In many ways, packing for a solo trip isn’t that different than packing for a trip with someone else. If you and your partner always use packing cubes, you’ll probably still rely on them when you’re by yourself. Can’t travel without your Kindle, no matter who you’re with? Of course you’ll bring it along.
But there are certain concerns that become more pressing when you’re traveling alone — particularly when it comes to personal safety. If you don’t have a companion to watch your back, you’ll want to take a few extra precautions and consider packing the following six items when you travel alone.
1. Door Stopper
Because deadbolts and other security features vary widely from hotel to hotel, packing your own door stopper can help you add an extra layer of protection. (This is especially true at many motels, where doors open to the outside, and at budget properties with shoddy locks.)
The DoorJammer Portable Door Security Device weighs just eight ounces and can be wedged under your hotel door to keep an intruder from opening it. The SABRE Wedge takes it a step farther by including an alarm that goes off when pressure is applied to the door.
2. Dummy Wallet and Money Belt
When you’re traveling with a companion, you can split your money and credit cards between the two of you so there’s less impact if one of you is robbed. But if you’re alone, you’ll still want your valuables to be in more than one place.
We recommend carrying the bulk of your cash and cards in a money belt hidden under your clothes, while keeping only what you need for the day in an inexpensive wallet, which you can put in a front pocket or in a crossbody bag that’s difficult to steal. If you’re mugged, you can toss this dummy wallet away from you without giving up all your valuables.
You may also want to keep some emergency money (perhaps a $100 bill, or the local equivalent) in a place that a mugger would be unlikely to access — tucked away in your shoe or bra, for instance.
One money belt we like is this RFID-blocking option from PEAK. (RFID stands for radio frequency identification; passports and some credit cards have RFID chips in them with sensitive data that could be skimmed by opportunistic crooks.) If you’re looking for crossbody bags with anti-theft technology (such as slash-proof straps), Travelon offers a number of options.
3. Medical ID Card or Jewelry
If you become incapacitated during a solo trip, you won’t have a companion to speak on your behalf to medical personnel — which could be life-threatening if you have allergies or health conditions a doctor needs to know about. That’s why it’s vital to have your medical information in a place where first responders can find it easily.
Consider using a service called My Important Information, which gives you a card with a QR code on it that first responders can use to access your medical and other essential data.
You may also want to consider wearing a medical bracelet or necklace engraved with important health conditions such as heart disease, severe allergies or diabetes. (Amazon offers numerous medical necklaces and bracelets.) And, of course, we strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance.
4. Inexpensive Wedding Band
Wearing a wedding band may help deter unwanted attention, even if you’re not actually married. And some travelers who are married buy cheaper wedding bands to wear on the road in place of sparkling engagement rings and diamond-crusted bands. A plain band will attract less attention, and if it’s lost or stolen, it won’t be a big loss.
Plain stainless steel bands are available for less than $10. Titanium bands are also sturdy and very affordable.
5. Whistle/Personal Alarm
We don’t recommend carrying pepper spray when you travel, as it’s illegal in many countries (as well as on planes). However, having a whistle or other noise-making device can help scare away an attacker or draw the attention of others in an emergency.
6. First-Aid Kit
We recommend that every traveler bring a few medical necessities, but it’s even more essential when you don’t have a travel buddy to run down the street to the nearest pharmacy on your behalf.
You can create your own first-aid kit with items such as antibacterial wipes, adhesive bandages, tweezers and over-the-counter pain medications. Or you can buy a ready-made first-aid kit such as this one from SadoMedcare.
What other safety tips would you recommend for solo travelers?
More from SmarterTravel:
- The 13 Best Places to Travel Alone
- Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling Solo
- Why Everyone Should Travel Alone at Least Once
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.