Travelling solo might become the adventure of your lifetime, but it may also turn out to be your worst nightmare if you don’t follow these safety tips when it comes to accommodation.
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Travelling with your best mates or partner is great, but have you tried travelling solo? Being alone on a trip gives you the freedom to do absolutely anything you wish without having to accommodate your travel buddies.
As refreshing as it is, it does come with some drawbacks as well. From not being able to try out a variety of dishes (unless you can eat a lot) to have to lug your luggage around by yourself, it does also present some danger — especially if you’re young or female.
If you have an upcoming solo trip, here are 10 safety tips specifically for accommodations because you are going to be alone for all nights after all.
Read also: 20 Travel Tips That Every Solo Traveller Should Know
1. Choose the right type of accommodation
Before you head straight to the Airbnb app, maybe you’ll want to spend some time deciding on the kind of lodging for your trip.
Hotels — they make for a great lodging option because of the security. As with all hotels, you’ll have a 24/7 concierge, CCTV footage available, and most lift access will require a hotel key card to prevent outsiders from entering the guest floors. Some higher-end hotels only allow access to the ground level and floor you’re staying on, thus enhancing its safety.
Hostels — if your goal for travelling solo is to make friends from all around the world, then a hostel would be perfect for you. Hostels are usually booked for solo travellers who want to make friends with like-minded people. If you meet other solo travellers, you’ll be able to explore and even attend events and activities together. It’s also the most budget-friendly option!
As for the safety aspect, if anything happens to you at night, at least there are people around. If you’re a female, you should also opt for an all-female room just to be safe.
Airbnb — Airbnbs are generally the most unsafe option since most do not have any safety features like CCTVs around the area unless you choose properties that are gated and within a larger compound.
If you decide to stay at an Airbnb, there are still certain nifty features on the app, like sharing your itinerary with a trusted contact and the 24/7 Airbnb service hotline in cases of emergencies.
2. Prepare your check-in replies
If there’s a pickpocket or burglar nearby, chances are that they’ll choose the female solo traveller over the burly guy with his buddies. And how would he confirm that you’re travelling solo? Based on your replies when you check-in, you bet his ears will be wide open.
When the concierge asks how many keys you need, say two so other people around you who are keeping tabs on the conversation will think you came with someone else. If they ask how many people are staying, be sure never to mention that you’re here solo. Instead, prepare your little speech explaining that your travel companion is in the washroom or arriving shortly after — you never know who’s listening in on the conversation!
3. Have your room number written down instead
On the note of checking in, always request for the staff to write down your room number instead of saying it aloud because, again, you never know who’s actively listening in on to your conversation.
If the staff had accidentally read your room number out loud, don’t be afraid to request for a room change for your safety. It’s always better to be safe than sorry and chances are they would understand and switch your room without hesitation.
4. Avoid staying in secluded areas
Even if you’re checking into a grand hotel equipped with CCTVs all over, it might kind of defeat the purpose if the hotel is situated near a dark alley or a secluded district with barely any lights on.
When you’re travelling abroad, you’ll definitely want to maximise your day and visit as many places as you can, so the chances of you arriving back to your accommodations after sunset is relatively high.
Walking in secluded or dark areas alone at night makes you an excellent target for pickpockets or burglars, so you’ll want to make sure that the place you’re staying is brightly-lit and preferably somewhere where foot traffic is high even at night. Staying along a busy street is highly recommended so you’ll know that walking back alone at night won’t be that dangerous. If anything happens, at least there’ll be people around to assist you.
5. Stay alert when leaving/entering your lodging
Especially when you’re alone, you should always be hyper-aware of your surroundings when you’re entering or leaving your accoms. Before you leave your room, look through your peephole to ensure that no one is loitering outside your door because once your door is open, any burglars waiting to strike can easily push open the door and get into your room.
When you’re heading back to your room, make sure that there’s no one following you. If you do, make a detour to a nearby crowded area and never run straight back to your lodging. Don’t ever let anyone know where you live, as they might pay a visit on another day.
If possible, always try to follow a group of people so that others may think you’re travelling in a group.
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6. Check the room for hidden cameras
We’ve seen so many articles highlighting how many hotels, hotels and Airbnbs are strewn with hidden cameras all over that are not visible to the naked eye, unless you check really carefully. Always keep an eye out for little circular ‘dots’ facing the bed or in the washrooms that may seem innocent but can very well so be camera lenses.
One of the ways is to use a flashlight to spot hidden cameras. But if you’re not confident about spotting them yourselves, there are nifty gadgets on Shopee or Lazada that you can purchase below S$15. Some use infrared to detect suspicious networks in your surroundings that could be linked to a camera, while others make use of special light to catch possible camera lenses.
7. Purchase a portable lock for added security
Though the chances are slim, you’ll never know when you’ll be a target for burglary especially if you’re travelling to places like Europe where it can happen fairly often. In those instances, your normal door lock may not be enough. This is where a portable lock can be a lifesaver, literally.
It doesn’t come expensive and it’s compact in size so it doesn’t take up much space in your luggage.
There are many different kinds of locks that you can easily purchase online, but the most common one is a contraption that requires you to insert a metal sheet into the door lock slot, close the door, and then place the red handle slot onto the metal sheet stud — you’ll be able to install it in less than a minute!
8. Always lock your windows
Travelling to a cold country might make you want to keep the windows open at night to let the natural cool air in, instead of turning on the aircon. But if you’re living on the ground floor or a low floor, you should always keep your windows locked, especially before you go to bed.
You never know if the burglar is trained in parkour or not, but living on the fourth floor might not stop him from entering your room after seeing that your window is open. And this, of course, applies to all the doors too.
9. Avoid staying on the ground floor
While many may think it’s easier to stay near the lobby, staying on the ground floor may be more dangerous as visitors outside the hotel are able to access the corridors, compared to living on a slightly higher floor.
So if you can, try to request a room at least on the second or third floor for that added safety. Also, try to avoid rooms that are directly beside a stairwell or emergency exit as these are great places for lurkers to hide.
10. Be careful about who you open the door to
While this is fairly common sense, opening the door when you hear someone say they are hotel staff or “housekeeping” might come as second nature to you because who else could it be right? But when you’re a solo traveller, you can’t ever let your guard down.
Only open the door if you’re sure that it’s staff, and when you’ve requested for a service or housekeeping. Even if they’re really on their housekeeping rounds, avoid opening the door if you did not ask for it. A simple “no need thanks!” through the door will suffice, or if you really want to make sure, you can always call the hotel lobby to clarify.
Sometimes, being extra kiasu and kiasi might help to alert you to possible dangers and give you a peace of mind knowing that you’re doing everything that you can to stay safe abroad.
Bonus tip: Always, always, always get travel insurance
You may have taken all the safety precautions in the world just to be safe, but sometimes, your belongings might get stolen or you may injure yourself during a robbery. How do you protect yourself and your items? Travel insurance.
Not only will you get reimbursed for stolen items and medical expenses, you'll also be covered for most aspects of your trip like baggage delay, flight delay, travel cancellation due to COVID-19 and the list goes on. You won't want to find yourself in a pickle and then regret you didn't purchase travel insurance before your trip.