Whether you’re heading to another city in the U.S. or embarking on an expedition to another country, traveling alone can be liberating, exciting, and a lot of fun. As with any adventure, planning is the key to having a successful trip. Here are three common mistakes that solo travelers make, as well as tips for how to avoid them.
Not considering lodging options carefully enough
One great thing about traveling alone is it expands your options. From choosing cheap round trip flights to where you can stay during your trip, from renting a room in a shared space to staying in hotels to camping (or “glamping,” if you prefer) the choice is up to you and only you. However, it’s important to carefully consider your goals for your trip and your happiness as you explore these choices. If you are renting a room in a shared space (such as someone’s house), does it have a locking door for privacy? The last thing you want is nosey hosts bothering you after a full day of sight-seeing. If you’re an extrovert, does your hotel have a bar or restaurant area where you can meet fellow travelers? If you will be camping, do you have a back-up plan for if your tent malfunctions? (A nearby motel, perhaps?) Some forethought in these areas can save you a lot of hassle and disappointment during your trip.
Forgetting to consider an emergency plan
One of the risks of traveling alone is that you won’t have someone with you at all times to help if something goes wrong. This is why it’s important to have an emergency plan in place in the rare event that something should go wrong. Check with your health insurance company so that you know what to do (and what is covered) if you experience an injury or health problem while traveling. In addition to carrying paper copies of your health insurance information, take a photo of it and keep it easily accessible on your phone. Tell at least one person back home where you plan to be each day (you can leave them a copy of your itinerary), and develop a system for checking in periodically. Another thing you can do is to register with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (S.T.E.P.). In addition to providing valuable information to help avoid danger, this service will allow the embassy to contact you in case of emergency and help family and friends get in touch with you.
Deciding not to create an itinerary
Arguably the best part of traveling solo is that you get to do what you want. It can be tempting to forgo an itinerary in favor of taking each day as it comes. However, you run the risk of not being able to see or do everything you want. As you plan your trip, spend some time thinking through your top priorities and create your itinerary accordingly. Once you have these major sites, events, and activities in place, then you can start to fill in details (transportation, food, other activities, etc.). Some of these details should be planned in advance, while others can be determined while you’re traveling. Having internet access is invaluable for planning on the go, so be sure to check with your cell provider about coverage at your destination.
Have you traveled solo before? What are some tips you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments section.