Londoners give tips on how to travel solo in the city while staying safe

Travelling alone is a way to run away from life and look for new things. But it’s always easier said than done in a fancy city like London.

Darkness comes early during winters in London. It will be busier on the street during the holidays, because of the huge amounts of tourists.

It was a winter evening in London, 5pm, the sun went down and lights were out. Under the lights, there was always a crowd of black in front of Leicester Square Station. I was sitting in a coffee shop nearby, feeling like an orphan abandoned by the city.

This was my first trip to London, capital of England, dream of travellers. I did it myself as usual. However, this trip is not an ordinary one. Because just before I sat down for a hot coffee, I got pickpocketed, for the first time in my life.

I didn’t even know when and where I got pickpocketed. But when I realised that my pocket was half open, it was already 5pm in the afternoon. My excitement suddenly went down with the sun and I just wanted to hide.

Being excited about the views, tourists usually don’t pay much attention to their belongings and therefore become the main target of pickpockets.

I am not alone. Travellers are getting pickpocketed all the time in this busy city. “Three of my friends travelled in London during the past month, two of them lost their phones,” says Sabrina, a 26-year-old Chinese girl who has been working in London for three years. “And the other one saw the man trying to take her purse and stopped him.”

The crime rate in London has been rising sharply since 2015. According to Statista, an online business data platform, the crime rate per 1,000 population in London has increased from 82.36 in 2015/16 to 95.99 in 2018/19. More and more crime reports and news of pickpocketing are scaring solo travellers off the place.

Facing this problem, Sabrina shared her advice with me: “Don’t put your valuable things in somewhere you can’t see or touch, especially in places like China Town or Trafalgar Square.”

“Take a chest pack, it’s super useful. And you won’t lose your style because of it.”

Trafalgar Square holds huge numbers of tourists every day. It is a place people get pickpocketed very often.

Why eat alone in restaurant? Enjoy your picnic in a secret garden.

Amk is a Sport Management graduate working in a fitness company in London. Meanwhile, with his unique aesthetic taste, he started his own career in acting and art years ago.

This young man, who has lived in London since the age of 12, has spotted many solo-traveller-friendly parks and gardens in London, where you can get away from the big city noise and enjoy your meal with a good view.

“One of the most beautiful gems of London, the Kyoto Garden in Holland Park, was a gift from the city of Kyoto in 1991. Spread over 55 acres, this park is a tranquil place with a koi carp pond, stone lanterns and beautiful trees.”

Sitting inside the Kyoto Garden, you’d better be alone to fully enjoy the view and the peace.

For those who are interested in human stories rather than pure natural views, Amk reveals to us another hidden spot: Postman’s Park. “This park, located close to St Paul’s Cathedral, looks like any other green space. However, approach a little closer and you’ll spot something rather unique… a memorial to brave individuals who lost their lives whilst trying to save others.”

Besides sightseeing in London, take a look at the memorial in Postman’s Park and see London in different cultural ways.

I ended my solo trip in London with a little sadness, but it doesn’t mean you have to do the same. Armed with tips from the local, you can start packing your stuff, head to London and enjoy your own time in the coming spring.