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Top 10 safety tips for solo travelers - Page 2

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on June 11, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Sarah Pascarella, solo travel, vacation package, women's travel.

"When I travel internationally, I take my oldest, most beat-up backpack I have," says Rose. "I carry my most important things in something that is not flashy or brand new ... I want my backpack to look like there's nothing inside but books, when in actuality it's going to hold expensive camera equipment. When I went to a new area, I'd always go to a market when I got there and buy something that looked very local [and] native.

"I always carry a very large pashmina or shawl," she continues. "You can hike up your purse and wrap the shawl around it and you so it's close, and you're not advertising [what you have]."

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Many also feel a vacation is an excuse for getting new clothes or gadgets. "I saw so many tourists in Africa going to North Face and outfitting themselves in brand-new clothes," explains Rose. Rather than adding comfort or style to their trip, however, it may have made them more susceptible to petty crime.

Additionally, don't be flashy with your behavior. While a vacation is certainly a time to relax, approaching a trip as an extended party (particularly as a solo traveler) can lead to big trouble. "Do not drink to the point of losing control or do drugs," says Page. "Keep an eye on your drink. Try to stay close to others and don't be tempted by offers from men to spend the night."

4. Know the area

Before you even depart, browse guidebooks and websites that provide street maps, public transportation routes and schedules, and taxi and rental car information. Getting a general sense of the lay of the land can prevent you from getting lost and being put in a dangerous situation.

"Most airports have a good tourist information office," says Rose. "When you land, go in there and grab a map. [They'll also have] very good travel tips. If you're traveling by yourself you can instantly get a sense of the area."

5. Keep a phone card and cash on you

"Always carry cash so you can hop in a cab or go into a cafe if you don't feel safe," recommends Rose. "You can't walk into a restaurant and sit down and order something—a really great way to get off the street—if you don't have cash on you."

Just make sure you don't have too much cash, and don't make it obvious. "Be wary of changing money in urban change centers," says McGoey. "[I've seen] people walking out in the street counting their money, it's just not safe."

A phone card is a good item to have, even if you have a cell phone. Should your phone and/or wallet get stolen, with a phone card you can make a quick call to a cab or your hotel to arrange for transportation, or get in touch with friends and family who may be able to help.

6. Safeguard your room

When checking in at your hotel, take a few precautions to ensure safety. "Make sure other travelers around you do not hear your room [number upon check-in]," says Alexander. In many cases, the hotel clerk will not say what room you're in, and will instead discreetly write the room number on your key envelope. If your room number is loudly announced and you don't feel comfortable, request a change to a different room.

"Do check out the room you're assigned," Alexander suggests. "Make sure that it is ideally about the third floor or better so you're not too close to the street. Know where the various exits are vis-à-vis your room, so in a case of emergency you know the most expeditious way out."

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