

  • Use those forums, travel sites and reviews to get a good idea of where you’re heading 

  • Opt for strapped-on purses and bags or rucksacks. Handbags over the shoulder, in particular, are easier to snatch. Always carry as little as possible

  • Just like travelling in the day, keep a pad of emergency numbers and places on you as well as a map. Make sure you have a list with notes on the public transport you’ll be using

  • Use travel money cards and apps, but if you do need to withdraw money, head to ATMs in public areas that are well-lit up and get out what you need and hide it immediately

  • Make friends with more trustworthy people, like workers, bartenders and managers

  • Avoid walking down dark paths, back streets or desolate areas

  • Watch your drinks. Don’t leave them unattended and if you do drink, do not get drunk; you need to be highly alert, especially on your own at night

  • We all want to be friendly and authentic, but you need to keep your personal information like where you are staying to yourself - nobody needs to know where you are staying

  • Again, be aware of cultural differences and make sure your attire is appropriate

Apps and technology for solo travel

  • Post Office Travel - Manage your travel money card from this app, view your balance and top up all from the app. You can also buy travel insurance and view policy documents, book airport parking and much more

  • Post Office Currency Converter - convert up to 70 currencies on this app (this one is just for Apple devices)

  • Citymapper - a journey planner app that works in many cities all over the globe with a comprehensive list of transport links

  • Most phones have a torch built into them but you can also use an app specifically for this, like Flashlight

  • SoloTraveller - this app allows you to connect with other solo travellers nearby so you can make friends. You can also save money by being paired with others to share tours and taxi rides etc.

  • Tourlina - this app is exclusively for women to help them find other females who are travelling to plan trips with and befriend

  • Google Maps and Google Translate - don’t forget about Google Translate and Maps to help you navigate your way through places

  • WiFi Finder - find free Wi-Fi spots on your travels

Travelling - no matter who you plan to go with - requires thorough research. And if you’re planning a solo trip, it’s even more important. Don’t book trips on a whim. Use your time wisely and know the areas you plan to travel to. Wherever you plan to visit, whether it’s a staycation or a summer holiday, make sure you have your ultimate going on holiday checklist ticked off and know about how to keep valuables safe while travelling and away from your home.