I’ve always had a passion for travel. Since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved the thrill of experiencing a new culture, a new destination. As I’ve gotten older, that hasn’t changed but unfortunately willing travel partners haven’t always been easy to come by! People flake, don’t have the funds, or can’t agree on a destination and if you let it, it can leave you right where you’re sick of being- at home.
So, one day I decided I wasn’t letting that stop me! I was 20 for my first (semi) solo trip. It was also my first time in Europe. I studied abroad in Florence, Italy for a few months and during that time, I spent a lot of time going off on my own exploring what Italy had to offer. While I didn’t pass my Italian language class, I still learned so much and since then I’ve continued to go to new destinations by myself and I love it!
I’m such a huge advocate for taking the leap into solo travel, but as a young woman (or anyone!) it’s important to put your safety first. I’m won’t insult your intelligence and tell you the typical “Don’t go off with a creepy stranger”- I hope that’s not your thing. But, I will share my list of things that may not cross your mind but could really save you should you end up in a tough spot.
Make a copy of your passport
I probably don’t need to tell you not to carry your passport around at all times. Yes, you should leave your passport in your room BUT bad can things happen. I’ve heard too many horror stories of people having their hotels or Airbnb’s broken into. Know what’s not cool? Being in a foreign country with no ID. You’ll be stuck in the country until further notice. Carry the copy of the passport on you. Should the worst happen, you will at least have something to take to the Embassy to prove your citizenship.
Did you know you can get your mace through TSA?! Don’t tell anyone I told you but (you can). Obviously be smart about it and don’t make a show of having it but leave that mace right there in your purse. The first time I did it was an honest oversight but after realizing it, I felt so much more secure! Thankfully I’ve never had to use it but being alone, I’d rather be safe than sorry. [Please check individual country standards; it is illegal or requires a license in some countries like the U.K. and Japan]
Share your location
No, I’m not quoting the Khalid song. I’m making sure somebody doesn’t have to call Liam Neeson for you. Yes, getting “lost” in a new place is freeing and wonderful but so is staying safe. Even if you don’t want to share your location with a parent, choose a friend you trust. This could literally save your life (or your phone should you lose it). I’m not sure about location sharing capabilities on Androids but you can always go old school and just share your trip itinerary including flight numbers, lodging information, etc. You are important to someone. Let them know where you can be found.
Don’t carry all your money on you
Wallets get lost or stolen every day, b. (Go watch Paid In Full if this reference went over your head). Of course it’s always useful to have cash on you but should it go missing, the last thing you want is to be left penniless. I follow this rule in my every day life but especially with traveling. Don’t keep it all in one place; give yourself a safety net in case something goes wrong. Leave some cash in your hotel and some in the bank! Carry that plastic. If it goes missing, you can cancel it and still have your funds. This is especially important before you’ve reached your destination and you don’t have a hotel to store your things in yet. Travelers are targets. You don’t want to walk around with a wad of all your cash.
Research your destination
Is your hotel on a well-lit street? Are you about to be in the hood? Is this a place known for high human trafficking rates? These are all things that would be beneficial to look into before your arrival in a new city. A few quick google searches could help spare you from being unintentionally caught in an unsafe situation. Google street view is your friend! Use it.
Ok. I know I promised you no stereotypical tips. But this is such a big deal that it’s important to mention. Please stay aware of your surroundings. This isn’t just about not getting belligerently drunk. You can let your guard down just looking at maps, shopping, or taking pictures. YOLO only goes so far. Anything could happen in those few short moments. Stay alert and trust your gut. It’s almost always right. If you have a feeling that you shouldn’t stop somewhere, just don’t.
That’s it! I hope this helps. Safe and happy travels.
Alexis Indea is a Philadelphia-based up-and-coming natural hair blogger. By day, she works in IT but this new mommy is an avid traveler and foodie. Keep an eye out for her new natural hair and lifestyle blog launching in January 2020 – alexisindea.com. You can find her on Instagram @AlexisIndea