Whilst having fun, eating new food, making new friends and discovering new cultures and adventures are all part of the fun of travelling, safety is the key to any successful travel story. Especially if you are a female travelling solo.
Be sure to check out The Essential Guide To Pre Booking Your Travel, to be ahead of the safety game.
Travel Safety Tips Before Arriving
1. Emergency Contact Number & Phrases
The most important thing to know before travelling to a new location is the local emergency number. Whilst it’s 911 in the USA and 999 in the UK, each country will have its own.
TIP: Save your emergency contact, services, and insurance numbers to your phone, before leaving home.
In additional to this, be sure to know emergency phrases in the local language, such as:
- Help me
- I need help
- I’m lost
- I feel ill
If you have any medical conditions or allergies, it would be good to have these printed onto a card in the local language. Ensure you have a copy with you at all times, in an easy to reach location.
2. Travel Bubble
Before leaving home you should agree on your travel bubble and how often you will check in with them. This could be your family, friends, or even colleagues, but ensure you have someone.
If you are unable to think of anyone that you would want to share your travels with, join a travelling forum where you can check in with other travellers.
For example, I always like to check in with my family via our WhatsApp group chat at breakfast and let them know my plans for the day and what time I will be back. Even if it’s nighttime where they are, they’ll see it when they wake up.
At the end of the day, I let them know I have got in, tell them how my day went, and share some videos and pictures for proof that I’m okay. I do also FaceTime throughout my travels just to reassure them that it’s really me on the other end.
3. Copies of Travel Documents
Always ensure that you make copies of the following:
- Residency visa for your home country
- Visa for your travel destinations
- Hotel Itinerary
- Flight Itinerary
- Travel insurance
Yes, I mean physical copies. We have all become reliant on our phones to get us through the door. But I have walked into many official buildings with a dodgy signal enough times, to know to always have physical backups when I’m travelling.
Not to mention that immigration may request to see a copy of it all upon arrival or that if you lose your phone, it’s game over.
Travel Safety Tips After Arriving
4. Your Phone & SIM Card
Not only will this allow you to check in with your bubble at all times, but it will also allow you to look up directions and closing times just like you would at home. Allowing you to feel safe and prepared at all times without having to rely on spotty free Wi-Fi.
Above all, it will allow you to easily get help if you find yourself in an emergency situation.
5. Befriend The Hotel staff
When you arrive at the hotel, you’re going to want to befriend the staff. Especially if you’re travelling alone, not only would it be a great way to network, but you will also have someone to check in with daily.
Be sure to tell them what your travel plans are for the day and what time you are expected to be back. Your safety is never too much for them, so don’t feel shy to reach out!
When I’m leaving for the day I always like to have a chat with the staff at reception and I use that as an opportunity to check-in.
6. Stay Alert Stay Safe
In the wise words of Boris Johnson, ‘Stay Alert, Stay Safe’! But on a serious note, always ensure that you look confident and you’re aware of your surroundings when you’re out. This is to prevent yourself from looking vulnerable to criminals preying on tourists.
If you find yourself lost, always try to look composed and approach individuals in well-lit areas, ideally in stores for directions. That is if you don’t have your trusty Google Maps to go off.
7. An Off Situation
If a situation feels off, find a way out of there. Whether you have to fake a phone call or make an actual one or speak to a bartender or waiter find a way out of there.
Don’t feel the need to put up with someone or a situation in order to be polite, always trust your gut instinct.
8. Hide Your Valuables
As much as you may want to flaunt your latest designer bag, expensive jewelry, or even your photography gear, always ensure that you keep your valuables hidden.
If you’re travelling to an area still developing or where you know there is a high crime rate there, this is not the time to be adorned in your best. Always bear in mind that some locals within the area may be financially struggling, and robbery may be their only form of survival.
If you are an avid photographer, ensure that you have a secure backpack/daypack to hold all of your gear.
9. Taxi Safety
Taxis, the main worry for every solo female traveller. If you plan to use a taxi be sure to do the following to ensure your safety:
- If using Uber, Bolt, Grab, or the like, share your journey with your bubble
- If you are using a local taxi
- Take a picture of the car with the licence plate clearly visible and send this to your bubble
- I always ensure that the driver is aware that I’m doing this, to allow them to know that someone knows where I am
- Share your eta with your bubble i.e.
- How long you think your journey will take
- Where are you coming from?
- Where are you going?
10. Night Time Travel Safety
Avoid travelling late at night, especially if you’re on your own. Though if you absolutely must, avoid any secluded areas or dark alleyways. Even if it’s a shorter route.
Ensure someone knows where you are, and what time you are expected to arrive. And be sure to check in with them once you do arrive. If you have no one to check in with, always check in with your hotel and let them know you are on your way. They may also be able to send someone to pick you up if you are in the neighbourhood.