It can be challenging to coordinate a trip and time away from work with another busy person in your life, and it’s even more difficult when you try to make plans with a group. So it’s time to do a solo travel! Because traveling alone leaves less room for error. A solo traveler doesn’t have a back-up person. Solo travel is a growing and compelling mode of travel in the 21st century. To help you get the most out of your solo trip, check out these 16 mistakes to avoid.
1. Pack too much!
Looking like a seasoned traveler by dragging around a large suitcase or more than one suit case makes you be more of a target. Solo travelers don’t need this extra attention. trim down your packing to one carry-on or a reasonably sized backpack to enjoy more freedom and ease when traveling.
2. Go without travel insurance
Likewise any other types of travel, going solo has its ups and downs. Inconvenient things and, sometimes, terrible things. That’s why having travel insurance is an intelligent idea. Travel insurance can cover cancellations, delayed departures, personal articles, medical emergencies, accidents and more. There are usually multiple options so review your purchase carefully. Any situation where you need the insurance will likely be stressful and, as a solo traveler, you have no one advocating for you. It’s best to keep a copy of your insurance on you as well as in your luggage and always keep it in the same two places on every trip.
3. Travel without a credit card
Bank machines are everywhere in the world now but, what if a machine won’t accept your card? To make sure, own a VISA card and if possible, just pay with your card. In some situations, you may need cash, so get a cash advance. Cash advances are a last resort because of the way interest is charged on them but sometimes they are a necessity. Also suggest you contact your credit card company and tell them where you will be traveling so they don’t deny the cash advance or purchase thinking the card is being misused.
4. Arrive in a new location after dark
A new city always looks more challenging in the dark than in daylight – especially as a solo traveler. Arrive early in the day at a new location so that you can check out your accommodation to ensure that you are happy with it and its location. If you’re not, you’ll have time to change the situation.
5. Rush into a completely new city
As a solo traveler, it’s important for you to take time and relax into a new location so that you can enjoy what it has to offer. The goal is to work the city as a local, to blend in as much as possible so that you are safe at all times. Start by sitting back and watching. Take in lunch on a park bench. Spend the afternoon in a coffee shop. Pick up a few groceries if just to get the local shopping bag. Take your time and ease into the city.
6. Be too ambitious at a trip.
Whichever type their trip is, every traveler expects things to go well, especially in the beginning and the end. It’s real that you’re at your most vulnerable when you are just arriving in a place (and most laden down with luggage and stuff), and at your most stressed when you are trying to get on a plane or train on time. On these nights, take it easy on yourself; you might stay near the airport or train station, or splurge on a well-known hotel, or take a cab when you might otherwise save money by taking public transit.
7. Run out of cash.
Having no money in your pocket and no way to get any is a problem for any traveler, but even more so when traveling solo. Asking strangers for help, sleeping on a bench or any number of last-ditch tactics may be doable when traveling with others; traveling solo, you definitely don’t want to be asking for free rides and crash pads with no one to watch your back. A small tip is to put a $100 bill under the sole of your shoe on all your trips; and it will save you!
8. Avoid your own company.
Many solo travel tips focus on how to meet people, but this can be counterproductive — there was a reason you chose to travel alone, after all. Many folks who travel in big groups yearn for a moment or two by themselves; you don’t have that problem, so enjoy it!
9. Fail to find out what you want to do on your own.
These might be things that relate to niche interests of yours that not everyone will appreciate (an extended visit to a specialty museum, perhaps), or physically demanding outings on which not everyone may be as goal-oriented as you might be (such as surfing lessons).
10. Resist impulse behavior.
This is a luxury you should not resist, as it is almost non-existent in regular day-to- day life; if you like an idea, go for it.
11. Ignore the potential dangers.
A good rule of thumb: If your internal alarms are going off, listen to them because there are potential risks when traveling alone that might not be as prevalent when traveling with other people.
Overscheduling can be a trip killer under almost any conditions, but as a solo traveler this can really leave you wrung out. The ability to go with the flow is part of the reason to travel alone, and overscheduling can make that impossible.
13. Forget to make reservations.
Standing in long lines is a drag, but standing in long lines alone is almost unendurable. If you are going to popular attractions, museums or anywhere else that will require some waiting, get online ahead of time to see if you can make reservations or purchase tickets in advance.
14. Be shy and cut off casual conversations.
One of the reasons urging people to travel is to meet and talk to people, to find out who they are and how they live. Traveling alone is going to require some courage. Most people have a bit of a shy streak, and in many of the types of people inclined to travel alone, this trait might be even more pronounced. To get the most out of your travels and encounters, you are going to have to suppress your shyness once in a while. One way to get started on this might be to refrain from ending casual conversations that spring up in shops, when asking directions, in a restaurant, in a line.
15. Be afraid to seek out familiar company.
Many big cities have expat bars or even folks offering lodging who might have an accent like your own. Don’t feel like you need to avoid anyone from back home, as sometimes these brief interludes with the relatively familiar can energize you as you venture back out to find folks and customs very different from your own. TravBuddy.com and CouchSurfing.com are good places to start on these, and many guidebooks offer information about where the local “American bar” can be found.
16. Fail to have a Plan B.
It’s a great idea to make a fallback plan if things go sideways is a good idea in general. Most importantly, it can be helpful to have someone who knows where you are, where you are headed and what you are up to. Internet kiosks, smartphones, email and social media make this very easy to do today; leave some breadcrumbs as you go along to let folks know when to start worrying — and when just to be jealous at the great adventures you are having while they are stuck at home staring at Facebook.