Travelling As a Lone Backpacker
Travelling solo offers freedom and the chance to make new friends along the way without being influenced by travel companions. It can be the best way to travel for those who like to visit obscure places or like the freedom to change plans and try something different.
Safety while travelling is a priority, especially when you are on your own. Take a look at the following advice and make sure that your trip is enjoyable but safe.
While women travelling alone are considered the most vulnerable, men need to be aware of safety issues too, for their own protection. Basic safety advice for both sexes includes choosing accommodation carefully, and avoiding hostels or hotels in areas notorious for crime rates. While hostels that have a curfew may seem a little annoying and childish, making sure that the inhabitants are indoors and safe with locked external doors can prevent unwelcome visitors.
Take a padlock and chain with you to secure your luggage or backpack while sleeping, or to even reinforce your bedroom door security, and avoid hostels where security seems to be lax or those that have received negative reviews on backpacker websites.
Dress down when walking as wearing flashy or designer clothes is going to make you stand out and could make you a potential target for mugging. Observe local dress codes and dress conservatively in populated areas. While many of us like to dress up for a night out, remember that expensive clothes draw attention and this could be unwelcome. Leave shorts or bikini tops for the beaches and keep arms and legs covered where possible.
Walk confidently to avoid attracting attention and potential ‘help’ with directions and give brief or no answers to any questions about your accommodation or plans. Money should be kept in a money belt discreetly hidden under clothing and try to carry notes of a low denomination when shopping or using public transport. Carrying rolls of cash is only going to encourage pickpockets and thieves.
Keep People Informed
Keep to a basic travel plan where possible and keep friends and family informed as to your whereabouts. Yes, backpacking is all about freedom and getting away from restrictions at home but having people aware of your plans could be a lifesaver. With wi-fi and Internet access being available in most places, dashing off a quick email to let people know where you are or any changes to plans is a sensible move and gives everyone peace of mind.
Similarly, if you plan to go out and explore local nightlife, go with a group or, at least, let people at the hostel know where you are going. Avoid walking in quiet and unlit areas on your return and take a taxi if possible. Making new friends is great while backpacking, but watch your alcohol consumption around new people, and also be aware of drink spiking.