One of the most commonly asked questions by those who are planning their first solo trip is, ‘Is solo travel safe?’
Yes. Solo travel is safe as long as you take some basic precautions, avoid certain dangerous destinations, and choose a destination that is suitable for your level of travel experience. You do have to take some additional precautions that you don’t have to worry about when traveling in a group or with a guide.
To help put your mind at ease, this guide explains how to stay safe while traveling alone. We’ll cover violent crime, pickpocketing and petty theft, transportation safety, common scams, corruption, food and drink safety, and more. We’ll also share a few solo travel safety tips. In addition, we’ll also share some statistics about solo travel safety. Hopefully, this guide helps you make an educated decision about whether or not solo travel is worth the risk for you.
During the past 12 years, I’ve solo traveled to over 60 countries. In that time, I’ve seen some breathtaking sites, tasted incredible foods, and met many unforgettable people. I’ve also encountered a number of scams, crimes, and dangerous situations. For example, I was inside a bar during an armed robbery in Tijuana, Mexico. I was pickpocketed in Tanzania. Luckily, I have never been seriously harmed.
Table of Contents
- Violent Crime: Staying Safe While Solo Traveling
- Transportation Safety While Solo Traveling
- Sickness and Disease: Staying Healthy While Solo Traveling
- Avoiding Petty Theft and Pickpocketing While Solo Traveling
- Additional Solo Travel Safety Tips
Is Solo Travel Safe?
Yes. Solo travel is safe. As long as you take the proper precautions, avoid dangerous destinations, and avoid putting yourself in dangerous situations, you can safely travel alone. Exactly how safe solo travel is depends on your destination, your preparedness, and the decisions you make while on your journey.
Research is a key component of solo travel safety. Before setting out, be sure to study your destination. Research crime, scams, cultural norms, safe neighborhoods to stay, reliable transportation options, and any common safety issues that other travelers have faced.
Before you leave your accommodation, know the routes you are going to take. Don’t let yourself get lost in unfamiliar neighborhoods. While you’re out and about sightseeing, always stay aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for people who look suspicious or out of place. Avoid dressing flashy or showing off valuables or cash. Keep a low profile. Be particularly careful after. Trust your gut. If something feels wrong, it probably is. Following these simple tips will greatly improve your personal safety.
Of course, solo travel isn’t always safe. There are risks. There are some destinations that are dangerous to visit on your own. In some cases, going with a guide or group is the safer option. If you’re unprepared, you could find yourself in a dangerous situation. You could also simply make a poor decision and find yourself in a dangerous situation.
According to this interesting article, 69% of women cite safety as their main reason for not traveling alone. Safety is the number one concern for most solo travelers. By taking some basic precautions, you can greatly reduce any risks.
Dangers of Solo Travel
The exact dangers you’ll face depend on where you’re traveling. A few of the biggest dangers of solo travel include:
- Pickpocketing and petty theft
- Violent crime
- Getting lost
- Auto accidents
- Sickness and disease
- Natural disaster
- Inadvertently breaking the law/legal problems
In the following sections, we’ll outline some of the biggest dangers of solo travel and how to avoid them.
Violent Crime: Staying Safe While You Travel Solo
I’ll start off by talking a bit about many travelers’ biggest fear, violent crime. While planning a solo trip to a region that we haven’t visited before, our minds naturally start to wonder. We read shocking news articles of kidnappings, terror attacks, mass shootings, and gang violence and start to rethink our plans. While all of these crimes do happen, the likelihood of being involved is pretty slim.
As a solo traveler, you are at a slightly higher risk of being involved in a violent crime than if you were traveling with friends or in an overland group tour. A single person walking around is easier for a criminal to target than a group of people traveling together. Below I’ll describe a few violent crimes that you could encounter as a solo traveler and how to avoid them.
Mugging and Robbery
This is the one type of violent crime that is a real risk to solo travelers. Muggings happen all over the world. Even in developed countries. In fact, I would go as far to say, if you travel enough, sooner or later you’ll get held up and robbed.
In much of the world, people just assume that every tourist is rich. Because of this, muggers often target tourists. They know tourists carry cash and expensive electronics. They also know that tourists don’t know their way around the city. There may also be a language barrier which makes pulling off the crime easier. All of these factors make tourists an easy and profitable target. Solo tourists are at a particularly high risk because they can’t as easily defend themselves, being alone.
For whatever reason, mugging is most common in Latin America. East and Southeast Asia have the lowest rates of robberies. To see where your solo travel destination ranks in terms of robbery, check out this interesting chart.
How to Reduce the Risk of Mugging or Robbery While Solo Traveling
Reducing the risk of falling victim to a mugger while you travel solo is pretty straightforward. In my travels, I have never been robbed, knock on wood. I have, however, met a number of solo travelers who have been targeted. Following these tips to help lower your chances of being mugged or robbed while you solo travel:
- Don’t wear flashy jewelry- Even if it’s not valuable. The criminal doesn’t know that. You don’t want to give them a reason to rob you.
- Dress down- If you look poor or dirty, you attract less attention. Never wear nice clothes when you’re just wandering around the city.
- If you’re not familiar with an area, don’t walk around- Take a taxi, Uber, or public transport to your destination. This only applies to high-risk areas. For example, there is very little risk of wandering around Oslo. You may want to have a better idea of where you’re going while exploring Tijuana.
- Avoid walking around at night- Most muggings occur under the cover of darkness. Of course, this is location dependent. Many cities are well policed and are perfectly safe at all hours of the day and night. Some places you shouldn’t leave the hotel after dark. Do a bit of research before you arrive so you know what you’re getting into.
- Stay in busy, well-lit areas or tourist areas- Muggings are less common when there are other people around. These are usually crimes of opportunity.
- Leave your important documents locked up at the hotel or hostel- Most of the time, there is no need to carry around your passport and credit cards. Carry copies and leave the originals in your room. Even when you’re legally required to carry your passport, you can usually get away with just a copy.
- Don’t carry anything valuable that you don’t need to be carrying- If you’re just walking down the street to grab lunch, there is no need to bring your expensive laptop or camera.
- Don’t carry large sums of cash- Divide it up. Leave some in your luggage or locked up in the hotel safe or locker. You want to limit your loss in the event that someone mugs you.
- Don’t walk around while drunk or intoxicated- This just makes you an easier target. I learned this the hard way after I was pickpocketed in Tijuana.
- Be selective of which ATM you use to withdraw money- Occasionally robbers hang around and wait for a target to appear. I like to use ATMs in grocery stores or at banks that have armed security nearby.
Tip: Use a money belt to hide your cash, passport, and valuables
If you do get mugged, wearing a money belt reduces your loss. Most muggers won’t expect you to be wearing one and won’t look for it. You can store your passport, credit cards and debit cards, cash, and other important documents in your money belt. I use the Eagle Creek Silk Undercover money belt. I’ve had mine for 10 years and it’s still holding up well.
For added security, consider pairing your money belt with a decoy wallet stocked with a few dollars and some expired credit cards. That way, you have something to hand over if you are robbed. The criminals assume this is all you have and leave you with your money belt.
Assault While Solo Traveling
Assaults don’t usually happen out of the blue. Generally, some kind of conflict sets it off. The risk of being assaulted is highest when you are drinking or when around people who have been drinking. If you encounter someone who is looking for a fight, you’re a much easier target if you’re alone. Most people won’t risk attacking or picking a fight with a group.
As horrible as it is, mob mentality exists in many parts of the world. Even subconsciously, people have an ‘us versus them’ mentality. As a solo traveler, you are the them. The outsider. Locals tend to take the side of their countrymen in a conflict, even if they don’t know the whole story. Particularly when they have been drinking. If a fight starts and you’re the only outsider, you could be considered the villain, even if you did nothing wrong.
Not everyone is like this, of course. There are good people everywhere who will help you out if you’re in need. In fact, the vast majority of people are good and don’t want to see a visitor in their country experience violence.
How to Avoid Assault When You Travel Solo
- Don’t get too drunk when you’re alone- Your friends aren’t around to babysit and make sure you get home safe like they are back home. If you’re out drinking alone, take it easy and stay alert. You need to have the presence of mind to avoid conflict and talk your way out of a situation if need be.
- Know yourself- If you have a hot temper, approach certain situations with care. Walk away if you begin to feel frustrated or angry. I’m generally a peaceful person but I’ve lost my temper on a few occasions when a seller was trying to overcharge me. For example, while checking out of a hotel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the receptionist tried to increase the price of the room at the last minute. I could feel my anger and frustration growing so I just set down the original amount of money owed and walked away.
- Avoid talking to people who are too drunk- People are unpredictable when they’ve been drinking. You can inadvertently say something they find offensive and suddenly find yourself involved in a conflict. Sober people are much more agreeable.
- Avoid talking about controvertible topics- Religion and politics are particularly dangerous subjects to talk about with people you don’t know well. It’s easy for an argument or fight to start. Once, while riding in a minibus in Ethiopia, the man next to me started asking me about my religion. When I told him that I don’t have one, he suddenly became less friendly. I never felt in danger in this particular situation, but the whole exchange would have been much more pleasant if I had just told him I was a believer. I could have made a friend.
- If you see people getting too rowdy at a bar, get out of there– Sometimes local bars get a bit rough. You don’t want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and get involved in a violent situation. Just call it a night or move on to another bar if the place doesn’t feel safe.
Overall, the risk of assault is slim. People don’t usually attack for no reason. There needs to be some type of conflict or provocation. If you’re a peaceful, agreeable person, the likelihood of experiencing an assault is very low. Random acts of violence exist but they are incredibly rare and there is really nothing you can do to prevent them.
Kidnapping While Solo Traveling
Kidnapping rates vary greatly by region. If you’re solo backpacking through Western Europe, kidnapping is basically a non-issue. If you’re traveling through one of these 7 countries outlined in this article, you may want to take some additional precautions.
Unfortunately, kidnappers target tourists in some regions. Criminals know that tourists generally have money and don’t have any connections in the country. This increases their chance of success.
As a solo traveler, the risk increases slightly. Abducting someone when they’re alone is much easier than picking someone out of a group. Even then, the chance of being kidnapped is very low. In general, the crime is much less common than it was in the past. Traditional kidnappings with high ransoms have been on the decline for years. Unfortunately, a new variation has popped up.
In the past, kidnappers only targeted the wealthy and demanded a large ransom. Oftentimes in the millions of dollars. With high profile cases, the police were involved and the crime became a national news story. While profitable, this type of kidnapping carries a lot of risks. To increase the chance of success and profitability, criminals developed a faster, lower profile variation.
In express kidnapping, the criminals abduct average middle-class people or tourists and demand a smaller ransom from their family. This has two benefits. First, the chance of payment increases. This is because it’s faster and easier for a family to come up with a few thousand dollars than it is for a rich family to come up with millions. Second, the cases are much lower profile. In fact, according to this article from Quartz.com, it is estimated that up to 99% of kidnappings aren’t even reported in Mexico. Admittedly, most of these kidnappings are drug related and are not tourists. The statistic is still shocking nonetheless, and tourists are occasionally targeted.
In a similar version of express kidnapping, the criminals collect money from the victim themselves. First, they abduct a person. Next, they demand an ATM card and pin from the victim. The kidnappers hold the victim hostage for a number of days while they drain their account through an ATM. This usually takes 48-72 hours.
While these crimes sound terrifying, they are pretty uncommon. It is good to know that they exist so you can take a few precautions to help stay safe while solo traveling. Avoid regions with a high risk of kidnapping. Don’t walk or drive alone at night. Be cautious at ATMs. Keep an eye on your drink.
Sexual Assault and Rape
Rape is another violent crime that is a real risk. Particularly solo female travelers. This crime happens all over the world but is more common in some regions than others. In fact, some of the most developed countries have the highest rates of rape.
For whatever reason, Scandinavia, in particular, has a real problem with this crime. For example, this article from the Harvard Political Review tries to explain the disproportionately high rape statistics of the region.
The vast majority of rapes victimize women. If you are a solo female traveler, you must take additional precautions to stay safe. Men are also at risk of falling victim to this crime though the likelihood is substantially lower.
Tips to stay safe while solo traveling
- Avoid drinking too much- You don’t want to get too intoxicated while you’re alone in a foreign country. If you go out alone, don’t have more than 2-3 drinks. Stay alert. This alone greatly reduces the risk.
- Watch your drink- It’s easy for someone to slip in some drugs and take advantage after they’ve taken effect.
- Go out in a group- Just because you’re traveling solo doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your time alone. Make some friends at the hostel and go out together. Having a group of people that you know around reduces risk, even if you’re not close friends. There is safety in numbers.
- Don’t walk around alone at night- It’s just an unnecessary risk. Take a taxi, Uber, or public transport between your hotel and the bar.
- Be extra cautious when dating- If you meet someone online, always meet in a public place. Try to choose the bar or restaurant yourself. Always keep an eye on your drink.
Avoiding Petty Theft and Pickpocketing While Solo Traveling
Most crime that you may encounter while out solo traveling will be non-violent. The most common crime you’re likely to encounter is theft. This is usually a crime of opportunity. If a criminal sees something of value that they can easily take from you, they will.
The risk of theft is higher as a solo traveler. Because you’re alone, nobody is around to help you keep an eye on your belongings. Thieves are more likely to target people traveling alone because it’s easier to steal from an individual than a group. A few common types of these petty crimes that you could encounter include:
Snatch and Run Theft
The criminal grabs one of your belongings and runs away with it. They could grab it when you’re not looking or right out of your hand if you’re distracted. The most common items to lose this way are backpacks and cameras. You set them down for one reason or another and next thing you know, they’re gone. This crime is most common in South America, Southeast Asia, and Eastern Europe.
Pickpocketing happens everywhere in the world. The most common place to encounter a pickpocket is crowded places where tourists congregate. For example, walking streets, plazas, monuments, etc. Busy public transit is also a common place to get pickpocketed.
A good pickpocket can reach into your pocket and take your wallet or phone without you feeling a thing. Some can even slip your watch right off your wrist. Many times these guys work in teams. One distracts you while the other separates you from your belongings.
For more info, check out my extensive guide: How to Avoid Pickpockets While Traveling.
In my travels, I’ve been pickpocketed twice. Both times, the thief got my phone out of my pocket. Miraculously, I got it back both times and still use the same phone as I’m writing this. To read the stories, check out my articles:
The criminal uses a knife to cut open your bag while you’re wearing it. The contents fall out and they take whatever was inside your bag. You’re stuck holding a ruined bag.
I have heard about this crime forever but never met anyone who has seen it or experienced it. I almost feel like it’s a bit of a myth. Having said that, many companies sell slash-proof bags with a metal mesh between the fabric.
How to Avoid Petty Theft and Pickpocketing When Solo Traveling
- Carry your important documents, cards, and cash in a money belt- These are fabric wallets that you strap around your waste. The idea is that they can’t be pickpocketed and thieves can’t see them. I recommend the Eagle Creek Silk Undercover money belt. I have carried mine to almost 60 countries over the past 8 years and it’s still in great condition.
- Keep your phone and wallet in a pocket that zips or buttons closed- This makes it harder for pickpockets to swipe them without you noticing.
- Don’t carry your wallet in your back pocket- It’s easy for a thief to reach in and grab it without you noticing. Instead, carry your wallet in a side pocket.
- Keep an eye on your belongings at all times- Never leave your belongings unattended. Don’t give criminals an opportunity to snatch and run.
- Keep your hands in your pockets while walking through a crowded area- Hold onto your valuables so nobody can take them from you. Pickpockets can’t reach into your pockets while your hands are in there.
- Stay alert- Try not to get too distracted by the sites and sounds of your surroundings. When distracted, thieves can prey upon you more easily.
- Wear your backpack on the front when walking through crowded areas- I know it looks goofy but it reduces the chances of pickpocketing or slash theft.
- Only carry enough cash for the day- limit your loss if somebody steals from you.
- Consider using an anti-theft backpack or purse- These models strap to your body in some way and include a metal mesh lining. This makes the thief’s job more difficult.
- Don’t carry anything that’s unnecessary- If you’re just going out to grab some lunch, leave your phone in your hotel. There’s no need to bring your expensive belongings everywhere yo go.
- Don’t wander around while drunk- It’s easier for pickpockets to steal from you while you’re intoxicated.
Transportation Safety While Solo Traveling
One drawback to solo traveling is the fact that it makes travel days a bit more stressful. Because you’re by yourself, you have to keep track of your luggage at all times. You also have to keep track of your transportation schedule. There is a lot of going on.
This creates an opportunity for criminals to take advantage. While solo traveling, stay alert when moving from place to place. Below, I outline a few examples.
Theft While in Transit
While solo traveling, you don’t have a friend to watch the attendant load your bags while you save a good seat on the bus. You don’t have a friend to keep an eye on your bag while you go buy a coffee. It’s up to you to keep track of your things at all times.
Unfortunately, thieves know this and occasionally operate on buses and trains. It is pretty rare, but I have met a number of people who have had items stolen while they slept. This is most common in South America.
Another possibility is that someone steals from your bag while it’s under the bus out of your view. Bus company employees and other passengers sometimes have access to your bag while loading and unloading.
How to Reduce the Risk of Theft While in Transit
- Keep all of your valuables on you- I put my laptop, camera, phone, passport, money, and any other valuable items in my day pack which I carry on my lap while in transit. I never let this bag leave my site. If you pack ultralight, you can carry your entire backpack on the bus with you.
- Attach your bag to your body or another object- It is possible for someone to steal your bag while you sleep. On a few occasions, I have tied a strap from my backpack to my ankle or wrist. If someone tries to grab your bag, the tugging should wake you up. Some anti-theft backpacks have a clip on the shoulder strap that allows you to unbuckle it and secure it around something. You could lock your backpack to your seat so a thief can’t grab it while you’re sleeping.
- Use your bag as a pillow- Nobody can take it without waking you up. You probably won’t want to do this if you’re carrying fragile electronics.
- Don’t carry anything too valuable- Consider leaving your expensive jewelry and electronics at home. Buy a cheap smartphone to travel with. Carry a cheap camera instead of an expensive DSLR. If someone does manage to steal something, you’re only out a few hundred dollars rather than a few thousand.
- Ask a stranger to keep an eye on your stuff- If you need to use the restroom, look for another traveler or a family and ask them if they’ll watch your belongings for a moment. These types of people are usually trustworthy.
- Keep an eye on your stuff as best you can- Never leave your bag unattended. If you get off the bus or train to stretch your legs or go to the bathroom, take your bag with you.
There is always an opportunity for someone to steal from you somewhere along the way. Sometimes it just comes down to luck. Overall, the likelihood of having something stolen while in transit is slim. I’ve never had it happen in all of my solo travels. I try to keep my valuables close and not worry too much about my clothes and toiletries. It doesn’t help to be paranoid about it.
Walking Alone as a Solo Traveler
Walking is my favorite form of transport while traveling. If I can walk to my destination safely, I will. Walking is free, healthy, and a great way to explore parts of a city you otherwise wouldn’t get to see.
That said, walking alone alone can be risky in some parts of the world. You have to be careful that you don’t wander into a dangerous neighborhood where you could be mugged, pickpocketed, or attacked.
Tips To Stay Safe While Walking Alone
- Stay in view of other people- Try to avoid walking in areas without other people around. You want to be able to call for help if necessary. Rather than taking a shortcut through an alley, take the main streets. A criminal is less likely to rob you if other people are present.
- Walk with purpose- Act as though you know where exactly where you are going. Try not to look confused or lost. You don’t want to be the classic lost tourist holding a massive map and standing in the middle of the sidewalk with a clueless look on your face.
- Don’t walk in areas you aren’t familiar with at night- During the day, it’s pretty safe to walk in most places. At night, you want to know where you are going.
- Stay out of dangerous neighborhoods- Most cities have rough areas that are known for poverty, drug use, and crime. Try to stay out of these areas whenever possible. If you’re in doubt, ask at your hotel or ask someone on the street if it’s a safe area to walk around.
- Walk fast- People are less likely to stop you and hassle you if you walk by quickly. Any beggars or scammers trying to talk to you quickly give up when you speed right by. If someone does follow you trying to sell you something or run a scam, they’ll quickly give up and search for an easier target that they can keep up with.
- Be careful with traffic- Traffic rules vary by country. In some places, cars have the right of way. Some places seemingly have no traffic rules. Also, remember what side of the street cars drive on wherever you’re traveling. Stay alert and look both ways when crossing the street.
- If you need to check the map, step into a shop or restaurant- In some places, it’s not safe to use your phone on the streets. A criminal could grab it. If you need to check your phone step into a business.
Sometimes, the most dangerous part of your trip is the ride from one destination to another. Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death all over the world. Buses, minibusses, and motorcycle taxis are particularly dangerous.
Accidents can be caused by Driving too fast. Bus drivers and taxi drivers are speed demons. No matter where in the world you are, they like to drive fast. This increases the likelihood of an accident.
In some parts of the world, vehicles are not properly maintained. I’ve ridden in beat up old vans that had to be push started to get going. Who knows when someone last serviced the brakes.
Careless driving can also lead to accidents. Some drivers’ only concern is making it to their destination as fast as possible. I’ve seen bus drivers pass on blind corners and plow through massive potholes without a care in the world.
Other drivers can also be a danger. Even if your driver is doing everything right, accidents still happen. Drunk driving is an epidemic in some regions.
A Safety Note About Motorcycle Taxis, Tuk Tuks, and Rickshaws
When you solo travel in developing countries, motorcycle taxis, tuk-tuks, and rickshaws are often the cheapest and fastest transport options available. They are small enough to filter through traffic and can take you anywhere in the city. As a solo traveler, you don’t need a whole taxi or Uber to yourself.
The only problem is that small vehicles are significantly more dangerous than riding in a car or bus. You just aren’t surrounded by enough iron to protect you in the event of an accident. For example, in the United States, motorcyclists have a fatal crash risk 35 times higher than passenger cars.
I still ride in these vehicles while I travel. It’s important to recognize that they are dangerous. If you’re feeling unsafe, get out and find another driver or another mode of transport.
Once, while riding a motorcycle taxi through Kampala, my driver took a right turn in front of an oncoming car. Luckily, the driver slowed down and just tapped us. We were hit but not hard. All I am saying is, know that you are taking a risk when riding in these vehicles.
How to Reduce the Risk of Injury While in Transit
- Choose the safest seat- In a bus, this is an aisle seat in the middle of the bus sitting on the opposite side of the oncoming traffic.
- Ask your driver to slow down if he’s driving too fast- It doesn’t matter if it’s a taxi, bus, or rickshaw. If you ask nicely, the driver will probably slow down a bit.
- Travel with the biggest, most reputable company- You may be able to save a few bucks by riding in a second class bus but the danger is also higher. Larger companies have higher safety standards that their employees must follow. They also have a reputation to maintain. This varies by country. In some places, regulations are strict and safety is the same for all buses.
- Choose the newest vehicle- Newer vehicles include modern safety features. Chances are, the owner maintains the vehicle better as well. It doesn’t cost you any extra to hire the cab driver with the newest car.
- If you’re feeling really unsafe, you can just get out of the vehicle at the next stop and use an alternative mode of transport- I’ve done this on a couple of occasions while traveling in Africa. I felt unsafe so I asked the driver to stop. It’s a hassle and I had to pay for an alternative mode of transport but changing vehicles is better than putting my life at risk.
Driving Safety as a Solo Traveler
Many solo travelers choose to rent or buy vehicles to travel around a region. For example, I bought and rode a motorcycle through Vietnam. This turned out to be one of my most memorable solo travel experiences. I also rent a car or scooter occasionally. While self-driving is a great way to see a country, it also carries a bit of extra risk.
For example, the police are more likely to bother you as a solo traveler. In some regions, police stop tourists and solicit bribes. Police corruption is a major problem in many countries. It’s easier for the police to intimidate an individual than a group.
When you travel alone, you must also drive and navigate by yourself. As a solo traveler, you don’t have anyone to help you look at the map or GPS while you drive. It’s easy to get distracted or lost.
Road conditions are also unfamiliar. The rules of the road vary from country to country. For example, maybe you are used to driving on the right side of the road but the country you are visiting drives on the left. You simply can’t be as safe of a driver when you’re just learning the rules of the road.
Personally, I don’t really like driving too much so I rarely rent a car when I travel. Sometimes, it’s unavoidable. In some cases, driving is the most convenient way to get to your destination. Sometimes public transportation is non-existent.
If you plan to drive yourself during your trip, make sure you plan out your route. Also, take some time to familiarize yourself with the local driving laws.
Getting Lost While Traveling Alone
Getting lost is a real worry. It’s easier to get lost when you’re alone. Unfamiliar surroundings can lead to confusion. Without a travel companion to double-check directions, you could find yourself lost and potentially in danger. You only have one mind and one pair of eyes to navigate with. A lost individual is an easier target for criminals. It’s important to always keep your bearings when you travel alone.
When you’re traveling alone, you need to stay focused and prepared. Pre-trip research is important. You need to know your destination. Map out routes between destinations. Familiarize yourself with local landmarks in the cities you’re visiting. Learn a few key phrases in the local language so you can ask for directions if you get lost. This can help you navigate more confidently and minimize the risk of getting lost.
Digital maps and GPS can also be lifesavers when you’re alone. Download the map of your destination to your phone before you leave. I use Maps.me. You can also use Google Maps. This makes navigation much easier.
It’s also a good idea to write down the address of your hotel or Airbnb. This way, if your phone gets lost or stolen or if the battery dies, you can ask for directions. It’s also a good idea to carry some extra cash so you can take a taxi if you need.
Sickness and Disease While Solo Traveling
While solo traveling, you aren’t at a greater risk of getting sick. You are, however, at a greater risk if you do get sick. This is because you simply don’t have anyone else to rely on for help.
If you need to see a doctor, you must take yourself to the clinic. If you’re stuck in your hotel room with the flu, you need to go out and get your own food. Nobody is there to care for you. While traveling with a friend, you have someone that you can rely on to take you to the hospital or bring you food or medicine if you’re unable to make the journey yourself.
As a solo traveler, you need to pay extra attention to your health. Minor sicknesses and diseases are unavoidable. If you travel enough, you’ll experience some health issues sooner or later. Of course, in the event of a catastrophe, emergency services are available in most countries. I’ll outline a few common sickness and diseases to be cautious of while solo traveling below.
This is one of the scarier diseases to catch while traveling alone. Malaria is most commonly transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It is particularly common in sub-Saharan Africa. It also exists in other parts of the world including much of Latin America, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
A bad strain of malaria comes on fast and can incapacitate you within a matter of a day or two if left untreated. Imagine being stranded in your hotel room delirious with a severe fever.
The best thing you can do about malaria is to prevent getting it in the first place. Take a malaria prophylaxis while traveling through malaria zones. Use bug spray. Cover up during peak mosquito times. Sleep under a mosquito net.
Travelers’ Diarrhea or Food Poisoning
This is another health issue that you’ll experience sooner or later if you travel long enough. It’s unavoidable. Food hygiene standards around the world are often lower than back home. While traveling, you expose your body to unfamiliar bacteria. You may inadvertently drink water that is unclean. It’s easy to get sick.
As a solo traveler, you need to take care of yourself if you eat something bad and end up with a case of traveler’s diarrhea. You’re on your own if you get sick, after all. Most food poisoning clears up on its own as long as you take it easy for a few days. If you catch a bad bug, it can last for weeks, cause dehydration, and overall make you feel weak and unhealthy. As a solo traveler, it is particularly important to be careful about what you eat.
To avoid catching travelers’ diarrhea or food poisoning:
- Only eat foods that are hot and cooked all the way through- Undercooked meats are particularly dangerous.
- Avoid foods that have been left sitting out- Exposed foods may not have been kept at the proper temperature, allowing bacteria to grow. They are also exposed to bugs and other contaminants from the air.
- Wash your fruits and veggies- Make sure all dirt, pesticides, and other contaminants are washed away. E. coli is also a concern.
- Prepare your own food- This is the only way to know for sure that it is safe to eat.
If you do happen to get food poisoning while solo traveling, don’t just try to wait it out and pray that it goes away. While most travelers’ diarrhea goes away on its own, there are a number of simple ways to reduce the duration and intensity of your sickness including:
- Drink lots of water- Diarrhea dehydrates your body quickly which can lead to more severe problems. Buy some bottled water that you know is safe to drink and stay hydrated.
- Go to the pharmacy and get some medication- Imodium and Pepto Bismol will help ease the symptoms. Also, consider purchasing some rehydration salts if you have a severe case.
- Watch your diet- I like to stick to the BRAT diet when my stomach is upset. Brat stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods are available almost everywhere. They are bland and easy on the stomach.
- If you haven’t seen any improvement after a few days, consider taking some antibiotics- Depending on where you are solo traveling, you may require a prescription. In most countries, you can visit a doctor in a small clinic at a reasonable price.
Tip: Carry a water filter with you when you travel so you always have access to clean water to drink. These filters can remove harmful bacteria and other harmful contaminants. I like the Sawyer Mini.
Minor Cuts, Scrapes, Burns and Infections While Solo Traveling
If you sustain a minor injury while solo traveling, it’s important that you stop what you’re doing and treat it. Even a minor cut can get infected and turn into a serious infection if left untreated. Cuts are more likely to get infected while you’re traveling because it’s harder to keep them clean. Your immune system might also not be working at full capacity. I always carry a small first aid kit to treat minor wounds.
I like the First Aid Only 299 Piece All-Purpose First Aid Kit. It includes a lot of supplies for a reasonable price and comes packed in a nice soft case.
How to Treat a Minor Injury
- Wash your hands- You want to prevent bacteria from making their way into the wound.
- Wash out the wound- Make sure you use clean water. If it is a burn, run cool water over it.
- Apply antibiotic ointment- I always bring a little tube of antibiotic ointment with me when I travel. This helps kill any bacteria that got into the wound and helps prevent an infection from forming.
- Put a bandage on the wound- This helps the wound stay clean and prevents any bacteria from entering. Usually, when I get a cut at home, I don’t bother with a bandage. When I’m solo traveling, I always use one.
In my experience, cuts tend to get infected much more easily while out solo traveling. I don’t know why that is. I believe it has something to do with a lowered immune system. Travel is exhausting and hard on the body. Lack of sleep and poor diet also contribute.
While traveling in South America, I cut a few of my fingers somehow. The cuts were so minor, I didn’t think anything of them. Instead of taking the time to treat the wounds, I just continued on with my day.
Of course, I ended up with a bad infection in my fingers. I began cleaning the wounds every day and applying bandages but they just weren’t healing. I ended up going to a pharmacy to get some antibiotics to help kill the infection. These eventually took effect but the damage had already been done. Three of my fingernails fell off. Luckily, they grew back but it took a couple of months.
If I just took the time to properly treat the small cuts from the beginning, they would have healed up in just a matter of days. Instead, I decided to ignore them and had to deal with pain and infection for months.
Unfortunately, scammers are more likely to approach you as a solo traveler. The risk is overall lower for them. Running a scam involves some sort of trick or con. It’s much easier to trick a single person into believing something than a group of travelers. A solo traveler is also less likely to start an argument or altercation after they realize the scam.
Below, I’ll outline a few of the more common scams you may encounter as a solo traveler. To read about some more elaborate scams, check out my guide: 19 Common Travel Scams, How They Work, and How to Avoid Them.
This is a simple scam but probably the most common all around the world. Sellers almost always try to overcharge tourists. They assume that we don’t know the going price so they try to pull one over on us. Oftentimes they are successful.
You can be overcharged for almost anything including bus tickets, restaurant meals, taxi rides, street food, clothes, etc. Even something as simple as a cup of juice. For example, maybe the going rate for a piece of street food is $1 and the seller tries to charge $2 just because you’re a tourist.
The best things you can do are ask what others are paying, shop around, and negotiate hard. If I see that I am being overcharged, and I have an alternative option, I walk away and take my business elsewhere. Sometimes, as a solo traveler, you just have to pay a higher rate, unfortunately. Tourist pricing exists everywhere.
Once, while waiting for a minibus to fill up in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia, I was quoted a rate for the ride of about 3x what the locals pay. I argued and complained but they wouldn’t budge. Only one minibus made this route per day and I’m guessing the same guys operated it every day. The only other option was to take a motorcycle taxi which would have cost even more. In the end, I paid it and moved on with my day. They probably only scammed me out of $2 or less but it was the principle of the situation. They blatantly ripped me off because I was a foreigner.
ATM skimming is when thieves install a device over the card slot on an ATM. When unsuspecting individuals insert their bank cards into the slot, the skimming device reads and stores all the data on the card’s magnetic strip. Thieves can also use cameras or a false keypad to steal your pin. They can then use this data to withdraw funds illegally from the victim’s account.
As a solo traveler, avoiding ATM skimming starts with choosing your ATM carefully. Opt for ATMs located within banks or well-lit, high-traffic areas where a skimmer is less likely to operate. Always inspect the ATM before use. Look for anything unusual, such as loose parts, sticky residue, or any components that appear to have been added on. To check for a skimmer, pull on the card slot to see if it has been tampered with. Covering the keypad with your hand while entering your PIN adds an extra layer of security.
You should also regularly monitor your account activity online. If you see any suspicious activity, report it to your bank immediately.
When you’re traveling, oftentimes, vendors will try to shortchange you when you pay in cash. They know that foreigners aren’t familiar with the currency. They will give you less change than you’re due in hopes that you don’t notice. This can happen in taxis, at shops, in restaurants, and pretty much anywhere.
To avoid this, simply take the time to count your change after every transaction. It’s annoying but it can save you some money. To help you out, use your phone’s calculator or a currency conversion app to check how much change you should get. Paying with a credit card is another great way to avoid this.
If you find that someone shortchanged you, don’t be afraid to speak up. They’ll usually just act like it was a mistake and give you the correct change.
Rental Vehicle Scams
When you return a rental car or a scooter, the agency could claim that you damaged the vehicle and try to charge you for damages. For example, they could point out a dent and claim that it wasn’t there before and try to force you to pay.
The best way to avoid this scam is to take photos of the vehicle before you take possession of it. If there is any pre-existing damage, be sure to photograph it. Look inside the vehicle and out. This acts as proof that the damage was already there.
You should also never leave your passport as collateral with a rental agency. If an agency requires that you leave your passport, simply refuse and go somewhere else.
You should also always pay for your rental with a credit card. If a shady rental agency tries to charge you for damages, you can tell your credit card company about the situation and do a chargeback. You can’t do this if you pay with cash or a debit card.
Fast Talkers and Hustlers
These guys like to prey on solo tourists. They approach pretending to be your best friend. They may ask about your trip, offer to show you around the city, or help you find whatever you’re looking for. After you open up a bit and become friends, they run a number of scams. Unfortunately, solo travelers are easy targets for these scammers. Traveling alone gets lonely and sometimes you just want to talk to someone. These guys know that.
A few scams these hustlers run include:
- Bar or restaurant scam- The scammer takes you to a restaurant where they receive a commission for bringing in business. Sometimes they run a more sinister variation of the scam. They take you to a bar that charges you a predatory rate for drinks. For example, maybe you order a few drinks and receive a bill for $700.
- Sob story and begging- After being friendly for a bit, the scammer might start telling a sad story about their sick kid or mother. They claim that they need money for medicine or some kind of medical treatment. It’s all BS. They are just trying to appeal to your emotions and fish for a handout.
- Police scam– A con man could sell you drugs and then turn you in to the police for a reward. The police approach you, find the drugs, collect a bribe, then split the money with the scammer. The scammer could also be working with a pickpocket who steals something from you while you’re distracted. Your ‘friend’ then gets the police to help you find the stolen item (which the friend already turned in to the police). For their help, you are expected to pay a bribe which is split between the police and criminals.
These guys are fairly easy to identify. They speak excellent English in non-English speaking countries. This is the biggest giveaway.
Local women can also operate these scams or a variation. If a woman who is out of your league approaches you, she is either a prostitute or a scammer.
When someone approaches you on the street:
- Don’t interact with them- In most cases, if someone approaches you on the street, they are a scammer or beggar. It’s best to simply avoid them. Just say no thanks and move on.
- Don’t follow them to a bar or restaurant of their choosing- If you feel like chatting for a while, it’s fine. Just make sure you choose the place.
- Don’t follow them outside of the tourist zone- These guys operate in places with a lot of tourists. Just stay within the general vicinity of where you met. You don’t want to get lost or lured into a bad neighborhood where you could be robbed or worse.
- Don’t give them money- It just gives them a reason to keep scamming other tourists. If their scam business becomes unprofitable, they’ll do something else.
- Don’t tell anyone you meet on the street where you’re staying- They may wait outside your hotel and bother you every time you want to go out. I made this mistake once in India. I let the guy walk with me to my hotel without even thinking about what I was doing. He was pretty harmless, just very annoying. I changed hotels the following day to get away from him.
- If it seems too good to be true, it is- If a friendly local or an attractive women approaches you, they are probably running some type of scam. In most places, locals aren’t interested in tourists, unless you’re traveling somewhere very remote.
Taxis, tuk-tuks, and rickshaws are common places to get scammed. Drivers run a number of cons including:
- ‘Broken’ meter- The taxi driver tells you that the meter isn’t working but he’ll give you a better rate anyway. This is a lie. They are just looking for an excuse to overcharge. In this case, demand that the driver use the meter. If they won’t, just find another cab until you find one that will. I’ve gone through 5 or more taxis until I find one that wants my fare. Alternatively, negotiate the rate before getting in the taxi. In some cities, taxis legitimately don’t have meters. In this case, you must negotiate before accepting a ride. If you don’t negotiate first, you’ll overpay.
- The meter runs faster than it’s supposed to- This one is rare, but cab drivers have been known to tamper with the meter so it runs faster or use a separate faster running meter for tourists. This scam is pretty rare. There isn’t really anything you can do about it.
- The driver changes the price after the ride- This one is particularly irritating. You agree on a price then, once you reach your destination, the price suddenly increases. The taxi driver may say it was further than they thought or that there was too much traffic. In this case, all you can do is stand your ground and pay the pre-agreed-upon price.
- The bar, restaurant, hotel, or attraction that you are going to is closed- The driver tells you that your destination is closed. They then offer to take you to an alternative destination where they receive a commission from the owner. In this case, insist that the driver take you to your initial destination. Don’t let them take you to a different hotel, restaurant, etc. It’s a scam.
The best way to avoid these scams is to take another form of transportation. If a rideshare service or public transportation is available, use it. The likelihood of getting scammed is much lower. I really dislike taking taxis while traveling alone. They are expensive, unfriendly, and often scammy. I avoid them at all costs. I’d rather walk a few miles than get into a taxi.
The Safest Countries to Solo Travel
Some countries are safer to solo travel than others. A few of the safest include places to solo travel include:
- New Zealand
For your first solo trip, it’s a good idea to choose a safe country that’s easy to get around. Choose a country that receives lots of tourists. Try to choose a country with a low rate of crime. Avoid places where terrorism, political unrest, war, or instability are unlikely. Ideally, there should be good healthcare infrastructure, just in case. Also, try to choose a country with low rates of infectious disease. The above-listed countries fit the bill.
Before choosing a country, consider checking the travel advisories to get an idea of how safe the country is. You can check travel advisories from the U.S. State Department here.
For more help choosing where to solo travel, check out my guide to the best solo travel destinations.
Additional Solo Travel Safety Tips
In this section, I’ll outline a few solo travel safety tips to help you stay safe. For more tips, check out my tips for traveling alone.
1. Have a Plan for Where You Are Going to Sleep
The most dangerous time of the day is the night. This is when criminals are most active. You’re more likely to run into a mugger or scammer at night.
To reduce the risk, make sure you always have a safe place to sleep at the end of each day. It doesn’t matter if you’re camping, Couchsurfing, or staying in a hotel or hostel. You don’t want to end up having to spend a night sleeping on the street.
You don’t even need to make a reservation but you should at least know the address or location of a few possible places that you could stay. If you have a confirmed booking, you have nothing to worry about.
Tip: I recommend you always travel with a tent so you have a shelter in case you find yourself in a situation where you have nowhere to sleep and need to camp. It comes in handy more often than you’d expect and gives you more accommodation options.
2. Keep Backups of All of Your Important Documents
It’s important to keep backups of all essential documents including your passport, visa, vaccine certificates, driver’s license, e-tickets for flights, credit cards, etc. This way, if you lose an important document, you at least have a copy. You should keep both paper and digital backups.
Having physical copies of your critical documents, particularly your passport and visa, can be beneficial. In case of loss or theft, these paper backups serve as a reference, aiding in speedy replacement. You can also use the copy in place of the original in some cases. Keep these copies separate from the originals to avoid losing both at the same time.
You should also keep digital backups of all of your documents. High-resolution photos or scans of your documents can be stored in multiple places. Cloud services like Google Drive or Dropbox are reliable options. Emailing copies to yourself offers another layer of backup. Also, consider storing them on a thumb drive. It’s compact, portable, and doesn’t rely on internet access.
If you lose your passport or other essential documents during solo travel, these digital copies can expedite the process of getting replacements. They also serve as proof of your identity in an emergency.
3. Choose Your Accommodation Carefully
When you solo travel, your accommodation choice is important for your personal safety. To stay safe, try to choose a hotel, hostel, or Airbnb that is located in a popular part of town or in a tourist district. You want to feel safe while coming and going.
Also, make sure the property offer lockers or a safe to secure your valuables while you’re out. You should make sure the windows and doors lock securely so you feel safe while you’re sleeping.
Before booking accommodation, read the reviews. Make sure there are no reviews complaining of theft, scams, bed bugs, etc. Not all accommodation options are safe. It’s not unheard of for hotel staff to steal from guests while they’re out.
4. Lock Your Luggage
When you travel alone, you can’t keep an eye on your luggage at all times. Locking your luggage can reduce the likelihood of theft. Buy some simple luggage locks and lock the zippers of your luggage closed.
Luggage locks can deter some criminals. If your bag is locked, a criminal might look for an easier target. Simple luggage locks won’t prevent all theft but they can help.
When you’re staying in a hotel, lock your valuables up in the in-room safe. If you’re staying in a hostel, lock your items up in the locker. Remember to bring your own lock. Most hostels don’t have locks.
5. Try to Travel During the Day
Traveling during the day offers a greater level of safety for several reasons. In daylight, visibility is better, making it easier to observe your surroundings and navigate unfamiliar territory. Whether you’re looking for the bus station, train station, airport, or hotel, it’s significantly easier to find your way during the day.
Furthermore, all transportation options are usually operational during the day. At night, options can become limited. This can leave you stranded or force you to walk or take a taxi.
Daytime travel also significantly reduces the chances of encountering criminals. Streets are busier during the day. Most crime happens at night.
That said, sometimes arriving at night is unavoidable due to flight schedules or other factors. In these cases, preparation is key. Arranging transport in advance can and reduce risks. Research reliable transportation services or hire a taxi from an authorized company. Make sure you know how to get to your destination and have clear directions ready.
Also, make sure you notify your hotel that you’re arriving late. If you don’t show up, they may give your room away. Some properties also do not have 24 hour reception.
6. Be Aware of the Local Laws
Ignorance of the local laws can lead to unintended legal troubles, ranging from fines to arrests or even jail time.
Every country has its unique set of laws, some of which can seem quite strict or unusual to foreigners. Certain behaviors or actions considered harmless or legal in your home country could be illegal in your destination. These can include laws around dress code, alcohol consumption, public behavior, photography, or even interactions between men and women.
Researching the local laws should be a part of your pre-travel preparations. Online resources, travel guides, or local embassy websites often provide information about the legal do’s and don’ts for travelers.
Remember, as a traveler, you are responsible for your actions. Ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse. If you inadvertently break the law, you could face penalties. Some countries are a bit more lenient with tourists.
Compliance with local laws is also not just about avoiding penalties. It’s also about respecting the local culture and norms of the places you visit.
7. Don’t Start a Fight
If someone mugs, robs, or pickpockets you, it’s best to just let it go. Starting a fight in a foreign country is incredibly dangerous. Even if the fight starts as one on one, other locals can quickly join in. You could easily get seriously injured or killed. You also never know if the criminal has a weapon on them.
In many parts of the world, the police can’t really do anything to help unless they catch the crime in action. Most of the time, the bad guy gets away, unfortunately.
8. Don’t Get Too Intoxicated While You’re Alone
Sometimes it’s nice to walk down to the local watering hole and have a few drinks. As a solo traveler, oftentimes your only choice is to go alone or not go at all if you haven’t made any friends at the hostel. I’ve gotten to a point where I don’t mind going out alone once in a while but I am sure to be extra cautious when I do. When you are noticeably drunk, people can take advantage. To be safe:
- Don’t have more than 2-3 drinks when you’re alone- Your friends aren’t there to babysit you or take you home if you get too drunk. You’re on your own to take care of yourself.
- Keep a close eye on your drink- Make sure nobody slips anything in. Both men and women need to be cautious of this for a variety of reasons.
- Don’t walk back to the hotel or hostel while drunk- Take a taxi or public transport instead. It’s safer. You become a target when you’re walking around drunk.
- Don’t get too friendly with anyone you meet in the bar- The bar is an excellent place to meet local people. Just use your best judgment. Most people you meet are genuinely friendly and just want to chat. Some are criminals searching for a target.
- Stick to more crowded or mainstream bars when you are alone- You don’t want to be the only foreigner in a rough local bar. 99% of the time it will be fine but you don’t want to go where you’re not welcome. If you’re going alone, stick to safer mainstream establishments.
The thought of going out alone seems kind of depressing at first but it can be good fun if you have the right mindset. I’ve met some real characters at local bars. As long as you take the above-listed precautions, you’ll stay perfectly safe.
9. Let someone know where you are
Before you leave home, share your itinerary with a friend or family member. If your plans change, keep everyone updated on your location.
This way, if you need assistance at some point, they know where you are. If they don’t hear from you for a while they can send help.
If you’re going somewhere potentially dangerous, you might also consider letting someone at your hotel or hostel know where you’re going. That way, if you don’t come back, they will know something is wrong.
You can simply mention to the receptionist that you’re going out for a couple of hours and you’ll be back later. This isn’t always necessary but it can be a good idea in certain situations.
You shouldn’t share your plans with random strangers that you meet during your trip. You don’t want people that you don’t know to know where you’re going. Never tell a stranger what hotel you’re staying at. This could make you a target. Even if a person seems friendly, you never know.
10. Don’t Be Overly Paranoid About Safety
I’ve met fellow travelers who are so preoccupied with safety concerns that they end up missing out. While you do need to take security into consideration while solo traveling, don’t let it dictate where you go or how you travel.
If you feel like going for a walk downtown, go. If you feel like going out for a beer, go. As long as you take the simple safety precautions outlined in this guide, chances are, you’ll be fine.
If you do get scammed, mugged, or pickpocketed, it’s certainly a bummer, but it’s also part of the adventure. After it’s all over it will either make for an interesting story or teach you a lesson that will help you out the next time you find yourself in a similar situation. Solo travel isn’t always fun and relaxing. It’s pure adventure.
11. Have Travel Insurance
Even though solo travel is pretty safe, it’s a good idea to have travel insurance to cover you just in case you get injured or experience an unexpected medical condition. It also gives peace of mind. for Travel insurance, I like SafetyWing. I have bought their insurance for most of my international trips and am happy with their service.
Solo Female Travel
As a male, I can’t really talk about the specifics of solo female travel because I’ve never experienced it. I do know that solo female travelers have to take some additional precautions that male solo travelers may not have to worry as much about. They may face unique challenges on their journeys.
For example, some areas around the world display higher rates of harassment or gender-based violence. This makes it particularly important for solo female travelers to be well-informed about their destinations and extra cautious when out and about. There are some destinations that may not be safe for solo female travelers.
Another potential risk is theft. It may be easier for a man to rob a woman. Women can also draw unwanted attention in some parts of the world. Harassment or assault could be an issue.
Preparation is key to mitigating these risks. Thorough research on your solo travel destination, including its culture, safety issues, and gender norms. Read blogs and watch videos from other solo female travelers who visited the same destination.
Staying connected is another important aspect of solo female travel safety. Regularly update someone back home about your whereabouts.
Dressing modestly, according to the local customs, could also help to avoid unwanted attention. It’s also important to trust your intuition when you solo travel. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
When choosing accommodation, look for places with positive reviews, especially from other solo female travelers. Where possible, try to arrive during daylight hours and take only licensed, reputable transportation.
For more in-depth info, check out this great guide to solo female travel.
Is Solo Travel Scary?
No. Solo travel is not scary, once you get used to it. After you solo travel for a couple of weeks, you’ll feel at ease. Of course, you may encounter some scary, nerve-wracking, or uncomfortable situations from time to time. Solo travel isn’t always comfortable and fun. It can be a challenge.
There is a bit of a learning curve to solo travel. It will be scary at first. When you first set off on your first solo trip, you will fear the unknown. That’s normal. You don’t know what kinds of challenges you’ll face. There could be a language barrier. You could get scammed. You could fall victim to a pickpocket or thief.
One common fear of solo travelers is feeling or looking awkward. At first, it may feel strange to eat alone or go sightseeing alone. You may feel out of place. This is something you just have to accept and get used to. It’s part of solo travel.
My Experience With Solo Travel
Over the past decade, I’ve solo traveled to over 60 countries on 6 continents. During that time, I have never had any serious safety issues.
I have been pickpocketed twice. Once in Mexico and once in Tanzania. On both occasions my phone was stolen.
I have also been scammed a number of times. On the occasions where I was scammed, I only lost $10-$20. Once, I bought a fake bus ticket in Ethiopia. In Egypt, I was tricked into overpaying for a sousvenir.
So far, I have never been robbed, drugged, or assaulted. I have not fallen victim to any violent crime, knock on wood. I witnessed an armed robbery in Mexico. That’s about it.
When I was younger, I was less cautious. I would wander around wherever I wanted. I visited a few questionable destinations. On a number of occasions, I had way too much to drink. Luckily, I didn’t encounter any serious crime.
These days, I take my safety much more seriously. I research my destinations thoroughly and try to plan a route when I’m out and about. I avoid destinations that are too risky. I’m more cautious.
Final Thoughts Staying Safe While Solo Traveling
Yes, solo travel is safe. Don’t miss out on what the world has to offer out of fear. While it is true that some parts of the world are dangerous, the vast majority is full of friendly people, fascinating culture, and delicious food. Don’t be afraid to go out there and see it even if it means going alone.
While all of the scams, crimes, and dangers you just read about exist, the likelihood of actually encountering them is fairly slim. If you know the risks and take a few simple steps to avoid them, you can have a safe, healthy solo adventure almost anywhere in the world.
If you’re still on the fence about committing to a solo trip, check out my solo travel vs group travel pros and cons list to help you decide. You can also read about my first solo trip here.
Have you found yourself in a dangerous situation while solo traveling? Is solo travel safe? Share your experience in the comments below!
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Zachary Friedman is an accomplished travel writer and professional blogger. Since 2011, he has traveled to 66 countries and 6 continents. He founded ‘Where The Road Forks’ in 2017 to provide readers with information and incites based on his travel and outdoor recreation experience and expertise. Zachary is also an avid cyclist and hiker. Living as a digital nomad, Zachary balances his professional life with his passions for hiking, camping, cycling, and worldwide exploration. For a deeper dive into his journey and background, visit the About page. For inquiries and collaborations, please reach out through the Contact page. You can also follow him on Facebook.