How to Stay Safe as a Solo Traveler
One of the biggest questions I get about solo traveling is about safety. I want to preface this by saying that I've been fortunate enough that I've never had a really scary moment while traveling on my own, and that my hometown is generally more dangerous than anywhere I've visited. The worst that's ever happened to me while traveling is getting lost with a completely dead cell phone and no way to look up the correct train back to my hostel. But it's still important to be aware of your surroundings and preparing yourself for any potentially scary situation. So here are some tricks that I use to keep myself safe when I'm traveling alone.
If anyone asks, you're not alone
There have been so many times when I'm traveling by myself and a stranger has asked me, "Are you traveling alone?" The answer is almost always NO! If it's someone at a hostel who is also alone and is trying to make a travel buddy, then I'll tell them the truth, but more often than not this question is coming from a strange older man that I don't quite trust. I always say that I'm on my way to meet my boyfriend, and this has always gotten people to back off.
Tell people from home where you're going.
Give a loved one back home your itinerary, your hotel address, and phone number, and check in with them regularly. I'll typically send photos or quick updates every day when I'm traveling.
Carry something for self-defense
At home, I take pepper spray everywhere I go, but in many other countries it's illegal to carry one. So you need to come up with alternatives. I like to carry a metal water bottle and make sure it's full whenever I go out at night.
Bring your own door lock.
You can buy removable door safety locks on Amazon for about $10. Just attach it to your door before you go to sleep and take it off the next day. It's cheap, it hardly takes up any room in my suitcase, and it gives me a lot of peace of mind.
Don't post pictures until you're back home
I never post pictures of what I'm doing or where I'm at until I've already left. Is it paranoid? Maybe. But I also don't like advertising my location to everyone! Waiting until I'm on the plane back home to edit and post my vacation pictures gives me something to do during the flight, too.
Trust your gut
Probably the most important tip on this list is to TRUST YOUR GUT! If you get a bad feeling about a certain situation, it's probably for a good reason. When this happens, do whatever you have to do to leave. If someone is harassing you, do or say whatever you have to to get away. Other people's feelings are a lot less important that your own safety.