Solo travel is one of the top trends for 2016 and it is particularly popular amongst women.
Recently we shared information to debunk some of the myths in the hopes that it would encourage you to venture out into the world solo. On CTV’s Canada AM we also shared some of the highlights past solo travel adventures. Read this post here.
If you are contemplating a solo travel trip in your future you may be overwhelmed with information or with the nagging feeling – perhaps voiced by those around you – that you might not be safe on your journey. The thing to remember is that travel is often no more and no less safe than being at home. Still, like home, there are a few things you can do to avoid putting yourself into a dangerous situation.
While not an exhaustive list, these tips should help. Read them and then pass them on to those who are worrying about your trip. And while you keep these in mind while you travel, never let them overshadow the rewards of travelling alone: A sense of accomplishment and the joy that comes from doing your own thing.
Tip 1: Arrive in the daytime so it is easier to find your hotel.
Make sure to plan your travel itinerary so that you land in your destination during full daylight. The late morning or early afternoon is best, to ensure streets and the airport (train or bus station) are well populated with people. Knowing you aren’t alone in the dark will provide comfort but it also means there are people around you can ask for help as you find your way.
Tip 2: Make Your Itinerary Known to Your Family and Friends
Leave at least a basic itinerary with your family and friends before you travel, so that people know when you will be in each location of your trip. Provide a contact number to reach you whenever possible and leave information about when they can expect you to be in touch. Then follow through: If you said you’d call twice a week, do it. Failing to show up on the phone, online or in an email, can be reason to cause panic back home. Bonus tip: Research the communication availability of your destination before you go to make sure you’ll be able to do the things you’re promising.
Tip 3: Have Your Hotel/Restaurant/Destination Written in the Language of the Place You Are Visiting
It is certainly a challenge navigating a new country, especially when language is a barrier. Be sure to practice the native pronunciation of your travel destinations so that if you need to direct a transportation provider, or ask for directions, you can at least communicate where you want to go. Having your hotel work with you to write out the local names of places you need to get to will be a tremendous help.
Tip 4: Know the Places that Can Help You if You Experience Some Trouble
Before leaving on your trip, be sure to research, map and carry contact information for sources of comfort and assistance in your destination city. Always have some travel insurance and if you’re going to a country that you have concerns about consider registering for the Citizen Abroad program. Knowing where your country’s embassy is in the country your visiting is also a good move (find a list here).
Tip 5: Plan At Least the First Stop On Your Trip
It is okay to want to be a bit of a nomad when you arrive in a country. But at the very least, have your first night booked so you know where you are headed when you land. Personally, I try to make sure that first night is a comfortable spot. You can plan the rest of your trip ( as much or as little as you like) from that spot once you’ve had a great night’s sleep and a good meal.
Tip 6: Give Yourself a Break When You Get There
We love jam-packed vacations too! But try to give yourself some time when you first arrive at your destination to get to know what is around you. Learn the lay of the land and let the hotel staff assist you in learning the typcial tourist pitfalls, places to avoid and how best to enjoy destination. Their tips can be invaluable.
Tip 7: Blend When Possible
It is tempting to carry around a big old camera, a map and a fanny pack but these three things are key signs that you are a tourist, foreign to this land. Avoid big maps and guidebooks in crowded public spaces and dress to blend in with the population as much as you can.
The most important thing, of course, is to be sensible and use common sense. Fear can protect us, when it isn’t holding us back; let your ‘gut’ guide you to know which it is.
Looking for a place to travel solo? Here’s our suggestions.
Your turn! Do you have any tips for how to stay safe as you travel? We’d love to hear from you!
Photo Copyright: oceanfishing / 123RF Stock Photo