Safe solo travel: where to go and how to stay safe

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One of the biggest concerns for most solo travellers is staying safe. Visiting a new city or country can often be a little daunting, especially if you don't speak the language, or have heard some unsavoury stories regarding the security of your destination. Of course, these concerns become magnified when you're venturing to a new place alone. 

While it's unlikely you'll find yourself in serious danger during your holiday, it's important to understand any potential risks and to familiarise yourself with the protocols and contacts you may need should you find yourself in any difficulties. With this in mind, here is our guide to safe travel in some of the most popular destinations for solo travel.

 

Is Peru safe for solo travel?

 

From hot springs and lakes to canyons and of course, the world-famous Machu Picchu site, Peru offers plenty of incredible sights and experiences for travellers. With millions of tourists now visiting each year, it is fair to say that the country has moved on a lot from its turbulent past. So is Peru safe? The short answer is yes; people of all ages travel here and have a wonderful time, including many solo travellers. However, there are a few caveats. 

As with a lot of major cities around the world, petty crime is prevalent in tourist hotspots. In order to avoid becoming a target, you should exercise the same precautions you would in any big city; don't walk around with valuables on show, be wary when withdrawing cash at ATMs and never leave bags hanging on the backs of chairs at restaurants etc. Those travelling alone are usually advised to avoid walking around quiet streets or late at night. It's also a good idea to avoid hailing taxis in the street; ask your hotel to arrange a pick up from a licensed company instead.

If you do find yourself in trouble, you can call the Tourist Police on 0800 22221. It's free and available 24 hours a day.

 

Is Vietnam safe for solo travel?

 

Visitors to Vietnam will find stunning landscapes, incredible food and amazing attractions to welcome them. Happily, the country is also very safe for tourists, including those travelling alone. Muggings and robberies are rare, but you should of course still remain vigilant and avoid leaving your valuables unattended. 

Much more of a concern than petty crime for solo trips in Vietnam is the risk of serious accidents occurring on the country's roads. Driving tends to be rather haphazard, and therefore crashes and collisions are unfortunately common. Be extremely cautious if you plan to rent a scooter or motorcycle. You should also be extra careful if partaking in adventure sports or tours, as safety standards are often variable. Always stick to reputable tour companies and make sure your travel insurance covers all activities you plan to partake in. 

Solo female travellers may find they receive more attention, though this is usually curiosity rather than anything nefarious. Still, women visiting alone are advised to avoid isolated areas and to never leave drinks unattended. 

The emergency phone numbers in Vietnam are 113 for the police, 114 for the fire brigade and 115 for an ambulance/first aid. You can also contact the British Embassy in Hanoi on +84 (0) 24 3936 0500.

 

Is China safe for solo travel?

 

Solo travel in China is sure to ignite a taste for adventure. The good news is it is also generally a very safe destination for all types of travellers. Serious crimes against tourists are rare, but you should still pay attention to your surroundings and avoid flashing valuables. While it's not a safety concern, you should also be aware of the prevalence of cunning scams that target tourists in particular. The most common involves being invited to enjoy a meal, tea tasting or massage, only to find you are then charged an extortionate fee. It is advised to avoid riding in rickshaws; it is not uncommon for a driver to agree on a price but then insist on a much higher figure when you reach the destination. 

The emergency numbers for mainland China are: police - +86 110, ambulance - +86 120 and fire service - +86 119. You can also find assistance at the Foreign Affairs branch of the local Public Security Bureau.

 

Is California safe for solo travel?

 

Home of the tourist hotspots of Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco, California is undoubtedly amongst the most popular US states for solo travellers. It is also generally safe for visitors; as with the majority of major cities, there are parts of Los Angeles in particular that are seen as dangerous, but these are off the tourist trail. 

Pickpocketing does occur in touristic areas, but provided you keep your belongings close and use common sense, you'll be fine. One important safety concern should be to pay attention to any warning signs at public beaches. Riptides and high winds can be dangerous, so always heed the advice of the resident lifeguards.

You can call 911 for police or fire or ambulance services.

 

Is Italy safe for solo travel?

 

Arguably one of the prettiest countries in the world, Italy attracts millions of tourists every single month, and solo trips are common. Considered a very safe country, the vast majority of visits to this beautiful corner of the world are trouble-free. One thing visitors do need to be cautious about, however, is petty crime. Most prevalent in major cities like Rome and Milan, pickpocketing is not uncommon, with some thieves working in groups and utilising quite sophisticated scams. Be aware of anyone that could be attempting to distract you, and if you are in crowded places make sure to keep your valuables hidden under clothes where possible. While some cities, such as Naples, are still associated with the Italian mafia, it is unlikely that this would pose any threats for tourists. 

Solo female travellers in Italy may find they receive a lot of attention from local men. This can become uncomfortable for women who are used to a more subtle approach, and the best thing to do in this case is to ignore it, walk on, and if they still persist, to mention a boyfriend or husband. 

To speak to someone in the case of an emergency, you can call 118 for an ambulance, 113 for police and 115 for fire services. If you don't speak any Italian you can call the EU's dedicated emergency line on 112; an English-speaking operator will then get medical, fire or police assistance for you.

 

Is Ireland safe for solo travel?

 

If you're considering a solo trip to Ireland, you can be comforted by the fact that it is one of the safest countries in Europe. Whilst it's always a good idea to be mindful of potential risks and to exercise the usual precautions, tourists to the country are unlikely to fall victim to serious crimes. Those travelling to Northern Ireland might be concerned about its tumultuous past during 'The Troubles'. Thankfully, tension between the two sides has eased dramatically over the last two decades, and the once-warring city of Belfast is today a vibrant and friendly destination. 

If you do fall victim to any crime while in the Republic of Ireland, or need other urgent help, you can contact the Irish Tourist Assistance Service (+353 (0)1 666 93 54), who will provide free advice and assistance. Both 999 and 112 will connect you to fire, police and ambulance services in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

 

If you're considering a solo holiday but feel a little apprehensive about setting off alone, our range of solo travel tours are ideal. Exclusively tailored for those travelling alone, our solo trips offer the best of both worlds; the joys and security of travelling with others, with ample opportunity for down time alone. From Christmas in the Scottish Highlands to safari in Kenya, you're sure to find something to quench your thirst for travel.

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