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  • Writer's pictureS. Parris

Avoid Doing Any Of These Things When Traveling Solo

Updated: Apr 18




Navigating the world by yourself leaves little room for error and can be tricky initially. Even if this is not your first solo adventure, a new destination is still something you have to figure out alone. Nonetheless, the benefits of exploring as a party of one are undeniable, and booking a vacation sans travel buddy can change your life for the better.


To make every solo experience the best, you definitely need to leave no stone unturned. After all, this is your trip, you don't want it to be a disappointment. From planning to post-trip reminiscing, there are a variety of tips and tricks for solo travel. In fact, one of the easiest ways to ensure an overall wonderful getaway is by making your trip more stress-free. If you try to avoid doing any of these things when traveling solo, you can streamline your adventure while making it more carefree so you can get back to the business of having the time of your life as a party of one.


Doing minimal research on your destination


Solo traveling usually happens because there is somewhere you are just dying to go to, and you won't let anyone hold you back. But before you buy your plane ticket, it is important to do your research. This means going beyond the standard probing or listing things to do and what the weather will be like. As a savvy explorer, you should do your due diligence and find out if your dream destination is, first and foremost, solo traveler-friendly.


Most popular holiday spots are becoming increasingly welcoming to parties of one as more and more individuals take to the skies alone. Everything from airlines, hotels, and attractions to transportation is now more user-friendly for solo explorers. Despite this, it is still in your best interest to do the extra legwork before booking to get a better understanding of your location, its customs, entry requirements, current news, local tourist scams, and more. Doing as much research as possible will prepare you for the expected and the unexpected. You will be more familiar with your surroundings, less likely to get lost, generally feel safer, and not have to scramble at the last minute for backup activities if plans change. Do yourself a favor and properly look into your intended destination before you do anything else.


Choosing the wrong accommodations


One common mistake many people make on their solo travel journey is choosing the wrong place to stay. Of course, your vacation should be more about the destination than your choice of lodgings, but where you stay matters, as this decision can make or break your trip. For most solo wanderers, hostels and Airbnb are often the immediate go-to for keeping costs down. Though these kinds of lodgings are worth considering, they may not always be the best choice for a solo traveler.


If you are not a fan of curfews, shared bathrooms, and long to-do lists upon departure, you may want to book a hotel, a bed and breakfast, or a resort instead. With budget-friendly, mid-level, and 5-star options usually available, you can find accommodations that work for you, and remember that it is ok to splurge a little on your stay in the name of safety, convenience, or available assistance. That said, lone travelers must thoroughly research their accommodations during the planning stages. Looking up your potential holiday digs' reviews on more than just one site and even perusing their social media posts can also help you get a better idea of the place before you book.


Overpacking


Yet another solo travel faux pas is overpacking. You may think you need more because you are going solo and must be prepared for everything, but as a party of one, you want to be able to carry your luggage with ease, so make sure you pack light. Part of being a solo traveler is stepping outside your comfort zone and embracing the unknown, which can be hard to do with extra baggage, both literal and figurative.


Since you are running the show, it can be tempting to pack multiple outfits and then some. But as you are traveling alone, remember there won't always be someone to help you with your belongings — especially once you leave the airport or hotel. In order to avoid being weighed down with excess baggage, it is wise to focus on the essentials. To streamline this process, you can create a handy packing list. You might even be tempted to go full vagabond and travel with just one carry-on bag, a backpack containing only your must-haves. For those who think it cannot be done, most carry-on-size bags can hold up to a week's worth of indispensable clothing.


Not telling someone back home where you are going


Emergencies can happen on vacation, with or without a travel buddy. It is highly recommended that you keep someone apprised of your plans and whereabouts while wandering solo around the world. Giving a loved one your prospective itinerary and regularly checking in with them via socials, email, video calls, and other modes of communication will give everyone peace of mind. Deciding not to tell someone back home where you are going, on the other hand, tends to put travelers at a disadvantage if they need help or if important travel documents are lost or stolen.


In addition to letting loved ones know their plans when traveling alone, American travelers should sign up for STEP (the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) if they have not already. This is another way to keep you connected, specifically with the U.S. Embassy and Consulate. Signing up for STEP also helps keep you informed about your destination's current safety conditions and changing travel advisories and is also helpful in an emergency.


Offering too much information about yourself to strangers


Solo wandering is an excellent opportunity to meet new people and mingle with locals, but there is a catch. For various reasons, including your safety, it is highly recommended that you do not offer too much information about yourself to strangers. Even if you are aware of your surroundings and believe your new friend(s) to be trustworthy, oversharing can lead to problems.


Of course, this does not mean socializing is off-limits. However, you need to go with your gut and not give away details of where you are staying, who you are with (or not with, in this instance), how much money you brought with you, and so on. The same applies to broadcasting your location on social media, posting pictures in real-time, and letting anyone searching for the solo travel hashtag easily find you. Divulging too much personal information is a common mistake solo explorers commit, typically in relaxed settings like bars, small group tours, and when ridesharing. But with tourist scams on the rise in most popular destinations, it is better to be safe than sorry, especially when traveling alone.


Not taking advantage of small group tours


People new to the wonderful world of solo travel sometimes think they have to check off every item on their itinerary on their lonesome. This doesn't have to be the case. Taking advantage of guided tours and other group activities can be a nice reprieve from having to figure out everything on your own. Not only do small group excursions come with less pressure and well-rehearsed question-and-answer sessions about why you are by yourself, but they are usually led by a local or an expat who has a wealth of information about your destination.


Many solo wanderers either go it alone or book big group outings where they feel lost in the crowd. However, small groups foster better vibes and offer individuals the chance to meet other like-minded travelers. Plus, there is safety in numbers when opting for activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, strolling through ancient ruins, and more. There is no reason to shy away from spending a few hours with a small group, as doing so undoubtedly only adds to your solo adventure. You might just make some new friends for life.


Overscheduling activities


Solo travel is about doing what you want in the way of activities, which may sound like the vacation you have been longing for. Now that you can finally have things your way, don't overdo it. Filling every moment of your trip with tours, day trips, and attractions is exhausting and leaves little room for spontaneity.


If you are the type of traveler who needs to get their money's worth out of every getaway, this trip shouldn't be business as usual. As a solo sightseer, your plans should be flexible, exciting, and well-thought-out, but remember to include some downtime. You also must create some space in your itinerary for the occasional hiccup or the chance that things don't go according to plan. Outdoor excursions are sometimes canceled due to bad weather, reservations change, it might be time to implement your backup plan, and the desire to sleep in or do nothing at all is real on holiday. Don't fall victim to this solo travel blunder, as overscheduling is one of the quickest ways to ruin your grand solo escape.


Letting your doubts get the best of you


Jet-setting around the globe by yourself is a big deal, and even if your friends and family support your nomadic dreams, that doesn't stop most from weighing in on your travel plans. In particular, female solo travelers tend to get a lot of flack for exploring on their own from, well, just about everyone. Strangers on the street will question how a woman could ever go on holiday alone. Similarly, many solo wanderers often get asked exactly when they plan on settling down, regardless of gender.


For some reason, if someone outright disapproves of your solo wanderings, they will likely take the time to tell you about it regularly. It can be hard to drown out all the judgment and concern or prevent doubt from creeping in. This may cause you to become overly anxious about your journey ahead, but solo travel is an experience meant to take you out of your comfort zone and open your eyes to a whole new world. Plus, with the proper preparation and planning, you can handle the task at hand — so don't let your doubts (or anyone else's) get the best of you.


Keeping to yourself


You may be inclined to spend much of your vacation in your hotel room, ordering room service, burying your nose in a book, or avoiding making new friends. But these are mistakes. Though one of the points of solo travel is to reconnect with yourself, allow for self-discovery, and foster personal growth, you will likely have to mingle with others at least some of the time — therefore, why not make it fun?


You shouldn't miss out on meeting local people, eating meals in fabulous restaurants, talking with the hotel staff, or making the most of social settings when possible. For solo explorers heading to destinations where a different language is spoken, if you desire to learn the language or practice, keeping to yourself definitely won't help you improve your fluency. Don't make the mistake of allowing your current party of one status to keep you from meeting people on the road, feeling less alone, or further immersing yourself in your destination.


Budgeting poorly


Budgeting poorly is another major mistake that solo travelers should avoid at all costs. Of course, having your vacation finances in order before heading out applies to all travelers, but issues will arise when no one is making sure the spender isn't overspending. Solo wanderers need to devise a realistic and somewhat flexible budget before traveling and stick to it. Regardless of whether you are planning a luxury solo getaway or frugal adventure for one, you need to consider the standard items, like accommodations, activities, daily food expenses, transportation costs, trip insurance, plane tickets, an emergency fund, and so on.


Once you have crunched the numbers, you can see where you have additional money left over for other forms of entertainment. Whatever the plan, staying on budget is of the utmost importance. A bonus here is that booking early, traveling in the off seasons, making the most of free tours, and using your intended destinations' public transportation system are travel hacks that will help you save vital pennies and cents. And for those off to expensive destinations, it is highly recommended that you utilize as many money-saving tricks as possible when visiting to avoid going over budget or running out of funds on holiday.


Neglecting your health


With all the excitement on your solo adventure, you might forget to take your multivitamin when rushing out the door for the next group excursion. Of course, this is not the end of the world, but you are asking for trouble when spending hours out and about in the hot sun with no sunscreen and no water or in the cold without the proper protective gear. The same is true if you haven't slept in hours and have a full day of activities planned with no signs of stopping.


Neglecting your health and overall well-being while traveling solo is a risky business, as there is no one to take care of you but you. Also, being sick in another country isn't always easily remedied. As a savvy solo wanderer, staying hydrated, eating enough, protecting yourself from the elements, remembering to take any necessary meds, and getting adequate rest are absolute musts. It is also worth noting that solo travelers should avoid getting overly intoxicated, even on holiday, as too much alcohol can compromise both your immune system and your judgment.


Side-stepping the safety precautions


Seasoned solo travelers sometimes think they know the ropes well enough to side-step the occasional tried-and-true safety precautions. But, by doing so, they put themselves at risk. The reality is that you never know if something terrible is going to happen. Even if it seems silly or tedious, devise an emergency plan, purchase travel insurance, use your anti-theft bag, leave valuables in your hotel room safe, don't walk around at night looking lost, and learn to navigate the area you are staying in before you arrive.


Remember, your safety should always come first, and there is never a time when basic solo traveler safety rules don't apply. Choosing not to side-step these precautions and other self-protection tips means you are not acting recklessly. In popular vacation destinations, petty theft and crime don't care if you are a savvy solo traveler. The bottom line is if you are careless enough not to use your common sense when traveling alone, you are seen as an easy target.


Forgetting to blend in


Last but definitely not least, forgetting to blend in by wearing expensive jewelry and sporting bright-colored clothes is going to attract the wrong kind of attention. Solo wanderers, in particular, need to be mindful of this, as they are more likely to be victims of pickpocketing, robbery, and tourist scams when alone. Keeping the touristy vibes to a minimum by looking and acting like a local is essential when traveling alone. You don't want your vacation ruined before it even begins.

Traveling solo is not for the timid, but it can be truly magnificent. Though challenging at times, solo exploration is a genuinely illuminating experience that builds confidence, allows you to enjoy the world on your own terms, and is something everyone should do at least once in their lifetime. And if you avoid these things mentioned above when gallivanting across the globe, you are in for a real treat.


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