Traveling Solo? Check Out Our Top Tips For Your Upcoming Journey
Traveling alone can be a liberating experience. For starters, there’s no need to worry about what your fellow vacationers want to do on any given day. Scratch negotiating over which restaurant to eat in that evening. And forget about bickering over who's taking too long to get ready. You can sleep late without a guilt trip or visit sights at dawn’s early light without complaints. Yes, vacationing alone provides the perfect opportunity to be yourself, but there are sensible ways to help ensure you stay safe in foreign lands while having the best fun ever.
Prepare In Advance
Research any day trips and excursions or tours that are available well in advance of your trip. Traveling solo doesn’t mean you have to be alone and often you’ll make friends with other travelers just by starting a conversation. People who are on vacation and enjoying the same excursion will be only too happy to converse and compare their experiences. They’re also a great source of information, whether it’s tips on which restaurants they’ve found particularly good or bad, or places of interest. And it may be you’ll be invited to meet them for a coffee, a snack or a drink later. A plus if you’re seeking some interesting company.
Don’t overburden yourself with luggage. There’s just one of you and the last thing you want to do is to struggle with cumbersome or overly heavy luggage wherever you go. Take just enough for the trip. Remember, it’s not a fashion show! Unless you’re headed to Milan or Paris Fashion Week. In which case it is a fashion show. But otherwise, take it easy. Relax. There’s bound to be a dry cleaners or launderette even in the smallest of resorts.
Stay In Touch
Okay, Greta Garbo. You want to be alone. But keeping people back home informed of your whereabouts or making sure the hotelier or tour company know where you are is a must. This is particularly important if you are heading away from a populated area, hiking for example, and could help to avoid embarrassment. How many stories have we heard of search parties summoned to find a lone tourist, only to discover she was in her hotel room all along? Should anything unexpected happen to you, other people knowing your whereabouts could make all the difference.
Choose Appropriate Accommodation
Try to find solo friendly accommodation. Bed and breakfast, small hotels or homestay accommodations can all be good places to stay for people who are traveling on their own. Take advice before heading out in the evening. People are happy to advise you on the best mode of transport, areas that are safe or things to be wary of. While we all have to be chilled and enjoy ourselves, as a solo traveler it is easier to have a good time if you know the lay of the land.
Get Your Bearings
Arriving in a new city or local all alone can be daunting. Don’t panic. Take your time to understand the rituals and the vibe of the place and you’ll get off on a good foot. On the other hand, don’t draw attention to yourself by looking lost in remote parts of town. This could attract the wrong people. If you’re feeling nervous, keep moving and get to a built up area with lots of people where you’ll feel safer. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it and keep your wits about you.
Don’t flaunt wealth if you have it. Wearing that Rolex or the expensive jewelry in the heart of a local ghetto is asking for trouble. Dress to impress by all means, but be discreet to avoid unwarranted attention. Dress appropriately if visiting places of worship. Be aware of local customs and culture.
Learn The Lingo
Being friendly and attempting to converse in the local language will go a long way to helping you have a good time. Even if you fail miserably to order that cappuccino in Italian. When in Rome. The locals will appreciate the effort, will probably find your pigeon-Italian amusing and you could also find it results in some fun time with the locals. The French, especially in cities like Paris, are proud of their language and many expect you to at least try to meet them halfway.
Settle Into A Routine
Going to the same café or restaurant on more than one occasion can lead to conversations with the patrons or staff and add to your enjoyment while on your vacation. Becoming a regular by dining at the same place gives you the opportunity to make friends with waiters and the restauranteur who will no doubt see it as a compliment that you came back despite his or her dodgy casserole. If there is a place at the bar or a communal table this can be a great place to mix with the locals.
Cash and Valuables
Keep your valuables safe. Don’t take all your cash with you wherever you go. If you’re room has a safe, use it. That way if anything unfortunate were to happen you won’t have been left high and dry. It goes without saying not to leave your wallet in your back jeans pocket. Have an air of confidence and don’t stop for suspicious strangers on the street who make a beeline for you. Use your instinct and tell them you’re not interested if they are bothering you, or ignore them and keep walking.
Literature and Latte
Take plenty to read. Have a book or magazine with you so that you can relax and spend time in a café without simply having to stare into space. Whether it’s on your Kindle or the old fashioned kind, if you’re going to get lost, get lost in a book.