I go hiking alone quite often, and I don't have many people other than myself in my entire life to whom I can say "I'm going here alone. Call the police if you can't reach me"

Is there an online app/website where I can put all the information related to my journey and put an alarm such that the relevant authorities will be informed if I don't do anything afterwards (i.e something happens to me during the journey)

  • Any such resource (if it exists) may well be restricted to a particular country or region. Where do you have in mind?
    – Chris H
    Apr 23, 2021 at 12:04
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    @ChrisH mainly Germany, and in general in EU.
    – Our
    Apr 23, 2021 at 12:09
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    Search and rescue teams deal with a lot of frustration from false alarms. A service like this seems like it would be a recipe for false alarms. If you hike a lot in areas where there is no cell phone reception, you might instead want to consider carrying a PLB.
    – user2169
    Apr 23, 2021 at 12:52
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    Is there any reason a PLB device on 406 MHz is insufficient? I realize that if you were incapacitated you couldn't use it but asides from that, it is about the best thing in your circumstances. And it does a much better job summoning timely help if you can activate it. Apr 24, 2021 at 0:38
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica, a PLB isn't foolproof: it can be damaged in a fall, it can be swept downstream when crossing a river, or the batteries could simply run out.
    – Mark
    Nov 6, 2021 at 3:37

6 Answers 6


If you genuinely have no one who you can use as an SAR contact you could purchase a emergency satellite signal device which can be used to emit an SOS signal that will be detected in an emergency even outside cellphone coverage areas.

Some candidates in 2022 are

  • GPS SPOT device
  • PLB (Personal Locator Beacon)
  • Garmin InReach
  • iPhone 14 “Emergency SOS via Satellite”

There might be others.

Remember your SAR contact doesn’t need to be a friend. They can be a work colleague or a neighbour. You don’t even need to talk with them. They just need to be a person who will contact the emergency services in the event that you don’t signal your return. The main criteria is that they are reliable, don’t panic and don’t get trigger happy.

You can send them a text with rough details and a time limit. “I’m hiking in the X forest on the Y trail. I should be back Sunday around 5pm. Please contact the emergency services if I haven’t contacted you by Monday morning”. When you return, send them another text saying you’re back safe.

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    Keep in mind that PLBs and older models of SPOTs don't support two-way communications, so you won't be able to explain the emergency or even know whether anyone received your message. InReach and newer models of SPOT allow you to have a two-way conversation using text messages. Sep 7, 2022 at 10:21

Not a complete solution, but how about AllTrails lifeline feature:


If you're overdue messages go out. Unfortunately, I don't believe it can be set to only send an emergency message, nor am I aware of any other such solution that only sends the overdue message.


We use an InReach (https://discover.garmin.com/en-US/inreach/personal/) to send a daily check-in message to a small group of trusted friends/family. We have given them a-priori instructions on what to do when they don't get the message (how long to wait, who to contact etc.) Note that InReach does not need a phone signal, has a 1+ month battery life and also has an SOS button that you can press yourself to get directly in touch (two-way conversation using text messages) with rescue services.


A simple, free solution here that should cover the bases.

Create a WhatsApp group with some people that you'd trust enough to keep track of it. Post in there when you're planning/leaving for a trip, your expected return date, and how often you'll "check-in".

Install the What Three Words app onto your phone and periodically share your location (and any updated plans, or anything else you'd like to share) to the group.

What this does is:

  1. Let group members know you're ok on a regular basis
  2. Let them know where you are

If the group doesn't hear from you past your usual "check-in" time, they'll know exactly where you were at your last check-in and pass this location to the SAR services.

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    Downsides: WhatsApp needs a data signal, while SMS can get through with the fallback modes used when the signal is poor. W3W relies on a proprietary database and is useless on paper maps. Use standard coordinates for where you are instead
    – Chris H
    Apr 29, 2021 at 7:38
  • Indeed: From a recent incident in the UK as reported by the attending rescue team: "The pair provided a What3words reference, but rescuers said this placed the incident more than seven miles away from its actual location."
    – Paul Lydon
    Apr 29, 2021 at 12:54
  • @PaulLydon maybe it wasn't W3W at all but their state: they said they were near Braithwaite, which includes the location "frantic.available.fatigued". W3W seems to have done little about near-homophones except to put them far apart ("frantically.available.fatigued" is in WA, USA, try hearing the difference over a bad line). It's odd that their location was even in the right part of the right country. That could even be a GPS glitch, or rather a phone picking up a location from a base station before getting a GPS fix. It's almost impossible to troubleshoot even with the words we don't have
    – Chris H
    Apr 29, 2021 at 14:11
  • I have to admit, when I needed rescue, I'd got this wrong - my phone was set to give UK OS grid references, but when I crashed my bike I was in Ireland. Not the best circumstances to be fiddling with settings, but they had other means, because I had a data signal.
    – Chris H
    Apr 29, 2021 at 14:21
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    Another example of a W3W error today: "Team called this lunchtime by the Police to rescue an injured walker. The W3W app was used by the Police but unfortunately it was about 50 miles out, so we used good old fashioned OS Grid reference and passed the job to our neighbors in Cave Rescue. Even if you are asked to use the W3W app PLEASE still try to give a grid reference, it really does help" from facebook.com/swaledalemrt
    – Paul Lydon
    May 15, 2021 at 15:18

In some wilderness areas you can, or even are encouraged to check in at a trailhead, either with a human or by signing in to a book. This is old-fashioned but reliable if used properly.

Wilderness accommodation may also be used to helping out here; even a fellow visitor in a hostel/mountain hut could be a suitable contact.

Certainly when I stay in a big group and we split up to do various activities, we keep track of where the other groups are and when they're expected back, even if individuals go off solo. For example I wasn't feeling up to kayaking on one trip, so let the others go without me. When I recovered enough for a short walk I left a note with key details despite choosing a well-travelled and easy route.

You do need to remember to check out again though. This can be a pain if you're not planning on returning to the start

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    In my area (Southern California), these trail registers are completely ignored.
    – user2169
    Apr 29, 2021 at 23:50

I'd highly recommend leaving a route card with your expected finish time with someone. This is the single most useful tool if a search is required.

In the UK, a mobile phone with enough charge so the Police can send a Phonefind or Sarlock message to query your phones GPS location. Not sure what they use in Germany.

And a PLB is a very useful tool. I carry one.

Why not speak to your local SAR team? They would love the opportunity to talk at length about what to do and what they prefer.

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