Straight from the mouth of an expert.
I recently started riding solo on my travels.
Yes, I am married, but my husband is in one of those ‘protect and serve’ jobs, so it’s a bit hard to book him a flight whenever I’m taken by one of my spontaneous whims.
Surprisingly, the two women who taught me to be independent – my mother and my sister – both freaked out at the idea and sent a bunch of ‘what-ifs’ my way.
“What if nobody wants to help you get to where you need to go?”
“What if you get robbed?”
“What if you get attacked?”
I told them the secret is all about being self-aware – and you know who else agrees with me? Andrea Powis, Chief Diva & Founder of Travelling Divas.
“There’s nothing wrong with letting your hair down, but there are easy things you can do to ensure your trip remains carefree,” says Andrea.
Here are her top tips on staying safe on a solo sojourn…
1. Protect your important documents and credit cards
Recently, one of my tour guests had her passport stolen out of her backpack while we were on a walking tour. It was so fast and she didn’t notice a thing until one of the girls saw her backpack was open – and even then it wasn’t immediately obvious.
You should always keep a copy of your passport, visas, credit cards, travel insurance and anything else you think is important. Email a copy to yourself, have copies with you and leave copies with someone back home.
When out and about, only take the credit cards and cash you need. Most importantly, leave your passport in the safe – unless you are traveling or need it for identification purposes, it is not necessary to remove it from the hotel.
2. Leave your good jewelry at home
There are many opportunistic thieves and pickpockets around, so unless there’s a legit reason to bring expensive jewelry, leave the really good stuff at home and bring particular pieces that you are going to wear constantly (even better if they’re fake).
If you do have to bring the precious pieces, make sure you have travel insurance cover for them, just in case something happens.
3. Be picky about hotels
When you’re looking for a hotel, make sure you keep an eye out for things like location – don’t stay somewhere down an alleyway with poor lighting, make sure it has 24-hour reception so there is always someone around, and try to find hotels that have lift security.
When you are in your room, use the security bolt on the door, and when you’re out, always leave a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door.
4. Be open to the idea of traveling with a group
If you are unsure about traveling 100 per cent solo, book in for a small women-only group tour. These are not your big bus tours – they’re smaller, more flexible group get-togethers that foster friendship and independence. Travelling Divas, for example, takes single women on fully escorted boutique luxury holidays to destinations such as Italy, India, Vietnam, Spain, and Russia – but we offer independent exploration, too.
5. Never forget ‘stranger danger’
I know it sounds really odd to have to think about as an adult, but it is really important to remember that when you meet someone ‘sweet and friendly’, not everyone is who they seem to be.
I just finished a tour in Russia, and just before we started I had a meeting with the company I would be working with while there. The owner, who is a lovely woman, reminded me that Australians and New Zealanders are open and friendly by nature and culture, but that not everyone is the same and we needed to be aware of that. She wasn’t criticising Aussies and Kiwis – it was more a timely reminder that people often have their own agendas and that other cultures operate differently.
6. Let your bank know where you’re going
Always let your bank know when and where you are going overseas. That way they won’t cancel your cards when ‘suspicious activity’ (read: you spending up big in Milan when you live in the United States) is flagged.
Also, when using ATMs, make sure you put your hand over the pin pad so that no hidden cameras can see what pin number you are entering.
7. Leave your itinerary (including full contact details) with someone at home
It is really important that someone knows where you are when you are traveling, particularly if you are on your own. Check in with them via email, text or WhatsApp just to say hi and let them know you’re okay. It only takes a second and lets everyone know all is well in your solo travel world.
This also applies if you do decide to travel with a group. At Travelling Divas, we love it if you want to head out and make some of your own memories, or take off during your leisure time, but always let your tour leader know so they have an idea of where you are if things don’t go according to plan.
8. Think twice before posting on social media
This is a really tricky one, as you’ll want to share with the world what a fab time you are having (and quite rightly, too), but just think before you check in to the hotel you are staying or at the bar where you’re enjoying cocktails.
For the writers among you, it’s a good idea to think a little before you blog too much detail about your itinerary, traveling solo and so on. Even staying one country ahead of your posts will still work.
It is wonderful that you want to share your world – just be aware who it is being shared with.
9. Trust your instincts
Last, but certainly not least, always trust your instincts. If it feels wrong, doesn’t sit well with you or looks too good to be true, just walk away and find another option – your gut is rarely wrong.
Images via Pexels, Pixabay and Unsplash.
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