Let’s talk Planet Earth. If you know anything about me, you know I very obviously…
Traveling solo is an exciting opportunity to enjoy the world in your own unique way. Doing the things you want to do without compromising to fit another person’s interest. It can be a great way to break out of a rut or start the road to recovery from a traumatic experience. The best thing about solo travel is that you’ll have the freedom to focus on you, yet never be lonely as you share your experience with travelers and locals you meet along the way. It’s scripted, yet unscripted all at the same time.
However, traveling solo can present its own set of challenges. From budgeting to safety, there are many things to consider before you start out on your own. Here are few things I do when traveling alone:
Without a doubt, there are safety concerns when traveling alone. Since you were a little kid, your mom has told you to use the buddy system. Now you’re off on your own without a buddy, so what do you do? Here’s where common sense and street smarts really pay off. Be sure to protect your valuables, travel during the day whenever possible, and try to do activities where you are with a group. When you are out by yourself, stay focused, be on alert, and avoid looking like a tourist wandering around. Always have identification with you. If you’re a health nut like me, be sure to exercise without your earbuds. I love listening to music when I walk or jog, but never when I’m somewhere new.
One of the most challenging things about traveling by yourself is there is no one to share the costs. You could end up paying extra for lodging so be aware of any extra fees or rates that require double occupancy. Some tours cater to solo travelers or do roommate matching to help you stretch your travel budget further.
Meeting Other People
Traveling alone, you’ll definitely want to meet new people and maybe even make a few new friends during your journey. It’s fun to talk to locals and other travelers and hang out and share experiences and travel tips. Rely on your gut instincts and never be too trusting. Keep your guard up and avoid revealing any information that could compromise your safety. If you find someone overly flirty or harassing, have a plan to ditch them quickly. Don’t allow the situation to escalate.
Eating out by yourself can be a fun experience. My best advice is to plan ahead and stroll by the restaurant in advance. You can decide the best time to visit and where to sit. If you’re looking for a more social experience, try the bar area or patio. If you want solitude, then pack some reading material and choose a booth away from the action. It’s sometimes better to dine during the day than in the evening, and you’ll have access to better tables if the restaurant’s scenery or patio is an attraction.
What Not to Wear
When I’m on TV I wear very bright colors so that I stand out from the crowd. When I’m not on TV I like to blend in. Thieves and pickpockets will scan a crowd for whoever grabs their attention and it’s usually the clothes they’re wearing. So even if it’s impossible to look like a local, I always (try to) dress like one. This could be extremely casual in Latin America, conservative with very little skin showing in Asia and to the nines in Europe.
Backpacks and fanny-packs are travel friendly but label you as a tourist (with cash and camera) immediately. I like a nice stylish cross body bag that keeps my hands free. When I’m in a crowd or subway it’s always in front of me with my hand over the zipper. I say stylish because women like nice handbags and something that looks too utilitarian could also put me in that tourist category.
Stay Busy & Plan Ahead
The most critical element of your trip is your well-planned and detailed itinerary. You should know in advance when you are traveling and where you will be. Share your schedule with a trusted friend or family member and keep in touch throughout the trip. Aside from safety reasons, your itinerary will ensure you get to see everything on your list and can relax and enjoy your journey. Keep a travel journal so you can relive and capture all the amazing things you saw and learned.