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Solo Travel Safety: How to Protect Yourself From Common Travel Scams
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a newbie to the scene, the prospect of solo travel can be both exciting and daunting. And, with any travel – solo or otherwise – there’s always the possibility of encountering travel scams. The most common scams can range from cheap- feeling pickpockets to sophisticated money transfers, fake ATM’s, and more. To arm yourself against becoming a scam victim while traveling solo, there is a number of ways to protect yourself.
Be Informed & Aware of Your Surroundings
Before researching and booking your accommodations and activities, it’s important that you research the current trends in security and safety for the region you plan to travel. Here are some resources to help you stay informed about any potential safety issues:
- Government websites: You can find country-specific advice from the U.S. State Department here https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html.
- Travel advisories: Visit advisories on sites like TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet, ToursByLocals, and Fodor’s Travel.
- Local blogs: Take the time to read blogs written by travelers to get firsthand accounts of their experiences traveling in the area.
You’re also going to want to be aware of your surroundings and alert when traveling. Pay attention to what’s going on around you, and don’t get too comfortable. To stay safe, keep your eyes on your valuables at all times, especially in crowded areas.
Look the Part
When traveling solo, one of the biggest scams you need to be aware of is the “tourist look”. As a solo traveler, you need to be especially vigilant against this. Being too open with revealing too much about your travel plans and having expensive items like carelessly displaying an expensive camera or jewelry can make you a target for robbers. To avoid tipping off any potential scammers, try to dress the same way as the locals. Additionally, when taking photos be discreet.
Be Wary of Strangers Offering “Help”
Another common travel scam is the “friendly stranger” offering help. This usually involves someone offering to take your picture with your camera, or help you with directions or even an invitation to dinner. Though it’s important to be hospitable and courteous abroad, it’s essential to be wary of these types of offers. Do a little digging ahead of time to find out if the individual is trustworthy or not.
Leave Copies of Your Documents at Home
Your passport, visa, and other personal documents are a treasure trove for scammers. It is essential that you take a photo of these documents and keep the photos on your phone or a secure online cloud storage system. Make sure you don’t carry photocopies of your documents with you, store them at home, or give copies to family and friends who are traveling with you, if any.
Use Payment Channels Wisely
Before you move ahead with making payments for any services, evaluate if the payment channel is secure or not. It’s best to avoid handing out cash and opt for digital payments, such as popular digital wallets like Google Wallet, Apple Pay and Venmo, or traveler-friendly payment services like Revolut. If you have to pay cash, take out enough for the day and store it at multiple locations.
Staying connected is essential for any solo traveler. Not only will it keep your family and friends at home updated about your whereabouts, it can also help you maintain your safety and security. If you plan on using your cellphone abroad, it’s best to check in with your phone service provider about international roaming options. You can also consider signing up for a traveler-friendly international SIM card to avoid overpriced roaming fees, or even purchase a cheap local SIM card at the airport.
When it comes to solo travel it’s important to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and prevent scammers from taking advantage of you. Staying informed and alert, being wary of strangers, leaving copies of your documents at home, using reliable payment services and staying connected are just some of the ways you can maintain your safety while enjoying your solo travel experience.
By following the above tips, you can arm yourself against becoming a victim of fraud while traveling solo. Keep vigilant and follow these best practices to stay safe and secure on your solo travel journey.