Not everyone is cut out to travel alone, but some find the experience offers benefits. For one, your itinerary is yours and yours alone. If shopping is your thing, you can literally take advantage of every boutique and shop, or if you prefer, you can linger in an art museum or breeze through at your own pace.
While it can be freeing to travel without the burden of accommodating expectations of traveling companions, it is wise to take precautions to stay safe while traveling on your own. Here are a few things to do and not to do when traveling solo:
Stay in Touch
Be sure to stay in touch with loved ones via email. Make sure someone is aware of your itinerary, including when plans change. Also, be sure to let at least one person know where you’ll be staying along with the phone number and address of the hotel.
Register with Smart Traveler
Along with staying in touch with your loved ones, solo travelers can take advantage of a free service with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). It allows U.S. citizens traveling abroad to enroll their itinerary with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
This program allows embassies to contact you in the event of an emergency and can offer safety and security information to help you stay safe in the region.
Dress for the Culture
When traveling alone, it is important that you don’t draw attention to yourself by dressing like a tourist…or even worse, dressing inappropriately for the culture you’re visiting.
Take the time to research the culture you’ll be visiting to make sure you understand cultural norms. Knowing how to dress can make a big difference. For instance, some restaurants and churches in Italy deny access to people wearing flip-flops!
Don’t Wear Headphones
While you may be used to walking around with your earbuds in, avoid listening to music while walking around a new city. Stay aware of your surroundings.
Don’t Participate in Extreme Sports while Alone
Don’t take part in extreme sports like rock climbing, while alone. If you would happen to injure yourself, no one would know. Instead, look for a group to join for the day.
Don’t Tell Others You’re Alone
While you may want to brag about traveling alone, it is better not to advertise you are alone while sitting at a bar sipping a glass of wine. In fact, don’t advertise you’re traveling alone on Facebook or other social media until your trip is over and you’re back at home. Doing so could set you up with the wrong person.
Be Aware of Your Drink
Speaking of that glass of wine, some travelers recommend only ordering unopened beer as it can’t be tampered with. If you want something else, be sure to keep an eye on the bartender and then don’t leave your drink unattended.
Traveling alone offers several benefits. Be sure to take steps to stay safe, so you can enjoy them.