I previously wrote about being savvy as a solo female expat to help women stay smart and safe when traveling alone. However, this topic recently came to my attention again after watching a video about a woman almost being violated in a hotel while traveling abroad. I also happened to see this video on the hills of returning from a third trip to the Dominican Republic in which safety was a topic of concern.
In this post, I would like to add a few brief tips about safety for women and men who plan to travel alone. Because I feel that this topic is extraordinarily relevant since COVID travel restrictions have eased up, and many people are starting to travel again. As stated, these tips are useful for both men and women because anyone can be vulnerable when traveling abroad.
DON’T BE FLASHY
My rule of thumb is to blend in as much as possible whenever traveling abroad. This is especially the case when traveling to underdeveloped or developing countries or regions with high crime rates. If you dress flashy with jewelry draped around your neck, fancy apparel, accessories, etc., you automatically make yourself a target. And usually, this can lead to theft or robbery.
I actually had to deal with this issue with my brother, who traveled with me on my last trip to the DR. He wore a lot of jewelry and dressed like a hip-hop artist throughout the trip. Many people started asking him for money simply because of his appearance. They automatically thought that he had money. Fortunately, he wasn’t robbed, but he was warned several times by locals not to dress in that fashion when visiting the country.
He probably didn’t have any issues because we traveled as a group, and he was always with other people throughout the duration of the trip. Having other people around decreased his odds of being taken advantage of. However, he may not have been so lucky if he were traveling alone.
Don’t Reveal that You are Alone
Regardless of your gender, never reveal that you are alone to anyone, even when it may seem obvious. As the man in the video mentioned, have an “invisible” mate with you at all times. Any time some asks if you are alone, tell them that your “husband, wife, friend, companion, sibling, etc.” will be joining you shortly. Even go so far as to book your accommodations for two, whenever appropriate. This will give the appearance that someone is with you, which will likewise decrease the likelihood of you encountering foul-play.
Don’t Give Too Much Information
Be careful when communicating with people, especially in public spaces. Don’t reveal where you are staying or other sensitive information about your whereabouts unless absolutely necessary. Keep in mind that such details can unwittingly land upon the wrong ears.
Reserve Accomadations ahead of time
It is always best to book your travel accommodations as far in advance as possible. This is especially the case if you are not familiar with the area in which you are traveling to. Some areas are very remote and don’t have many hotels or safe places to stay. This is why it is imperative for you to prepare in advance in order to be safe while traveling alone.
Don’t Allow Strangers Into Your Living Space
I know that I stated this in my previous post, but it bears repeating in this one. It is imperative to not allow strangers to come inside your hotel, vacation rental, hostel, etc., whenever you travel alone. Once someone has entered into your living space, you are in a very precarious position. This is inclusive of men because females and males can easily set men up to be robbed, raped, killed, or otherwise violated in the same way that someone can commit such acts against a female.
Use Safe and REliable Transportation
You can find safe and reliable sources of transportation when visiting most countries. Many rideshare apps like Uber, Lyft, etc., can track your whereabouts at any given time during transport. This is a major benefit to individuals who are traveling alone. In which case, someone is aware of your whereabouts whenever you are in transit.
Legitimate taxis and other forms of transportation are also useful for this purpose. However, you can put yourself in grave danger if you choose to ride with someone in a private vehicle. Even if they appear to be genuinely nice and accommodating, it is never a good idea to ride with a stranger.
On my last trip, someone actually offered us a ride after we asked him about the Uber pick-up/drop-off location for the mall that we were at. He offered to give us a ride for a fee of course. However, we politely turned him down. Even though I was traveling in a group at the time, I didn’t feel safe getting into a vehicle with someone that I didn’t know.
These are just some of the many precautions that you should take when traveling alone. While I love to travel, I also know the importance of being safe while doing so. Many of us are anxious to get back into the world again, which can make us easy targets for individuals with nefarious motives. So be mindful of these tips and safe when traveling.