(Sunset photo taken on a month long solo travel around South East Asia. Taken in El Nido, Palawan. Philippines.)
I am a week out from a solo, beach adventure to Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean Islands. I booked this flight, on a whim one evening while browsing my emails for flight deals. $99 one way flights from Fort Lauderdale was an offer I could not pass up! As I sit here and finalize the last of my details, I wanted to offer you some of my personal tips for staying safe and enjoying yourself while traveling solo.
So before I jet off to my next destination, here are some of my best tips on how to travel safe, successfully, and to genuinely enjoy a solo trip.
1. Join a free walking tour or purchase an organized group tour around the city.
This is by far one of the best ways to meet like-minded travelers, swap travel stories, and make friends to meet up with along your stay. Along with that, the local guides are full of information! They are most often friendly, helpful and more than willing to share information on tourist spots or off the beaten path interests.
2. TALK TO PEOPLE! Locals, other tourists, Uber/Taxi drivers, waiters, bar staff, hotel staff, Airbnb hosts, etc.
More often than not, people are friendly and helpful. Having a smile and positive attitude goes a long way when traveling. Ask questions and get information about the top restaurants, smart ways to get to a destination, and best times to visit certain areas. And if you’re still a bit unsure while talking with someone, it’s OK to lie a little and say you need to know because you’re meeting a friend.
3. Secure belongings, ALWAYS.
You’re traveling alone, you have to look out for YOU, you do not have a companion to watch your back. Make sure your backpack/handbag you carry along with you outside the hotel is secure, zipped and even locked. Wear a fanny pack, over the shoulder bag, or even a backpack in the front if you feel unsafe. You may look a bit silly, but I’d chose silly over having my personal belongings taken any day of the week! Inside my hotel room, besides using the safe in my room, I always bring a lock for my luggage. If I’m wary about the hotel safe, locking my belongings inside my luggage is the next best thing.
4. Get to know your hotel surrounding in the daylight hours.
It is really important to me to spend a few hours perusing the streets and becoming familiar with the area I will be staying in. Closest markets, restaurants, places to visit, and dodgy areas to avoid are all things I look for.
5. Be cautious at night.
If something does not feel right, trust your instincts. You are responsible for YOU! Grab a taxi, or pop into a hotel/restaurant and ask them to call you a legal taxi. Get onto WIFI and call an UBER. Never risk your safety at night. Most often on my holidays I wake early to explore and discover the city, and am back in my hotel neighborhood by nightfall. This way I’m not left lost, uncertain, or feeling anxious. Sure, there are some nights I go out, but I make sure to have my arrangements in place for transportation or have walked the path previously, knowing its safe.
6. Be careful about drinks from strangers.
Best rule, don’t accept one, but if you do, pay REAL close attention to how it’s being made and whos hands it passing through.
7. Drink bottled water.
Self Explanatory. Just do it. 🙂
8. Enjoy your OWN company.
Find your zen, read a good book, meditate, listen to some music, relax on a beach or a park bench and just enjoy the time to yourself.
9. Leave your flashy jewelry, purses, and clothes at home.
I never travel with any good jewelry or purses for the simple reason that I do not need to draw anymore attention to myself then I already do. Let’s be honest, I travel a lot in countries where my ‘look’ is outside of the norm. A blonde, white-skin, western woman draws enough attention. With that being said, be confident and walk purposefully. If you look like you know what you’re doing, you might just feel as if you do as well. 😉
10. Be you.
You chose to travel for a reason, tap into that reason, and embrace it. Do what makes you happy, on your time. The best part about traveling solo is you don’t have anyone to please but yourself! You’re free to come and go as you wish, without having to wait around or be rushed by others. Enjoy that! Do something you wouldn’t normally do, take yourself out of your comfort zone if you’re feeling frisky!