The thrill of solo travel is enough to make some travelers ditch their 9-5 and jet off to some random foreign land. However, solo travel is fun even for those who want to check out a city or country but don’t have a travel partner.
If the latter fits you, then you’re in luck — more travel companies are creating custom packages for the single traveler and it’s easier than ever to plan a vacation on your own. But with that ease comes a price — your never completely safe, no matter if you’re traveling to another city in your state or across the world.
How can you enjoy your vacation and take care of your personal safety while abroad? It’s all about planning, awareness and common sense.
Tip 1: Make Sure Someone Knows of Your Plans
A smart traveler will always give his or her itinerary, hotel contact information and passport information to a trusted relative or friend. Keeping people in-the-know will give you piece of mind knowing that someone knows where you are at all times. Plus, losing your passport abroad is a nightmare — you’ll get it replaced quicker if someone else has access to the information on it (but make sure you always have copies of your passport in your bag, too.)
Tip 2: Register Your Itinerary with the U.S. State Department
This one goes along with the first tip. You can now register your travel itinerary — along with your passport and contact information — directly with the U.S. State Department via their website. Why is this important? Because the U.S. government — and the U.S. Embassies abroad — are your lifeline if something happens while you’re out of the country. The ‘something’ can be anything from an emergency at home to a major political crisis — and registering your itinerary and contact information will give them a way to contact you. Otherwise, you’re on your own.
Tip 3: Get International Medical Insurance
Getting sick is never fun — now imagine getting sick abroad. What would happen if you needed immediate medical attention while abroad. Sure, your U.S.-based health insurance might cover stuff, but what if it doesn’t? You might be out of luck — and alone — when you need help the most. Companies like MEDEX offer dedicated international medical insurance and even over medical evacuation coverage if you’re in a remote area that doesn’t offer the kind of care you need. Sure, you might not need it — but it’s better to have it and not need it than not have it and need it, right?
Tip 4: Prepare Your Itinerary and Pack Away Your Valuables Before You Leave Your Hotel for the Day
There’s a running joke among traveler that says there’s a difference between being a tourist and traveler. A tourist is someone who brings almost all of their expensive gadgets with them, constantly has a map out and looks out of place in their destination. A traveler doesn’t do any of this. Instead, a traveler takes only the absolute essentials during day outing and leaves the rest in a hotel safe. Travelers also understand the importance of dressing to blend in. In other words, they do their best to avoid thieves and other wrong-doers who target the clueless tourists.
Traveling solo means you need to be even more aware of your surroundings — criminals look for easy targets and someone alone is easier to attack than someone with another person or a group of people.