Prior to embarking on my first trip alone to Mexico, I was bombarded with tons of advice from concerned friends and relatives. It was difficult persuading my folks that I might want to go 39 hours from Singapore alone. Furthermore, traveling alone requires some extraordinary sense of security and I tend to be unlucky whenever I travel.
With the understanding that all travel comes with certain risks associated with being out of your element, solo travel is safe. Like all travelers, you need to plan well, know about your environmental factors, use sound judgment and make good choices, and follow the safety tips below.
- Choose your destination carefully. Everyone has their personal take on safety. Some countries could never be included in the destination list for safety reasons.
- Buy travel insurance before you go. This is essential, even prior to Covid-19 because no one is able to be certain what will be in the way. With insurance, you will be able to have peace knowing that you are covered in the case where incidents happen. It keeps life simple and safe to buy insurance before you go.
- Register with your government. I certainly don’t do this every time I cross the border to JB or KL. But if you’re going for a few weeks, registering online before traveling abroad is a good idea.
- Schedule your arrival during daylight. The first stop for most travelers is their hotel or hostel. I recommend that you arrive in the mid-afternoon so that you can really see what kind of area you’re staying in. A safe area will always look better in daylight meanwhile an unsafe area is more obviously so in daylight. To add on, you will be able to find your accommodation more easily and if you don’t like it, you will have time to make other arrangements.
- Trust your intuition. If it doesn’t feel right, leave. Whether it’s a bar or a park or a hostel, if you don’t feel good in the situation, if your sixth senses are tingling, it’s best to get out of there.
- Know the typical con/scams of your destination. If someone wants to give you something for free, it may be a good idea to decline. A rose is often offered on the streets of Barcelona to draw travelers in for a con. A ring apparently found on the ground and offered to you as the person who possibly lost it, is another ruse to turn away from. Familiarize yourself with the common con games travelers encounter.
- Stay alert and sleep well. While it’s wonderful to sight-see, luxuriating in its culture, you will have to be aware of your surroundings. Thus, being well-rested makes you more alert. Conversely, if you’re over-tired or jet-lagged you should be aware that you are naturally less alert.
- Stay sober. Whatever your drug of choice, it’s best to stay sober as you travel. This is not just important for being alert but also for your judgment. Judgment is compromised by alcohol and drugs.
- Be polite and not over-friendly. Being impolite can definitely get you into trouble. If people take offense at your behavior, it’s hard to know what can happen. So, definitely be polite under most circumstances. But if a person is bothering you, being polite can get you into trouble too. Know when and how to make a lot of noise and attract attention to yourself and the person bothering you.
- Don’t flash wealth. Leave costly things at home and don’t wear jewelry or flashy clothes and accessories that will attract attention to yourself. Even if they don’t go after your jewelry, they may target you for picking your pocket.