While traveling to a new city is fun and exciting, one must also be vigilant when it comes to their surroundings, especially if traveling alone. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Wrong. New cities are exhilarating and will capture every bit of your attention if you let them. As a solo traveler, it is vital to be scanning your surroundings, and it will quickly become second nature. When I first started solo traveling I was given all the typical warnings, but did I listen? Nope.
Story time: Boston, MA. I was walking from my hotel to a shopping district, I had only been in Boston for a day, and the roads made no sense to this mid-west girl. I was on my phone trying to get directions to the shopping district. I was taken through some less-than-ideal places, when I realized I felt like I was being followed. There were only a handful of people around this area. I sped up my walking pace and I could hear the person behind speed up as well, approximately 10 feet behind me. I casually strolled to the other side of the street, as if to look at a building. The person followed. Survival mode started to creep up on me. I walk back to the other side of the street, the stranger followed again. I memorized the streets on Google Maps near me and lowered my phone, so I could focus. I made a string of non-sense turns, the stranger continued to follow. I saw the shopping district ahead of me. Thankfully, now there were more people, I thought I’d now be able to lose this person. I found the nearest store, H&M, and went inside. The stranger stood outside the door watching me. I went around a rack, acting oblivious to the fact that he was still standing outside the entrance. I got a good look at the guy and took notes on my phone of his description, praying I wouldn’t need it. I knew I had to time it just right in order to leave unnoticed. Thankfully, a woman was being loud and obnoxious on the street and it diverted his attention just long enough. I went out the side exit and was able to make it back to my hotel safely.
I’m not saying you’ll be followed or harmed on solo trips, but it is very important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Some cities have a higher police presence than others and that will make a huge difference as well.
- Don’t keep your eyes on your phone. Make sure to take in your surroundings.
- Take a taxi to your location if you truly do not feel safe walking
- Carry a make-up compact, so if someone is following you can look in the reflection if need be
- Don’t get drunk unless you are in your hotel for the night! This is a big one and it will be repeated throughout the blogs
- Stay in well-lit areas
- Make sure at least one person knows where you’re going and what time you should be back in the hotel for the night (for me, it’s my parents)
- Download safety apps, this will be covered in another blog coming up as well.
- If it’s legal in the city or state you are in, carry pepper spray. If it’s not legal, carry something that can be used in an emergency. Mine was a piece to a broken selfie stick while in NYC (Yes, I do own a selfie stick)