Travel Safety: 9 Mistakes Every Solo Traveller Should Avoid
Updated: Dec 20, 2022
As a solo traveller there are a lot of advantages as well as disadvantages, solo travelling is one of my favourite things to do but you can find things that can make the experience unpleasant. I think everyone should try solo traveling even if it's just once, it's a great opportunity to get to know ourselves better.
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I was one of those people that was intimidate by the idea of travelling alone and never thought that I would do it since it was out of my comfort zone, until I was out in a situation where I had to do it. I met amazing people while traveling solo and had the best experiences and the memories are great. This is a great opportunity to see the world and have a good time and meet new people from different countries, you can do what you want whenever you want, you have full freedom which in my opinion is one of the best things.
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1. Don't Wander Around at Night by Yourself
This might seem easy at first but when you travel you need to be careful to not be out at night, so for example if you want to save money and flights or transportations, don't take a flight or a bus that would lead to you arriving at your destination at 4 am, even though it will be super cheap to travel during that time but it might not be safe cause once you arrive at your destination how would you go safely to your place of accommodation and you never know what might happen in a country that is foreign to you. Not only that, but arriving to a new place can be stressful in general so imagine when it is dark outside and you get lost or can't reach your destination, there are also things like exchanging currency and trying to find a taxi. Also when taking any form of transportation in a country always use official ones, I take buses, taxis and the metro and avoid any suspicious ones, so if someone comes up to you at the airport for example and tells you that he has a taxi you should not always trust them and stick to the official modes of transport. Another thing is to always have an offline map of the place that you are visiting is case the airport doesn't have wifi or you don't have any kind of service, as you don't want to get stuck and when you're taking a taxi for example you can follow the route to make sure you're going in the right direction. So, don't put yourself in this situation even though the prices of the transportations might be super cheap just don't that tempt you, use your common sense as you don't want to be in these situation trust me I know how it feels as I've been through it.
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2. Never Go Anywhere Without your Common Sense
Of course not all of us are super confident and this is something that takes time to build, and the more you travel the more you are able to build it, you can also think that there is good in the world and forget about the bad, and this is a mistake . When traveling alone you will find that there are people that would take advantage of you, so you have to be smart and try to not be a target of this and this is done by building confidence as well as getting to know the culture of the place you are traveling to. Knowing how to "blend in" is important, so knowing for example what can and cannot be worn in a country is important to not draw attention to yourself. Also trusting your intuition is important, you can use your common sense to know if something is sketchy and try to avoid those situations. Everything you need in order to be able to travel solo is already within you, you simply just need to be alert and listen to your gut and use your common sense, and you will keep learning through different experiences.
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3. Don't Draw Attention to Yourself
Following up on the previous point, try to blend in with the locals and avoid drawing attention to yourself. In general as a foreigner you would stand out from the crowds but there are things that you can do that can make you blend in. For example, if your a female traveling to a muslim country then dress more modestly, don't wear short sleeved shirt or shorts and short dresses or skirts, cause then you would draw attention to yourself and you won't blend in and this can lead to an unpleasant travel experience, and also making sure that dressing in a specific way is you respecting the culture so you don't want to seem disrespectful, also you would avoid harassment if you respect cultural norms. Also, you can make local friends as soon as possible to be around them, learning a bit of the local language which also seems respectful and makes it look that you put an effort which will lead the locals to be friendly with you, of course I'm not saying learn how to speak the language but simply knowing the common words that you would need to use. Another tip is to pack light, whenever I travel solo I only take a backpack and that's it, you should carry only the things you will need and things that makes you comfortable to avoid having someone help you with your suitcases or luggage, so opt to travel with either a backpack or a carry on.
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4. Don't Get Intoxicated
This is important especially when you're traveling alone, you need to know your own limits so if you decide to get a drink or two with people that you met, you need to keep track of your drinks and know how many and how frequently you are drinking them. You hear a lot of stories about traveler taken advantage of or getting robbed while being intoxicated, and this is something that can be easily avoided thankfully. Also, if you are traveling on a budget then you can save money by avoiding drinking.
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5. Don't Isolate Yourself
I made this mistake when I first started solo traveling, at the beginning I though it was fine since I'm on my own so this is how it should be, I was so wrong. I did have a great experience doing that still and I had a great time just wandering and exploring by myself and it was fun especially since I am both an introvert and an extrovert, I really love meeting new people and having a conversation with them but then I just move on from that and be on my own, so I did meet people during that time but we would simply chat for a bit and maybe exchange numbers and that was it, until I was in the Czech Republic and I met a couple of people that I ended up spending two days going around and exploring Prague with them, now that was my best trip. Prague is my favorite place that I visited and that is because of the experience, I had made prior plans that were canceled and I was put in a situation where I didn't know what to do and had plenty of time since I was basically stuck in Prague and couldn't go somewhere else, until I met these people and we hung out for two full days and we got to explore Prague and enjoyed it so much. Each one had plans of the places they want to visit and what they wanted to see, and all we did was combine those and see what happened along the way, even though as mentioned it was planned but we did a lot of spontaneous things which were so much fun and that's what made my trip so memorable and enjoyable. So, when you're solo traveling don't isolate yourself, meet people and that can be easy especially when you're staying at a hostel or going a group tour, get to know people and see what their plans are and hang out and explore with each other.
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6. Avoid Exhaustion
When you are traveling alone you can find yourself being exhausted from being out all day or from traveling, and when you're exhausted your attention and judgement can be altered so you might not be able to make quick or complicated decisions when you're really tired. So, do the best that you can to avoid that, make sure that you sleep well and get a good rest, and don't push yourself beyond your limits so that you can be fully present and in the moment.
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7. Simply Showing Up
People make the mistake of simply showing up to a country and start figuring out things from there, this is a mistake especially when you're traveling alone. You might think that it is fun to just go to a new place without any plans and simply go with the flow, this can be fun when you're traveling with other people because you can figure it out together, but when you're traveling alone it is not fun and safe. If you are someone who does this and this is your style of traveling then do it, but I am the exact opposite of that. I plan out my trips very carefully, I don't just travel no it takes me hours of researching as well as communicating with locals and tour operators and this helps me a lot prior to my trip. I might plan a trip spontaneously for the next day but I won't just show up with no plans, I would make my plans prior to that. I would plan when my flights or buses would be, I would make sure that I can reach my accommodation easily by researching what the modes of transport are, I would research things that can be done or visited in the place I am visiting ... etc. These are the things that keep me safe as well as not waste time during my travelers since I know where I should go and what I should do. This is what will end up saving you money on the long run, especially when you are traveling during peak times to a popular destination you would find that things sell out fast and you might find your self staying in an expensive place because you didn't plan prior where you would be staying.
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8. Don't Go Offline
It's so important to let the people you know or your family know where you are especially if your are a women, this is for your safety in case something happens. I always send my mum and my brother my itinerary in case anything happens so that they would know where to find me or look for me, I also turn on my "Find My" location on my iPhone so that whenever I have internet they would know where I am or know my last location. And besides safety it is considerate to let your family know where you are, I also love to share stories and photos with them from my travels, and I always call my mum at least once a day to let her know that I am safe and okay.
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9. Don't be Afraid to Ask for Help
As a solo traveler you might want to avoid asking people for directions or help cause you might be scared, but this is a mistake. You should never be scared to ask for help or directions, I do that all the time, I sometimes will have internet and know where I am going and how but still there will be some issues or obstacles along the way. I was in Lisbon, Portugal before and I wanted to go back to my Airbnb from where I was, and I knew which bus I had to take and which station I should get off, but even with internet I couldn't find the station from which I should take the bus, I was in the correct street but I still couldn't find it especially since there are multiple bus lines that goes through this street, so I saw a lady standing and I asked her, even though she only spoke Portuguese which I didn't, she still tried to help and I was communicating with her in Spanish and we understood each other and was then able to find the correct bus stop. I am the kind of person that would not hesitate to ask anyone about directions or any other help, and you should do the same.
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In conclusion, yes there are disadvantages about solo traveling and there are things that can be scary and worrying, but when you know what you're doing and you avoid the things I mentioned above then you will be fine, the only thing missing is for you to enjoy. So, don't be scared of the idea of solo traveling especially if you are a female, it's a great experience that you should do it at least once in your life.
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