17 things you *must* do to be safe and have the best time when you're vacationing alone
Though it may be an unpopular opinion, we actually think vacationing alone is the best way to travel. After all, there’s nothing like a solo vacation to explore a new place. You get to spend your days doing exactly what you want to do. If you want to get up early and hit the ground running, you can. If you’d rather sleep until noon and laze away on a beach chair all day, you do you, girl. You can kill it at compromising the other 51 weeks of the year.
It’s totally okay to be alone on vacation, even if it makes you uncomfortable at first. You’ll more than likely end up having a blast exploring uncharted territory and getting in touch with your own wants and needs. There’s something totally freeing about solo experiences, but being alone means you have to take care to stay safe while traveling, since no one else is there to look out for you.
We don’t mean to scare you, but it’s true: You will have to remain extra vigilant when you’re traveling alone. But the good news: There are a few easy ways to ensure you’re as safe as possible no matter where in the world your travels take you.
1Give friends and family back home your itinerary ahead of time
It sounds like a given, but anytime you’re going on vacation alone, you should be in the habit of letting loved ones know your planned route. Also, if anything changes while you’re away, send updates. Give them important phone numbers, such as for your hotel or the local embassy if you’re in a foreign country. And check in with someone back home at least once a day, so they know you’re alright.
2But try and avoid posting to social media
We know, one of the best parts of traveling is the Insta-worthy moments you create along the way. But tagging your location in photos or posts publicly lets people around you know where you are, creating a possible break-in opportunity in your home or an opening for a local predator to track your movements, which you obviously want to avoid. Snap away, but maybe hold off on posting until you’re on the way home.
Of course, this seems obvious, but anytime you’re embarking on an adventure, you should know the lay of the land — and if you’re going it alone, you’ll want to know it even better. Even if your solo travels are only taking you a few towns away from home, you should arm yourself with knowledge about the place you’re visiting. You should have a general idea of what you’ll do and where you’ll go each day. Figure out where you can get medical care should you need it — you’ll feel infinitely calmer when you have a game plan for safety when you’re in a new place.
4Bring a safety mechanism that makes you feel more at ease.
Bring something with you that can help keep you safe but also complies with international travel regulations. Maybe that means a pocketknife or pepper spray, or even just a whistle to alert someone if you’re in danger. Hell, even hairspray or bug spray can help in a pinch.
5Learn a few self-defense moves before your trip.
Even if you’re a ~queen of fitness~ and can run a marathon with the best of ’em, you will want to know a few key self-defense moves if you find yourself in physical danger. Knowing how to defend yourself is a crucial and potentially life-saving ability, and you’ll feel way more at ease in an unfamiliar place if you feel like you stand the best chance of handling a physical attack.
6Find a connection in your vacation spot.
Before you travel, ask friends and family if they know someone that lives in your final destination. Even if you never end up reaching out to the person, it always helps to know a familiar name when you’re in unfamiliar territory. Keep the person’s contact info handy at all times, just in case. And honestly, you never know what kind of beautiful connection could be awaiting you on your journey — this person might be your new best friend in your new fave getaway spot.
7But don’t give out too much info to strangers.
One of the greatest parts of traveling is meeting new people, and striking up conversations with cool strangers often leads to incredible memories and exciting new relationships. But no matter how nice or welcoming someone may seem, remember that they are still a stranger to you. Avoid giving info like your hotel name or room number, and you may want to pretend you’re traveling with someone.
Many women, when traveling alone, prefer to wear a fake wedding ring or act as if their spouse is meeting up with them later on. As annoying and sexist as this may seem, solo female travelers are an undeniable target to predators of all kind. Keep an air of mystery about you whenever you can. It’s kinda fun to do so anyway.
8Take photos of important documents.
Before you leave, take a photo with your phone of your ID, passport, insurance information, hotel reservations, and any other identifying documents you may need in an emergency. Store the photos in a cloud-based digital storage service, like DropBox, so you can access them from any location, should you lose your phone.
9Take out travel insurance.
We know, it’s annoying to pay the extra $50 or whatever it is for travel insurance, but you may want to eat the cost and just do it. You really never know when you might need it.
10Hide a note in your hotel room with your whereabouts.
When you leave for the day, hide a note in your suitcase or a hotel drawer detailing where you’ll be and how to reach you. If something happens to you (ugh, we’re sure it won’t), and authorities search your room, the note will give them a way to try and track your steps. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving the note for hotel staff to find, alert the hotel’s concierge each day before you leave that you’re alone and where you plan to go.
11Keep your head up — literally.
You might feel a natural urge while sightseeing to whip out your phone to take a photo, use Yelp to find a place to grab coffee, or plan your route, but being distracted on your phone or while using headphones makes you look like an easy target. Remember to look confident when you’re walking around — even if you’re lost, try not to look like you’re panicked.
12Pack with intention.
It may be tempting to pack a new outfit for every occasion, but packing light is your best option. If your suitcase is robbed or you have items stolen, you’ll want the smallest number of valuables or sentimental items with you. Also, do a little research on local clothing customs, and try to blend in as much as you can. Nothing screams “vulnerable tourist” like a fanny pack, so keep safety in mind when picking out your clothes and accessories.
13Bring emergency contraception.
Even if you’re not planning on being sexually active on your vacation, you should still bring emergency contraception in case you do meet someone or you’re sexually assaulted. You’ll feel better for the time being, in case you can’t get to a doctor right away.
14Learn as much of the language as you can.
Sure, you’ll want to know the basics like “hello” and “goodbye,” but it helps to know key phrases so you can alert someone if you find yourself in any kind of danger.
15Practice taxi safety.
It’s easy to think of a cab driver as safe since their sole purpose is to get you somewhere in one piece, but you’re still getting in a stranger’s vehicle. Snap a picture of the taxi’s license plate before you get in, which can help if something happens or if you leave something in the car. Keep all of your belongings with you (instead of putting your luggage in the trunk) so if the cab goes somewhere you didn’t intend to, you can easily escape should you need to. Don’t take unlicensed cabs, or better yet, take an app-based car service like Uber or Lyft, which tracks both you and the driver.
16Don’t answer your hotel door to just anyone.
If someone knocks on your door unprompted and claims to be from housekeeping or hotel maintenance, call the front desk to verify the person’s identity before letting them in.
17Trust your instincts.
The bottom line is, if something feels off, it probably is. Don’t worry about appearing rude or unfriendly — your safety is of utmost importance when you’re on vacation alone. Trust your gut, and if something makes you uncomfortable, avoid it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Taking a vacation alone is an enriching, formative experience that every woman should try at least once in her life. You can’t predict what will happen to you on any given day, but when you’re traveling in a strange place, taking all the necessary safety precautions will help put your mind at ease while allowing you to explore freely. Go forth and enjoy your trip!