It’s only natural to have a few concerns about your personal safety if you’re thinking about taking a holiday-for-one. Scammers, pickpockets and thieves do exist and regularly “relieve” travellers of their possessions – and peace of mind.
To help you (hopefully!) avoid any of the dramas these ne’er-do-wells could unleash, here are 25 essential tips on how to stay safe when travelling solo:
1. Don’t announce your travel plans on social media or anywhere else on the web.
2. Don’t share the name of your hotel with anyone you meet on your travels.
3. Keep a mobile phone on you at all times (charged and set up with a great deal or local SIM card etc).
4. Avoid travelling during the night.
5. Keep everyone back home in the loop via instant messaging services. Check in at least once a day – or before and after any outing or activity.
6. Make sure you also do this with your hotel concierge/B&B owner etc. Tell them where you’re going and when you expect to be back, and then stick to your schedule.
7. Request a hotel room near the elevator – it might be noisier, but more foot traffic will deter thieves.
8. If you’re issued a ground-floor hotel room where window entry is possible, ask to be moved to a different room.
Read more: The solo traveller’s bible
9. Put the security chain on your door whenever you’re in your hotel room.
10. To help deter potential thieves, hang the “Do not disturb” sign while you’re out.
11. Similarly, if your room needs cleaning, don’t hang a sign to let the housekeeper know, as it will also let thieves know that the room is empty. Just call the front desk to arrange.
12. While in your hotel, avoid letting anyone hear your room number (that means making sure hotel staff are discreet too).
13. Know where you need to go before you head out somewhere – check the directions and research how you’re going to get there so you look less like a tourist (and therefore less like an easy mark).
14. Leave any bling at home – expensive jewellery and watches, fancy cameras and wads of cash make you an obvious target for thieves and pickpockets.
15. Ditch your purse or wallet and keep cash in a money belt – keep it hidden and under your clothes, and only reach for it if you’re in a safe setting.
16. If you see a sign warning you of pickpockets in the area, don’t touch your money to reassure yourself that it’s okay – they will be watching you and it’s like putting up a big “It’s here!” sign.
17. Only use ATMs in safe, secure locations (like a bank), always shield the keyboard when entering your PIN and look out for any obvious signs that an ATM has been tampered with.
18. Don’t keep all of your credit cards in the same place and never let them out of your sight (eg when paying a bill in a restaurant or shop). And don’t leave any credit card or ATM receipts behind, anywhere.
19. Whether you’re in your hotel room or out and about, store your valuables in places that are as secure and hidden as possible, and separate cash etc so it’s not all in the one place.
20. If you’re seated, keep your (slash-resistant) bag on your lap or looped around the leg of your chair.
21. Dress appropriately – do a bit of research, especially if you’re going to a conservative country where modest clothing is expected.
22. Keep your alcoholic intake sensible – always stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
23. Beware of scams (they’re everywhere!). Research common scams in the destination(s) you’re travelling to, and be on your guard. Stick to reputable tour providers and official taxi services.
24. Find out the emergency services contact numbers for the regions you are travelling in. Record the numbers for police, ambulance, your travel insurance provider and the nearest Australian Embassy.
25. And, as always, the number-one rule for every traveller and every type of travel: get travel insurance!