I've traveled to over 80 countries by myself. Here are 8 things I do to stay safe.

latifah posing for a photo in a desert full of sand dunes
I frequently travel to different countries by myself. Latifah Al-Hazza
  • After traveling solo since I was 18, I've hit over 80 countries.

  • I've made my fair share of mistakes, but I've learned how to stay safe while traveling alone.

  • Simple measures, like sharing my location, have helped me avoid unwanted situations.

I've been traveling on my own since I was 18. After visiting over 80 countries and 13 years of trial and error, I've learned a few important safety tips.

Although flight prices seem to be rising ahead of the summer surge, they're significantly cheaper than this time last year, so I'm itching to plan my next trip.

I follow these rules everywhere I travel — it doesn't matter how upscale or "safe" the destination is supposed to be.

Although some situations are unavoidable, here's what I do to stay safe and alert while traveling solo.

I always share my location and itinerary with someone close to me.

screenshot of a text message between latifah and her mom
My mom always knows where I am when I'm traveling. Latifah Al-Hazza

Before a trip, I always share my flight and hotel information with my mom. I've also gotten into the habit of sharing my live location with her (indefinitely).

Other than the fact that it gives her a sense of security, I know that if anything were to happen (or if she doesn't hear from me when expecting to), she would have enough information to make a few calls and confirm I'm safe.

It only takes a few minutes but can make a huge difference in the long run.

Wearing a flat crossbody or belt bag under my clothing is key.

hand opening a pink lululemon crossbody bag
I keep my valuables close to my body.Latifah Al-Hazza

I always avoid wearing backpacks and those trendy see-through bags — there's no need to make someone curious. I don't like having my purse and valuables super exposed because it makes me a prime target for pickpockets.

Although it's easier to wear belt bags in colder environments when I'm wearing layers, I can still manage in lighter clothing.

Lululemon's Everywhere Belt Bag, Athleta's Pacesetter Run Belt, and Peak Gear's Travel Money Belt have been my go-to for traveling. They're small and thin enough to wear under my clothing but can hold my essentials (cash, credit cards, a phone, my passport, and copies of my ID).

I don’t wear my expensive bling or designer pieces.

designer brand accessories laid out on a bed
I love a good designer accessory, but not while I'm traveling. Latifah Al-Hazza

I typically want to look good for photos, but wearing expensive clothing and stand-out jewelry always attracts unwanted attention.

Wearing shiny necklaces and a stack of bangles while sporting a Gucci tracksuit makes it look like I have money, which is the opposite of what I want someone to think when I'm traveling alone.

It also means I'm less likely to successfully negotiate or barter a good price on items in markets.

There are basic things I research about each city or town I’ll be staying in.

shot of a pool in the back of a hotel
I always read the reviews on the hotels I book. Latifah Al-Hazza

I'm a super spontaneous traveler. Although I usually have a list of places I want to visit, I rarely follow a day-by-day itinerary.

Regardless, once I know where I'm going, I always take time to plan which area to stay in and book hotels in advance. I try to find the best neighborhoods, then I explore a list of hotel options and select them based on reviews, location, and overall vibe.

I also always ask the front desk staff if there are any areas I should avoid once I check in — not everything is online.

Sometimes, I'll even look for female-oriented hotels or ones with mostly female staff members because that makes me feel a little more comfortable.

Looking lost or scared is asking for trouble.

latifah smiling next to a pile of coconuts on a beach
I keep a brave face on and try to stay calm. Latifah Al-Hazza

How you carry yourself is a big deal. If I'm lost, I typically use the Maps.me app, which allows me to use maps even while offline.

I try to pop into a coffee shop — or even a bathroom stall — to look at the map and get my bearings. If I can't find a place to make a pitstop, I'll walk to a more populated area with lots of traffic.

If worse comes to worse, I'll just hail a taxi to take me back to my hotel.

Looking lost makes it pretty obvious you're a tourist and gives the impression that you're willing to accept help from anyone. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of situations like that.

For the same reasons, I also never walk around looking frightened, even if I'm freaking out on the inside.

There are different transportation apps all over the world, so I make sure I have the right one.

screenshot of different rideshare apps on a phone screen
I have plenty of rideshare apps on my phone. Latifah Al-Hazza

Not everywhere has Uber or even many taxis. I always look up popular transportation apps wherever I'm traveling and download them on my phone.

I usually even enter and save my credit card information, so I'm ready to roll and don't find myself stuck when I reach the destination.

I make sure I have enough cash with me.

wallet full of $100 dollar bills on top of a crossbody bag
I take all my cash out before I leave for a trip. Latifah Al-Hazza

I've traveled to places where credit cards aren't widely accepted, or I can't withdraw cash from ATMs.

To avoid that panic, I always carry cash and exchange it for the local currency at the airport or hotel.

I don't keep it all on me when I'm exploring — I just carry some with me and leave the rest safely locked in my suitcase.

I've learned to not say yes to everything.

latifah taking a photo in front of a hotel pool at sunset
I'd rather enjoy dinner at my hotel than party with strangers. Latifah Al-Hazza

When I travel alone, I'm bound to meet new people, and sometimes they invite me to parties or for drinks. But I always politely decline.

Nothing good has ever come from drinking with strangers in a foreign place, in my experience. And I always want to be clear-minded enough to pick up on strange or dangerous situations.

I don't even share my plans with strangers I meet, and I never post my real-time locations on social media.

It might seem obvious, but I also don't accept rides from strangers because then they'll know my whereabouts.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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