Staying safe at night as a solo traveler in an unfamiliar place requires a bit of thought and planning.
But it's really not that difficult.
Here's my post about things that solo travelers can do at night. I wrote about some of the great times I've had going out in the evening and suggested 7 things solo travelers can do at night – other than staying in with a book.
But there's also the safety issue. Many of the same safety rules apply as during the day, but there are a few more to consider as well.
How to Stay Safe At Night: 17 Tips
Through many small experiences, I've learned how to stay safe at night. From New York City to Memphis, from Paris to Hong Kong, these are tried and true night safety tips for solo travelers.
- Check with someone reliable first. Before going out, make sure that where you're going is safe. While everyone has a different sense of what safe is, it's helpful to have an opinion or two before you go.
- Plan for getting there and getting home. Depending on where I am and what time I'm going out, I may take public transit there but I almost always take a taxi back. Make sure that the taxi is licensed. Don't take pirate cabs. If you take public transit sit near the bus driver or choose a subway car that has many people in it.
- Leave a note and take a card. Leave a note in your room saying where you're going in the evening and take a card from your hotel or hostel and keep it in a pocket. If you don't know the language, you can simply show the card to your taxi driver to get home.
- Don't take a purse or backpack. I suggest leaving a purse or backpack behind. They can be targets for petty theft and just one more thing to worry about. However, this does mean that you have to leave things in a safe place in your hotel. I use the hotel safe though every online source will tell you that they are not completely safe. It's still better than trying to hide things. Please don't use 1234 or 0000 as your code for the safe. This is as good as leaving the door open.
- Stash your money in more than one place. Have some money easily accessible but, just in case you lose your money (or worse), have some tucked away in a shoe, your bra, or wherever works for you.
- Have fun, make friends, but… When you go out and meet people remember that they are strangers. You don't really know them. Also, on vacation you may be more relaxed, less careful, and, in another culture, interpret comments incorrectly. Stay in a public place with them at all times.
- Don't accept lifts from new friends. Staying in a public place also means not accepting a lift from people you meet or sharing a taxi with them.
- Gain the backup of a server. If you're in a pub or bar, befriend the server or bartender so that they'll come to your aid if someone starts hassling you.
- Be aware of your drink. Don't let someone distract you so that they can slip something into your drink. Be aware of it at all times.
- Go rested. Stay sober. It's important to have your wits about you when you're out at night, so go out rested and don't drink too much.
- Men and women are equal. Sometimes people assume that women are safer to connect with than men. This isn't really the case and should not be assumed.
- Where you're staying is your business. Your accommodation is your safe haven. Don't tell people where you're staying.
- Dress appropriately. I hesitate to suggest that a woman could be responsible for inappropriate attention from men based on their dress but the truth is that if you dress conservatively you will attract less unwanted attention. Also, wear a minimum of jewelry to protect it from theft.
- Engage the support of strangers. If I get turned around, as I did in New York City once, I'm careful about who I ask for directions. My first choice is to approach a family and then perhaps a couple.
- Know how to get help if needed. If you carry a phone, there are many safety apps available. Read Solo Travel Safety: 12 Apps & 15 Tips. At minimum, learn the local emergency number.
- Find help for someone who needs help. If someone appears to need your help, find someone else to lend the help needed. As a stranger to the area, you are not the best source of help. It's also possible that the help required is a ruse to get you engaged and in danger.
- Be rude if necessary. If you're being bothered by someone who just doesn't get the message that you don't want their attention, be rude and noisy. They'll usually back away.
Check out all the posts in our solo travel safety section.