Hey guys! Most often, I travel on my own and I love it. When I’m on the road alone, I can operate under my own schedule, with only my own tastes and preferences to take in to consideration. I find traveling alone to be empowering, particularly for females, and also exciting. However, there are not many woman in my life who have traveled alone. In talking about my trips with others, the comment I most hear is about how the other women could not travel on their own. I am here to tell you that traveling solo takes not-much-more initiative than it would to travel with another person and that, in my experience, solo travel is quite safe.
I do not want to belittle the fact that terrible things can and do happen to any one, any where, and I am not immune to this fact. However, I use the following tips nearly every day when I’m traveling alone and nothing disastrous has happened. With a little insight, a bit of common sense, and a dash of confidence anyone can travel alone and have a great time. While these tips are geared toward females, anyone can use them!
1. First and foremost, you must be prepared.
The three most important things to know when going on a trip are: where you are going, how you are getting there, and where you are staying once you get there. Once you have that set, you are good to go.
I strictly use WiFi when I’m abroad, so when I do have WiFi, I map out where I’m going – for example, my route from the train station to my accommodation – and screenshot it on my iPhone so that I can use it for reference later. I also use this tip when I’m going out for the day: I make a map to a site I want to see or restaurant I want to check out.
These screenshoted maps will help you from getting lost, but it’s important to be aware of some good landmarks in your new city to use as another reference. Figure out where you are staying in relation to that landmark in case you get turned around. I’ve found it’s more difficult to get completely lost in a big city like London because you’re almost always within walking distance of a tube station (just make sure you know what tube station you’re staying near as well!). And, in a walkable city like Edinburgh, knowing your landmarks will help you to walk your way out of being lost.
If you do get totally lost, don’t get scared – this will make you more vulnerable. Stop, take a look around, reference your screenshoted maps, and see if you can get your bearings. If not, walk until you see a Starbucks or McDonalds (one will almost always be close by!) and use the free WiFi there to figure out where you are. If all of that fails, ask a local, as they can be quite helpful!
Remember: always have local cash, your smartphone, and your passport on you in case of an emergency.
2. Don’t be too casual when traveling alone.
It’s important to always keep your wits about you when traveling solo. Stay vigilant, and be aware of what is going on around you. Have fun, but don’t throw caution entirely to the wind.
When traveling alone, trust your gut instincts. If something feels fishy, it probably is. Turn the other way, politely excuse yourself – just make sure, if you aren’t comfortable, to get out of that situation.
Don’t overdrink! Of course, it’s ok (and encouraged!) to go out and have a couple drinks, but don’t over consume. This is when mistakes are made, and bad choices seem like good ones.
Keep all your valuables in your bag and not in your pockets. Your bag should be something that is not entirely conspicuous, but it should be secure. For example, I use a Timbuk2 extra small messenger bag, and when I’m out, I secure the front flap with the two straps on the bottom so that it would be difficult for anyone to get in.
3. Finally, on a less serious note – always have a book with you!
The book will keep you good company in pubs, restaurants, on public transport, or anywhere else you don’t want to feel so alone.
I fully advocate for solo travel, for anyone. It’s when I do my best exploration, self-reflection, and creative thinking and hope that you would find the same. I hope these little, but important, tips make solo travel seem a little less daunting. Do you have anything that you would add? Let me know if you have any questions about traveling solo!