Solo traveller

More of us are opting to travel solo than ever before – and it’s not because we have no one to go with.

A report released earlier this year claims that the number of Britons travelling solo has increased by almost one third since 2011.

Travelling on your own, be it for business or pleasure, can be liberating. You’ve only yourself to think about and have far more freedom than if you’re travelling with other people.

Although the popular image of a solo traveller is a young backpacker, first-time solo travel can occur at any age. Whether divorced or widowed, or simply wanting to do something that their partner isn’t so keen on, more and more people are taking to the road on their own.

You may have some concerns if you haven’t done this before. The best way to allay any fears is to plan ahead, take the same precautions you would at home and if you feel concerned always use you’re better judgement and err on the side of caution.

Before you go

Wherever you’re going it’s a good idea to:

  • Visit the FCO website to find out how safe the country you’re visiting is and what the local laws and customs are
  • Pack appropriate clothes for where you’re visiting. Women travellers may need to cover up and if you’re going somewhere hot take protection to avoid sunburn.
  • Pre-book your transport and accommodation where possible and give a family member, business colleague or friend your itinerary.
  • Take out suitable travel insurance.
  • Store the address of where you plan to stay and emergency numbers in your phone
  • Learn some key phrases in the local language so you can get help in an emergency
  • If you’re going off the beaten track take a first aid kit with any spare medication you might need.

For more top tips on preparing for a trip see our guide.

Staying safe in your accommodation

Where possibly always book accommodation in advance so there’s no risk of ending up with nowhere to stay. If you’re staying somewhere on your own and are concerned about your safety here are some precautions you can take.

  • Never leave your key where someone can see your room number,
  • Keep your door and windows locked even when you’re inside your room.
  • Use any spy-hole or chain on your door before opening it to unexpected visitors.  You can also place a wedge under the door if you feel uneasy.
  • Make sure no-one overhears you telling the reception in your accommodation what you’re doing that day or when your room will be unoccupied.
  • Indicate your room is occupied even when you’re out. Do this by using a “do not disturb sign” on your door or leaving the lights on.
  • Keep safe your money, valuables and any important documents you have in any safe provided by your hotel or hostel. For more on this see our guide.

General safety advice when you’re on your own

It’s worth remembering the old adage “When in Rome do as the Romans do”. As well as dressing appropriately and respecting the local customs, looking confident and generally blending in with everyone else will help you feel more at home.

Don’t take silly risks. You should also take the usual precautions you’d take at home.  Wear the helmet, the seatbelt or the life jacket.  Avoiding walking alone in the dark or in deserted places, watch out for pickpockets in busy places, keep your valuables and cash hidden.  Pay attention and know your escape route in every situation.

Be aware of how much you drink, avoid accepting drinks from strangers and and don’t get too drunk, even if you feel like you’re with friends.

Other things to consider when you’re travelling on your own include:

  • It’s rarely a good idea to tell strangers where you’re staying or your travel plans
  • Plan your daily itinerary so that you know where you’re going and how to get back especially if this involves using public transport. Poring over maps and timetables in public can mark you out as a possible target for unsavoury characters.
  • If you need a taxi, ask your hotel or hostel to recommend a firm.
  • If you feel uncomfortable or in danger, don’t be afraid to draw attention to yourself by shouting and making a fuss. In English-speaking countries it’s recommended you shout ‘fire!’ rather than ‘help!’ as you’re likely to get more attention.
  • Take extra care crossing roads especially if you’re not familiar with an area or people are driving on the right.

Other guides which might interest you

Selfie safety 

Personal safety 

Independent travelling

Gap year students 

 Hotel safety  

Self-catering

Published on 20/11/18

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