Safety tips to consider before traveling

Traveling alone can be one of the most enriching experiences you’ll ever have in your lifetime, but it can also be quite tricky.  We often embrace this type of opportunity with an open mind, putting more faith in the world while embracing new friendships, opportunities and experiences.  While that is absolutely vital, it is also important to be aware of the potential dangerous situations that can lurk during our travels. 

Here are some important safety tips to consider before you embark on your solo journey:

When choosing accommodations, try to pick a large chain brand with security.
Though it’s tempting to book that enchanting cottage on AirBnb for half the price, if you’re traveling alone, stick to a hotel or motel chain with security, parking, and a front desk.  While trying to embrace that raw local life during the trip is important, consider how to get help if something were to come up.  

Book travel excursions with a reputable company.
Always check TripAdvisor reviews and make sure they have been in business for a considerable amount of time.  If you are traveling internationally, the rules, regulations or safety precautions for certain activities or vendors may not be the same as it is back in the states, so you want to make sure you are booking with a reputable company that will handle things professionally and safely.  

Check the status of local tap water.
Last thing we want is to be stuck in the hotel room all day with stomach issues-so always check that the local tap water is safe to drink.  Even if it is safe, try just a couple sips first and see how your body reacts to it.  Even if it causes a bit of a stomach rumble, stick to bottled water to avoid getting sick or having to run to a bathroom every 10 minutes.  

If new friends extend a dinner invitation, always meet in a public restaurant.
Avoid meeting back at their homes or in a secluded area.  Before showing up to the restaurant, check online or ask the hotel front desk to make sure it is a functioning business.

If you are going on a hike or a challenging expedition, tell the hotel front desk exactly where you are going.
Let them know approximately what time you plan to return.  Just in case of unforeseen events, it's safe to let someone know where they can send people for help.  Also, it won't hurt to receive some useful tips or advice on the destination from a local! 

Don’t allow anyone to walk you back to your hotel.
This kind gesture could feel completely innocent and thoughtful, but if you’re traveling alone, it is better not to disclose the exact location of where you are staying.  Instead, insist they wait with you at a local coffee shop until your taxi picks you up,  or walk you to the closest bus or train station.  

When traveling internationally, keep U.S. Embassy info available.
If anything, be aware of the general location of the embassy and be prepared to contact them in case there is a national or global emergency.  With the rise of terrorism and unforeseen weather-related situations happening more frequently, it is always smart to be in touch with the embassy to receive information and instructions-just in case.  

Never accept an offer to be on a private boat with strangers.
Though (very) tempting, if a new group of strangers offer to take you on a boat ride, consider the fact that there is no way to escape if anything were to happen.

Don’t travel with a fancy, expensive bag.
We all know criminals aim to pickpocket tourists as they can stand out like a giraffe amongst a crowd.  Avoid carrying a fancy bag that will draw even more attention. Instead, consider carrying a passport holder “necklace” with your valuables to tuck-in under your shirt.  

Listen to your gut instinct.
When in doubt, listen to what your gut tells you.  If there is something a little “off” about that sexy charming stranger you just met over coffee, don’t ignore it.  If walking into a certain bar or club feels a little uncomfortable and you’re not sure why, step back and consider a different location.  Your gut is your body’s way of trying to tell you that something doesn’t feel right-and it should never be ignored.

When traveling internationally, consider a phone plan.
Before you arrive, figure out how you can make phone calls locally and to your loved ones back at home.  You don’t have to arrange for a whole plan, but at least have phone cards handy with you.  Make sure to check with your phone provider to see what your options are.  

Overall rule is to have fun, be adventurous, but stay alert and cautious at all times.  Traveling alone is the ultimate self-indulgence, andyou will discover more about yourself while discovering the world.  Remember that you have everything that it takes to be on your own, but always do your research before embarking on this exhilarating journey.