Summer is on its way and everyone is excited to go on holiday. But if you’re tired of waiting for your friends or significant other to get their travel plans together, why not take a solo trip? Traveling solo allows you to see the world on your own terms – without wasting time waiting on others and adding things to the itinerary that you don’t personally want to see. Solo travel can be daunting at first but the risk is worth the reward. I’m a travel writer at 9 to 5 Wanderlust who’s been to 35 countries, 5 of them on solo trips, including Belgium, Iceland and Jordan.
It’s important to take safety precautions when on a solo trip.
Here are some tips on how to stay safe so you can thoroughly enjoy your journey:
1. Make sure loved ones back home know your itinerary
Before you leave home, you should leave your travel itinerary with at least one person – and this not only includes hotels but also train and plane travel arrangements.
In addition to leaving your itinerary with others, technology has provided many ways that your friends and family can check on you. Apps like Uber and Lyft provide trip sharing so someone else can make sure you arrive safely once you hop into your ride, even from halfway across the world. I’ve had a friend share her Uber ride while alone in Bali and I watched her journey from thousands of miles away on my phone.
Besides leaving your itinerary with loved ones, your family should have copies of your important documents, like your passport. Leave a color copy of your passport and/or give someone access to a digital copy (i.e. – saved on a Google drive or the Cloud). This is important if your passport is lost or stolen abroad and you need help coordinating to obtain a new one.
2. Be intentional with your accommodation choices
Certain accommodations lend themselves more to solo travel than others. I do not recommend vacation rentals for solo travel. While options like Airbnb, VRBO and Homeaway are great for friends and family trips, it can feel very isolating while traveling solo. Your main contact is your host who may or may not be thoroughly screened and is well aware that you’re in an unfamiliar city traveling alone. With the news of so many of these hosts spying on their guests, you may want to consider one of the many other great options for traveling solo. If you do opt to use a vacation rental, I recommend going with a host who has plenty of rave reviews (i.e. – a “superhost” on AirBnB) and/or doing a room rental and not the entire home.
3. The most popular solo travel accommodations are hostels
Hostels are not just for 20-somethings on a gap year! I’ve stayed in many hostels and I’ve seen everyone from teenagers to senior citizens. Hostels are popular amongst solo travelers because it’s so easy to meet people. Chat someone up at breakfast or meet someone on one of the tours they offer and soon you won’t feel like you’re traveling alone! I’ve met several people this way and often we spent the rest of our trip together.
If hostels are not your thing, hotels are a great tried-and-true option. While you may not meet anyone to paint the town red with, you’ll have a concierge at your disposal and hotel security to help you feel comfortable while alone. I recommend staying in boutique hotels or a trusted chain hotel. At a boutique hotel, the service is generally better as the staff knows the guests more intimately. If you have elite status at a hotel chain such as Hilton or Starwood, they will go out of their way to check on you and make sure your stay is as comfortable as possible.
4. Arrive in the Daytime
If it can be arranged, arriving at your destination in the daytime is a good idea. By arriving during daylight hours, you have more time to orient yourself to your new surroundings. Grab a map and check out the area around your accommodations so that when nightfall comes you won’t be the tourist standing outside vulnerably checking your phone for directions. If you don’t want to go out on your own, free walking tours are another great way to get your bearings.
5. Don’t tell everyone everything
While meeting people on a trip is great, use your judgment when telling people your travel plans. Unfortunately, not everyone has the best intentions and it’s not wise to tell everyone that you’re traveling alone. I often tell people that a friend is joining me on the trip on the next flight or that I left a significant other in the hotel room. Alternatively, fudging the dates or the locations of where you’re staying and where you’re going could be appropriate as well.
6. Pack a few tools for travel safety
If you want to take extra precautions, there are many tools geared towards solo travelers that you can take with you. An electronic doorstop (like this one on Amazon) ensures that no one enters your room in the middle of the night. Place it underneath the inside of your hotel/AirBnB door and it will be extremely difficult for an intruder to push open the door. Some even make noise or shine lights to alert you to the possible intruder. This works best in hotels and hostels. Buying a rubber doorstopper from your local hardware store also works for a fraction of the price.
There are a few digital tools to keep handy as well! Check out the International SOS app, which alerts you to various things happening within your area and will warn you to stay away. The TripWhistleSOS app accesses your location and will give you the emergency number of the country you’re in – and even dial it for you.
7. Watch your alcohol intake
Don’t forget the general safety tips that are good for any travel situation. Be sure to watch your drinks and don’t leave them unattended. It’s great to have fun but know your limits when drinking on a solo trip and always buy travel insurance to protect against any unforeseen circumstances.
Enjoy your travels this summer and hopefully these tips will help you leave any fears of solo travel far behind!