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Top Tips on How to Stay Alive on Your Solo Trip

Safety is a huge concern for all of us but even more so for the solo traveller. It’s the one thing that stops many people from taking the leap into to travelling. This is for many legitimate reasons. Such as, fear of the unknown, language barrier, unfamiliar cultural norms, bad press or media coverage, friends and family putting someone off due to their perceptions and concern for you. All these are valid and although we cannot remove all risk we can significantly reduce them by taking precautions and planning well. For this blog I will take you through my top tips for staying safe and alive on your solo trip.

You Got this written in chalk

Safety for Female Solo Travellers

Woman in red Asian outfit

I have seem several blogs on safety for women travellers. I do agree that women are particularly at risk in some places, and we hear the horror news stories of someone being kidnapped or worse. Women can seem like an easy target for some so how you carry yourself, with confidence is key. You don’t owe anyone honesty or your time so be unapologetic and don’t feel you have to be nice but don’t be rude either. Also being resilient is key to managing your travel experience. Don’t attract unwanted attention by not following cultural norms.

I do believe however, that both genders can face unsafe situations and both men and women need to be vigilant when travelling abroad.

Having travelled to over 30 countries I take a very pragmatic approach to my safety which is paramount. I have never felt in grave danger as I think ahead have a plan to navigate my trip and each day. I am acutely aware of my surroundings always. If you are not a natural at this, being aware without being unduly anxious can be learned with a few how to’s and that’s where this blog comes in.

Choosing where to go for a solo trip

Some really obvious ones. I would not travel to a destination where there is clear government advisory not to travel due to a natural disaster or civil unrest. It would be an idea to keep up on the latest international news to hear what is happening around the world. Another great place to see if your specific destination has any advice against travel is the Foreign Affairs website in UK.

There is a list of 226 countries and territories with the latest advice on travel on things like disease outbreaks, war, extreme weather. You will be able to find out which countries or regions in a country are safe to travel to. You can also visit the government website of the destination. Another way to ensure some security is if you book a package holiday with an ATOL agent they will be able to find this out for you and advise accordingly before you book.

flight information board with destinations

Also make sure you are aware if you need any visas or medications/vaccinations for your destinations well in advance. You can find out online via the country embassy or consular or your local travel clinic can advise on any recommended medications/vaccinations. If you book through an agent you will get all this information provided to you.

Insurance is a Must on Solo Trip

I always make sure I have comprehensive insurance to cover most eventualities. I make sure it includes cancellation, medical and if doing things like skiing or cruises this make cost a little extra. I would not skimp on insurance under any circumstances so make sure you are covered for your trip. There are great deals online for single trips or if you travel more than 3 times i the year consider any annual multi-trip insurance. Take insurance out as soon as you have booked your holiday as deposits are often non-refundable should the unexpected happen.

Picture of open passport for solo trip

Where to Stay for Safety

Planning your itinerary is a critical part of your trip and key to your safety abroad. I would opt for well known accommodation chains and proper established businesses rather than obscure options on accommodation websites. Again a good travel agent can tell you the best places to stay as they may have been there. Opt for central or easily accessible accommodation with good transport links. Hostels are great for meeting other traveller if you don’t mind this style.

Whatever you choose use websites like Tripadvisor or to get a sense from the reviews. Under no circumstances should you turn up and not have somewhere to stay. Don’t take advice from people you meet on the street as what is safe for a local person could be completely unsafe for you especially if its obvious you are a tourist and alone.

Arriving at your Destination

So you have booked the holiday, took out insurance and you have now landed at the airport. In planning ahead I often book a taxi from the airport to my hotel from a reputable company. Especially if arriving in evening. I would advise you try to arrive during day time hours as this can help orientate you. Pay attention to your route and the landmarks on your way to begin familiarising yourself. You may be very tired but for this taxi trip do not fall asleep!

Have your accommodation address details as a screenshot on your phone and if you have roaming data use Google maps or similar when travelling to where you will stay. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you feel the route or time taken is not as expected. Don’t be passive. Of course with a package holiday your agent will sort all this for you and you can relax a bit but still be vigilant.

Exploring Safely

So you have arrived at your room and you are still alive! Congratulations! Now it’s time to venture out.

A great way to get familiar with the must sees is to use the hop on hop off bus. Lots of countries has these you can buy a ticket for 1, 2 or 3 days and can get on and off the bus at all the major attractions. On my first day I usually stay on the bus for the entire route so I can see where places are in relation to each other. Then I get back on knowing the attractions I want to visit and when. This is brilliant for a European city breaks you can see so much in short time and its safe as long as you don’t miss the last bus back!

Red hop on hop off bus 
Photo by Ann Jesudas on Unsplash

If you are brave you can opt to rent a car to explore I won’t do this in Paris or Italy. I did rent a car in Germany and that was an experience. This could be a very cost effective option if you want to see alot in a short time. Taxis can be a good option but can be expensive. I tend to reserve taxis for evenings out or if I am dressed up. Otherwise its public transport or walking are great cost effective options.

Meeting People on your solo trip

Joining groups if a great way to explore safely for excursions and tours and costs less than doing on your own. You also may meet a travel buddy which is a nice bonus.

I find that most people are not looking to harm you but there are opportunists around and you need to be vigilant. Make friends and be friendly but don’t give out too much information about yourself or the fact you are alone. Some women would wear a wedding band or engagement ring to ward off unwanted attention. And you can say your partner or friend is waiting for you.

Do not go off plan and follow random people you meet as you explore. Stick to your plan and you can meet up at a place for dinner etc… but don’t go off into the unknown with someone you just met no matter how friendly they may seem. Most of all trust your gut instinct. My mantra is always ‘if I wouldn’t do it at home I wouldn’t do it when I travel alone’ so always ask yourself would I do this at home?

Protect your Belongings

Your belongings on holiday is all you have and can be critical to your safety. These includes any cash, phone, your passport and other travel documents, bank cards and jewellery. Your clothes also without that you are screwed! I only had my luggage go missing once and it was not too traumatic as I got it by the next day. I would put a luggage tracker in the suitcase so if it goes missing you can pinpoint where it is. Make sure you have an idea how much your items cost in case you need to be compensated.

Most good hotels will have a safe in the room for you to keep items. Don’t take everything with you certainly not all your cash, jewellery and passport should be locked away when you are not in your room.

Image of safe key pad Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

A bum bag or a money belt is great and so versatile to keep your key items on you on the go. I would avoid putting anything important in the little pocket outside your backpack or wear your backpack in front of you and maybe with a small lock. Pickpockets exists everywhere and busy tourist sites are rich pickings so don’t make it easy. Keep your items in view or secure at all times.

Have a printout of your accommodation address and phone number and a copy of your passport with you always in case an emergency situation arises.

Your Health and Mental Wellbeing matters

When on holiday it’s the opportunity to try new things and be adventurous. Its my fave part of travelling. However with that comes the responsibility of knowing yourself and not stepping too much out of your comfort zone. Try new foods and make sure the water is drinkable. I have a very sensitive stomach so will boil water and carry in my water bottle and street food may not be best for me. For you it may be great. I have had street food in Thailand and loved it with no issue! In Morrocco however I got sick. I was prepared with hydration sachets and anti-sickness tablets as I know I have a sensitive disposition.

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health and safety. Take time out for yourself, do what you want when you want. After all that’s the beauty of solo travel. If you feel overwhelm and/or just want to relax do just that. If you want to be on the go day till night (that me!) then do that. If you want to change plans then do it. You have complete control. Make sure family know where you are and agree a check in time every day.

Writing about your experience in real time and how you feel while on your trip can be very therapeutic and lessen the overwhelm. Journalling can also help with feeling alone be your own company and treat yourself! Have a beautiful journal to log your travels and you will look back fondly.

Respect the Local Culture

Before you travel get to know the cultural norms for you destination. Especially important for women, do dress appropriately or risk unwanted attention. Religious settings can be very strict so be observant and ask questions to make sure you comply. When travelling having an enquiring mind to learn about a new culture rather than judge, it will really give you a wholesome experience. Take advice and respect local customs always. For instance, in Dubai you must wear Muslim dress when near Mosque and in certain markets for men and women and no touching of the opposite sex in public so no hugging of a male or female friend!


So in summary to stay alive on your solo trip here are my top tips:

That concludes yet another blog. I hope you are reassured that you can travel safely with the right precautions but you can also have a very enjoyable time when you travel solo. So take the leap and do it now that you have the tips to be safe. Let me know what you do on holiday or if you have an queries I would be happy to assist you. Safe Travels!