“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
When I decided to embark on this journey of exploring the world on my own, it was often met with the apprehensions of family and friends.
I was asked questions like,
“Aren’t you scared of being so far away alone?”
“Aren’t you worried about terrorist attacks?”
“Wouldn’t it be safer to go with someone?”
Admittedly, I can understand why someone would worry about these things, the unknown is often a bit scary.
So let me try to assuage your fears, by answering this classic question:
Is it safe to travel alone?
The short answer is yes and no, but let me delve a little deeper.
Yes, it is safe to travel alone if you’re planning to take the necessary safety precautions like:
Listening to your instincts –
That doesn’t mean you have to be uptight, and run in the opossite direction anytime someone is walking towards you, or even makes eye contact with you.
However, if someone is inviting you somewhere, or offering you anything, and you feel uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to say no thank you, or simply walk away.
Let someone know about your plans –
Telling someone you’re going to Antarctica for a few weeks, is just not enough.
What hotels or hostels are you booked in? Will you be going on any tours? What transportation will you be using?
All these are great, basic things, that someone you trust should always be aware of.
Do be careful at night –
As with anywhere in the world, at night, you usually tend to see a darker side to things.
That doesn’t mean you should lock yourself up in your room, as soon as the sun begins to set. Just always be aware of your surroundings, and try to stay around other people.
There’s a whole different kind of beauty that can only truly be appreciated at night, so don’t ever let that hold you back from venture out.
Do have a phone connected with messages and data –
For me, this is a must for solo travelers. Not only are you able to contact anyone in case of an emergency, but having data, also enables you to quickly take yourself out of prickly situations. Such as when you get yourself lost or need a quick ride. (Uber is just a click away)
I suck at reading maps, so being able to use my phones GPS while walking around cities and on some hiking trails, is invaluable to me.
If your home phone company doesn’t offer international plans, and you don’t want to be eaten alive with roaming charges (Yes, I’m talking to you Metro Pcs!)
Think about getting a contract free sim card when you’re abroad. When I was in the U.K. I used the all-you-can-eat data plan from Three, and in France I’m going to use the holiday package from Orange.
(With a quick online search, other countries are bound to have similar, affordable packages you can use.)
So, what does make traveling alone dangerous? It’s fairly simple, if you’re planning to be reckless or careless, you will always be putting yourself at higher risks. Here are a few, all too common scenarios, that I think are like beacons for trouble.
Getting drunk with strangers –
Sharing a drink with an awesome fellow traveler or local you just met? Cool. But getting drunk with them (even tipsy) is ill-advised. I mean, that shouldn’t even be done where you live.
Your mental guard is literally impaired when you consume alcohol. This puts you at more risk to theft, or those worst-case scenarios, no one ever imagines would happen to them.
Feel free to wander, but don’t travel aimlessly –
Watch what streets you’re entering. When planning your trip, you should always read up on the neighborhoods, cities, and/or hikes you will be on.
Entering sketchy places at the wrong time, (usually at night) can put you in a very bad situation, quickly.
(It’s tedious for some, but doing your homework on the places you visit is highly recommended)
Hitchhiking (aka getting into a complete strangers car) –
This one may seem quite obvious to you. However, you’d be surprise at how prevalent this still is. Maybe you’ve done it before, and thankfully nothing has ever happened. That doesn’t make it any less dangerous. Think about it, every time you hitchhike, you could literally be entering a killers car. So please, just don’t. 🤦🏻♀️
Don’t be disrespectful of rules or the culture –
You’re visiting a country that is not your own, respect that. Every country is different, and has their own way of doing things, respect that.
Yes, that even includes when you’re visiting the U.S. (The same courtesy you afford other countries you visit, should be no less for America) 🇺🇸
For me personally, the ability to immerse myself in different cultures, is one of my favorite parts of getting to travel!
If you aim to always employ these safety guidlines when traveling, I can’t see why traveling alone would not be safe.
Please understand, that when I say it’s safe to travel alone, I say so with the same certainty with which we live everyday of our lives.
Meaning, it’s pretty damn uncertain. That doesn’t mean we should avoid dangerous things like sky-diving, because the parachute might not open, or avoid visiting the Middle East because of terrorist etc.
You’ve also probably heard the saying, that you’re more likely to have an accident on the way to the airport, then on your actual flight.
There’s a reason for that saying. In the U.S. alone, there have been 30k+ yearly fatal car accidents. (going as far back as 1945 when it was slightly under 30k)
You get the idea, danger will always be around us.
No moment is certain, and I guess that’s the beauty of it all. Because we have this one chance, this one moment in life, to reach for the stars, and yes, I know how cliché “reaching for the stars” may sound. But in a world where people are taught to put their dreams on a “someday” list, until after they have a better job, after they finish school, or after they have someone to share it with. Makes YOU chasing your dreams right now, just as amazing as reaching for a star!
So no, I’m not really scared of traveling on my own, and I try not thinking about any of the many bad things that may very well happen around me.
Life is too beautiful to live in fear of the unknown, or what “could” happen.
There are mountains in Switzerland that have yet to be climbed, hikes in Norway that need to be discovered, and castles that must still be explored.
Those are my stars, and with every chance I get, I’ll try reaching for them. Will you?
Thanks for reading! Au revoir for now.
Some day, we won’t be here anymore, and that we cannot change. But every day that passes from now till then, we will be alive, and that should be an encouraging thought to always live our very best. – Suzie Vargas