There are people who told me that I am crazy and stupid for putting myself at risk by traveling alone. Perhaps it was due to jealousy – that they do not have enough confidence and courage to do this themselves . Traveling solo could be daunting for the first time, especially as a girl. It just requires extra planning and preparation. The world isn’t as scary and unsafe as many might think. I’m no martial art master nor have I taken any defense class, but I did a lot of research about the good and bad about a place I’m about to travel to. Not only that, I made sure to read the news about the country I was going to visit. Don’t put your dream of exploring the world on a halt just because you are on your own. If you ask me, I would prefer it that way! There are some tips and tricks that should make traveling solo a lot safer.
1. Research, Research, Research
Before stepping foot in any country, make sure to put in at least a month of research to the country you are going to. Websites such as travel.state.gov , CDC Traveler’s Health and Wikitravel will provide everything you need to know about the country you are traveling to.They have details on transportation, travel warnings, safety issues, customs, vaccinations and tips on how to stay out of trouble in the region you are going to.
2. Travel Insurance
If you plan to travel to a foreign place for more than a week, I suggest you get travel insurance for peace of mind. After some research, I found CSA Travel Protection to be one of the best with an affordable price. I used this while traveling though Southeast Asia for a couple of months. It will cover from medical expenses to lost luggage. If you want to compare travel insurance options, Insuremytrip is a great website to use. They provide ratings, reviews and detailed descriptions of your selected plan. Through many hours of comparison, I found that Insuremytrip provided a slightly cheaper rate than actually going to the SOME of main travel insurance company site. This does not apply to all travel insurance companies.
3. Safety Gadgets
When I travel, especially alone, I think of everything that can go wrong and how to prevent that. So what can you bring when TSA is so strict ? Here are some gadgets that I bring with me when traveling that doesn’t take up a lot of luggage space:
Key cards and door locks doesn’t mean that someone can’t break into your hotel room in the middle of the night. This door stop alarm is small and light. Make sure to get one with 120 dB (noise level) or above. Anything less than that s a waste of money.
This thing never left my side while traveling. It has 130dB ( the sound of a ambulance siren). It’s the size of a car remote. This won’t make your opponent drop to the floor, but it sure will hurt their ears & distract them enough for you to run away. Plus, the sound this little guy will will clearly attract attention and the dogs barking. The LED light comes in handy when you have to walk back to the hotel / hostel at night. Let’s be realistic… some hostels/ hotels are not located on a well lite street, but in alleys as well. I clipped this on to my shorts & pants the whole time while traveling.
Travel Hair Spray ($2-$5)
Since TSA won’t let me bring pepper spray on the plane, I found this to be my alternative. I get a defense weapon and hair spray as well . Two birds with one stone! This can be bought at any convenience store. Make sure you buy one that is less than 3oz so it would be small enough to carry around in your purse. Also, I would put a white masking tape to give you an indication of which side to spray from so that you are not spraying at yourself when it comes to an emergency.
Money Belt (Lewis N. Clark Deluxe Waist Stash, Beige – $13-$15)
There are some countries where petty theft is a big problem. This came in handy for me while shopping and even at the airport. I never put my cellphone, passport and money in my purse. It all goes into this money belt. Yes, it’s unfashionable, but it goes UNDER your clothing. I have seen a lot of tourist wear this over their pants and shorts, its defeats the purpose!
4. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Get in the habit of looking around and in back of you when walking or exiting a place. When you are having fun, it can be very distracting and you tend to put your guard down. Also, never leave your stuff unguarded, especially if you are at the beach. Being a tourist can make you stand out and become a target for thieves.
It wouldn’t be wise to get drunk while traveling. I’m not saying don’t drink, but know your limit. Even if you are with new travel friends you met along the way, don’t let down your guard and trust no one. When ordering a drink at a bar or club, always keep an eye on your drink. From the moment the bartender pours your alcohol into the glass until it lands in your hands. Yes, you can be drugged even by the bartender. Once it gets into your hand, don’t let anyone else hold it for you. Now if a cute guy would like to pay for your drink, you can attend him to the bar and just make sure the bartender hands you the drink himself and not to the person buying the drink for you.
6. Good and Bad Tour Companies
Most likely you will book with a popular tour company on your travel. Check their ratings. I use Tripadvisor. Not only that, make sure the tour company you plan to book with has legitimate qualifications and a business license. Some tour companies are ridiculously cheap. Well, that’s because some of them might not be paying for insurance, a license and qualified tour guides. If your tour includes a hotel pickup and drop off, check to see if the tour company has insurance covered for the passengers in case something happens.