The thought of packing up your bags and jetting off by yourself can be intimidating; however, solo travel is something that, according to Forbes, everyone should try once in their lifetime.
If you’re thinking about heading off on an independent trip around the world – there are some simple steps that you can take to keep safe and give you some peace of mind whilst you travel. From researching the currency of the country you’re in to choosing the best accommodation, our guide to staying safe will keep you covered:
What to research before you visit a new country?
The answer is: as much as possible.
Researching a country before you arrive is a must, as there are some key things you need to know before even booking your flight.
Firstly, ensure that you have checked the country’s updates via foreign travel advice bureau for any travel warnings, safety announcements and health endemics. No matter what country you’re heading to, however safe you may think it is, always double check before you book anything.
Once you’ve checked the foreign travel advice for the country you’re heading to, it’s a good idea to then double check if any vaccinations or health requirements are needed in order to gain entry. The best website to check this on is TravelHealthPro. You’ll be surprised to learn that some countries can deny you entry if you do not have proof that you have received the compulsory vaccinations.
The next thing on your research to-do list should be figuring out the country’s currency system. You can do some quick research yourself by visiting a dedicated currency blog, for example our travel money in Oman or travel money in Japan pages. In order to budget the right amount for your trip, you need to ensure that you’re clued up on the exchange rates and travel money.
As a final tip, keep an eye out for any unusual etiquette and laws around the world – you don’t want to get caught out!
How to choose the best accommodation when travelling
Your accommodation should be your haven while you’re travelling; somewhere you can find downtime from the chaos that comes with exploring a new country. Therefore, finding the right accommodation is imperative.
Before booking anything, make sure to scrawl through the internet for TripAdvisor, HostelWorld or Booking.com reviews, to see other travellers’ feedback. Make sure to check that:
- It’s in a safe location – no one wants to have to walk down a dark alley by themselves to get back to their hotel late at night.
- There’s 24hr reception staff available at all times, that are trustworthy and reliable.
- There are safes or lockable containers available in bedrooms where you could lock away your passport/ valuables when you’re not in the room.
It’s also worthwhile seeing if the accommodation is solo-traveller friendly; a lot of hotels and hostels offer organised walking tours or bar crawls, which can make exploring a new city safer as you’re in a group, plus more sociable!
Another great tip is once you’ve selected your accommodation, Google how much a taxi should cost from the airport to the hotel (or ask your hotel to pre book one for you), so you don’t get taken advantage of financially by a taxi driver outside the airport.
How to manage your money safely while travelling
Our experts recommend always bringing a small amount of cash in the local currency when arriving in a new country, for taxi transfers or initial deposits on hotels. However, carrying wads of cash around when abroad burdens even the most seasoned traveller.
If you’re a solo traveller, carrying around a lot of cash would make you an even easier target.
The best way to manage your travel money is by distributing it throughout various compartments in your bag (ie. In tampon boxes or rolled up socks) and only taking out limited amounts of cash that you will need for the day.
Aside from the small amounts of cash you should travel with, make sure to put the majority of your travel money on a multi-currency card, preferably one which can hold multiple different currencies in one go. Using a Caxton card makes spending abroad even easier as we don’t charge you to use your card outside the UK, meaning you can tap away on your contactless card or withdraw from ATMs without any hidden costs. It also makes solo travel easier if your card gets stolen or lost for any reason, as we offer the ability to block/freeze the card directly from the app – meaning no one can access your funds.
Apps to keep you happy
In today’s world we are blessed to have technology at our fingertips – so why not make the most of it to enable safer and smarter travel?
There are a number of different apps out there that can make solo travel a lot easier. For example, when using the Google Maps app, you can pre-download a region/city map whilst still on the hotel Wi-Fi, to ensure that no matter how far you wander off, you will be able to find your way back to your accommodation.
It would also be worth downloading Uber (or that country’s version of the Uber app) as a back up transport option, in case you were lost and needed to get somewhere. It’s also generally safer than simply hailing a cab as everything can be tracked via the app; you can even read reviews and ratings of the driver before you accept the fare.
If you need some further advice on apps to use whilst travelling, check out our informed blog.
Be sociable – but not too trusting
This might sound contradictory, but hear us out:
Meeting people is one of the most important and enjoyable parts of being a solo traveller. It will not only make your time away a lot more enjoyable, but can also improve your safety as exploring a city or completing a hike with another person gives you the reassurance that if something goes wrong, you’ve got someone else to rely on too.
However, being a solo traveller ultimately makes you more vulnerable and sometimes an easier target for being taken advantage of. Always have your wits about you – don’t give anyone access to your possessions and stay head smart no matter what.
The worry of solo travel shouldn’t stop you from giving it a try – many people have said that it is the best decision they’ve ever made and that it made them a better, more independent person in the process.
Keep these tips in mind before heading away on your trip but most of all, enjoy yourself!