Today traveling solo can result in a wide range of experiences, from perilous to religious. You can have an amazing, almost spiritually enlightening trip to Niagara Falls on your own, doing whatever you please, whenever you please, or you can have a terrifying trek through dark streets and unknown hotel fronts of New Orleans on your own. Trust us, we’ve been through them both.
Oftentimes the mistake with solo travelers is simple: they don’t do their research. We’re guilty too! we know how it is: you plan your first solo trip and you’ve been anticipating the trip for so long, your excitement levels are at an all-time high and your safety concerns are at an all-time low. You pack, you tell everyone you’re going, but maybe you don’t research your hotel first, or where you want to eat, or which spots you should avoid after dark. This becomes a problem for eager solo travelers more often than you'd like to think!
We believe every solo traveler should have purely positive experiences, experiences that help them gain confidence as strong travelers, learn real world skills, meet new people, and travel at their own pace. Plus, when you travel alone you get to see only things you want to see, when you want to see them.
Sounds amazing, right? Well here are some tips to ensure it is amazing, and that it is also completely safe! So get out there, and travel fearlessly!
Leave a Trail.
Be sure to tell someone, or everyone, back home where you are going and when. Leave a map, or maybe an itinerary of your trip, as well as hotel names and room numbers. Checking in at least once every two days (though we recommend every day) is always the safest bet, as well.
Definitely be sure you check all online reviews on any hotels, hostels, or attractions you may want to visit though well-known sites like TripAdvisor, Hostelz, Yelp, etc. Actual customer reviews will take you pretty far in deciding where to stay, and where to definitely not stay.
Late Night Service.
Try to find a hotel with 24-hour front desk service, this ensures you can check in at any time of night and not be left to the streets. It also helps for after-hours directions, advice, or help in general during your stay.
Know the time and/or distance from your place of lodging to the places you will be visiting the most. For instance, if you know the ride from the airport to your hotel is 15 minutes, don’t let a taxi driver tell you it will be 45 minutes and a ridiculously high fare. The same goes for ‘helpful’ hands in general, know your proper travel timeframe before accepting a ride.
Carry good sources of personal identification in more than one spot while traveling, just in case you happen to lose one. You will always need your I.D while traveling.
Keep it Public.
When the sun goes down, if you aren’t in your hotel you should be in a well-lit public area. Solo travelers are oftentimes targeted while walking alone in unknown places after dark, so play it safe and stay in sight.
Meet People. Or Maybe Just a Person.
It is often recommended while traveling solo to make a connection, through family or online, in the city you are staying in so you know someone while there. You can also use your own natural instincts and meet new people while traveling, it’s one of the very best benefits of solo travel in our opinion, just remember, always follow your gut instinct.
Don’t walk around the city by yourself looking particularly lost or touristy, this is always a big target. Walk with confidence, know where you are going, and don’t ask for directions. If you absolutely need to ask for directions, say you are meeting a friend wherever you are asking them to if you feel it is necessary.
Try not to be flashy while traveling solo, P.Diddy. Keep your bling, expensive suits or jewelry, and cash in general to yourself. There is no bigger target than a wealthy solo traveler in an unknown place.
Consider enrolling in STEP,the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, before embarking on your grand adventure overseas. This program will allow the State Department to help in any emergency you may have while traveling. Consider it a sort of guardian traveling angel.