Travelling Solo: Our Recommendations For Safe Travel
Summer is coming and so are the vacations. After two years without travel because of the global epidemic, many of you want to go on a trip to relax, change your mind or simply enjoy yourself. And you want to go solo with your backpack to discover unknown lands and meet new people. But to enjoy this adventure, it is important to take some precautions and to organize yourself accordingly. Here are our recommendations to travel safely.
Avoid risky areas
This may seem like a no-brainer, but don't choose as your getaway destination countries at war, areas where the risk of kidnapping is high, places where armed militias rule... in short so-called high-risk countries and places. It goes without saying that this is not necessarily the time to go to Ukraine, Afghanistan or Eritrea. If you are traveling by sailboat, also avoid areas where piracy is significant. Also think about the fact that your country may have complicated relations with the country you will be visiting. For example after the Rainbow Warrior affair, the French were very badly regarded in New Zealand for many months.
You can consult the list of countries and places at risk in the world on the Foreign Affairs website in the travel advice section (diplomatie.gouv.fr). The list and advice are updated daily if necessary.
Prepare your trip as well as possible
It is certain that what you like in solo travel is the freedom to meet people, to choose such and such places of interest at the last minute or to follow the advice of an old man you met in a bar who told you about a heavenly beach unknown to tourists... But without going overboard, it is prudent to prepare an itinerary beforehand stating the places you will be if not every day at least once a week, give addresses and phone numbers such as those of the hotels you will be staying at, the tourist places you plan to do and give all this information and your route to a person you will designate as a trusted contact. And don't forget to give news regularly, with mobile apps like what's app, this is quite easy these days.
Finally in the important preparations to make, make copies of your ID (passport...), a list of important phone numbers (Insurance, Bank card opposition...) and save them in a cloud accessible from anywhere. Walk around with copies and protect official papers.
Respect the sanitary rules
The worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has shown that not every country is equal when it comes to health issues. So it is up to you to adapt to each country's own rules. If you need to be vaccinated for COVID or other diseases, think ahead. If quarantine is required prepare accordingly. And if you need to be tested regularly remember to be in places where you can get those tests done.
Constitute a small first aid kit with travel essentials (antiseptic, bandage...). Some pharmacies offer ready-made ones with these famous travel "essentials". And if you are on medication remember to take the necessary doses for the duration of your trip (ventolin, insulin...). Remember that not all countries have access to the same quality of care in the world or at the same price.
Respect the customs of the country
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you need to use common sense, understanding and adaptation before anything else when traveling solo. Find out beforehand both about the cultures, traditions, religions or rules of the country that will host you. Don't impose your view and don't think that your identity and/or nationality will save you. Women must veil to visit Saint Sofia in Istanbul, men must remove their caps or bobs in many Catholic religious places, it is not advisable to eat in the street during the daytime during Ramadan in Muslim countries...
Be respectful of others and their way of life, so your trip will be made easier and you will have a great chance to meet people.
Avoid external signs of wealth
Even though for the past few years it is advised to pay by smartphone or credit card, some places will only accept change, so place your cash in several places. Have the equivalent of €20 on you but never more, that way you won't tempt thieves and if you are pickpocketed you won't lose much.
If you like beautiful watches, the latest smartphones, luxury brands, jewelry ... forget it! Buy yourself an ultrabasic watch that only gives the time and that will cost you nothing, prefer cheap clothes without famous brands, even buy a low-end smartphone with some practical and useful applications for your trip but that does not give access to all your data, your accounts or your life both private and professional. We even recommend wearing your wedding ring around your neck rather than on your finger to avoid having it stolen. Finally if you share your night in hostels or transport think about hiding your money and valuables. Caution is the mother of safety.
Some miscellaneous advice
Don't walk around alone after a certain time. Some countries are not safe and even more so if you are a young woman. Don't fall into paranoia but ask locals, restaurants, hotels and guidebooks about the nightlife.
If you love going to nightclubs, watch your drink. There are many drugs floating around and you don't know what might happen to you. Drink in moderation. Keeping a clear head is one of the best ways to protect yourself.
Use official, state-regulated taxis. Sure they will be a little more expensive but at least you are guaranteed not to get ripped off and arrive at your destination intact which in some countries is the most important thing.
When you leave a place, restaurant, hotel, bus station... always check your bag to see if nothing has been stolen or if nothing has been added. Never agree to carry or keep items for strangers even for that super nice surfer you met 3 weeks ago and befriended.
Always declare what you need to declare to customs...and when in doubt declare the item or product anyway. Better to declare something that doesn't need to be declared than the other way around.
Finally register on the site "Ariane" of the French diplomacy which will allow your country to know where you are, to know the flights you are taking, the person to contact in case of problems and above all to inform you of the situation of the country and to rescue you in case of natural disaster or to evacuate you if necessary.
By following these tips and using common sense you will be able to enjoy your trip. What tips do you have for protecting yourself when you travel solo?