It was the perfect day for jumping into the water at Bali’s famous Kuta Beach – bright hot sun, gleaming blue waves and acres of sandy beach. All I wanted to do was make a beeline for the waters, but with a camera, smartphone and wallet in my bag, common sense (and slight paranoia) got the better of me and I settled for some light wading by the shore with my bag slung over my shoulder.
The one thing I hate about being a solo traveller? Not having enough eyes to keep track of your belongings, which can restrict you from going all out to have fun.
But I was not to be deterred by this, with a little thought and preparation, I managed to get some swimming done the next day, while making sure my belongings stayed intact. Here are a couple of suggestions on how you can stay safe at the beach alone:
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
If you know you’re going to the beach and will be in the water away from your things, try to avoid bringing out valuables with you in the first place; only carry your essentials so that you’ll minimize the risk of losing anything important. Look for lockers nearby as an option, but not all beaches are so well equipped so be prepared to leave your things out in the open! If you’re really paranoid and don’t like leaving your stuff unattended on the sand, consider getting a small waterproof bag that you can put your valuables in and carry with you even when in the water. It’s not the most comfortable but at least you have your things close by, and make sure you strap in well so it doesn’t spring a leak or get lost!
The best option if you’re a beach lover is to consider staying in a place with a private beach or easy access to one, so you don’t have to carry your valuables out with you. For my trip in Bali, my hotel was just across the street from the beach, so I only carried my sunblock and room key with me.
Don’t Make Yourself a Target
Hide your valuables if you have them with you, keep them out of sight and out of easy reach – while you might not be able to stop someone from swiping your bag completely, you don’t want to make yourself a blinking target either. Don’t flash your money or expensive gadgets around on the beach and keep a low profile. Carry minimal cash with you that you won’t fuss over losing, and one smart tip is to stick in the pages of a book or a similarly innocuous looking object instead of a conspicuous wallet.
My strategy was to put my stuff in a clear ziploc bag so at one glance, you could see that there was no point stealing my stuff! I also wore a bright coloured dress which I laid across my things so they weren’t immediately visible, and it was easy for me to keep an eye on from further away. One interesting tip I’ve heard is to actually bury your belongings in the sand (but remember to put a visible beach towel marker on top first!).
Get Some Help
Look around the beach for fellow tourists – not everyone is going to want to jump in the water so these are the people you can ‘enlist’ to help watch your stuff. I usually looked out for families or couples who were tanning or reading. What I did was put my things closer to these people so that it wouldn’t look like my things were left alone and ripe for the taking.
Or just talk to these people and make friends – in Bali I asked a pair of tourist girls who were reading if I could put my bag with them because I was on my own, and they were happy to oblige since it didn’t cost them anything. I still stayed close by and kept an eye on my things just in case they decided to take off suddenly.
It seems like a lot of work, but finally splashing in those waves makes it all worthwhile!
What are your tips when it comes to visiting the beach?
One of the perks of staying at the Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort was being in such close proximity to the beach – and I spent a lot of whatever free time I could scrounge up popping down to the waters.
Thanks to Chris and Angeline for their suggestions on how solo travellers can keep their stuff safe on the beach – I think I might try some of those tips next time around :) I have more solo traveller tips if you are planning a trip on your own.