Traveling alone is a necessity for many of us. While it may seem a bit anxiety provoking, just know that millions of people do it every day. There are many things that you can do to make sure that your trip (from the second you leave the house, throughout your stay and until you arrive back home) can be safe and fun! Follow some of these tried and true tips:
Pack what you need. ONLY what you need.
Figuring out what you want to pack is a daunting task. What to take and what to leave behind. 13 weeks seems like a long time to live out of a suitcase, but just remember…if you pack it, YOU’RE carrying it! So try to stick to the essentials, with of course a few comfort items. Remember, while it may seem like it would save you some money to bring all of your soaps, laundry detergent, shampoos…etc with you, it can get very cumbersome to tote them all around. You can always buy them locally when you arrive. Some things that I would recommend to bring with you are:
- A soft/warm blanket and pillow (since some hotel rooms or airbnbs may not have linens that are up to your standards)
- A mini kitchen kit. Pack a few spoons, forks, knives, plates…etc that you may need to be able to eat in your hotel room. Check out this blog on Hotel Living for more ideas.
- 2 weeks worth of clothing and a few pairs of shoes. This way if you can’t do laundry very often, you have enough to not stress out about it.)
- Make sure you bring enough of your medications! You may even need a doctor’s office visit before you go to make sure that you have refills long enough to cover your stay.
- Bring some cash with you and a backup credit card, in the instance that your main card doesn’t work someplace. You may need to call your bank ahead of time and let them know what states you will be in and when, so they can update your fraud settings on the card so it doesn’t get declined.
Let someone know your itinerary
Make sure that someone you trust knows your travel plans. That way, if you run into trouble, they will be able to help. Or worst case scenario, alert the authorities if something is off. Plan your stops ahead of time, like your nightly hotel stay (if your road trip will take more than one day) and even your approximate gas stops. It is a good idea to call or text that person where you are when you stop for gas or food. Try to choose large, well lit gas stations or truck stops for extra safety measures. Don’t let your tank get too empty or wait too long for the restroom as there may not be any safe stops readily available in some more remote areas. Check out this blog on making the most of your road trip. This also applies when you arrive at your destination. Make sure there is someone who knows your schedule and usual routine, so if anything is off, they can step into help. Check in with them often. Make sure they have access to any important documents you may need them to send you during your stay (in case of emergency).
Don’t look like a target
Believe it or not, con artists and criminals are very observant when it comes to finding their next target. They may make a decision on a split second observation or sit back and profile you every move for days or even weeks. From the second you leave your home and in every destination / stop that you make, try to stay low key. Follow these tips to avoid being a target:
- Don’t let anyone know that you are a solo traveler. Even your co-workers if possible. Make it appear as if someone is with you even by planting ideas in people’s heads. Talk about your husband being in the room. When you are not there, leave a light and the TV on, so it appears there is someone in there. If there is a window or doorway that can be seen into, place a pair of mens boots in plain site to make it seem like there is a man in the house.
- Keep your valuables out of sight and secured. Dont leave anything unnecessary in view in the car, put it all in the trunk if possible (especially your valuables!) You also dont really want everyone to know that you are a traveler or tourist by letting them see suitcases or maps on your seat. Keep your valuables in the safe at your hotel if possible. Don’t wear a ton of expensive jewelry or accessories.
- Study your route and the areas you will be stopping and staying so you can be confident when navigating them. You don’t really want to have to ask a stranger for help, the wrong person could see your vulnerability.
- Don’t over do it on a night out. You always want to keep your wits about you. Keep an eye on your drink and your belongings AT ALL TIMES. Even bring your drink to the restroom with you, or throw it out and get a new one. NEVER leave it unattended for even a second, as drugging is a very valid concern. This goes for being under rested as well, make sure you are getting enough sleep and are alert if you plan to be going out into public.
- Know the common cons and how to avoid them.
- If someone is asking for help, get someone else to help them or to help you help them. Never do it alone, and never go out of plain sight and safety to help someone.
- Keep your hotel room key out of sight. You don’t want anyone to know where you are staying, or even that you are not a local. Also- don’t ever store it near your cell phone. This could deactivate the magnetic strip that unlocks your door, making your card inactive.
- Beware of an overzealous “good samaritan.” They could actually be a bad person in disguise trying to get more info on you or creating a distraction so they can steal your things.
Let the hotel staff help you
Now I know we have established how important it is that no one knows you’re staying alone. However, the hotel can offer some security measures that will help you. And they dont necessarily need to know that you are alone. I would book the room for two people anyways (99% of the time, the fee is the same as it is for one person.) But follow these steps to make sure you are using all of their services to increase your personal safety:
- Ask for a room in the most secured area of the hotel. This may be on an upper floor, or next to the housekeeping closet (where there may be more cameras), near the front office…etc. They will know what areas are safest, especially if you will be arriving at night.
- Find out the hours of the front desk and how to get a hold of them. If they are not a 24 hours front desk, what is the contact information in case of emergency (like if your key doesn’t work after hours). Keep the information readily available to yourself.
- You can ask for an escort if you will be arriving frequently at night during your contract. Just let them know your partner is in the room sleeping and you would feel safest if a staff member could help you to your room. Especially if you feel uncomfortable at any time when you arrive.
- Be sure to use the extra door locks when you are in the room. Sometimes it is a chain or extra door stop and/or a deadbolt lock. This ensures that no one can get into your room with your key card alone, you have to physically disengage the locks from the inside before they can enter.
- Ask where the most secure place to park and where in the parking lot / entrances the cameras are. Cameras often deter criminals, making you less of a target while you are in those areas.
- Ask where the safest and best places to get your essentials are from. The hotel staff are locals, so they can point you in the right direction to the best grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, etc. Ask them if there are any areas you should particularly avoid and why.
Find a travel buddy
Many traveling professionals are in the same boat as you! Take to social media and networking at your facility to find yourself a travel buddy. They may already know tips and tricks about the area to share, or may be staying close to you and would like to commute together. You could go on outings together on your time off. Having a travel buddy not only makes things safer for you both, but it also will help with the feeling of isolation and boredom that can come with traveling alone.
I hope that everything we discussed here does not scare you or deter you from the wonderful world of traveling! Knowing how to protect yourself to avoid a problem is key. You can be perfectly safe and happy any place that you go, so let us know if you are ready to pack up and get started! Our recruiters here at Pamelas List work around the clock to get you where you want to go and help you along in the entire process.