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Solo traveling can be such a great experience. However, when traveling alone, safety is always key! There are some common solo travel mistakes you should avoid. There really is no reason to be scared of traveling alone, you just need to keep your wits about you and be aware of your surroundings.
It is important to make the best of your trip, but you have to take a couple of precautions to create a fun and memorable vacation that you will look back on fondly. Here are some common solo traveler mistakes, and even as a pro-solo-traveler, you can still make these errors without realizing it.
Not Preparing Beforehand
Even if you travel in a group, it’s easy to make this mistake! Sometimes, you want to just ‘wing it,’ but getting lost in a foreign country, where you don’t understand the language, is only attractive in movies. Be prepared beforehand by packing the right clothes, having a map, and doing some basic research on where you should and shouldn’t visit.
Not every city is solo-traveler friendly. When picking cities to visit alone, I like to find places that have a good metro system and a lot of foot traffic. Most European cities meet this criterion. However, I would never take a taxi alone in Mexico City (or many Central and South America countries) unless they are provided and recommended by the hotel I’m staying at. Depending on where you visit, you need to make little adjustments and preparations to ensure your safety.
Read up about the country your visiting and educate yourself on the norms, hazards, and customs. Being prepared is more than just taking a winter coat and clean underwear.
Related Post: 6 Great Countries For Female Solo Travelers
When traveling alone, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a little dishonesty. There’s no reason to be telling strangers you’re alone. I even like to invent up a fake boyfriend or husband and tell people I’m waiting for him. If you don’t trust someone, or they are giving you a weird vibe, there is nothing wrong with faking a story. “Sorry, I can’t, my husband is waiting for me,” will get you out of many sticky situations and help get rid of someone.
Arriving Late at Night
Whenever possible, try to take a red-eye flight so you may arrive early in the morning. Daylight is your greatest friend in a foreign country, try to avoid arriving at airports and hotels late at night. When you arrive during the day, you allow yourself time to get acquainted with your surroundings before it’s night time and the majority of people go home.
If you arrive at your accommodation during the day and don’t like the hotel or neighborhood (it happens!), you have time to make adjustments. You most likely can’t (and shouldn’t) go out exploring or finding new accommodations at 10 P.M. if you’re unfamiliar with the city.
It’s perfectly fine to have a drink alone at a bar. However, you shouldn’t have multiple drinks when traveling alone. When you are intoxicated you become a target for thieves and it can put you in a vulnerable and dangerous position.
Know your limits and be firm. Even if a stranger offers to buy you a drink, if you know you’ve had enough, just politely say no thanks. Which brings me to my next point….
Being Too Polite
Your biggest concern on a trip is safety. It shouldn’t be hurting someone’s feelings. Like I said in my previous tip, you can politely decline a drink or a ride from a kind stranger. You will most likely never see this person again and you shouldn’t put yourself at risk just for the sake of being polite. When traveling alone, you need to be firm and assertive
Not Photocopying Your Passport
You should always have a photocopy of your passport when you travel. You hear horror stories of individuals losing their passports while traveling and then having a horrible time trying to validate their identities at the embassy. A lot of time, you hand your passport over to a receptionist and because you’re so excited and/or distracted, you don’t realize they haven’t handed it back to you. It’s always best to hand them a photocopy of your passport. Also, keep a picture of your passport on your phone to serve as a backup to the backup.
Avoiding Small Talk
Yes, you have to keep your wits about you, but you should also get to know the locals. There is nothing wrong with striking up a conversation with someone at a cafe. You can learn a lot from people, especially when they lead entirely different lives. When you travel, make an effort to fully invest yourself in the culture and approach strangers. Meeting people is one of the greatest joys of traveling, getting to know their story, and seeing through their lens can help you grow ias a person.
Being Ignorant of the Culture
Quite possibly one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Unless your trip is to a resort in Cancun, take some time ahead of the trip to read up on the customs and traditions of the country you’re visiting. Remember you are a visitor and it is your responsibility to make adjustments out of respect for the country you’re visiting.
You will feel much less out of place if you take the time to truly learn and assimilate to the culture, even if your trip is just for a couple of days.