World’s #1 student & youth travel marketplace gives ten top tips to keep you safe during your overseas adventures…
With nobody to please but yourself, solo travel can be incredibly liberating and can mean your trip can look exactly as you want it. No waiting around for your travel buddy to wake up, bickering about what attraction to see next, or watching your mate yawn in the club and reluctantly heading home – solo travel means you can do exactly what you want, when you want, how you want.
But when it comes to travelling solo, with nobody else looking out for us we do need to be that extra bit careful when it comes to personal safety. Sam Willan, Global VP of Marketing for StudentUniverse – the world’s largest student and youth travel marketplace – shares his top ten tips on prioritising your safety during those once-in-a-lifetime holidays and gap year travels.
1. Hold fire on the Instagram stories
While it’s always nice to keep our friends and families updated on our whereabouts as we travel, be careful when putting your exact location on your social media accounts. While you may think posting that picture perfect sunset selfie is only going to make you the envy of all your friends, you never know who could be watching. Ensure you privacy settings are secure and those who follow you, are people you know and trust.
2. Avoid late-night flights
They might be a little bit cheaper, but catching a flight that gets you in to a new location late at night or in the early hours of the morning isn’t something we’d advise – especially for a solo traveller. Instead, try to pick a flight that lands at a reasonable hour and gives you the chance to get familiar with your new location in the light of day. If there’s isn’t an option for a daytime flight, be sure to pre-book a transfer or check out the public transport network well in advance, so that you’re not having to navigate this at the end of a potentially long and tiring day of travel.
3. Don’t look lost
We’ve all been there – lost in a new city, with no idea where we should be heading. But no matter how off-the-beaten path you might feel, walk convincingly, and try to blend in. If you’re clearly a lost tourist, you could be a target for scams or unkind activity. If you’ve not got data on your phone, ensure you download offline maps to help you navigate your way around your new location.
4. Look out for local scams
Whether its broken taxi meters in Bangkok or the generous offer a group photo in Paris only for your new photographer friend to run off with your expensive smartphone while you pose, no matter where you are, there are always going to be scams to be avoided. Before you head off on your travels, research the destination and the scams travellers often find themselves caught up in. That way, you’ll know exactly what to be on the look out for!
5. Stay connected
While the thought of going off grid might be welcomed when it comes to a trip away, for your own safety we’d advise you to keep those at home in the loop when it comes to your whereabouts. While you won’t need it for most European countries, we’d suggest picking up a local SIM card with data for trips further afield – that way, no matter where you are you’ll be able to keep in touch with those at home if you really need to.
6. Join a tour
Lots of solo travellers opt to join a tour, even just a day trip, as it provides an initial safety net and gives them a chance to meet some new friends if only for a short while. Tours can range from multi-week adventures, where all your transport, food and accommodation (plus a knowledgeable guide) is packaged in, to simple day trips around a new city.
7. Buy a good quality safety lock
If you’re bedding down in a hostel, then the majority of your possessions will be left there as you head off exploring. Most hostels will offer lockers, but you’ll need to bring along a lock to ensure they remain secure. You can also get smaller locks for day bags – particularly helpful if your someone who can catch forty winks on a train or plane!
8. Be party savvy
Being in a new location with new people can be pretty exciting, but it’s important to ensure your safety is number one priority. Before you start ordering in a round of drinks, be aware of the measurements of alcohol they use. Some countries may use larger quantities than you’re used to at home – so start slowly!
9.Remember to get insurance
Hopefully, you won’t need to use it, but if the worst should happen, then travel insurance will be your best friend. Whether you’re heading on a 6-month adventure or just a weekend city break, travel insurance is an absolute must and we’d always urge travellers to make sure they’re covered.
10. Trust your gut
Last but by no means least, if something doesn’t feel quite right, then chances are it probably isn’t! Don’t be afraid to leave a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Students and youths can access exclusive deals and prices on flights when booking through StudentUniverse. Membership is free and it’s super easy to sign up. Visit www.studentuniverse.co.uk for more information.