SOLO TRAVEL SAFETY PRINCIPLES FOR BEGINNERS
Of course, travel safety is most people’s priority but, there are some unique tips or trick that each and every traveler has up their sleeve.
Overall, travel is never going to be one hundred percent safe, but neither is just staying home.
Besides, part of the thrill of traveling is to leap into the unknown, to take risks and to challenge yourself. Especially when you travel alone.
However, that shouldn’t stop you from doing it. It simply means you need to be prepared before your trip and know what to expect.
But if you’re wondering how to be preventative and stay safe when travelling solo, I’ve listed some tips to help you feel a bit more empowered and secure.
KEEP FRIENDS & FAMILY UPDATED OFTEN
Firstly, sharing your itinerary with your friends and family can help to ensure that someone knows your where abouts, but it can also be a fun way of sharing the joy with them as well.
But in actuality, sharing your times, locations, and the people you’ll be around is essential to keeping someone informed of your whereabouts will come in handy in the rare event something happens to you.
By knowing where you are and who you’ve met along the way, your family will be able to keep tabs on your whereabouts in case they don’t hear from you for a while.
BE PREPARED TO PROTECT YOURSELF
In case of an attack of any kind, it’s always best to be ready. I’m not saying an attack is going to happen, but what if it does?
There are always unknown situations, but what if we are faced with those situations and nothing to protect ourselves?
Let’s not be in that position, and have everything ready, just in case!
Tip: TSA doesn’t allow these items to be in your carry on, but some do allow some of these to be in your checked bag
“Self-Defense Sprays are typically limited to one 4 fl. oz. (118 ml) container of mace or pepper spray.
It is permitted in checked baggage provided it is equipped with a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. Self-defense sprays containing more than 2 percent by mass of tear gas (CS or CN) are prohibited in checked baggage. For more information, visit faa.gov.
We recommend checking with your airline, as some may not allow this item in checked bags.” -TSA
CORE TRAVEL SAFETY ITEMS
Undoubtedly, some of the best options to have are:
Mace / Bear Spray
Although these may not always be the option for flying, they are still great to have on you. But, if you don’t want to buy them, I’ve actually heard through the grapevine that some of the major outdoor adventure companies like REI rent them out. Which is especially great for backpacking trips!
Get this 4fl oz keychain mace here, this may be one of your best options if you wanted to try to bring it on your flight. Just be sure to double-check with your airline.
These are amazing, but have to be stored in their cases. The reason that I mention that is because if the prongs get misaligned overtime, it won’t work. However, if stored properly, they do work well.
Check out this small lipstick style stun gun/taser here! Although it may be rather girly, the best thing about this is that it has a protective case and will prevent the prongs from misaligning.
So, have you ever watched Tangled? It’s a great Disney movie with a princess that protects herself from a robber, using a cast iron pan! How funny and smart is that?
Furthermore, a good knife could be anything from a sharp kitchen knife to a ridged tactical knife. There is no shortage of options here!
You’ll enjoy this mini Gerber para frame serrated knife here! This is my absolute favorite pocket knife, and I take it with me just about everywhere.
For one thing, a belt is great because this allows more distance between us and the attacker. Also, having a heavy-duty buckle will make more of an impact.
Did you ever take the defensive driving course? Well, they teach us to hold a key between our fingers tightly on the way to our vehicle. Fortunately, sharp keys don’t require us to get a whole new object, but they do require a short range to be able to make an impact.
This one’s also mentioned in the article 11 SOLO FEMALE SAFETY TIPS WHILE TRAVELLING IN A VAN, read it now if you’ve considered wanting to do van life. So, if you’re wanting to do van life, I highly recommend this article because it’s a bit more specific to van life itself.
TRUST YOUR INTUITION AND INSTINCTS
If something ever feels unsafe, never risk it. Just know that you can do your best to get away from a situation that makes us uncomfortable.
However, be aware of what is making you uncomfortable and pay attention to the red flags. Fortunately, we have gotten to learn them over our lifetime and some may know that staying in the uncomfortable situation could actually become worse. Let’s get out of it before we find out!
The amazing thing about us is that we can learn and gain insight overtime, fairly easily.
Some red flags to keep an eye out for are:
- Someone who asks too many personal questions
- Someone who seems nervous or paranoid
- People arguing, yelling, or cursing at each other
- A vehicle parked closely for long periods of time
- Vehicles that drive by slowly and often
It’s important to pay attention to your instincts, don’t ignore it. Best case, you were a little paranoid. Worst case, you were right, and you made the safest decision to leave.
Also remember, you can always go to a police station or fire station if you feel unsafe, or you’re being followed.
HAVE A BACKUP PLAN
Always having an escape, or a backup plan comes in handy more than you know, especially after that story I had mentioned earlier.
I must say that none of us are perfect, and we will run into those moments that will test us, but knowing when to leave or having a backup plan is always a reassuring feeling to almost any situation.
One example of a backup plan, could be having other sleeping arrangements in place and lined up, if the other one fails/doesn’t work out.
Also, have copies of your tickets, reservations, passports readily available digitally and sent to email, Google Drive, Cloud, etc. As sometimes these things can be misplaced or even stolen, so keep backups!
PS: Having them digitally uploaded and available in whatever platform is important because phones can get lost or stolen too! So, uploading them digitally is much more valuable than just having pictures on a phone.
The less you look helpless, the less likely you’re going to attract a predator.
If you look lost, people will feel more invited to try to talk to you, and “help” you.
Typically, looking helpless can look lost, anxious, scared or even restless. Instead of looking helpless, try to rock confidence, almost in the sense of fake it till you make it!
For instance, the best ways to be confident is to keep your head high, stand tall, and have strong eye contact. You’ve got this!
Firstly, being aware is an amazing skill always, beyond van life even.
Of course, the best ways to do this is to check mirrors regularly, make sure nobody is following, and keep your eyes open to your surroundings.
Generally, attackers are looking for people who aren’t paying attention, so that they can go unnoticed.
BE FRIENDLY BUT RESPECT YOUR BOUNDARIES
This one is tricky to get just right, but with practice it will become second nature. Start off by being nice but not inviting, if you’re too nice people will want to be around your energy.
Not only that, but have strong boundaries without being mean. Physiologically, if someone is too rude, sometimes people can get hurt or angry and become irrational. So, it’s best to stay safe with a bit of kindness with boundaries.
Let me give you an example; Someone approached me while I was working at a café (Free Internet and good food) by myself and approached me, I kindly shook their hand and said hello and entertained the conversation for about 15 minutes. However, after those 15 minutes were over, I simply explained that I was on a time deadline, apologized, and wished them a good day. Please understand, that sometimes having strong boundaries is exactly what’s needed to ensure your comfort and to also help them to not misread the situation.
Sometimes, it can be nice to get those social needs met, but there is a time and place for everything. In other words, maybe save it for the hairdresser or when talking on the phone with family and friends.
Actually, being resourceful is a bit of a skill. But it’s a skill that can be strengthened and built over time.
Have you ever seen Home Alone before? Well, it’s a classic kids Christmas movie, that shows this boy who was staying alone and very creatively booby trapped the whole house to keep robbers from coming after him and to protect the house.
Although that’s quite a massive resourcefulness skill, it doesn’t have to be that intense!
What I mean by that is, even some small and creative ways of being resourceful can be just as powerful.
- Use a mirror/phone/window to watch your surroundings and people around you.
- Get a bike alarm for your expensive belongings – If someone tries to pick it up, it will trigger the alarm!
- Ensure you’ve almost always have a connection or a way to call for help when you’re in exposed areas. (I.e., A hot spot device, a phone plan that works in multiple countries, etc.)
- And more..
Speaking of phone plan that works in multiple different countries, I’ve personally tried many, and I mean many different phone plans, but Google Fi, is an absolutely amazing phone plan that works in many different countries, have upwards of 50gb of data, unlimited hot spot, no contracts, it’s convenient and even more!
Too often when we are in fearful situations, our first priority is to get safe, and it should be. But I also want to emphasize that it’s equally important that we report or warn others of the situation to help prevent it from happening to someone else, once we are safe.
Do you remember on the airplane, they’d share that you’d need to put your own mask on before putting on someone else’s mask first? Well, this can be used as an analogy similarly to care for yourself first and then care for others, this can be applied in many ways!
Plus, other people may not have the same insight or even the same type of opportunity to see what you had seen.
PROTECT YOUR MONEY & BELONGINGS
Although these can seem like no big deal, it’s kind of like a begging animal, once they find out that you’ve got money or expensive belongings, they may just keep coming back for more!
- Ensure that you’ve secured your belonging
- Get them covered under insurance
- Don’t leave items or money unattended or in obvious places
- Get locks for your zippers – This prevents people from getting into your bags while you’re traveling!
- Keep cash hidden and not easily accessible in coat/pants/backpack pockets. You’ll quickly become a target for pickpockets
Hopefully, these tips have helped you to be confident and liberated in your curious solo treks.
If you’re ever wanted to transition slowly, find some travel friends, or even find more like-minded solo travelers, check out the group trips that I’ll have planned and available for you to be able to join in on too!!