We’ve all heard about the intrepid solo traveler whose family and friends are worried sick about them setting off on an adventure alone. Maybe you’re even one of those intrepid travelers yourself! You’ve brushed off the concerns of your loved ones because other people have successfully traveled alone before, so why can’t you do it? But perhaps there’s a little spot in the corner of your brain where you’re a little concerned, too.
There’s nothing wrong with being nervous about embarking on a solo trip – it’s heady stuff, and if you’ve never done it before it can be daunting. But you’re right that countless people have gone before you and successfully completed long trips totally on their own, and you’re right that you can do it. You just need to be a smart traveler, which is why we think the following tips are helpful to any solo adventurer.
- Be open to meeting others when you want to, but don’t feel like you have to make friends wherever you go. Alone time is good time, too.
- Pack your brain. Keep your wits about you, pay attention to what’s going on and to the people around you, at all times.
- Pack light. It’s easier to keep an eye on your stuff if you don’t have as much of it to keep an eye on. Plus, it’s easier and less fatiguing to get around when you’ve had 3 hours of sleep, you just got off a 10-hour train ride, and you’re trying to schlep your stuff to a hostel in an unfamiliar town with no one around to help you. (We recommend backpacks for luggage, by the way.)
- If you get lonely, or feel a need to be around other people, remember that you aren’t the only solo traveler out there who’s feeling that way. You can always meet up with other travelers, and locals are often just as interested in meeting new people. Remember that other solo’ers will feel the same way you do sometimes, so can be natural travel companions.
- Pack securely. Remember to keep safe (preferably in a money belt worn around your waist at all times) what one of the founders of BootsnAll once called the “crown jewels of travel:” passport, all tickets and passes, and all money, credit cards, traveler’s cheques, etc., except for what you’re using that day.
- Being solo makes you easier to approach, and that goes for friendly locals and travelers, as well as for potential thieves and other tossers. Again, keep your wits about you. Leave situations that feel unsafe, and don’t be afraid to make a scene (especially women). Sometimes the extra attention is just what you need.
- Finally, and perhaps most important, don’t let people – friends, family, the latest scare headline – scare you into thinking you can’t do it. The world is a far safer place than any headline would ever dare let on, and thousands of travelers, both men and women of all ages and backgrounds, travel the world on their own every year. You can do it too.