Thursday, August 30, 2012

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Seven Tips for Staying Safe When Traveling Solo

One of the many misconceptions surrounding traveling solo is that it is significantly more dangerous than traveling with friends. In reality however, the difference in terms of danger is somewhat minor. Pick pockets and scam artists have no preference when it comes to groups or solo travelers. And you can get lost just as easily with friends as you can when you are on your own.

Should you be considering taking a trip on your lonesome, it’s therefore important not to let an imaginary lack of safety stop you. There are so many benefits to solo travel and provided you know how to look after yourself, trouble is very unlikely to ever find you. Here are seven tips for keeping yourself safe when traveling solo.

Look Like a Local

Scam artists and pickpockets simply adore tourists when it comes to plying their trade and you can therefore save yourself a lot of trouble by simply looking like a local. Don’t take your map out in public, don’t wear a camera around your neck and do your best to look like you know where you are going at all times (even when you don’t).

Don’t Arrive By Night

Not only are night time arrivals rarely much fun, they also put you in unnecessary danger. Whenever possible, arrive at new destinations during the daylight hours. On rare occasions when this is simply not possible, do your best to arrange accommodation as close as possible to your arrival point.

Keep Your Money Belt Hidden

Money belts are ideal when it comes to keeping your valuables safe from pickpockets and thieves. But remember, they are only as useful as they are hidden. In fact, every time you take your money belt out, you are needlessly advertising the fact that you are carrying something worth stealing. Don’t keep your lighter, lipstick or spending money in your money belt.

Don’t Drink too Much!

There is nothing wrong with having a few drinks when you’re away. In fact, many people believe that a night out is one of the best ways to get to know a city and its people. But do so with caution. Know your limits and don’t test them. It’s easy to get lost when you’re drunk in unfamiliar surroundings and a drunk, lost tourist is one of the easiest targets for crime.

Safety in Numbers
Just because you are traveling alone, that does not mean that you need to go out alone. Provided you are staying in a hostel, you should have little trouble finding new friends to take in the sights or the local nightlife. Doing so can not only make your trip significantly more enjoyable, it can also help to keep you safe.

Be Suspicious

If there’s one personality trait that can get you into trouble when traveling alone, it’s being overly trusting. If somebody approaches you on the street, always assume the worst. Strangers don’t approach you because they want to give you money. They often do approach you because they want to take it however. Hostels are for making new friends, the streets are not.

Do Your Research

Finally, before heading somewhere new, always do a little bit of research on the local scams. Barcelona is notorious for pickpockets whereas just about every capital city in Eastern Europe has beautiful girls looking to take you to ridiculously overpriced bars. And let’s not forget about those taxis in Bolivia. Most travel scams are easily avoidable provided you know about them in advance. Never arrive anywhere without first acquiring such knowledge.

Mike Johnson is an Australian based travel writer who extensively writes and shares his experiences in

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