by Bret Hanna from Rosing Davidson Frost

Traveling alone can seem daunting or downright scary for some people. But the rewards can be plenty for those willing to go beyond their travel comfort zone. It can build self-confidence and make you more comfortable “in your own skin.” It can offer experiences that a person can only see through their own eyes rather than filtered through the eyes of others. And in the days of 24-hour contact with others and devices, it offers the opportunity to appreciate solitude and silence truly. However, some essential things must be remembered as one sets forth solo. Here are a few:

  • Tell friends and family what your itinerary is. Once you have your itinerary finalized, share it with friends and family. Also, make plans with one or two people to have regular “check-ins,” so those who care about you can ensure your trip is going as planned and you are safe.
  • Don’t overschedule. Trying to do too much in too little time can take a toll on how much you enjoy your trip, particularly when you are responsible for everything from planning to execution of every detail. Know your limits, and plan excursions and activities accordingly. You’ll want to reflect on your experiences rather than reviewing a checklist of places and experiences you managed to “fit in.”
  • Learn to be dishonest. That’s right, learn to lie. When you encounter people along the way, don’t tell them you are traveling alone or where you are staying until you are completely comfortable with them. Even then, share only the information you must.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Be in control of your faculties at all times. It’s not that you can’t go out and have a good time, but if you go too far, you can make yourself vulnerable to those who might want to take advantage of you
  • Carefully consider your lodging options. Many solo travelers are drawn to hostels or guesthouses because those communal lodging options make meeting fellow travelers easy. Consider more traditional hotels if you think safety may be an issue in a particular location or want a quiet, comfortable lodging experience. Hotels also tend to prioritize conveniences more than other lodging options.
  • Carefully consider money issues. Having some cash on hand for incidentals and minor emergencies is essential, but look carefully at how to access currency for your destinations. Exchanging money in foreign countries can be very expensive, even if you are using known, trusted sources such as airport exchanges and services such as Western Union. The transaction fees can kill you. If you want to avoid carrying a lot of cash on you, as many feel uncomfortable doing, look for a credit card that charges small or no fees for foreign transactions. Carry that card with you and use it when you can. Have some cash with you for transactions where the card is not accepted.
  • Enjoy your schedule. One major perk of solo travel is you get to be the master of your own destiny. Set a daily schedule that works for you. Travel, sightsee and relax when you want.
  • Prepare to entertain yourself. If writing is your thing, keep your journal with you so you can write when the mood strikes. If sketching or painting is your thing, keep your supplies handy for when you come across the perfect landscape. If reading is for you, keep a good book handy for entertaining yourself at that café lunch or on that perfect park bench.
  • Listen to your intuition. If you find yourself in a situation that doesn’t “feel right,” remove yourself from it immediately until you can determine one way or another that it is safe for you.