Safety tips for Solo Travelers￼
So a few weeks ago there was a story trending on Twitter about a Nigerian girl who had traveled to Tanzania only to have a bad experience at the hotel. She said she was sexually assaulted by one of the employees of the hotel. This story got a lot of attention on twitter I felt sorry for this lady to have gone through such a terrible experience.
As a tour guide, I meet a lot of solo travelers every day and I always make a joke that if I am your tour guide you are longer a solo traveler we are now traveling together
South Africa is regarded as one of the most dangerous places in the world, and this scares a lot of travelers and they generally avoid traveling to South Africa. However, those that have traveled to South Africa can testify that really South Africa is not as horrible as the media makes it seem. South Africa is one of the best travel destinations in the world. It has the best infrastructure in Africa, its so easy to get from point A to B with no hassle at all, Wi-Fi almost everywhere and this makes it so easy to know where you are and also stay in touch with your loved ones.
A lot of travelers avoid Johannesburg as it is marked as a “crime hotspot” however a lot of travelers are also interested in exploring Johannesburg and once they do they usually just fall in love with this beautiful culturally diverse city. Crime is everywhere in Johannesburg or London, Cape Town, and New York you just need to be vigilant and be careful. There is a saying that says “tourists usually leave their common sense at the airport”Don’t be that person, here are some safety tips for solo travelers from your tour guide
- 1. Do your research
Now that you have decided that you want to travel to South Africa. Do your research on the areas you would like to stay. Johannesburg city is generally regarded as a dangerous place and an area to avoid however there are places like Maboneng situated in the heart of the city and it is such a vibey area full of tourists and locals. You can find backpackers, hostels and a hotel in Maboneng, a lot of travelers usually enjoy staying there during their stay in Johannesburg. Braamfontein is also another great area for travelers with pubs, hotels and hostels offering accommodation to tourists. However avoid taking walking tours in the city alone. If you want to see more of the city its much safer for you to book a guided tour with a local tour guide.
- 2. Scan and Print your documents
Its very important to scan and print your identity documents like passport or driver’s license get them certified. When you walk around carry the copies and leave your original copies in your hotel room safe. This will help keep your documents safe.
- 3. Let someone know where you are
If you are a solo traveler it is always best to text a family member or a friend let them know of your activities for the day, how long will it take ,how are you going to get from point A to B. And also you can let the receptionist at the hotel, lodge, or hostel, you are staying know where you are going.
- 4. Don’t carry a lot of cash
Avoid carrying a lot of cash around always carry enough to use only for the activities you are doing. Opening a wallet full of cash every time is not really the wisest thing to do.
- 5. Make use of the hotel room safe
Most hotels and lodges in South Africa have small safe boxes in every room where you can lock your personal belongings. I have heard incidents from tourists where they left their cell phones or wallet in their hotel rooms and their belongings disappeared sometimes it does happen where hotel staff gets carried away and takes what does not belong to them. Always lock your most valuables in the safe provided.
- 6. Do not over indulge
So something that didn’t sit well with me about the Nigerian lady who had a terrible experience at a hotel in Tanzania she did mention that as she was celebrating her birthday she had some alcoholic drinks and she got tipsy went to her room and just throw herself on the bed. My advice if you are a solo traveler do not over indulge in alcohol. You need to be very much aware of your surrounding do not drink to the extent that you have to stumble to your hotel room and especially if you are a lady you don’t know who is watching you in the case of the Nigerian lady who was attacked by the security at the hotel the same people who are supposed to make you feel same.
- 7. Be aware
Be aware of your surroundings where ever you are. Look at the people around you from the security staff, the reception people, if you see any staff members, in corridors try to look at people if anything happens you can recognize someone or something.
- 8. Do not spend too much time on your phone
Don’t be that person who is on their phone all the time, your phone can be a distraction that you can’t even notice who is next to you, or what is happening around you? Put your phone away and pay attention to your surroundings. Yes, you can use your phone but have a balance and be safe
- 9. Making Friends
The beauty of being a solo traveler is you get to meet people and make friends. A lot of solo travelers prefer to stay in hostels and Backpackers, and this is definitely one of the best ways to meet other solo travelers, and make new friendships. However, it’s also important that you are careful and mindful of the people you become close to. As a tour guide, I have witnessed friendships that go horribly wrong that were formed through solo traveling. Some solo travelers take advantage of the others. I have heard crazy stories that other solo travelers have experienced through people they met. So please don’t be naive still make use of your common sense, and take note of the red flags ok.
- 10 Have fun
So how is this a safety tip ??? As a tour guide, I have seen solo travelers missing out on great fun all in the name of oh I am scared, it’s not safe, South Africa is dangerous!!! If I could get a dollar every time I hear a traveler say South Africa is not safe I would be rich by now. South Africa is a beautiful country with a lot to explore as a solo traveler don’t miss out on the adventure. If you like to do something or go somewhere or maybe experience Johannesburg nightlife but you are scared that you might not be safe. Please make use of tour guides there are a lot of great tour guides who can take you around the places where you might feel unsafe as a solo traveler and trust me you would be safe and go back home with great memories.
So these were just some of the few safety tips I just wanted to share with solo travelers from a tour guide’s point of view. If you have some points you would like to add please feel free to add them in the comment section who knows it might help someone.