Traveling alone has many rewards – from becoming more mindful to making new friends. But staying safe while alone can take a bit more effort. Here are 7 tips that can help:
1. Stay connected.
Before you leave, determine if your phone will work at your destination. If not, or if the cost of use is prohibitive, rent a phone once you arrive or buy international SIM cards if you have an unlocked phone. This gives you a lifeline if you need it. Your phone’s GPS helps you know where you are when in new locations.
If a mobile device is absolutely out of the question, you’ll need to work even harder to do #2:
2. Keep others apprised of your daily itinerary.
Let people know where you are headed – your friends and family back home and someone near you (hotel concierge, for example). When traveling alone in the backcountry, always let someone know when you plan to return and your exact route – and then stick to that plan. Most parks have registration options for your trip which can help immensely if an emergency arises.
3. Keep important items in separate locations.
Your money, credit cards and passport should not be in the same spot. Keep some payment options in your wallet, additional payment options in a pocket. When out for a day adventure, carry a copy of your passport’s data page and keep your actual passport locked in a hotel safe. It’s also good to leave a copy of your passport’s data page with someone at home. On travel days, carry your passport separately from your money and credit cards.
4. Learn as much as you can about your destination.
UNC’s International Travel Clinic helps with this if your destination is abroad. The materials you’ll get will include some of the most important info:
- Where to get medical care if you need it
- Local customs and etiquette
- Local laws
- Public transportation
- Water safety
- Insect needs
- Health issues in the region
Many of these items can be found through internet research as well. Be aware of how people dress, and when in doubt, opt for conservative. Talk to locals about neighborhoods to avoid, especially after dark. Know what to do in emergencies.
5. Ensure your lodgings are safe.
Keep your door locked, and use a security chain or deadbolt when inside if available. Avoid first floor rooms where window entry is possible.
6. Stay healthy
Bring an extra supply of your prescription medications and an extra script with the generic drug name rather than the brand name. Carry hand sanitizer. Use insect repellent and sunscreen. Hydrate!
7. Be confident
Venturing into the unknown is one of the exciting parts of travel. Keep your guard up, but enjoy yourself! The International Travel Clinic is a great way to gain confidence in staying healthy and safe while traveling.