Whether you're traveling alone or with a group, there's always a certain level of vulnerability that comes with venturing off to someplace new. And while most destinations are more than safe for travelers, there can be risks involved when you're on your own.
No matter what the reason you're traveling alone (maybe you just needed to get away from it all?), we've gathered some of the best advice out there in the travel industry to help you have the best time possible.
1. Do Your Research
I cannot emphasize this enough, I am a firm believer that knowledge is the key to success. If you want to be a solo traveler, you need to become a bit of a travel expert. Read up on the most popular destinations for solo travelers and find out what makes them tick. How do the locals live? What are their customs? What is the tipping policy? Do I have to cover my knees and shoulders? What are the average prices for food and drinks? What does it cost to take public transportation? Is it easy to get around or is there a language barrier?
By arming yourself with this information before your trip, you will feel more confident once you arrive at your destination, which then decreases your chances of becoming overwhelmed by your new surroundings and increases your chances of having a more enjoyable experience overall.
2. Be aware of your surroundings
This one is big. As much as we'd like to live in a bubble wrapped world where nothing bad happens, it's important to remember that things do happen and being aware of your surroundings is crucial in keeping yourself safe. This means never leaving your drink unattended, not getting too drunk and trusting your gut feeling about people.
3. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
I know it can feel a little odd at first, but asking for help is an excellent way to make new friends and get some insider info on the city you're visiting. Don't be afraid to ask a local for directions, or even for a restaurant recommendation. If you're traveling solo, chances are you'll have more time to stop and chat than someone who's in a hurry with their friend or family. You'll be surprised at how helpful people can be when you need it most!
4. Pack light.
Having less stuff means more space in your luggage, which makes it easier to move quickly through airports and hotels. Plus, you'll save money on baggage fees! And while we're on the topic of packing light… bring a carry-on bag instead of checking one if possible. This way, you won't have to wait around at baggage claim like everyone else does when they land.
5. Don't check in on Foursquare or Facebook every time you arrive somewhere new – it's not safe.
While it may seem fun to broadcast your location on social media, it's not a good idea to do that every time you arrive somewhere new. Save the check-ins for familiar places like your hotel or hostel, or restaurants and attractions that are well-known and located in popular tourist areas.
6. Take a tour instead of renting a car.
If you are looking for an organized trip that will take you to all the highlights without having to worry about planning, then taking a tour is the way to go. You'll make new friends, learn about the places you're visiting from local guides, and have plenty of opportunities for excursions along the way. If you do want to rent your own car, keep in mind that driving on the other side of the road can be tricky at first!
7. Learn some basic phrases of the local language before you go.
It's always nice when you make an effort to speak their language when traveling abroad. Even if it's just “hello,” “thank you” and “please” in their native language, locals will appreciate your efforts and may even give you discounts or special treatment at restaurants and shops for trying.
8. Be Prepared
Traveling on your own can be very rewarding, but it does come with certain challenges. If you're not used to being by yourself or are planning a long trip alone, start small. Take a weekend trip somewhere close by first. Make sure that you can handle being alone in unfamiliar surroundings before setting off on a longer adventure.
9. Know Where You're Going
When traveling solo, research is key! Know what kind of area you'll be staying in and what safety concerns there might be. Make sure you know where food, water, and transportation are located near your hotel or hostel. If possible, get advice from others who have already been there. And don't forget to plan ahead and make reservations if needed!
10. Safety first – never hitchhike, walk alone at night and keep your belongings safe at all times!
When you’re traveling solo, remember to never hitchhike, walk alone at night and keep your belongings safe at all times because you don't want to be a victim of theft or some other crime. You should also be confident about yourself and your goals because if you are not confident then those people who are trying to take advantage of you will easily identify it from the way you carry yourself.
If you’re a female traveler then it would be better if you always think twice before giving any contact information to strangers because they might contact you later in a very bad way. Also, consider telling someone in your family or friends where you are staying so that they know where to find you in case something goes wrong.
11. Check the local laws before you travel as some places have more strict customs than others which can lead to fines or jail time!
You can't expect the locals to know where you're from and understand that your culture is different. If you are travelling in a conservative country, you might not be allowed to wear skimpy clothes or swimwear while on public beaches. It's best to keep covered up if you are unsure what the local customs are.
You need to remember that when you travel it is not your home country and not everyone has the same views as your home country. So avoid any conversations that might be seen as offensive in other countries.
12. Always have a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and mosquito repellent with you regardless of where you go.
When you are solo traveling, you will be moving around a lot. In the cities and towns, you can survive without applying sunscreen but on beaches and in the outdoors, it is imperative. Always have a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and mosquito repellent with you regardless of where you go because these are the places that have these tiny creatures.
When you're solo traveling you meet different people every day, so always be careful about all kinds of drinks and food that you consume. You never know what someone else might be doing to your food or drink, or even if it was made hygienically. If it seems too good to be true then avoid it altogether!
Solo travel can be a scary thing, but if you plan ahead, do your research and rely on trusted resources to make plans for you, you will have a much better time than if you wing it or try to figure out everything by yourself.