Anyone who travels alone is aware of its singular rewards, but such rewards can be blunted if you fail to make personal safety a priority.
Here are a few safety tips for solo travelers.
1. Stay Connected
Those days of being without cellphone, smartphone and Skype seem almost quaint. Before you leave home, find out whether your mobile phone has roaming capabilities at your destination. If not, or if the roaming cost is prohibitive, rent a phone once you arrive (or buy international SIM cards if you have an unlocked GSM phone) so you have a lifeline. Smartphones outfitted with GPS or online maps are good options for drivers.
2. Keep Others Apprised of Your Daily Itinerary
Regularly let people know where you’re going — including friends and family back home and your innkeeper or hotel concierge. When traveling alone into parkland or wilderness, always let someone know when you expect to return as well as your exact route — and then stick to it.
3. Stash Money, Credit Cards and Passport in Separate Places
Keep some money and credit cards in your wallet or purse, and additional money and cards in a pocket or money pouch. When sightseeing, carry only a copy of your passport’s data page, keeping your passport locked in your hotel safe. (It’s also good to leave a copy of the data page with someone at home.) On travel days, carry your passport separately from your money and credit cards.
4. Study Up On Your Destination
Be aware of safety concerns as well as of local customs and etiquette, especially with regard to dress. When in doubt, opt for conservative. Women travelers should know in advance if harassment is an issue — and both men and women should get the safety lowdown on public transportation. Talk to locals about neighborhoods to avoid, especially after dark. Know the local number to call for emergencies.
5. Ensure Your Lodgings Are Safe
Keep your door locked, with the security chain fastened. Try to snag a room close to where the action is — near the concierge desk, say, or near elevators. Stay away from ground floors where window entry is possible. Don’t answer the door if you’re not expecting anyone.