Going It Alone – Solo Travel

lone mountain goat going it alone

Traveling alone is an unforgettable experience.  The first time you take a solo trip it may be almost like a religious experience.  You can indulge yourself completely without being influenced by the opinions, tastes, preferences or personalities of traveling companions when going it alone. 

There are, naturally, certain negative aspects of traveling solo including safety issues and solitude.  However, with some advance planning and clear thinking it is not hard to avoid these issues, save money and enjoy an incredible new experience.

Why Solo?

One of the biggest advantages of traveling alone is that you can be totally self-indulgent.  You can relax when you want or you can turn up the intensity and drive at your own discretion.  Also, whenever you make mistakes, they are your own.  No more following your companion all over town only to discover that they did not perform their due diligence and the destination is closed for remodeling. 

You get to choose everything and do what you want to do throughout the entire trip.  See something that piques your interest?  You can decide to change your plans on a moment’s notice and pursue whatever curiosity you want to satisfy.  If you want to try some unique local food dish you sit down and boldly forge ahead giving your taste buds some previously unknown treasures—or, at times, discover what never to try again.  If you happen to find an attraction, not in your prior plans, so what?  You can change your plans on the spot and go in another direction.  And no one will care.

Safety Concerns

Traveling alone does bring with it some concerns.  Safety is clearly one of those concerns most will wonder about.  Without a companion or group of other travelers with you, there is no one to watch out for you.  You may, therefore be subject to higher risks when it comes to criminals or scam artists.  On the other hand, a solo traveler can blend into the crowd more easily and be more discrete than a group—especially if others in the group send obvious “we are tourists” signals.   

Here are a few safety tips for the solo traveler. 

Do some research and know how long the ride should be and how much the fare should be between your destinations.  Taxi drivers may be more likely to attempt giving you an extended ride with an increased fare.  Be sure to ask the approximate fare before you begin.  If it varies much from what you know from your research, it may be a good thing to try another driver. 

Stay at hotels with a 24-hour front desk.  Otherwise, you may end up sleeping in your car, or even worse, if you arrive late and cannot get someone to check you in for the night.

Follow your impressions.  If it does not feel right, then use your common sense and don’t do it. 

Be sure to carry your monies and your identification in different places.  Have copies of your ID’s stored in the cloud, in different bags, and on your person.  Keep monies in smaller amounts in different pockets and larger amounts in hidden areas such as a money belt.

Stay in public and open places.  This is especially important at night.  Avoid excited crowds that don’t feel right.

Dress like the locals as much as possible.  Definitely avoid the appearance of a tourist and don’t walk around with your face in a tourist guide book or on your mobile phone.  Also, leave expensive jewelry, accessories, and even fancy clothes at home.  Unless you are a professional photographer, keep your camera in your pocket or a small bag.  Nothing screams tourist as much as a camera hanging permanently from your neck.

Walk with confidently and with purpose while in public places.   

Don’t be afraid to tell a few white lies that indicate you are not alone.  For instance, if asking for directions, indicate that you are going to meet a friend or companion. 

Plan your destination before setting off walking or seeking transportation.  Being too focused on a map or having your head down to your mobile phone often indicates an easy mark for criminals.

Make sure you let a friend or family member know your plans and stay in touch regularly throughout your travels by phone, text, email or chat.

Trust Carefully

Keep your guard up for your own safety.  A huge advantage of solo travel is the people you meet.  However, it also makes you more vulnerable.   You’ll meet some fantastic folks and make new friends.  It is not wise to ask them to hold onto your valuables though.  Petty thieves and scam artists can be the most enjoyable, friendly people you may meet.  Just be wise and use common sense to ensure your safety and security and protect your valuables.

Eating Alone

Often one of the most dreaded aspects of traveling alone is meal time.  Eating alone leave you appearing like a lonely soul.  Here are a few tips for overcoming any fears you may have.

Talk with the people serving you.  This is one way to get valuable information about the local culture and scene.  You’ll often find new ideas for your travel itinerary just by striking up a good conversation with the service people.

Look for small cafes or outdoor dining areas.  Being alone, absorbed in some good reading material, is a normal scene in areas like these.  You can also sit at the bar, or get seating in a booth which offers more privacy.

Another option is to eat in your room using room service or a food delivery service if available. 

So, if you’re a little adventurous, a bit independent and looking for a unique travel opportunity, make your plans now to take a future trip all by yourself.  Take one solo trip and you might just discover a new passion and expand your horizons.