I believe that solo travel is as safe as traveling with a companion.
Now, traveling solo on an organized tour is likely more safe that doing so independently. After all, you are with a lot of other people and a guide, or possibly two, who know the destination well. Check out our Deals page for companies that offer tours and cruises with no or low single supplements.
However, if the question is about independent solo travel, my response is yes, it’s safe. With the understanding that all travel comes with certain risks associated with being out of your element, solo travel is safe. Like all travelers, you need to plan well, be aware of your surroundings, make good choices and follow the safety tips below.
Planning for Solo Travel Safety
- Solo travel safety begins before you leave. Research is important. Knowledge protects you from the danger of misinformation, unsavory individuals and/or naively wandering into an unsafe area. Imagine how you can be taken advantage of if you don’t understand the currency. Or the health problems you could face if you don’t know the necessary vaccinations for your destination. Or the potential loss of money, documents and more if you don’t know the unsafe areas at your destination. There is much to know before you go.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses. If you are new to travel, you likely have a lot to learn. If you’ve traveled a lot but have never traveled solo, you have different issues to resolve. We have a lot on the site for solo travel newbies.
- Choose your destination carefully. We all have a different idea of safety. Reader Wen Tang, from Singapore, contributed a Solo Travel Destination post on Pakistan. Some would never consider it a destination for safety reasons but others would. Make sure the safety level of your destination meets your personal travel safety needs. This will involve checking the Destinations section of Solo Traveler, guide books and your government’s travel site.
- Check your government’s travel site. Your government likely has information on the travel documents you require for travel as well as any warnings for your destination. Here are links for travel alerts for United Kingdom, United States, and Canada.
- Buy travel insurance before you go. I have World Nomads insurance. They are the only company that I know that lets you buy insurance after you leave your country. However, it’s certainly not after you need to make a claim. It keeps life simple and safe to buy insurance before you go. Read Going Alone? Travel Insurance is a Must
- Register with your government. I certainly don’t do this every time I travel but if you’re going for a few weeks registering as a citizen traveling abroad is a good idea. Use the links above.
- Schedule your arrival during daylight. The first stop for most travelers in a new destination is their hotel or hostel. I suggest that you arrive in the mid-afternoon so that you can really see what kind of area you’re staying in. A safe area will always look better in daylight. An unsafe area is more obviously so in daylight. But there are more very practical reasons to arrive during daylight as well. You will be able to find your accommodation more easily and if you don’t like it, you will have time to make other arrangements.
- Know how you will get to your first hotel. Your arrival in any new country, especially one where you don’t know the language or the local transit system, is important. Research how you’ll get from the airport to your hotel or hostel and give yourself lots of time. You will need it as you learn how their system works. And if your flight arrives late in the day, you may want to avoid the transit system and splurge on a taxi to be on the safe side.
- Study a map before you leave. I’m one who loves maps so this is an obvious step for me. But even those who do not love maps are advised to look at one and get the lay of the land. For example, if you were to look at a map of Toronto you’ll note that the lake is south no matter where you are in the city and that the CN Tower stands high near the lake. If you get turned around look for the tower. If you can’t see it, ask someone which way the lake is. Not everyone knows north and south but locals know where the lake is. The same logic can be applied in New York City and many other cities based on major landmarks.