We asked the question on Facebook: where are you traveling this summer?
The answers were exciting and varied. People are traveling solo to Spain, South Africa, Dubai, New Delhi, Georgia and Belgium – to name just a few. Some are planning road trips across America and others train trips through Europe. Some are going for a week, some for a month and some for the summer.
Over 100 people responded to our query and shared their travel plans. And while there are some pretty adventurous destinations being planned, no one is going to a place where there is civil unrest. No one is climbing Everest. As diverse as these destinations are, all require similar approaches to towards safety.
So, wherever you're heading this summer, please have a read and follow this safety advice.
Solo travel safety tips
Before you leave…
- Plan your major transitions before you leave. Transitions tend to be the most stressful part of travel. Moving from one place to another, managing in a new language, navigating a new subway system — it can be stressful. So plan your major transitions in advance. Know what train/plane/bus you'll take, how much it will cost, where to get it… even buy your ticket in advance if that's possible.
- Book at least your first night's accommodation in advance. Part of the planning for transitions is booking your accommodation in advance – at least for the first night. Having a place to land will make your travels easier and safer.
- Schedule your travels so that you arrive early in the day. As you plan your transportation, schedule yourself to arrive in new destinations early in the day. Everything always looks better in daylight and if it turns out that you don't like where you've booked your accommodation you'll have time to change.
- Review any medical and health needs. Check with your doctor or travel clinic to see if you need any special immunizations or medicine for your destination and make sure that you'll have an adequate supply of any medication you take regularly.
- Buy travel insurance before you leave. This is the last essential step of pre-trip planning and, unless you're buying your insurance from World Nomads, it must be done before you leave. Buy medical and health insurance so that, should something go wrong, you'll receive the medical care you need without breaking the bank. When selecting your medical insurance, make sure that it includes upfront payment for claims. Travel insurance usually also covers trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, and baggage loss & delay. Read Going Alone? Travel Insurance is a Must.
On your travels…
- Give yourself time to settle in. Take your time in a new location to get to know the town or city, what's safe there and what's not. This gives you a chance to feel and look confident which also makes you less of a mark for potential trouble.
- Stay in public. Public is safer than private. Don't go into private homes or cars with people you have just met. Doing so takes away your control and gives them power.
- Be proactive. If you are feeling unsure about where you are or uncertain about your safety, look around and choose someone to approach for help. Using your gut instincts, you'll likely choose a person who is safe however if you're standing looking vulnerable, someone unsafe may choose you.
- Slow things down if necessary. If a stranger is rushing you into a decision, refuse to be rushed. Slow things down. Whether it's a taxi driver, a vendor or someone else, a few minutes so that you can think clearly and make a good decision won't hurt and may help you enormously.
- Use the same common-sense safety skills you use at home. As you travel through a different culture there is much that is unfamiliar however, there are some basic safety skills from home that still apply. Find out if your neighborhood or the place that you're going to is safe. Don't take short cuts across empty parks or dark streets. Let people know where you are – in the case of a solo traveler it may be a matter of leaving a note in your room or telling the person at the front desk. Don't go to the aid of someone by yourself – get someone to help you. Be rude if necessary. Trust your gut. All of this applies equally away as at home.
This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.