Traveling with family and friends can be incredibly rewarding, but the merits of single travel are priceless. Wandering the world on your own means that you have free reign over the destination, itinerary, and overall experience. Though traveling by yourself may seem daunting, anyone can have the experience of a lifetime by following these tips for traveling alone. You’ll have the right mix of planning, practicality, and sense of adventure.
We’ve rounded up the top 12 tips for traveling alone to ensure that you’re primed for the trip of a lifetime.
1. Inform your credit card companies and bank of your travel plans.
Imagine ordering a round of mojitos for the group of fellow travelers that you met while snorkeling in Cozumel, only to have your card declined due to a hold from your bank or credit card company. You may be embarrassed or frustrated, but not having access to funds while traveling by yourself can also be dangerous. Remember to notify your bank and creditors before you board your plane to prevent any potential finance issues.
2. Regulate your sleep as much as possible to avoid the dreaded jet lag.
In the excitement of planning your vacation, it can be easy to forget time zone changes and how dramatically they affect your body’s internal clock. Try to shift your sleeping patterns a few days before your trip, limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol, and sleep during your flight. Neglecting to follow these tips for traveling alone may run you the risk of exhaustion, insomnia, and general irritability- not the way you want to feel when in Rome!
3. Save money by lodging off the map.
Avoid tourist trap hotels and their high costs by finding short term vacation rentals on Airbnb or VRBO. These are great alternatives to hotels due to their convenience, flexibility, and privacy. Lunch at a hotel means you have to order room service (or settle for $9 cashews from the mini bar), whereas a rental typically grants you free access to its kitchen. Just be sure to do your homework when renting from hotel alternatives; there are scammers everywhere. Check the profile of your potential host as well as their reviews. Still unsure about staying in a stranger’s home? Run an online people search to ensure that your host is legitimate.
4. Don’t keep all of your money in one place.
Whenever possible, divide your cash and credit cards between multiple safe spots. By keeping all of your money in one place, you open yourself up to lose everything in one fell swoop should you lose your luggage or meet a thief. Apply the same rules to any other valuables that you might be carrying, like jewelry, cameras, laptop, and keys.
5. Learn a bit of the local language.
This is one of those tips for traveling alone that should go without saying, but you’d be amazed by how few travelers attempt to learn the language of their host company. Familiarizing yourself with basic greetings or simple phrases such as “excuse me,” “thank you,” and “Do you speak English?” shows that you’re making an effort to speak with locals, an effort that will not go unappreciated. You should also take the time to learn certain phrases that can help should you get lost or confused.
6. Start your day early.
What’s the advantage of being the early worm? You’re likely to beat out crowds and pack more activities into your day. Leaving your hotel room at daybreak means that you’ll be able to experience a foreign country coming to life, whether it be catching the sunrise or just observing the bustle of rush hour in an unfamiliar city. Note that most tour groups generally visit museums and landmarks midday, so you can avoid the hassle of large groups by getting to these places early.
7. Spend the first day soaking in the culture.
Familiarize yourself with your surroundings. Ask the hotel concierge for dining recommendations, directions to local landmarks, and the best shopping spots. Locals often have the best insight into unique and interesting attractions that cookie cutter travel guides may miss. You should also inquire about the safety of the area to find out if it’s okay to walk unaccompanied at night and which nightlife spots are most friendly toward those traveling solo.
8. Expand beyond your comfort zone.
It can be overwhelming to be in an unfamiliar place, especially when traveling by yourself. But what’s the point of travel if you’re not open to new experiences? Challenge yourself by avoiding things you can’t typically do at home. It might be tempting to grab an Egg McMuffin from McDonald’s out of habit and for comfort, but you could do so much better by sampling a fresh beignet and espresso from the pâtisserie on the corner. Make an effort to try new foods, visit unusual places, and talk to the locals!
9. Keep friends and family informed.
Be smart, be safe. One of the most important tips for traveling alone is to leave a copy of your itinerary with friends and family, listing out your flight information, hotel name and address, and any other details that you’ve finalized before leaving. It’s also a good idea to check in periodically (like every other day at a specific time) so that they know your whereabouts, even if your plans change.
10. Trust your gut.
It’s okay to turn down an invitation for dinner or a drink if the person inviting you is giving off creepy vibes. People, especially women traveling alone, often feel obliged to be polite, even when they feel uncomfortable. You’re always within your rights to stick with your instincts and say no. If someone makes you feel uneasy or threatened, be vocal. It can help to learn the words “no” and “stop” in the local language. In a pinch, body language and facial expressions are universally understood and can help deter any unwanted attention.
11. Respect the culture of your host country.
One of the major reasons that people travel is to experience different cultures. However, learning shouldn’t begin when your plane lands. It’s always wise to do your research before takeoff to get a taste of your host country’s culture so that you can show respect and avoid embarrassing yourself. A thumbs up may be perfectly acceptable in America, but is found very offensive in Greece. A quick search on international faux pas can help you avoid any blunders abroad.
12. Avoid excessive drinking.
No one’s here to police your good time, but it’s easy to get carried away and overindulge when on vacation. What may seem like the best night of your life can easily turn the next morning into the worst you’ve ever had. The time spent nursing a hangover would be better used to tour the Sistine Chapel. Know your limits and stay hydrated to keep your wits about you and remain safe and happy while jetsetting.
Now that you’re armed with the necessary tips for traveling alone, where will you be going in 2018? Let us know in the comments!
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