Solo travel can be exhilarating. It allows you to be free and completely in control of how you spend your time. The other side of the equation is that freedom comes with responsibility, especially when it comes to our own safety. This doesn’t mean that you can’t choose to go to exciting and exotic destinations. It just means that before you head off on an incredible solo adventure, some thorough planning must occur.
Choosing the Right Destination
If you have no idea exactly where you want to go, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. To avoid this, start by coming up with a rough list of destinations that appeal to you. After that, you can start digging into each location a bit deeper, eliminating the ones that aren’t suitable as you go.
A good way to come up with this initial list is to simply look at a travel booking platform. If you were to check out the eDreams website, you’d quickly get a sense of how much it costs to fly to different locations, as well as the deals that are available and information about airports around the world.
Once you have your list, start working your way through it from the perspective of safety. Your country’s government will most likely have a travel advisory website that provides up-to-date information about things like crime rates and civil unrest. Health advisories will be included in these warnings, too. It may be that certain vaccinations are required to enter a country; a current outbreak of a certain disease could affect your travel plans.
As part of this safety check, make sure to research local customs and laws. Some behaviors or activities that are completely fine at home may not be treated the same way in other countries. Understanding these nuances can help to make sure that you don’t do anything considered offensive or even illegal while you’re traveling.
The next consideration is how you’re going to spend your time. You want your solo trip to be exciting, so start researching what activities are going to make your journey unforgettable. YouTube is a great resource here. Solo travelers will post videos from all over the world detailing how they spent their time in different countries. They’ll often walk around the destination filming, too, often from a first-person perspective. This is a great way to try and put yourself in their shoes and get a feel for how things work in that location.
Travel Planning and Budgeting
After you’ve narrowed things down to a specific destination, you can shift your focus to planning the actual trip and how you’re going to pay for it. Decide your travel budget well in advance so that you give yourself plenty of time to save. It can even be a good idea to create a dedicated savings account that’s specifically for your trip.
When it comes to managing your money while traveling, consider the pros and cons of using travel cards from companies like Mastercard. These cards are often praised for their convenience and security, as they reduce the need to carry large amounts of cash and offer protection against theft or loss. On the other hand, there are often high fees associated with these cards. You may not get the best rate when converting from one currency to another, and there may be charges to withdraw money from ATMs.
How far out you book things, as well as whether some things need to be booked at all, are both worth some thought. Your big and important bookings like flights and accommodation should be made well in advance. The more flexible you are around specific dates of travel, the better deals you’ll be able to find. The majority of things you’ll spend money on while you’re traveling will not need to be booked in advance, generally speaking. This includes everything from public transport to meals, in addition to access to museums or restaurants.
Making Your Trip Safe
We discussed broader safety around specific destinations earlier, but there are also some good safety rules for solo travelers that apply everywhere. The first thing to think about is where you’ll lay your head at night. Look for hotels or hotels that have a lot of positive reviews, especially those that mention safety. Look for places that are located in reputable areas and are easy to access with public transport. Other features like 24-hour reception and well-lit common areas are good, too.
Next, think about the ways that you stay connected with people back home. Share your itinerary with family members or trusted friends so someone always knows where you’re supposed to be. Make sure to buy a local SIM card at your destination after you arrive, as well. There are often cheap deals with very competitive rates on calls and data.
Although you’re not planning for anything to go wrong, you should think about what will happen if something does. What types of insurance make the most sense? If you’re not traveling with many expensive items, then basic travel insurance from Allianz or a similar company will usually cover most of what you need. Some level of health insurance is a priority.
In terms of gear, there are many types of travel-focused safety accessories that may or may not make sense in your situation. One example is money belts. In cities that are known for pickpocketing, many travelers recommend wearing a money belt under your clothes to protect your valuable items.
Some travelers feel more comfortable when they’re carrying a whistle or another type of personal alarm. These can be activated in an emergency situation to quickly attract the attention of anyone nearby who can come and help. Door stoppers are another example. They can be used in hotel rooms to provide an extra layer of protection against someone trying to open your door. Whether these types of items are must-haves, overkill, or somewhere in between is a matter of perspective.
Solo travel is something that is often described as life-changing. There are endless stories online of people who’ve embarked on a freeing solo journey, only to come back and feel that their life has changed forever. If you’re thinking of traveling solo, plan well and jump right in. Adventure awaits.
Ferona Jose is a passionate travel writer and blogger at Travelistia. She has traveled throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Her writing focuses on cheap travel destinations, travel experiences, cultural insights, and travel hacks.