1. Research before you go.
Research, research, and research. Yes, there is a lot of information online (like our blog here!). Supplement your online research with firsthand stories and tips from those who have been to your travel destination.
2. Start with local, small trips first
Don’t aspire for big trips if you are unsure about how things will go or if you are traveling solo. Start with small, local trips nearby and learn how to plan for a trip, how to prepare, and how to be safe when traveling alone. These little victories will help you be more confident in traveling by yourself.
3. Always be aware of your surroundings
Be aware constantly of who’s around you, what’s happening, and keep your eyes and ears open. This doesn’t mean to walk around in fear all the time, but make sure that you are aware of your surroundings. This can be harder than it sounds, so practice being more mindful when you’re at home before you start to travel.
4. Print and store both digital and print copies of your passport, and don’t carry it around with you.
Take pictures or scans of your passport and important documents and upload them to a secure folder such as Dropbox or Google drive that you can easily access. Also, send a copy to someone that you trust (like parents, spouse, sibling) so that in case there is trouble or you misplace it, someone can easily get it to the proper authorities.
Once you have a scan, also make a paper copy. That’s the copy that should be with you in case of emergencies. As for the real passport? Leave it in a secure place. There are many people who will approach tourists not only for their money and belongings, but for their identification documents that can then be forged and sold illegally.
5. Get an international phone plan to be able to contact and look up information.
Don’t rely on picking up free WiFi at public cafes. Depending on where you travel, the reliability of public WiFi can be very bad, and it can be difficult to find a source of internet. Instead, get an international phone plan (or get a prepaid international phone or SIM card) and make sure that you are plugged into data as soon as you arrive at the airport. The airport is the safest and your best bet for getting help in English, so make sure that you have everything firmly set before you step out.
6. Put away your phone when you are walking in public.
One of the biggest signs of being a helpless tourist is if you are not aware of your surroundings and walking around in public with your eyes glued to the phone. It’ll be easy for pickpocketers to steal from you, or those with worse intentions to approach you.
7. Delay your posts on social media.
Don’t post about where you are at that moment. Delay your posts at least by a few days, so that people cannot track where you are and follow you.