About once or twice a year, I crave the kind of adventure that I see in the movies – a heroine setting off on her own and letting fate take her hand as to where she ends up, who she ends up meeting, and what pie she chooses to eat with her burger and chocolate shake at the local hole-in-the-wall restaurant she happens upon.
However, as I’ve learned with dieting and so apply to my solo travel, cravings can be fun, but they’re rarely well thought-out
The days of letting serendipity intervene with my vacations are largely over because while I’m having fun, I never want to have a moment of panic. Likewise, I don’t want the people who will hopefully miss me while I’m gone to panic that they can’t reach me, either. Plan to travel safely and securely alone by doing the following:
1. Create a laminated “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) Card and always have it with you.
Your ICE card will list your name, phone number, and home address, as well as the name, phone number, home address, and any other pertinent contact information, such as an email address, for the one person on the planet who can be contacted in case something unplanned should happen on your vacation. It should be in your wallet or purse in a highly visible location. Your ICE card should also list any medication allergies you have and conditions that you may have.
2. Create a trip folder to take with you and an extra one to give to your ICE contact
Your trip folder will have all travel information, such as flight information if you’re going by air or your trip route if you’re driving or taking another form of land transportation. It should also have the addresses and phone numbers of each place you are staying, and a general outline of what activities are lined out for each day. If you’re going to be traveling to a ghost town or on a ferry all day on Wednesday, it will help your ICE contact to know that you might not be reachable by cell phone.
3. Schedule check in days
During your trip, just like you’d make reservations for dinner or schedule time to go to a museum, schedule time to check in with your ICE contact either by phone or email.
4. Establish a “secret word” with your ICE contact for emergencies where they may need to call the police on your behalf.
Okay, this may seem extreme, but it’s a crazy world and you need to be prepared! If you ever feel you are or actually are in danger during your travels and calling the police isn’t an option, establishing a quick secret word that you can text, email, or say to your ICE contact can alert them without alerting anyone else that you need help. It should be a word that is unique but not completely out of the norm of general conversation.
3. Know who’s the Sheriff in town…
Since 911 is a universal emergency phone number, a lot of travelers have gotten a bit lax in knowing more about contacting local law enforcement. Before you leave, find out the direct number AND the address of the police station in the town or towns you’ll be staying in. Also, make sure that you have the directions to the police station from your hotel. If you’re driving alone and traveling through different states, take the time to note the phone numbers of the State Police as well. This information may come in handy to help not only yourself, but others you meet along the way.
4. Get information for the local hospital and the directions from your hotel
Emergencies happen on the best of trips, and like having the police contact info, this information can help you AND others.
All of the above information is available easily via the internet. You can search on the Town name and the name of the service that you’re looking for. For example, when I was going to Taos, NM, I Googled “Taos Police” and “New Mexico State Police,” since I was flying into Albuquerque and driving to Taos.
Having this information at your fingertips during your trip can alleviate a level of stress should anything go awry. Always be the prepared intrepid traveler and you’ll be a happier intrepid traveler!