10 Small Splurges with Priceless Safety Perks

female traveler on beach

Being an independent budget traveler, I often put an emphasis on how to stretch my dollar during the trip. But sometimes, it’s important to spend a little more money if it means peace of mind and added security. We’ve come up with ten examples of when paying for your safety actually pays off.

That’s not to say that you can’t be perfectly safe without spending more money, but if you’re worried about it, it’s an easy fix. It may also put your friends and family back home more at ease.

Please note that some of the resources below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.

1. Private Room Instead of Dorm or Couchsurfing

getting a private room is an example of paying for your safety

As much as I enjoyed my experience CouchSurfing, this might not make everyone feel comfortable or safe. Dorm rooms in hostels are also fine for the budget traveler, but there’s nothing like the security of a private room, with its locking doors. You’re also much more conscious of your belongings and don’t have to worry as much about theft. An apartment rental is another good place to look into booking (like through AirBnB or Roomorama).

>> Search for apartment rentals, hostels, and hotels in one place using booking.com.

2. Arriving During Daytime Instead of Night

plane landing at sunset

Whether it’s planes, trains or automobiles, prices tend to be cheaper if you’re arriving in the middle of the night. And while this is a good way to save a little money, arriving in a new city after dark can be nerve-wracking and downright dangerous in some cases. Between trying to find your accommodation in the dark and not being able to see signs as well, you’ll be less stressed if you get there in daylight.

3. Choosing a Higher Berth on a Sleeper Train

train berths
Pay for an upper berth if you have the chance.

In some countries, traveling by overnight train is an inexpensive way to get to where you’re going and save on a night’s accommodation. And in some places, specifically Asia and India, the price differs slightly for a higher berth sleeper than the lower berth. It’s worth it to have the higher spot to keep your bags and yourself out of prying hands.

>> Check out our Ultimate Train Travel Guide for more train tips.

4. Opting for a Taxi Instead of Walking

taxi or public transport

Walking is obviously the best way to get to know a city, and it also saves you money on transport fees. But if you’re lost or caught up in a sketchy part of town, it’s probably better to go ahead and hail a taxi in favor of safety. It’s also usually safer to hop in a standard taxi in most cities over the moto taxis and public transportation of your destination. A good tactic is to ask the owners of your hostel or hotel receptionist for reputable transport and companies.

5. Staying Closer to Town Instead of Outskirts

hostel sign

The cheaper hotels and hostels are typically on the outskirts of major cities, but in places like Paris, this is where the crime is higher. It also puts you at risk when going between the city attractions and your hotel. Spend the money you would be spending on public transportation on a place to stay in the city center.



Booking.com

6. Splurging on a VIP Bus Instead of a Local Bus

chicken bus
Choose a VIP bus instead of the low-end or chicken bus.

In areas like Asia or South America, it can be easy to cut costs by choosing the slower, local options like slow boats and chicken buses. But it’s worth the extra cost, and the safety factor, to pay more for a “VIP” bus. It won’t make nearly as many stops, cutting down on theft opportunities, and they usually undergo more vehicle maintenance so it’s a safer ride altogether.

7. Paying for Travel Insurance

travel insurance

If you can afford to travel, you can afford to pay for travel insurance. You may think it’s not necessary, but when you think about what situations it covers, you’ll be glad to have it. Make sure it includes trip delays or cancellations due to political situations or weather. You never know what’s going to happen on a trip, whether it be theft or injury or a government uprising.

8. Going on a Tour Instead of Independently

join a tour group
Join a group tour to both make friends and have added security.

I don’t think going on tours instead of traveling independently is entirely necessary, but if you’re concerned about your safety, going with a tour has the advantage of someone knowing where you are at all times. Your fellow travelers and tour guide will be able to guide you safely across town and make sure you get home safely at night.

For those who are interested in tours, Viator is a great resource. The site is basically a curation of tours across the world in one place making it simple to search and book.

9. Paying for a Local Phone or Roaming Charges

girl on smartphone overseas

Bringing a phone with you may cost a bit more, but it means you can call your hotel and ask for directions or call a taxi to pick you up. It’s good to have in case of emergencies as well.

10. Preparing With Language Lessons

girl speaking with her hands

One last way to splurge in order to keep yourself safe is to take language lessons or learn a few important phrases before you go. This can be done for free with the help of guidebooks or online resources, but ordering a more in-depth program like Rosetta Stone may allow you to communicate more freely if the situation arises (that’s if you did the work of course!).

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Organization

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Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Nicole says

    These are all great tips! I’ve been following this site religiously ever since I took my first solo trip last August! One website that helped me a lot when I went to Mexico was duolingo.com. They offer many languages, and the website is easy to follow! I downloaded the app on to my phone, which was super convenient. The best part about it is that it’s free!

  2. Kathryn says

    With #1, I think even if you are couch surfing you should have an emergency fund just in case things don’t feel right. Any decent host is going to be okay with you (tactfully) saying you aren’t comfortable and, if they aren’t okay, they probably aren’t decent! Much better to have the peace of mind knowing you have an escape route.

    Late night arrivals can be okay if you can find somewhere cheap near the airport. I’m flying into KL soon and arrive at stupid o’clock but there are hourly rental capsule rooms at the airport so I figure I can grab some sleep after I land. I find arriving in busy cities after an overnight flight + no sleep really hard to deal with.

  3. Ellen says

    Most of these cost money. What does the budget traveler do? Personally, I have been accruing “hospitality points” by hosting foreign students, which gives access to whole families of people happy to help with rides, tours, meals, beds, language lessons, etc. Also, my ConversationExchange.com Skype buddy has told me in no uncertain terms that I will NOT be staying in a hotel in Barcelona. 🙂

    • Ellen says

      Oops, left out a sentence: My buddy and his family will put me up as long as needed, and will cook for me, too. I think a few days is all I’ll need.

  4. stephanie says

    Great tips! However, I personally do not feel really safe in taxis. I actually prefer to walk LOL.
    But I guess, in some bad areas it is better to take a taxi…..but I have never been to bad areas I think.
    x

    • AMarie says

      Agree about taxis- lots of sketchy drivers who will overcharge if you’re lucky.

      Ubers are much better, more accountability and I’ve never been driven out of the way in one, and they’re available in every country I’ve been to in the last 2-3 years. I was really surprised when the app fired right up in Warsaw over a year ago- they’re everywhere!

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