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A Guide to Staying Safe on Public Transportation for Solo Travelers

A Guide to Staying Safe on Public Transportation for Solo Travelers featured

Going on a solo trip can be an adventure of a lifetime. However, it also comes with its own risks that you wouldn’t have to worry about when traveling with a group. Public transportation is usually the go-to transportation option for solo travelers as it is both convenient and affordable. However, it can also be unsafe if you’re not careful. In this article, we will guide you through some tips to help you stay safe while using public transportation as a solo traveler.

1. Be aware of your surroundings

solo traveler on public transportation

One of the most crucial tips for staying safe on public transportation is to be aware of your surroundings. Make sure you know the layout of the transit system you’re using and stick to well-lit areas. Stay alert at all times and be mindful of the people around you. Keep an eye out for any red flags or suspicious behavior around you, like someone following you, or attempting to sit too close to you. If someone appears untrustworthy or suspicious to you, do not hesitate to move to another area or carriage.

2. Avoid using public transit during off-peak hours

well-lit area on public transportation

If possible, try to avoid traveling on public transport during off-peak hours. During peak hours, there are generally more commuters around, and you get to blend in easier with the crowd. In contrast, during off-peak hours, there are fewer people around, which can make you more vulnerable to potential attackers. However, if using public transport during off-peak hours is unavoidable, take extra precautions such as staying near other people or choosing the most crowded carriage.

3. Familiarize yourself with the emergency procedures

crowded public transportation

Knowing the emergency procedures can be invaluable in case of an emergency. Know where the emergency exits are and how to contact transit staff if necessary. Be aware of the location of the nearest stations or stops for emergency services, in case you need to follow up quickly. Moreover, take note of the location of the fire extinguishers, first-aid kit, and other safety equipment on the train or bus.

4. Keep your valuables close to you

emergency procedures on public transportation

When traveling solo, it’s essential to keep your valuables close as they can be tempting targets for thieves. Avoid exposing your valuables such as laptops or expensive phones in public places. Consider using a secure pouch under your clothes, or a purse that can be done up securely. Furthermore, do not place your wallet or purse in your back pockets, since it’s easy for pickpockets to access them.

5. Mind your drinks and food

solo traveler with secure pouch for valuables

Never accept food and drinks from strangers on public transport. Additionally, avoid eating or drinking something you did not purchase or you may leave unattended. You cannot fully trust that unattended drink or food may not contain sedatives to make you vulnerable. If possible, pack your drinks and snacks to avoid the possibility of unintended drugging or food poisoning.

6. Stay visible and identifiable

unattended drink on public transportation

Always keep your belongings in front of you and wear easily visible clothes. Wearing headphones on public transport can prevent you from hearing any commotion or warning signals. Furthermore, headphones create an impression that you do not want to interact with other travelers. This may make it challenging for other passengers or the driver should you be in danger.

7. Plan your route ahead of time

solo traveler standing near driver

For any intended trip, it’s essential to do your homework and plan your route ahead of time. Look up any alerts or updates for your local transit system to help plan accordingly. Doing so will help you avoid getting lost or stranded in unfamiliar places, which may make you vulnerable to potential predators. Additionally, vet your chosen mode of transportation to ascertain if it’s reliable and verified.

8. Keep your friends and family informed

solo traveler following route plan

When traveling on solo trips, keeping your friends and family aware of your itinerary is always a prudent move. Let them know where and when you plan to travel, and update them often as you progress through your journey. Consider checking with those back home daily, so that they are following up on the progress of your travels. In case of any emergency or untoward event, they know where to look for you or alert the authorities.

9. Stand near the driver or conductor

solo traveler informing friends and family

If you ever feel uncomfortable while on public transport, it’s always advisable to stand near the driver or conductor who is in charge. They may be helpful if you require additional information or to help you in case of an emergency. Requesting the driver to stop at a well-lit or populated stop, especially if you feel threatened, can help guarantee your security.

10. Trust your instincts

Finally, trusting your instincts is always the best approach when using public transportation as a solo traveler. If something feels wrong or suspicious, it probably is. If possible, consider moving to another area or getting off at the next stop and calling for help. Take precautions and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Author: Caroline Hunter

Author: Caroline Hunter

Caroline Hunter is the ultimate travel chameleon - she can switch from a rugged backpacker to a glamorous hotel-goer in the blink of an eye. With a decade of solo traveling experience, she's collected tips and tricks from every corner of the globe. And now, she's generously sharing her secrets with us mere mortals who still struggle to pack a suitcase without forgetting something crucial. So, whether you're a fan of roughing it or prefer to indulge in luxury, Caroline's got you covered.

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