safety travel alone

5 tips for a safe journey when travelling alone


I have never been robbed, pickpocketed, mugged or assaulted on my travels. There were close calls but I managed to avoid actually getting into trouble.

But my safety radar wasn’t built in. Once someone told me that, “Oh, you’re street smart because you’re Malaysian.” I corrected her because the part of Malaysia where I came from—Kota Kinabalu, Sabah—is actually a lot safer compared to the big cities.

Pros and cons of quitting your job to travel in your 20s

You can build up your street smarts. Here are some of the ways I practice staying safe when travelling alone:

1. Return to my accommodation before sun sets

I avoid being far from my accommodation at night so I usually return to my room before sunset. I would do my travel plans for the next day, journal or read to pass the night.

I would love to live in a world where I could go out at night and not fear for my safety. Until then, I keep safe.

2. Have a separate wallet

I have a separate wallet where I keep enough money to last for the day. When travelling, I would use the money in this wallet instead of my whole stash of cash.

3. Be aware of your surroundings

My “Spidey Senses” are always tingling when I travel. If I notice something strange in my peripheral vision, I would be hyper-aware and be even more careful.

4. Ignorance is bliss

If you’re walking about and you hear someone shouting. Do not respond to it. It is rarely some kind-hearted person telling you that you just dropped $100. It is usually someone who wants to catch your attention. Do not give them the attention or else you might be caught with them for a long while.

5. Trust your fear

If your guts tell you something is wrong, believe it and find another route. (Recommended reading “The Gift of Fear”.)

It’s always better to be safe than sorry so before you visit a city, read up on the Annoyance and Dangers of the place.

But don’t let anxiety or fear stop you from travelling. It’s not easy to balance it but you’ll get there one day.

This is an excerpt from the chapter on staying safe from “Your Big Break: The Guide to Leaving Your Job to Travel Around the World and Back”.

More about Liau Yun Qing

Yun Qing is a writer, improviser and curious person. She loves finding little adventures in life. In 2013, she went on a 130-day round-the-world trip. She wrote a book to help those who also want to go on a career break.

2 Comments

    1. Hi Yun Qing,

      Your website caught my attention when I was goggling for ways to get to Johore. I used to drive in but the long traffic jam irritated me. So I am looking for another more relax way to enter JB and not to worry about my car being stolen (long term phobia).

      Your tips on taking the buses from Rochor are helpful and now a new alternative Shuttle Tebrau also good.

      Your articles are very inspiring so keep up the good work.

      You have found a new follower. I just subscribed to your newsletter.

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