12 Rules To Memorize To Stay Safe While Traveling Solo

Traveling solo is a great adventure and wonderful way to the see the world. You’re the captain of your ship and have complete control over where you go and what you see. There’s no one to consult or negotiate with. It’s an intoxicating freedom, but its important you keep your wits about you. Here are my 12 rules to staying safe while traveling solo.

  • Use common sense: It’s obvious and should go without saying but don’t put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Be familiar with your surroundings, avoid bad neighborhoods, dark and empty streets and stay sober and in control of yourself.
  • Be alert and trust your instincts: Being aware of your surroundings is 90% of staying out of trouble. Don’t use an ATM if you think the area is bad or if there’s somebody shady behind you. Also trust your instincts, they’re right more times than wrong. If a situation or a person feels bad get yourself out of it. Don’t worry about hurting their feelings. Better safe than sorry.
  • Mugging 101: If you find yourself in a situation where you’re being mugged don’t resist and give them what they want. Nothing you own or carry is worth your health. Give them your wallet, bag or whatever else they want and hopefully they’ll leave you alone.
  • Carry your cash in different ways: I only carry cash with me when I’m out and about in a foreign city. If my wallet is stolen the thief only got my daily spending money. I also keep enough cash in my other pocket for transportation back to the hotel or hostel. For my cards and other important documents, I keep them in a safe (if available) or I store them separately in two bags to minimize risk from theft. Keeping all your eggs in one basket will put you in hot water if that basket is stolen.
  • Always. Stay. Sober. This is for the guys and girls. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen kids out partying and having too much to drink, smoke or whatever. Losing your senses is a guaranteed way to get mugged or molested. You’re no longer in control, easily manipulated or if you’ve passed out vulnerable to the whims of the people that surround you. I understand you want to have a good time, but at what cost? Know your limits and stay in control of yourself.

  • Watch your drinks in a bar: Ladies, always watch your drinks at a bar. Be vigilant so no one slips something into your drinks and drugs you. You should be doing this regardless of whether your on vacation or not.
  • Know the scams in the places you visit: As part of your trip planning check online for any known scams in the countries you’re visiting. Knowing about the tricks upfront will help protect you from being played for a fool. Also as a general rule, be wary of any unmarked cabs at airports or people that are too helpful or nice, they maybe fishing for something extra from you.
  • Be aware of local laws and customs: Always take the time to learn about the customs and laws of a new country you’re visiting. The internet is littered with terrible stories of people who broke the law in foreign places with harsh consequences. Don’t bring or traffic drugs in South East Asia, if caught you’ll get a long jail sentence or worse the death penalty. Don’t become a statistic, know the laws and follow them. Also if you’re in a conservative country get familiar with the dress code and dress appropriately.
  • Don’t become a mule: In a post 9/11 world this should be a given, but don’t carry anything for anyone during your travels. Whatever is found in your luggage is your responsibility. You’ll take the full brunt of the law if something gets smuggled in your bags.
  • Keep electronic copies of travel documents. Keep a scanned copy of your passport in your email. If your passport gets stolen you have the scanned copy as evidence of your ID when you go to the embassy.

  • Avoid troubled countries: Another obvious recommendation, but avoid troubled countries. For example: now is not the best time to visit Syria, Egypt or Iraq. If a country you’re visiting is having demonstrations or political upheavals then its best to reconsider the timing of your visit.
  • Get Travel Insurance: Sometimes bad things will happen regardless of how much you plan or how cautious you are. You should always have travel insurance to protect your possessions and to cover medical emergencies. I have World Nomad Travel insurance. They’re an excellent company that I highly recommend. You can sign up for their insurance here.