We’ve talked about how to travel safely before. And we’ve talked about how to stave the boredom off while traveling alone. But with the release of Eat, Love, Pray next week surely about to inspire countless people to head abroad, here are a few tips to bear in mind when you’re abroad alone.
Let people at home keep track: You don’t have to send them a day to day list of where you’re staying, of course, but giving your friends or family back home a rough outline of your itinerary is always a good idea, as is keeping them informed while you’re on the road. An email here, a text there not only keeps their mind at rest but yours, too.
Be more wary of people’s approaches and local areas: We’re not saying don’t talk to people, of course – half the joy of travel is meeting people from another culture. But bear in mind that to anyone who has nefarious intentions, you’re more of a target when you’re traveling alone. So keep a tighter hold of your belongings, plan your routes more carefully, and bear in mind that the person befriending you might – just might – be taking you for a ride.
Dress in line with local customs: Most important for women for obvious reasons, but men should be aware of local customs when they’re dressing, too. It’s disrespectful to walk around shirtless in many countries, for instance, and when you’re by yourself the last thing you want to do is alienate the locals.
Night time: If you can, get a room above the ground floor – apart from anything else, you’ll feel safer. If you’re a woman staying somewhere relatively insecure, check you’re not being watched when you enter your room (I spent a sleepless night in a Motel 6 in Arkansas last year after a guy watched me going into my ground floor alone and then phoned me throughout the night asking if I was after company). And by all means have fun, but don’t get so drunk you can’t remember where you’re staying. That too has happened to me, and it’s not fun.
Team up with other solo travelers: Not at the exclusion of losing your solo experience, of course, but it can be a good fallback option if you meet other people on your travels. I once spent a month alone in Cuba, and hooked up with another girl for a week of it. As luck would have it, we ended up traveling to places which would have been uncomfortable alone. Having the option of meeting, separating, and getting together when you feel like it is the best of both worlds.