Travelling Alone: 8 Important Things to Avoid When Going Solo

Sight-seeing on your own? Avoid these fairly common mistakes and you should have no problems exploring, discovering AND enjoying new places all by yourself. Here are 8 important things to avoid when travelling alone.

Being a woman, travelling solo in a foreign or unfamiliar territory can put your safety at risk. Theft and harassment are often top concerns, not just for yourself but also for loved ones back home who may be worrying about you while you’re away.  There’s a lot of muggers, lunatics and maniacs out there, and you’d be best to avoid them at all times. No one wants to be robbed or attacked in a strange land.

Of course, no one wants to ever lose their money and be harassed, period; but being a foreigner, female and alone places you several notches higher up the ladder of at-risk traveller categories. But these concerns, though valid, shouldn’t prevent you from exploring the world alone in peace and safety. You can avoid a host of unwanted and unnecessary mishaps simply by NOT doing any of the following:

#1 Arrive at your destination after dark

Give yourself at least a couple of hours before sunset to arrive in a new location – that includes all travel taking into account your trip from the airport to your hotel. Arriving in a strange place after nightfall won’t make it easy for you to find your accommodation. Getting there in the afternoon, however, would give you time not only to change hotels if you find the first one unsuitable, but would also allow you to navigate and familiarize yourself with the town, get a bite to eat, or visit shops and convenience stores for quick purchases.

#2 Dress and behave inappropriately

attractive brunette with amazing eyes

Read about the local culture of the place you’re visiting, and find out if it’s okay to bare your legs and shoulders. Behavior towards men can be a sensitive matter in certain countries as well, where direct eye contact, smiling and touching can be misconstrued as a come-on. Try not to attract attention to yourself, not just from regular men but worse, from potential pickpockets and perverts. It’s best to leave the flashy jewelry and expensive-looking bags at home, too.

#3 Look strange, naive or too “touristy”

Muggers always prey on foreigners and those who look lost and helpless. Try to look (and be) as confident and familiar with the territory as you can. Act like a true local. If you’re really lost and need to check your map, go to a restroom or sit in a nook at a local coffee shop to get some privacy. A helpful tip:  use a local shopping bag to carry your camera and other personal belongings. It’s less likely to attract thieves’ attention than a stylish purse or a tourist’s backpack would.

#4 Be too friendly

Tourist with Map in Prague

Except for hotel staff, don’t tell other people exactly where you’re staying, and never let them on that you’re travelling all by yourself. Try to keep as much personal information to yourself as you can, no matter how friendly and helpful people are trying to be with you.  Thieves and swindlers can be the friendliest – and most – cunning  people on the planet. Another tip:  wear a wedding ring, real or fake, especially on days when you’re not really interested in socializing with men. If someone’s bothering you, cut him short. Set boundaries for how far people can talk to you and don’t be afraid to impose them. Showing disinterest, a cold or aloof body language, and saying a loud, firm “NO!” are usually enough to fend off pesky strangers.

#5 Wine and dine irresponsibly

This includes indulging in too much exotic food, accepting drinks from strangers, and consuming more alcohol than you can handle — especially at night. This is for the well-being of both your stomach AND you. If you must, binge during lunchtime when you can easily find your way back to the hotel if your tummy starts feeling queasy, and reserve the evenings for picnicking in your hotel room. After hours is also the best time to check your mail or catch up with friends online, in the privacy of your room. (It’s also the time they’re free to chat with you, anyway, if you’re in the same time zones.) The earlier you unwind in the evenings, the sooner you’ll rise the next day, the more energetic you’ll feel, and the longer time you’ll have sight-seeing in the sun.

#6 Lose touch with loved ones

Communicate with your parents, siblings or close friends frequently and let them know of your plans and whereabouts.  If you’re going on a dive trip or jungle trek where you’d be out of phone coverage area for a long period of time, check in with them before you leave and as soon as you get back.

#7 Answer your hotel door without thinking

Business Woman in a Penthouse Suite at a Hotel on her cell phone

If someone’s at your door, always verify the reason why. Check them out from the peephole, and judge with prudence if their reason is really worth opening the door for. Whether it’s housekeeping, maintenance or room service that you didn’t ask for, call the Reception Desk to see if they were really sent for a special reason.

#8 Forget a backup plan

Always keep a copy of your passport, insurance and itinerary with important contact information—online. Email them to yourself or use online services and softwares like TripIt or Evernote, in the unlikely and untoward event that you lose your purse, phone or computer.

As in any trip you take downtown, a city outside your own, or any unfamiliar place elsewhere, general common sense comes in handy in order to keep you and your belongings safe. If you exercise that same good judgement, plus an extra amount of precaution during your foreign excursions, you can be sure to return home with lots of rich and pleasant memories. And still have all your belongings with you.

Bon voyage!

About the author

JD Lara

JD is a former travel writer-producer for TV. Now a work-from-home mom, she lives in a homestead with animals, fruit trees and a vegetable garden. She’d still love to travel but since family and farming have become priorities, she’s content with just armchair traveling via the internet.

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