Going it alone?: Solo Travel

If you’ve considered traveling alone then you know that there are many fears that creep into the mix. Will I be safe in my chosen destination? Will I enjoy spending so much time alone with few people to talk to? Can I afford to shoulder the cost of lodging, travel etc. on my own? What if there is an emergency, will I have someone to call home and let my family know I’m okay?

Traveling alone can be intimidating. All of the concerns and fears are valid and should not be taken lightly or simply dismissed.

  • Safety
    • Traveling solo can open you up for targeting by pickpockets and con-artists. While this is certainly true, as a traveler you are already a target. The difference is simply that you don’t have an extra set of eyes to watch the surroundings with you when you travel alone.
      • Learning to be more aware of your surroundings, keep your valuables hidden and locked up in a hotel or hostel whenever possible. Travel with as few valuables as possible.
    • It is impossible to travel with weapons and purchasing them in other countries can pose an issue as many are illegal to carry. Still, you want to protect yourself against anyone who may want to kidnap you, harm you or exploit you.
      • Take self-defense classes. Not just one type. A couple martial arts classes, boxing classes, anything that can help you to defend yourself with your own hands, or makeshift weapons (a chair, book, stick, purse, keys etc.) It is important to be prepared to defend yourself should the need arise.
      • Practice being observant in your every day life. Try to make a habit of noticing things that seem out of place when you shop, notice the car parked next to you, the guy standing by the entrance to a store waiting to be picked up…learn to watch and retain the information that is pertinent. (If someone were to try to rob you, in the panic could you remember what he was wearing, what color his eyes were, if he had jewelry or tattoos and what the lady with the young child was selling from her cart on the corner?)
      • Research your destination! Has there been an increase in attacks on tourists? Are there cities where there are more incidents? Staying away from a destination isn’t always the solution, but knowing these things can be integral to solo travel (and group travel). Steering clear of the outlying areas of a major city may be safest, while heading off the beaten path in others may prove perfectly safe. Knowing what you are facing and considering your options will be the best plan of action. Stay away from dark alleyways, taking rides from strangers etc. Just like you do at home.
      • Notify family of all plans and if they change, reach out to them. It can feel like your family is trying to discourage you from solo travel. Understand that this comes from love and worry for your safety. Providing them with your daily plans, destinations, consulate phone numbers, copy of your passport, lodging information and international contacts (if you have any) will help to ease their worry and provide them with a way to get in contact with you in an emergency.
        • Many people want to unplug and disconnect from social media when they travel. While this is a good thing for many, it can mean that family and friends won’t know if something does happen to go a little sideways or if plans change. Be sure to have scheduled and regular contact with someone at home. When I travel, I connect to Wi-fi and either video chat or text with home. I send photos, or post to social media, to let people see where I am, what I’m experiencing and let them know if I’ve had a change in my schedule or travel plans for any reason.
        • Don’t turn off your cell phone service. You can contact your mobile carrier and arrange to have global access on your phone. In most countries I can use the same service coverage I have in the USA for just $10 per day. I am only charged for that day if I turn my phone on and connect to the mobile network. I can set my phone to “Airplane mode” and still use it for photos and video if I want, without being charged.
    • So much alone time!
      • The sweet sound of silence, well nearly. Even with the hustle and bustle of the local daily life happening all around you, there is a sort of quiet that surrounds you when traveling solo. Even an extrovert has much to gain from a little solitude.
        • As someone who is neither extroverted nor introverted, I value my time alone with my thoughts as much as I cherish my time with friends. Spending some time in the quiet of your mind, without others to pull you in different directions or to take attention away from the new experiences you are immersed in.
        • You are more likely to meet new people and expand your international connections by traveling alone. If you choose to stay in a hostel, are share a space in a BnB, then you have an opportunity to interact and connect with people from all over the world! Yes, this opportunity still exists when you travel with others, but people are more likely to approach you when you are alone. It can be intimidating to strike up a conversation and connect with someone who is traveling with several others.
    • Lodging
      • It is easier to afford a bed in a hostel or a shared room in an AirBnb when you travel solo than a hotel room in most cases. Traveling solo can also open up more options on lodging as in peak travel seasons, the best hostels and locations can be difficult to book for multiple people in one room. You also get to choose where you want to stay without considering the preferences of anyone else!

Solo travel doesn’t have to be scary. There are pros and cons naturally, but with planning and some preparations, the benefits are numerous! It is certainly a different animal to travel solo. It is something that everyone should experience at least once in their life. Head out into the world and find yourself in the adventure!

“Keep your heart open, a suitcase packed and wander often, for the world is wide and adventure awaits.” ~ Emylee


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