If you asked me a year ago if I would travel solo, I would say that's crazy. Now, I have traveled solo on two separate trips. I went to Tempe, Arizona last spring, and earlier this summer I went to New York City. People always ask me if I'm scared to travel alone, and the truth is I am. I am also scared of heights, but I still go hiking and stand at the edge of cliffs for the best view. It's normal to be scared, but I won't let being scared stop me from living my life. There are many ways to stay safe when traveling alone, don't let being scared stop you from going to new places!
1. ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings.
One of the perks of being a girl is that you always need to be on guard when you're alone. When walking around, check behind you after each block to make sure that no one is following you. Most of the time they will be farther back, not closely behind you. Trust your gut instincts. If you do notice someone following you, do not go back to your hotel, and make sure you are around other people. If you feel threatened, stop inside a busy place, like a Starbucks. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
2. Try to book a hotel that has an airport shuttle.
A female in a new city in an Uber or taxi alone is not a good combination. Take a shared shuttle to your hotel, or UBER Pool so that there are other people with you. Share the driver's name, license plate, and description with someone back home who can keep track of you. You can also use your maps app to make sure you are on the correct route. Better safe than sorry.
3. Stay close to your hotel at night.
When the sun goes down, it's best to hang out close to your hotel or in your hotel. There are less people out at night, and it's more difficult to be aware of your surroundings when it's dark out. Most hotels have a variety of things to do inside. You can work out, eat at the hotel's restaurant, swim in the pool, or hang out in the courtyard area. I always bring my computer so that I can watch Netflix and look up things to do the next day, and a book to relax before going to bed.
4. Be careful about which strangers you talk to.
It's not that you shouldn't talk to strangers at all — although it is best to try not to — it's that you should carefully pick which strangers you do talk to. Whenever I want a picture of myself taken or directions, I look for a middle-aged, middle-class couple or a group of early-20s girls. Yes, there will be cute guys, but chances are it's not safe to talk to or meet up with a guy that you do not know, in a city that you are not comfortable in.
5. Look up directions to where you are going before you leave.
Whenever I go to get food, coffee, or to a specific location, I figure out the directions on maps and write them down in my phone. A person walking alone while using their map app on their phone is a target because a) they don't know where they are going and b) since they are needing directions, they most likely are not from the area. I have an Apple Watch, so if the directions are too complicated to write down, I use my watch for directions and it's less obvious than having my phone out. Knowing exactly how to get where you're going also helps you avoid needing to ask for directions and looking lost.
6. Let someone back home know where you are going throughout the day.
Whether it's your mom, dad, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, grandparent, etc., have someone who can keep track of your whereabouts. I have my location on with my mom and dad through iMessage so that they can see where I am, and I update them on what I am doing each day. Worst case scenario, if anything bad happens to me, them knowing my activities that day can really help to find me or know what happened.
7. Do not post your location while you are at that place.
With social media, we always want to post what we're up to. If you're at a coffee shop or restaurant, either don't use a location filter, or wait to post it until after you leave. This way, no one online can see where you are and track you down. I do recommend putting your Instagram on private while you are on your trip. This way random people can't see what you look like and where you are.
8. Have fun!
Traveling is one of the greatest pleasures in life. Don't let being scared or having no one to go with stop you from going where you want to go! See new things, explore new places and enjoy time with yourself. There's so much out there in the world, go to it!
By traveling alone a couple times this past year, I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned how to be comfortable with my own company, but I have also learned that sometimes life is more about who you spend it with, rather than what you do in it. If you are thinking about traveling alone, go for it. There are so many ways to stay safe and have the time of your life!