One thing I learned after more than twenty years of globetrotting, is how to stay safe traveling solo. I am happy to share my tips for guarding your travel documents, valuables, your personal identity and your life while you are away from home. Of course, solo travelers are not the only ones who can benefit from these practices. Therefore, I recommend you share them with family members or friends with whom you may be traveling.
Share your itinerary with the right people by e-mail
Share your flight, hotel and travel itinerary with two family members or close friends by e-mail or in person. Include hotel(s) phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
Protect your passport
When traveling abroad, your passport is the number one thing that will keep you safe traveling solo. Here’s how to guard it with your life.
Make a copy of your passport (the main page with all pertinent information, passport number, photo, etc.) and share it with one or two family members or close friends. You will be protected if your passport is lost while traveling because you will be able to phone, text or e-mail your loved ones for the copy. Then, you can present that information at a foreign passport office as proof of identity to get a new one issued.
Make a second photocopy of your passport to keep with you in a separate place from the original. The original should always be kept with you while traveling. The photocopy can be kept in the safe in the hotel room (if there is one). Otherwise, hide it inside a seam or pocket in one of your suitcases or toiletry kits.
Limit your social media posts to certain people
While social media is very popular these days, I suggest you only share posts of your travel stories with close friends and family members versus the general public and “friends” you acquired solely through social media.
Think about it.
Do you really need people outside your inner circle knowing that you are not currently home? No, you do not. Your home and your valuables inside of it should be kept safe while you are traveling.
Do you really want the general public tracking your every move while you travel? No. That is not the way to stay safe traveling solo!
You can edit your privacy options on Facebook Twitter and Instagram to include certain people or just choose to send direct messages to them. Alternatively, you can post updates to social media platforms after you have left a location.
Know how to contact your credit card companies and travel agency
Another important way to stay safe traveling solo is to keep a list of your credit card companies’ customer service 1-800 numbers, as well as your travel agency’s phone number (if applicable) in a separate location from your credit cards. I recommend keeping this list in your hotel safe, along with the copy of your passport. If your credit cards get lost or stolen, you won’t have to scramble to look for the phone numbers for the credit card companies, in order to cancel the existing cards and get issued new ones and temporary numbers for the remainder of your travel. In addition, you will have your travel agency’s phone number safely stored, so you can call them with any questions, concerns or changes to your travel plans.
Use RFID products to prevent thieves from stealing your identity
Buy RFID-blocking sleeves for your credit cards and passport, so thieves cannot scan those items and steal your identity. When you don’t have a travel companion to keep an extra set of eyes out for you, you want to do everything possible to stay safe traveling solo.
RFID-blocking sleeves can be purchased at most travel stores or online. I purchased mine through HSN (Home Shopping Network) when I bought my new luggage. They are very inexpensive and you’ll get a few sleeves in a pack.
RFID (radio frequency identification) is how credit card and passport agencies track your locations. These days, thieves carry scanners to steal those frequencies and your information. Those scanners are used without even touching you! A thief can scan your body, purse or luggage from a short distance away.
The RFID-blocking sleeves will prevent the radio frequency on your cards and passport from being stolen. Note: RFID-blocking bags are also available.
Stay at smaller hotels
I prefer to stay at smaller, boutique hotels as a way to stay safe when traveling solo. I find that hotels with fewer rooms have staff that is more knowledgeable, friendlier and available to help you with your sightseeing questions and other needs. Most importantly, the front desk staff at a boutique hotel pays more attention to your comings and goings and they tend to look out for your well being and safety a bit more than at larger establishments where you can easily get lost in the crowd.
On my trips to Barcelona and Venice, I stayed at fabulous boutique hotels and I could not have felt safer or more comfortable. The hotel staff where I stayed in both cities were very engaged with me about my sightseeing plans, offered transportation advice and assistance when I went out late at night alone. The staff at those hotels always went out of their way to ask me how my adventures had been the next morning. NIce! You don’t always get that level of personal attention at larger hotels.
Leave your valuables at home
Unless you are traveling to some fancy event, you do not need to pack your expensive or most sentimental jewelry. MInding your personal safety is enough to focus on when traveling solo. Don’t complicate your life by becoming a target for thieves!
How to travel in the age of terrorism
These days, people wonder how they can stay safe traveling solo in the growing age of terrorism.
Follow these essential tips.
Avoid traveling overseas to countries where there has been recent political or social unrest. Don’t be one of those people who travel to places like North Korea or decides to hike along the border of the West Bank. You never want your solo adventure to turn into an international incident!
If you are from the United States, you can check for current travel bans and warnings as they unfold from the U.S. State Department’s website. You should heed these warnings as they are issued to protect and save lives.
Read this recent article from The Washington Post with tips on what you should do to protect yourself in a dangerous situation or immediate terrorist activity.
There you have them, folks! My top tips for How You Can Stay Safe Traveling Solo. I hope you find them helpful. Travel should be fun with minimal stress.
Now, get out there and have a great vacation!
ROAM. REVEL. REPEAT.