Setting a course for the great unknown alone is one of the most liberating experiences a traveler can have. The only debates about where to go and what to do happen within your own mind, not with picky companions that seem to want to head in a different direction at every intersection.
There are of course issues that come with solo travel, but these can all be overcome with plenty of common sense and a little bit of planning. Before jumping on that train and rolling into the sunset, consider the following tips to ensure you have both a transformative and safe jaunt.
10 Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Some cliches are common parlance for a reason: they make complete sense. The idea that there are no stupid questions may not apply to every situation but it certainly does to safety while traveling. When exploring a foreign city, there is no better way to get to know it intimately than conversing with the locals.
Many locations offer free or pay what you can tours that are a great way to find out the best places to go while also acting as informational treasure troves. If you have a question, especially something to do with safety, such as the best areas to hit the town once the sun goes down, then ask it.
9 Use local guides for potentially dangerous areas
In a similar vein, many cities have well-known areas that are questionable when it comes to the safety of tourists. Every country in the world has some places that simply aren’t wise to visit either at all or at certain times of the day.
Obviously, the best thing to do here is simply to avoid the area, but if you are confident in yourself and want to venture into these places, don't do it without a local guide. The act of having an accredited, true local by your side will keep most travelers safe as they push the boundaries of their comfort zones.
8 Be trusting but not naive
One of the worst things for a traveler venturing out into the wonderful, magical world is that they live in fear of the people and places around them. The last thing an adventurer should feel is that every street corner holds danger and that the words of kind locals are nothing more than lies leading to danger. That is just not the case.
The overwhelming majority of people are friendly and helpful and almost all others are at worst apathetic to your travel plans. It is only a tiny percentage of human beings that mean you any harm. Do not let this minuscule amount of people deter you from a solo trip. Don’t be afraid to place your trust in someone that offers to help, but always be alert to the signs of deceit.
7 Let loved ones know your itinerary
A marvelously simple thing to do, yet many travelers either forget or don't feel it necessary, is to leave detailed itineraries for friends and family back home. Chances are, the only time they will ever look at it is to marvel at the trip you are taking while imagining what thrilling adventurers you are undertaking in that moment.
Before you depart into the big wide world, let multiple people know your intended travel dates and locations, remembering to update them as soon as you can should anything change. There are no downsides to this and several important upsides so don’t forget amidst the excitement of departure.
6 Use Ride tracking apps
Not so long ago, there weren’t many ways of ensuring family and friends knew where you were while traveling. The moment you waved goodbye after boarding a train or clambering onto a bus, you would not be able to inform them of your safety until arriving at your destination.
That simply isn’t the case anymore and travelers, particularly ones going solo, should be making the most of exciting new innovations. Apps that provide transport for you with live tracking that can be followed by loved ones now exist. Use them. They not only keep you safe, but they can also settle the worried minds of those back home as well.
5 Be aware of your surroundings
As previously mentioned, it is a fact that some areas are more dangerous than others and require appropriate preparation and behavior before venturing into the maze of streets. The modern world means that all of us are carrying at least one thing of value at all times: our phones.
It's a common tactic in several countries to steal phones in a manner that is almost impossible to counteract. Tourists on their phones in public may experience the panic of a passing thief on a motorbike grabbing it from them and speeding away. Police will have no chance of tracking them down and it is most certainly not worth the risks of pursuing them yourselves. Keep all items of value concealed when in public and should you need to use your phone, keep a firm grip on it and be aware of your surroundings.
4 Don’t flash your cash
This should be so obvious that it almost doesn’t need to be mentioned but it is surprising just how many travelers forget this simple edict. Nothing good can come from holding large amounts of money in your hand or claiming verbally that you have plenty of currency on your person.
Perhaps after a few drinks, the guard gets let down or exhaustion lowers the ability to differentiate types of currency and you end up pulling it all out of your wallet for a closer look. Try and keep a running tally of your finances in your head and only pull out cash when necessary and only the amount you need at the moment.
3 Research your destinations
The best way to experience an unknown location is to just explore it but that doesn’t mean you can’t do some cursory research before arriving. Different countries and the regions within them have cultures, laws, and customs that may differ greatly from what the average tourist is used to.
To avoid any run-ins with the local law enforcement or being placed in awkward or embarrassing situations, find out the dos and don'ts of your potential destination before stepping foot on their soil.
2 Don’t keep moving your passport around
The classic fear when travelling internationally is the thought of losing your passport. Without a doubt, the most important item in your luggage, misplacing it means a visit to an embassy, a long wait and at the very minimum a hefty replacement fee.
For this reason, plenty of travelers will check they still have their passport several times a day. This is where things can go wrong. While it is, of course, important to be sure of its location, the danger of consistently checking is that it will fall out as you rummage around trying to confirm its presence. The best bet is to put it in a safe and secure section of your bag at the beginning of the day and let it rest there until it can be placed inside a sturdy safe.
1 Above all, have fun and trust in the experience
Travel will never be a 100% safe experience. But then neither is driving a car, walking around to a friend's house or even sitting in a quiet cafe. Life will always throw unexpected things your way and the best you can do is to react accordingly while focusing on the positives.
Traveling solo offers immeasurable opportunities to get outside your comfort zone and try something new. Don’t be afraid of what can go wrong, just take appropriate precautions then get out there and have the time of your life!