Sometimes you just want to get away, but you don’t always have a travel companion. Some people take group trips, but you never know who you’ll end up traveling with. Others decide to embark on solo travel.
Safety Tips for Traveling Alone
It doesn’t matter if you’re 22 or 72 or if you’re a man or a woman; there are always things you can do to make sure your trip is safe.
If you’re about to embark on your first solo journey, remember these safety tips first.
KIT (Keep In Touch)
There are so many ways to keep in touch nowadays. From cellphones to tablets to wi-fi, the ways to stay connected are endless. Use those.
Touch base with loved ones often. Keep people apprised of your daily itinerary. Let people know where you’re staying. The more information you share with friends and family, the better, especially if you’re traveling alone.
The best part of staying connected is you always have a smartphone to fall back on if you get lost in a foreign place. A quick Google Map search can get you back on the right path.
Carry a Map
That said, sometimes you don’t have cell service to help you find your way back to your hotel room. That’s why you should always carry a map when you’re traveling to a foreign place.
A map can be your best friend if you get lost, especially if there’s a language barrier that you need to break through. Pointing to a map to ask for directions is a lot easier than trying to understand directions from someone who speaks a different language than you.
Separate Your Valuables
You’ve heard the saying don’t keep all your eggs in one basket; the same goes for your cash and credit cards. The last thing you want is for a pickpocket to lift all your cash.
That’s why you keep separate stashes. Put some in your shoe and some in your pocket. Hide emergency cash in the lining of your suitcase.
There are plenty of places to hide your money. When you separate your valuables, you’re less likely to find yourself stranded without funds in a foreign country. (Source: AARP)
Don’t Flash Your Wealth
When traveling anywhere, you don’t want people to know how much money you have. In addition to keeping your stashes separate, you also want to keep your valuables light.
Don’t wear that fancy Rolex or your 14k gold jewelry while you’re visiting the tourist sights. That’s a beacon for thieves.
Keep your cash hidden and close to your body. Only pull out the exact amount of money you need when making a purchase. No one but you needs to know how much money you have on you.
Do Your Homework
Don’t just choose a place to travel to without knowing what you’re getting into. Do your homework first.
Know where it’s safe to go at night and where it’s not. Find lodgings that are in a safer part of town. Study public transportation and figure out if it’s the safest way to travel or if a taxi is safer. Figure out where your local embassy is and how close it is to where you’re staying.
By spending a little time Googling before your trip, you can go a long way to making sure that you’re safe. (Source: AARP)
The more you look like a local, the less likely you are to be the target of scam artists and petty thieves. The blog Solo Traveler has a list of ways for you to blend in, including walk with confidence, carrying a shopping bag from a local convenience store, and understanding local currency.
Best Places to Solo Travel
Now that you’re prepared for your solo travel trip, where should you go? Below are some of the safest places for solo travelers to visit.
When it comes to traveling in the Americas, Canada is likely the safest of them all.
Canada comes in at sixth on the Global Peace Index with low rates of violent crime. Better yet, there’s plenty to see and do if you’re traveling solo.
According to Culture Trip, all of the country’s major cities, including Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Edmonton, have something to offer the solo traveler.
Travel+Leisure says if you’re traveling solo, then a visit to Copenhagen may be your best bet.
“Copenhagen’s quirkiness caters toward parties of one. You can find centrally located hotels offering single rooms, providing the perfect jumping-off point for your Danish adventures,” writes Travel+Leisure. “Must-visit spots include Nyhavn, the iconic canal lined with multicolored houses (opt for a tour for a closer look at the city’s waterways), and Tivoli Gardens, a historic amusement park. Stop for a quick solo bite at the Torvehallerne KBH food hall.”
Not too long ago, Finland was ranked at the top of the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report. While it’s fallen off a little since then (29th in the 2019 report), it’s still one of the safest countries to travel to.
According to Travel Safe Abroad, “[Finland] has fairly low crime rates, and if you follow common sense and remain vigilant at all times, you should have no problems in Finland.”
When it comes to safe travel destinations, Be My Travel Muse suggests a visit to The Galapagos.
“Few places in the world offer its visitors the opportunity to share such close proximity to unique birds, reptiles, and sea critters without them turning fearful, and since most people come to the Galápagos for the animals, meeting people of the same interest becomes super easy,” writes Kristin.
As for safety, USA Today says, “The Galapagos are said to be even safer than the mainland, and although petty crime can happen, it’s not something tourists should be concerned with beyond the usual precautions.”
Georgia (The Country, Not the State)
Georgia, the country, not the state, is often forgotten when it comes to the countries in Eurasia, but that would be a mistake.
Mickela Mallozzi, the host of the TV show Bare Feet with Mickela Mallozzi, told Forbes in 2018, “I recently got back from Georgia (the country, not the state), and not only is it filled with breathtaking landscapes, delicious food, and exuberant and beautiful music and dance traditions, but the Georgian hospitality is centuries old and embedded in the culture and the people. It’s an incredibly safe, open, and forward-thinking country – its people are beyond warm.”
As for safety, you’ll want to check with the state department before you go to make sure things are status quo.
According to blogger Nomadic Matt, “Most parts of Georgia are extremely safe to visit. However, you should definitely avoid the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions on the border with Russia. You should also be aware that the Pankisi Gorge area (north-east of Tbilisi) has been known for terrorist training and activity in the past, although recent reports seem to suggest that it is currently safe to visit.”
Nomadic Matt also says be on the lookout for petty theft and don’t wear anything flashy that shows you have money.
Once considered dangerous, Nicaragua is now one of the safest places to visit in Central America. So safe, it’s made Conde Nast’s list of destinations for solo female travelers.
“Nicaragua is an exciting under-the-radar option to consider traveling solo [to], and in the many times I have visited, I have met several other women traveling solo throughout the country,” Katalina Mayorga, co-founder of El Camino Travel and the Casa Violeta hotel in Granada told Conde Nast Traveler. “Not only is it welcoming, but it has everything Costa Rica has plus more, and at a much more accessible price point. You have volcanos, expansive deserted beaches, colonial towns, rich culture, and stunning boutique hotel options galore.”
Political unrest in Nicaragua has made things difficult in the past few years. However, tourism is an essential industry in the country, and everyone seems to make an effort to keep tourists safe.
When it comes to safety, Iceland is one of the top places in the world. According to the blog Iceland Travel, not only is crime extremely low, but there are “no harmful animals.”
Not only will you be safe on your trip to Iceland, but you’ll probably make friends too. According to The Blonde Abroad, people are very friendly in Reykjavik, so you’ll have no problem meeting locals and other tourists to travel with.
If you’re a fan of road trips, then rent a car and take a ride on Ring Road. The 12-to-13-hour journey is well worth the price of gas.
When you look at the Global Peace Index, Ireland is in the top 10.
Asher & Lyric conducted a massive study on the safest and most dangerous places for women to travel alone. This is what it had to say about Ireland: “The small island nation of Ireland had particularly low levels of legal discrimination, gender inequality, and violence against women’s attitudes. Ireland also had relatively low levels of non-partner sexual violence.”
Take a drive on the Ring of Kerry and walk along the Cliffs of Moher. There’s plenty of verdant green hillsides to see in the Emerald Isle.
Also ranked among the top ten safest places globally according to the Global Peace Index, Japan is considered exceptionally safe for women travelers.“
Japan offers many great accommodations for solo female travelers that will help you feel even safer,” writes MapQuest. “There are women-only train cars on commuter trains, some hotels even offer women-only floors, and finally, eating alone is considered the norm so you’ll never feel out of place.”
Ranked only second behind Iceland on the Global Peace Index, New Zealand is another excellent choice for the solo traveler.
The blog Young Adventuress has a whole list of reasons why solo travel to New Zealand is a great choice. Not only are there plenty of Expats in the country, but New Zealand’s native language is English which makes traveling there a lot easier.
Additionally, even if you’re alone, you’re not really alone.“
New Zealand solo travel is quite common so as long as you don’t seclude yourself in a quiet hotel room or to only remote camping spots, you’ll likely meet other like-minded individuals if you want to share a beer or want some company on a hike,” writes Young Adventuress.
Most travelers know that Spain is a dream destination, but did you also know that it’s very safe to visit?
When Asher & Lyric did its deep dive into the safest places for women to travel solo, Spain came out at the top.
“Spain is the safest country on Earth for women traveling alone, and it’s the 2nd most visited destination (just behind France),” writes Asher & Lyric. “This sun-blessed Mediterranean jewel performed very well with street safety, low legal discrimination, and low violence against women attitudes. One thing fascinating to note is that in 2018, Spain’s government had women outnumbering men with 11 out of the 17 cabinet seats.”
Written by Erika Towne