I travel a lot. For work. For fun. To visit friends or family across the continent. Sometimes I’m alone, and sometimes I’m not. When traveling, sometimes it’s really easy to spot people who are out of place (like you may be, standing out as a tourist). Other times, you may blend right in (I cannot count the number of times I’ve been asked for directions in a place I barely know myself). However, no matter if you stand out like a sore thumb or fit right in, it’s important to stay safe while you’re traveling, especially when traveling alone.
- Ditch the headphones. I often wander around with earphones plugged in to my head. When I’m at an airport or train station, it’s great when I don’t want to make conversation. However, it can also make it more challenging to stay alert when I’m by myself, either just sitting around a crowded place or walking down desolate streets. If it’s getting late or dark or I’m in a fairly empty area, I ditch the headphones so I can remain very alert.
- Give someone your itinerary. I always make sure someone (my mom, significant other or a friend) have my itinerary so that if something were to happen — even just losing my phone — they would know where I am. I make sure they know what cities I’m going to be in on what days, at the very least. I also like to check in with a photo of the train station welcome sign when I get somewhere — it’s a fun way to say, “I made it!”
- Have copies of your documents. Traveling abroad or domestically, you need to have some sort of identification most of the time. Be sure to take pictures of those documents, along with any flight, train or hotel information, in case you were to lose them. (I like to email them to myself so I have easy access finding them if needed.)
- Don’t go bragging that you’re alone. When chatting with people at local bars or in the hotel lobby, don’t talk about how you’re traveling alone (too much). It can make you an easy target if people know you are alone and don’t have people with you on this trip. Even if you’re eating alone or sitting alone, they don’t have to know that you are alone.
- Don’t assume safety, anywhere. Even your hotel room. Things can get stolen or something can go wrong no matter where you are. I like to travel with something to cover up the hotel door peep hole (post-it notes work great for this). Don’t keep valuables or important items laying around either. And if you have a gut feeling something isn’t right, whether in your hotel or walking down the street, you’re probably right. Trust your instincts.