Solo Travel Safety: 5 principles
Safety is a big issue when you travel solo. And while our post: Travel Safety: 50 tips for solo travelers is one of the most popular on the blog and has lots of innovative and practical advice, it occurred to me on my last solo trip that it may have too much detail. Like me, I suspect that you will use only some of the tips and that it would be helpful to have some guidelines as well. So here’s a companion piece offering five principles of solo travel safety.
Solo Travel Principle #1 – Public is safer than private
This is my number one rule; I stay in busy, public places. Regardless of how comfortable I am with new acquaintances, I rarely leave a public place with them. And I strategize to avoid this so that I don’t insult them with my caution. For example, I always discreetly call a cab before anyone can offer me a ride. And I remember that a cab is not public if shared with a stranger.
Solo Travel Principle #2 – Be proactive rather than reactive.
I believe that it is more likely that an inappropriate person will choose me than I will choose him or her. For this reason, I’m proactive in my choices. I choose where to sit in a bar, who I talk to, where I go… I still connect with lots of people but I’m less likely to be put in the position of reactively trying to get myself out of a situation.
Solo Travel Principle #3 – Engage other people in safety.
When I go to a bar at night, I connect with the bartender or a server so that they are aware that I’m alone. They’ll watch out for me and move unwanted attention away. If I’m walking to a destination but no longer sure of my safety, I’ll stop and ask directions even if I know the way. People will redirect me if I’m headed into an unsafe area. Whenever possible, I subtly engage others in my safety.
Solo Travel Principle #4 – Never be rushed into a decision
The easiest way to be conned or ripped off is to be rushed into a decision. This is a common strategy of people who want to take you for more than they should. It usually starts with introducing new, credible, but inaccurate information that requires you to make a decision quickly. Don’t. Get yourself in a safe place to decide on your terms. (I write about this in Reflections on Women Traveling Alone)
Solo Travel Principle #5 – Be rude if necessary
I’m usually polite and congenial with everyone I meet. It makes for a happier life. However, when it comes to safety, if polite doesn’t work I allow myself to be rude – especially when I travel solo. Regardless of whether it may hurt someone’s feelings or disturb other people, if I have to, I will be rude to ensure my safety.
Follow these principles and cover the basic details like: carry identification; have the name and phone number of your hotel in your pocket; keep your money secure… and you should be safe when you travel solo.