We know you’re amazing, that you’ve traveled solo before, and that you can take care of yourself. But we also know that, like the rest of us, sometimes you need a little help with solo traveling. And because we don’t want this to be something lurking in the back of your mind as an unpleasant surprise. We’ve put together a few quick tips for staying safe while solo traveling.
Do your research and plan ahead
It’s important to do some groundwork to make sure you are aware of safety challenges specific to the country or region where you’ll be traveling. And those which could affect women specifically.
For example, are there specific safety concerns in the area that have been reported to the U.S. State Department? Are travel advisories in place? Are there any special precautions you might take? Have women had any bad experiences in the country or area you’re headed to, and if so, is there anything you can do to avoid similar situations?
Bring two cellphones
One for regular use that stays put with your stuff and one that you carry with you only for emergencies – and make sure it’s charged at all times. That way, if you need to get a hold of someone, you can do so without worrying about it being stolen.
Also, many countries besides the United States have emergency services that can be called on regular cellphones even without a SIM card or roaming activated on the device. That means your phone could still be useful in an emergency even if you don’t have service or the ability to receive text messages.
Plan for communications
Do some research and find out if there are apps available for your smartphone that allow you to text with others in the country where you are solo traveling (as well as at home). If you are staying in hostels, hotels, or other accommodations that offer wifi for guests, you may even be able to use your own device to access any blocked American websites.
If you will be using a rental phone on your trip, make sure it can support texting and if not, check with the location where you’ll pick up the phone to see if there are affordable SIM cards available that support texting with the U.S.
Consider getting an international plan
This doesn’t need to be an expensive solution – just find out which providers offer international plans for your mobile device of choice (smartphone or flip phone).
Many will offer ways to make cheap calls from abroad, send text messages home, and some even have affordable data plans or wifi access. All of these are ways you can stay connected with loved ones back home while traveling.
Stay aware of your surroundings
Be conscious of how you dress and act in public spaces, especially if there is any risk that you could be mistaken for a local. If at all possible, avoid walking around alone at night (or at least avoid unlit pathways). When you’re in a group, try not to travel on public transportation with just one other person.
If it makes you feel safer, consider bringing a pepper spray (but don’t give yourself away by using it improperly!).