Travelling alone can be a rewarding experience. But it needs some special attention to safety that travellers in a group might not have to consider. We have some tips if you're thinking of taking a solo trip.
Before you travel
Research your destination
The more you understand where you're going, the better you can plan to stay safe.
Read the travel advice for your destination. Find out if there are areas of risk. Be aware of particular risks for women, LGBTI and people of a specific ethnic or cultural background.
Plan your accommodation
Look into local accommodation options. Research your choices on review sites to see if travellers raise any safety issues. Booking your accommodation ahead of time is the safest option. But if you want to keep your plans flexible, shortlist safe options and choose while you're there. Never leave yourself in a position where you don't have somewhere safe to stay.
Avoid sharing accommodation with strangers. Couch-surfing websites and hostels are popular ways to save money. But shared accommodation can pose a risk to solo travellers, particularly women.
Plan your transport
Plan to arrive during the day when booking your flights, if possible. It's safer and less stressful. Arrange airport transfers before you arrive.
Research the safety of local public transport options. We might provide specific details about public transport in your destination's travel advice. Guidebooks and travel forums can also have useful advice.
Check-in with your mental health
Travelling solo can be unexpectedly tough on your mental health. Have a plan to cope with feelings of homesickness or isolation. If you have mental health concerns or are taking medication, talk to your doctor about how to manage these during your trip.
Tell people where you're going
Share your plans with someone your trust. Give them copies of your:
- detailed itinerary, including accommodation contacts
- travel insurance policy
- emergency contacts.
Plan regular check-ins with people back home. Tell your family and friends when you may be out of contact, so they don't worry.
Make an emergency plan
You can save yourself a lot of trouble if you have a plan when things go wrong. Read our advice on travel safety. Know what risks you might face and what to do if they happen.
Save emergency contacts into your phone and have a printed list in case you can't access your devices. Include:
- local emergency services
- local hospitals and public clinics
- your accommodation contact details and location
- the nearest Australian embassy or consulate.
You can find local emergency service numbers in the travel advice for your destination.
Learn the local language
Learning some key phrases in the local language can help if you're travelling where people don't speak English. Make a list of the most helpful phrases. Things that can be useful are:
- "do you speak English" and "I don't understand"
- basic terms about accommodation and transport
- how to ask for essential facilities like toilets, banks or places to eat
- emergency phrases so you can ask for help, including the local words for police, doctor and hospital.
Learn how to say "no" firmly in the local language and the nonverbal gesture for no. It can help if you're getting unwanted attention.
While you're travelling
Choose safe transport
- Only use official, licensed and reputable taxis. Refuse drivers that approach you uninvited.
- Be cautious on crowded public transport. Keep a close hold of your valuables and stay aware of your surroundings.
- Avoid overnight travel on public transport or choose a seat that offers some protection. You're vulnerable to theft or assault when you're asleep.
- Never hitchhike. Hitchhiking is not safe in any country.
Be safe in your accommodation
Ask to see your room before taking it:
- Check that the telephone works.
- Check that the door has a peephole and can be locked securely with a deadbolt or chain.
While staying in your accommodation:
- Lock the door while you're in your accommodation. You can also use a door wedge to make it more secure.
- Don't go in if you return to find the door open or windows broken. Contact reception or the police.
Treat where you're staying as personal information. Don't share the location with strangers. Avoid wearing wristbands or resort wear that can identify your accommodation.
Be safe while you're out and about
Ask your tour guide or accommodation manager for local safety tips.
Try to avoid looking like a tourist:
- Follow the lead of locals when it comes to clothing and behaviour.
- Don't carry more cash than you need. Keep your money secure and hidden.
- Walk with confidence and purpose.
- Avoid wandering around isolated areas or at night.
Being solo can make you a target for scammers, or worse. Be careful with strangers who are over-friendly or approach you uninvited. Stay in public if a stranger approaches you. Don't allow them to isolate you. If you ever feel uncomfortable or in danger, attract attention by shouting or making a scene.
Making new friends can be part of the fun of solo travel. Just use common sense and stay in control.
- Don't advertise you're travelling alone.
- Keep your wits about you. Be sensible with alcohol, and don't do drugs.
- Make sure you stay in control of your transport options moving from place to place.
Be careful with holiday flings. Taking a relaxing holiday doesn't mean you should relax your standards for safety and security.
Tips for solo women
Women can face additional risks when travelling alone. These risks can be higher in some destinations. Take special care when researching where you're going.
While you're travelling:
- Be aware of cultural standards. Particularly relating to how men and women interact. Direct eye contact or sitting in the front seat of a taxi can be perceived as a sexual advance.
- Consider wearing a wedding ring to avoid unwanted attention.
- Wear clothing that respects the local laws and customs. Wearing something the locals consider inappropriate can put you at risk of being harassed or assaulted.
- Avoid going into the back rooms of shops where you can't see the street.
- Sit near the driver on buses and coaches.
Reduce the risk of drink spiking when socialising. Don't leave your drink unattended. If a bartender makes your cocktail or mixer out of sight, refuse it. Only accept a drink you've watched them make from start to finish.
- The risks you face can be different depending on your identity. Read our advice for different types of travellers.
- Never travel without insurance. See the CHOICE travel insurance buying guide for tips and advice.
- Read our advice on avoiding theft, assault and sexual assault.
- Learn about common scams that target travellers and how to avoid them.