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Tips for Traveling Solo

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.

Travel Budget

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.

Dining Out

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.

Bag Matters

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.

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This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Hi Sam – I travel with friends when I can, but when they can’t join me, I’ll go on a tour. I’m a fan of the Rick Steves tours myself – smaller, with a nice mix of group activities and free time. I find it still allows me to get a bit outside my comfort zone while ensuring I’m not lonely.

  2. I agree withe everything here, I travel a lone once a year to Europe. I look at Google maps of the acomidations I’m staying so I’m familiar with the area. Use social media to see what locals say about the area I’m visiting. I keep all valuables in my pocket Passport, money and camera and out of site. Never wear printed tee shirts. Be aware of people around you and know basic language.

  3. If you are relying on cash, split it up. If you carry all of your cash in your wallet, when the wallet disappears then so does all of the cash. I recommend using a cash card (Visa makes one with a chip now) to withdraw appropriate amounts of cash (for cabs, etc.), and make sure that you have another card stowed elsewhere than your wallet from which you can withdraw cash if the debit card disappears. Photocopy your cards before you leave and store the international phone numbers of your banks too. Safe travels, folks!

    Best to all, Intl Doc

    1. PARIS! The subway and buses are so easy to navigate. If you stay in a “good” neighborhood, you dont have to worry about coming home after dark and walking from the subway to your hotel. The Paris subways had plenty of people on them until about 9PM. I was there alone and it was the BEST vacation ever!

        1. But research the route. I got on a very crowded metro on the way to the Louvre and was immediately accosted by the worst bunch of pick pockets I’ve ever seen. One guy trying to reach in one pocket, another guy trying to pull my hand out of my other pocket where my wallet was, and a third guy holding his arm across the still open door to prevent my exit. I tossed off the two pocket guys and pushed past the open door guy, turned right and started walking, realized I was heading towards a dead end, then turned around and walked past the still open door. One guy yells out, “Yes, he’s the one. Call the police,” in my general direction. I went back to the hotel and looked up the metro in my Fodor’s or Frommers, and, sure enough, they mentioned three lines you should be careful on, and mine was one of them. And this was over 20 years ago. Might be worse now.

  4. Can you give some examples of stylish-yet-comfortable cross body bags? I have a Timbuk2 at the moment, it’s very casual.

  5. When traveling alone, I carry a “counterfeit” wallet. This wallet contains expired credit cards, a color photo copy of my drivers license in the wallet window and a small amount of cash. Should I face robbery, I throw my counterfeit wallet to the ground allowing me time (I hope) to get away. My real I.D. I conceal elsewhere depending on what I am wearing.

  6. Please remind people to NOT pack valuables in their checked in luggage. Locks do not prevent illegal entry to your suitcase. (Baggage handlers, etc know how to pop the zipper and fix it back).

  7. Wondering what brand that great looking fanny pack is that Samantha Brown was wearing on her tour of Big Sur in California tv show?

  8. I just returned from Rome traveling solo and had a wonderful experience! Stayed near the Spanish Steps and felt safe the entire time. Scheduled English speaking tours to meet others. Public transportation was easy to navigate. It was a perfect city to explore on my own!

  9. I travel solo very often and find it can be the easiest and most flexible way to travel. My mantra is, never avoid traveling somewhere because you can’t coordinate a trip with family or friends. Just go.
    I like your suggestions on eating out – especially when it comes to dinner. Because one can easily fill the day with museums, hikes, excursions and sites, it’s really only dinner when I sense that I’m traveling alone. I avoid busy restaurants during the peak local dinner hour. Unless the restaurant or cafe is not busy I also tend to sit at the bar. This is where you will often find other solo travelers who are anxious for conversation after a full day, or locals that can offer helpful tips. I also try to stay busy (if conversation isn’t an option) by mapping out the next day’s agenda and sites. As to the best places to travel solo, large cities (like NYC, Paris, London…) are the easiest because there are so many things to keep you busy, and much of the local population is also solo. They don’t care if your a party of one or four. However, one can travel pretty much anywhere solo.

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