At times the most beautiful or amazing areas may be on roads less traveled and to destinations less populated. Other times, there may be volunteer opportunities or an invitation from a local friend that you would like to accept. It is best practice to let someone you trust know where you are headed. There are certainly some steps to take for traveling safely off the beaten path.
Recently, one of my closest friends, who is currently living abroad in Central America, contacted me. She was going to volunteer for the day at a local organization a few towns away. While this was an amazing opportunity for her, the meeting location was in a remote area of town and in a neighborhood that, as a solo female, may be unsafe. She decided to take the precaution of contacting me.
When you contact someone, the following information will help for traveling safely off the beaten path:
- WHERE YOU ARE GOING – Let someone know. She texted me to let me know the name of the town she was going to.
- WHO IF ANYONE YOU ARE MEETING – Get the first and last names of your contact and the company name. Perform an internet search or ask others to be sure the person/company is reputable. She texted me the name of the organization, but it is also good to know if you are planning to meet anyone specific.
- DISCLOSE YOUR ROUTE – It is a good idea to let your contact know which route you are taking and specifically which roads you plan on traveling. Also include details about your mode of transportation; Bus number, Train number, Type of Car, License Plate, etc.
- WHEN YOU ARRIVE – Contact someone at each step; Arrival, departure, etc. She texted me to let me know that she arrived safely.
- VISUAL RECORD – Take photos or video and share it. She then took several photos of the outside of the location and down the street and sent them to me, showing a visual record as well as the facility name. In addition, or as another option, post this, or check in, on social media.
- EXPECTED RETURN – She gave me a specific time she should be back home. If you will be several days or more, checking in daily on social media is a great option to leave a trail.
- DANGER ZONE – Determine what parameters constitute a potential problem. We decided that if I did not hear from her within 15 minutes of her expected return, then I should assume there is an issue.
- ESTABLISH A PLAN – We also established a plan in the instance she did not contact me; In her case, it was to call her husband who lives there part time, but works in the States. He is familiar with the country and knows people there he could contact. An alternate plan could be to have someone contact local authorities, the embassy, or your hotel staff.
A great tool to pack, that takes up virtually no space, is a safety whistle. Blowing it loudly in an unsafe situation will attract attention and let people know that there is something to look at. It can also help for someone to find you in a situation where your location is not obvious. Wander freely, but also safely.
TIP: Turn on your fully charged cell phone so that someone could potentially track you through GPS or the “find my phone” app.
Also see Jenny In Wanderland article, How to Safely Use Taxis and Ride Shares.