Solo travel has been all the rage lately. “#Solotravel” is almost always trending on Twitter and Instagram, and men and women alike are finding ways to take their dream trips on their own.
Traveling solo can be very empowering, but there are also some risks to it. Even traveling across your own country can be dangerous if you overlook these seven potential threats to your safety.
One of the biggest dangers of traveling alone is getting lost. “Even in this age of Google Maps?” you may ask. And the answer is yes. If you are heading somewhere you have never been before, it is easy to take a wrong path (whether you’re walking or driving) and lose your way. Hundreds of people get lost each year on hiking paths, for instance, because they didn’t have access to a map on their phone, and others get lost even just walking through the city and end up somewhere they don’t want to be.
Even if you are traveling alone and being independent, it is still a good idea to let someone back home know at least your general whereabouts just in case something happens.
The world is full of scammers, unfortunately, and their bag of tricks includes a lot more than just phone calls regarding your car’s extended warranty. If you are in an unfamiliar place, out of your element, it is easy for a scammer to pick up on this and trick you somehow, like selling you fake jewelry or handbags or pretending to be a tour guide and taking your money.
Always be wary of someone who comes out of the woodwork to sell you something you weren’t looking for, and always check the credentials of any cab driver, tour guide, or other person you hire to help you get around.
Speaking of taking your money… pickpockets are not a European phenomenon. You often hear warnings about wearing your backpack in the front instead of the back and keeping your money in your shoe if you go to exotic places like Venice or Paris, but there are plenty of thieves right here in the good ol’ U.S.A. as well.
The same rules apply when you travel abroad: always keep an eye on your cash and your phone, but don’t reach for them to check if they’re still there if someone bumps you — that’s a classic way to show thieves exactly where your valuables are.
Getting Hurt or Sick
No one wants to get sick or injured on vacation, but unfortunately, this sometimes happens. While always inconvenient, it is worse when you’re alone. Always be sure you have two emergency contact numbers on hand — one for you to call if you need help and one for someone else to call for you if you need someone to arrange a way home for you.
You might not expect it, but different U.S. states might have different traffic rules and road setups (what even are roundabouts, for example?). Driving is a lot different in Kentucky than it is in a more crowded state like New York, for instance, and not knowing the rules/standards could result in a wreck.
If you’re on a solo road trip, always drive carefully and be aware of your surroundings and the road signs. Some cities are better navigated via public transportation, so consider that as well.
Recently, heavy thunderstorms have brought a lot of vacations to a screeching halt with delayed flights and lingering floods and damage in some cities. This is just one example of how natural disasters can ruin a solo trip. Getting caught in a storm or disaster with a traveling partner is bad enough, but if you’re on your own, things can get even riskier.
Always keep an eye on the weather to know when it’s a good idea to go out exploring and when it’s a better idea to stay in your hotel and wait it out. Try to keep a flashlight and an “emergency kit” with some food and first aid supplies in your suitcase or car just in case you get caught out and need rations. You can’t predict what Mother Nature might do, but you can be prepared.
Crimes like shootings or assaults can happen anywhere, but if you’re on your own in a strange city, it could be even scarier to witness, even if it isn’t happening to you. Always know how to contact the police and where to go in an emergency, and keep yourself safe by sticking to well-lit, populated areas.
These things shouldn’t scare you out of taking a trip alone, but they should give you an idea of what to look out for when you do so you can protect yourself.
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