Safety · Solo Travel · Tips & Tricks

Safety when travelling

Last week I found myself in an unfortunate situation in Ukraine where I had my money stolen by a taxi driver. I wasn’t planning on talking about it, but it wouldn’t be fair to only talk about the good times. Travel has many ups but it also sometimes has downs. It isn’t always as perfect as Instagram portrays. So, I’ve decided to put together some tips on how to stay safe when travelling. If I can help just one person avoid the situation I found myself in I’d count it as a success…

Arrive in daylight – This isn’t always possible but it’s something I’m going to try really hard to adhere to in future. I usually travel after work on a Friday and arrive at my destination late in the evening.It’s always better to arrive in daylight and spend time getting your bearings around a new place.

Let people know where you are & check in regularly – It is so easy to stay in touch these days, there is no excuse not to drop someone back home a text or IM about where you are and a rough idea of your plans. It is also worth scanning a copy of your documents and emailing them to both yourself and someone back home in case they are needed. c99209b4234e5cd5cf0b0ce125cee967

Trust your instincts – Always listen to your gut feeling. If you don’t feel safe, leave. You have no obligation to stay anywhere where you don’t feel 100% comfortable. Use your common sense, it could be your most powerful tool.

Don’t be too trusting of people you’ve just met – This sounds so bad, considering how many friends I’ve made when travelling. However, what I mean by this is that the majority of people you meet are sincere but not everyone is. Just be careful with the situations you get yourself into and make sure you’re keeping yourself safe.

Don’t drink too much – Anyone that knows me will laugh at me preaching this. However, I’m being serious. When I’m travelling solo in a foreign country I’m completely different as I only have myself to rely on so need to have a clear head. I’m not saying don’t drink at all, just be responsible with the decisions you make. As we all know, when intoxicated people tend to make decisions they wouldn’t necessarily make when sober.

Blend in & look confident – Try not to stand out too much as it may draw unwanted attention to yourself. Additionally try to look as if you know what you’re doing. If you’re lost, go into 932786ed7b8aa9c8e5fdffccb6244efaa cafe or shop before taking out your map. If you act like a local, you’re less likely to be bothered unnecessarily.

Make the most of wifi – If you’re like me, you don’t want to pay excessive charges for using your data abroad. When I’m at a place with WiFi I tend to use that time to touch base with people back home, to Google routes to places and to do a bit of research on my destination. It’s always worth learning the customs and at least a few words of the language.

Hide money – Don’t keep all your money in one place, separate it between bags if you can. I’ve heard loads of tips about keeping your money safe – from storing notes in your bra to inside a tampon case. If you find something that works, do it! I tend to have two purses on me meaning if I am robbed (again) then I can hand over the purse with the smallest amount of cash in it.

Questions prices – Before I step foot in a taxi I always ask for the price. If the journey is based on a meter then I ask for a rough estimate. If you feel like you’ve been ripped off then ask for a receipt and you can investigate/ complain once you have time to get away from the situation.

Give it up without a fight – If someone is demanding your money, your phone or anything, just give it up. There are people in the world with questionable morals who wouldn’t hesitate harming you to get what they want. Your iPhone is not worth dying over. Just give it up. Material goods can be replaced, but you can’t!

Get a rape alarm – Thank goodness I’ve never had to use this when travelling, but this was a really useful gift from my mum a few years ago. If you feel like you’re in a situation where your safety is at risk you pull a little cord and the most horrendous scream comes out of this tiny contraption. It’s designed to draw attention to your location and scare people away. They’re not expensive and they’re small enough to carry about on your key ring or in your bag, so I recommend having one.

Invest in insurance – And finally, make sure you have insurance. If the worst does happen and you do have something stolen or you are hurt, insurance is invaluable.

I hope some of the above is useful. Have you got any other tips on how to stay safe when travelling? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below….

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44 thoughts on “Safety when travelling

  1. Hey! I’m so sorry to hear what’s happened to you… I know exactly what you’re going through, I was robbed in Cambodia couple of years back and I completely agree with you that we should talk about the not-so-great times travelling.

    All of these are fantastic tips! Definitely helpful. It’s experiences like these that build our travel character and make us more aware and responsible travellers – I was quite naive before I was robbed. Hope the rest of your trip goes smoothly!

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    1. I completely agree with you Caroline. We have to pick ourselves up and learn from the unfortunate situations. I’m sorry to hear you also went through this, it sounds like you’ve also learnt from the situation. I hope all future travels are safe and happy!

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  2. Really sorry to hear that this happened to you. I really hope you’re not too shaken. But thanks for taking the time to highlight these really sensible travel safety tips. Hopefully this will help many other people stay safe.

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  3. So sorry you went through this! I had my coat stolen while travelling last year and it shocked me a lot more than I anticipated. It’s always harrowing and it’s always wise to be street smart!

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  4. Very useful tips, thanks for sharing them!

    This summer, I had my money, credit card, and mobile phone stolen. And I totally agree with everything you wrote. I would add one think: please make sure that you have your mobile pictures backed in a cloud. And if you use iPhone, turn on the Find My iPhone option – I didn’t do it and I really regret it!

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    1. Oh no I’m so sorry to hear that you were also robbed. Pictures being stolen is awful, it’s like they’ve robbed memories. I don’t use Find My iPhone but I am thinking it’s time I do! Thanks so much for adding your tip 🙂

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  5. wow. never been robbed before but traveling with my severe hearing loss (deaf) and my voice may not be loud at all. where can i find the rape alarm? it worries my husband a lot when i travel solo that i had to keep in touch of my whereabouts.

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  6. How scary to be robbed by a taxi driver. Makes you want to carry pepper spray and get them before they have a chance to get you! I love that you didn’t let the experience get to you and instead look into how to protect yourself and your valuables while traveling. Like your tip trust your gut feelings its usually right on.

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  7. It takes courage to share the bad experiences, but so glad you’re helping others avoid the dangers. I’ve had some bad luck on trips but not like this. I’m glad it’s not keeping you from traveling more!

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  8. Some really great tips. Particularly like your tip about using WIFI to get your bearings and research without blowing through your data when abroad.

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  9. These are all great tips, and I most identify with the one you listed first: Arrive during the day. I hate showing up in a new city before sunrise/after sunset. Even Paul Theroux prefers arriving in daylight!

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  10. Sorry to hear about this – glad you are ok and shared story. great tips to remind travelers to be safe

    I usually have the hotel arrange airport transfers bc they use firms they know and are waiting for you to arrive. Arriving in Lima near midnight I didn’t want to deal with local taxi so paid more and hotel sent driver and when I arrived were waiting for me for a quick check in. I always budget for safety (private car transfers to/from airport esp at night) first so I’m not arguing with myself that the bus is cheaper and I’ll save money.

    I also register my trip with the US Stare Dept so I can get embassy notices when traveling if incidents or unrest is happening.

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  11. So sorry about what happened to you! Being taken advantage of while traveling is really one of the most disconcerting things. It has happened to me only a couple times, but the feeling of helplessness and aggravation (always paired with a huge language barrier!) is among the most frustrating experiences ever. I’m so happy you weren’t harmed further, and than you’ve taken so many precautions. It reminds me today to split up my cash…which is currently all in one very vulnerable location.

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  12. Such a bummer that happened to you. You’re right, traveling is not all great, but definitely worth it. Following your instincts is the most important.

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  13. I’m so sorry you had a bad experience! But like you said, it’s a part of travel that we sometimes have to deal with. I like your tips, especially the one about looking confident. I was always taught to walk with a purpose. If you walk slow, looking around confused, you’ll be an easy target.

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  14. I’m sorry to hear about your encounter with that taxi driver who robbed you. I agree with your post completely about safety. Whether you travel alone, in pairs or in groups, it’s always safe to adhere to caution. Having said that, bad experiences comes with travel. Great tips you’ve shared here and one that must always be uppermost in everyone’s mind when travelling.

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  15. Aww I’m sorry about your experience getting robbed, and it’s great that you’re helping others be more aware of this issue. One thing I always struggle with is whether or not insurance is really necessary when I travel, but I should really buy it no matter what!

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  16. GREAT list of tips. I never thought of carrying a personal alarm. I just Googled it and notice there are lots of varieties available. You’re right, they’re not expensive and would be easy to carry.

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  17. Ugh that is awful! So sorry this happened to you. People can be so despicable sometimes. But you’re right to post about it for awareness. It’s good to educate others on the dangers around them. My husband and I are so different in how we handle our surroundings. He’s very trusting and I’m the one that’s kind of hyper vigilant, probably made worse now that we have a baby. Thank you for opening up and sharing.

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  18. I’m so glad I came across this (a bit late but still)! I’m sorry about what happened to you but these tips are great! I’m definitely going to invest in a personal alarm as I think it will make me feel better having it on me just in case something happens. Thanks for sharing!

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  19. Nice list of tips! 😀
    Nice to know you! I’m Sonia from Indonesia and I love to do travelling also.
    But I’m still a “new born” traveller because I have just been visited some countries only (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines). Actually I have a plan to visit Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand in this summer, but sometimes I just feel afraid of starting to do solo-travel. Do you know how to cope with this thing?
    And ofcourse yeah, I still need to learn more about travelling and backpacking from you…

    Maybe you can follow and visit my blog also about Travelling and Backpacking in South East Asia if you have a plan to visit South East Asia countries and I’ll share a little tips of mine or places to visit in South East Asia countries if you would know. Here’s the link of my travelling journal 😀

    https://fransiskasoniasvoyage.wordpress.com/

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