2014 Solo Travel Destinations: how to be safe wherever you go

Hiking in Patagonis near the top of the towers

Patagonia, Chile

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.

From my 2013 Arizona road trip.

Solo travel safety tips

Before you leave…

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Buy travel insurance before you leave. This is the last essential step of pre-trip planning and 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. This post has been sponsored by AMEX Travel Insurance. It is the insurance that I have been carrying for three years now despite having a premium credit card. You might want to check out their offering.
View of Girona from the Cathedral - Venice of Spain

View of Girona from the Cathedral – Venice of Spain

On your travels…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

  • Flabellina

    Most places and many islands around the globe are safe destinations 😉 Where are you from and where would you like to go, how much ist your budget? E.g. all islands in the Mediterranean are safe. SEA (SouthEastAsia) is usually also a very safe region for solo female travellers and there are lots of islands. Bali might be the most known and is very beautiful and easy to travel. I can assure you that nobody needs to worry because you will be travelling alone and you should only be anxious in a positive sense :-)

  • linda

    hi i like island vacations. i too am a new widow but friends like other places. everyone has me anxious to go alone. which islands are the safest? i enjoy all the posts

  • Carol Baily

    What travel insurance would you recommend for U.S. citizens?

  • http://solotravelerblog.com Janice Waugh

    Excellent point. Thanks!

  • Paul Divis

    Hi Michael, I really enjoyed myself. I did not expect the freedom I had when I traveled alone in Andalucia. In fact, I am planning for more solo travels around Europe. Cheers to the great adventure!

  • Michael Carranza

    davis, trust me, you will definitely enjoy traveling alone. Ive been to different countries and it gave me lots of good memories. Here’s to more adventure!

  • http://feedingyourself.weebly.com Barbara

    Your ears are one of your best assets. You can hear people walking behind you, and even if you don’t know a language, you can assess the tone of a conversation.

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  • Bagus Frayoga Effendi

    Nice tips, it’s helpful for me. I hope someday can go traveling abroad like travel to California or New York. :) I eager to get there .. haha
    Have you visited Indonesia before ? I am from Indonedia. Let me about my country that you traveled 😀 I would like to hear your story.

  • Jacqui

    I have not traveled solo as yet and have a question. You mention a couple of times to find out if your neighborhood or the area where you want to explore is safe; what’s the best way to do this? Local police? Hotel concierge? Or what? Thanks.

  • http://solotravelerblog.com Janice Waugh

    Yes, be excited. You’ll find that you are quite capable in another language and it can be fun. Have a read of http://solotravelerblog.com/travel-language/


  • Paul Divis

    Great tips. I have never travelled alone. I am 35, male, and love travelling, but all of the previous travels were with close friends. I am planing to travel alone from London-Alicante-Granada-Cordova-Seville and then to London for 1 1/2 week. I don’t speak Spanish, and I am extremely nervous and at the same some, feeling excited.

  • http://solotravelerblog.com Janice Waugh

    Hi Vickie,

    This blog was my path out of grief after my husband passed. I hope that solo travel helps you too. Have a great trip.


  • Vickie

    Great post. As a new widow I’m off on my first solo road trip around France in 3 weeks- not the other side of the world (I’m British) but a huge landmark in my new life. Who knows where I’ll be this time next year! Thanks for your website- lots of great info for new solo travellers such as myself :-)

  • Pat Bunyard

    Sensible suggestions before you leave. I have traveled on my own for almost 40 years and while I travelled with fewer plans when younger, I now find the planning part important and satisfying. I would add the suggestion to Google map your destination and walk the neighborhood of your hotel, train station, etc. Once I arrive, I feel right at home as I have virtually been there already.