To use common sense is to act in ways that most people would consider prudent. It is to use good judgment.
However, what is prudent in an unfamiliar culture is not necessarily the same as what is prudent at home. Common sense in one country is not necessarily common in another. Therefore, travelers must have travel common sense. You need to follow certain guidelines that will protect you regardless of where you are. Here are a number of safety tips that are, really, just good common sense.
Solo Travel Safety – Preparation Before You Leave
- Do your research and know the risks of your destination before you arrive.
- Schedule your arrival in a new location early — well before dark.
- We are trained to be polite and to keep our voices down in public. Before leaving, take some time in your basement or some other appropriate place to yell – loudly. Find your voice so that you can use it if needed.
- Practice a few basic self-defense moves before leaving. Have a read of this post: Six Tips for Common Sense Self Defence
- If you're going far and for a while, make sure you register with your government as a citizen abroad.
Solo Travel Safety – In an Unfamiliar Location
- Always stay in public. This is what saved me in my situation in Paris.
- Stay in touch with home on a regular basis.
- Draw in the support of total strangers – people of your choice – if you feel unsafe.
- Carry the name and address of the place you're staying in the local language on a card.
- Don't flash expensive items or jewelery.
- Keep your passport and other important documents secure in a money belt and have backup copies.
- Be aware of your surroundings, where the exits are, who is with you, land marks to orient yourself… don't wear an ipod so that you are and look distracted. It makes you a mark.
- Stay sober and well rested.
- Lock your room carefully and use a safe for your valuables when possible.
- Let the desk clerk or some other trusted person know where you are going.
Solo Travel Safety – Technology Can Help
- Keep copies of your documents using cloud computing or simply by emailing basic information to yourself in several distinct emails.
- Keep your cell phone handy so that you can call for help if necessary.
- Down-load a GPS to your phone if possible and also a translator.
- Use ATMs to get money and don't take out large sums at one time. You can also consider prepaid credit card.
And, the greatest common sense safety tip of all: trust your instincts. Listen to them. If something doesn't feel right, get out of there.