6 tips for solo travelers going out after dark.
Be a confident solo-traveler, no matter what time of day
Traveling at night when you’re alone can be intimidating.
When I told my friends and family members about my month-long trip to Italy last year, their reactions were mixed.
“You’re going to live with strangers?”
“You won’t be by yourself, will you?”
“Will it be safe? Italy is notorious for pickpockets.”
I’ve taken international flights by myself, lived with a host family, walked streets that I didn’t know and even got lost a few times. I hitchhiked, trespassed and slept in hostels. From all of these adventures, I’ve found out how to feel comfortable at nighttime while traveling solo:
Have a plan. It helps to scope out the area and streets where you are staying during the daytime. This establishes your confidence in your surroundings. If there is a place where you feel safe (for me, cafés and gelaterias were a favorite) use this as a home base. Places where you can have conversations with the employees and owners will make you feel much more comfortable.
Know a few emergency numbers. Just like at home, it’s always better to keep a non-electronic copy of these numbers close by, just in case.
Know your limits. If you feel unsafe, there is a reason. Always trust your intuition. When I took a solo trip to Florence and was really surprised to find myself anxious as the sun went down. To conquer that fear, I went to the nearby grocery store. I bought fresh food and settled into my hotel room for the night because I wanted to. I spoke on the phone with a dear friend and watched Italian music videos with the windows open. I’ll never forget that night in Florence because I didn’t force myself to go everywhere at the expense of my safety. In the morning, I started fresh and the anxiety was gone!
Don’t carry a big bag. An over-the-shoulder bag or a small, secured bag is enough. Carrying a backpack can make one feel vulnerable and less confident. In many places, the big zippered backpacks are unwieldy. Plus, it’s difficult to tell if you have everything when you’re searching through their many pockets.
Go where the people are. Large crowds aren’t for everyone, but they can be so comforting at night. Piazzas, places, movie theaters and dance halls tend to be pretty safe and fun places.
Remember this is home for many people. Most people want their city to be safe for tourists! Those who know an area well can point you in the direction of the safest places to travel. Even the most beautiful city with amazing art, culture, and architecture is simply home to someone.