Travelling solo can be liberating! Here are 10 tips to staying safe...
1. Before Leaving
Pack lightly. Backpacks are great if you are planning on travelling through Asia as you may have to walk a few kilometres to get to your accommodation. Australia & New Zealand is generally OK to travel with a 4 wheel suitcase. Most airport shuttles will drop you right by the door of your hostel and most tour companies will offer hostel pick up. For overnight sailing trips or 3 Day ‘off the beaten track’ adventures – hostels will usually allow free luggage storage when booking the tour.
2. Know the country you are going to
Make sure that you are aware of local customs. If the local women cover their shoulder – make sure you do to. Be wary of your footwear also – in places like Australia & New Zealand you can usually get away with flip flops, also known as ‘Jandals’ in NZ or ‘Thongs’ in Australia. However for those day trips or hiking trails always be prepared with a pair of runners / walking shoes. For the hotter months trekking sandals that double up as ‘fashionable’ are a great way to lighten your luggage for the girls. Also do not assume that the sun always shines in Australia and New Zealand. Cities like Melbourne and Auckland can be VERY unpredictable – sunny one minute, storming the next! Always pack a pair of long pants or leggings and a jumper or cardigan! If heading to New Zealand or Australia during winter (June to August) – take a waterproof jacket!
3. Communicate with your family and friends at home
To travel is to be free! And sure you will be surrounded by new found friends every step of the way – but do not forget to touch base with your family and let them know each time you make a move! It also helps to get friendly with the hostel staff – let them know where you are off to for the day or if you have booked any tours.
4. Plan Ahead
If arriving into a new city try and schedule to arrive during the day. We usually recommend booking at least your first two night’s accommodation – the last thing you want is to be stranded in an unknown city with no where to stay! Try to choose accommodation that is close to public transport or a hostel that includes Airport Transfers.
5. Lock Up
Ok so Australia & New Zealand are pretty safe places to travel to but we are never shocked to hear the every once in a while hostel theft! Keep your valuables locked up in a hostel safe. Unfortunately these things do happen so it always helps to take extra precautions.
6. Use your Smart phone camera
Before arriving into a new location take a photo of where your hostel is located on a map. This always helps if your internet is not working in the area (quite common in remote parts of Australia & New Zealand). Always take your hostel business card with you – that way you have the address and phone number in case your phone goes flat. And for extra precautions – carry a small note book with you EVERYWHERE! Include an emergency telephone number, the address and contact details of your hostel – and phone numbers of fellow travellers.
7. Back Up
Before you leave make sure that you take a photo of your Driver’s License, Passport and Flight Details – store it on your phone, email yourself a copy and keep a printed out copy just in case! This will help with any lost passports.
8. Split your credit cards
Before you leave try to arrange a secondary credit card – VISA or MASTERCARD and Cash Passport Travel Cards are great! They allow you to withdraw cash without your card and help decrease the amount of foreign exchange rates you are being charged and gives you emergency access to a secondary fund in case you lose one of your cards! If you know you are heading on a night out and like a drink or ten – take one card with you (or just cash) and keep the other card somewhere safe.
9. Drink Safe
Never leave your drinks unattended and never tell strangers where you are staying. If you are walking home make sure that you organise to walk home with the friends you went out with – alternatively – take a taxi – no matter how poor you are!
If asked if you are travelling alone by a stranger, tell them that you are off to meet with your partner. In fact in some countries like India – it can help wearing a fake wedding ring! Your body language will play a huge part in attracting unwanted strangers – walk confidently and PRETEND you know where you are going! In most Asian countries you may have Tuk Tuk drivers / Travel Agents competing for your attention – try not to pull out a big Map with a confused look on your face... keep walking whilst catching a quick glimpse at your Google Maps
Finally... Trust your instincts! Trust yourself and HAVE FUN!