Traveling alone has its advantages and disadvantages, and can be dangerous if proper precaution is not taken. It can force the traveler to meet other people and to make friends, which can be good, depending on the person. You can go at your own pace and change your plans as and when you like. However, it can be lonely traveling alone and you often end up paying more in the form of single room supplements. And it can also be more challenging especially if you are a woman traveling solo.
There are some basic steps you can take to ensure your solo trip is safe and enjoyable. Do some general research on your destination you should have some idea of where your hotel is located; as well as the basic layout of the city or resort, and which areas of town that it might be best to avoid. Make a point not to look too much like a tourist. For instance, dont walk around with your camera, name tag or guidebook too visible; and try not to read your map in a public place.
ATMs can be found just about anywhere and offer a convenient way to access your cash. If you use an ATM while traveling alone, try to find one that is in a crowded or a public place; and if you are using one at night, try to choose one that is well lit. Take a few moments to check out your surroundings if you are using an ATM in an isolated spot; and once you have completed your transaction, dont linger in front of the ATM, leave the area as quickly as possible.
When you leave your hotel, carry just enough cash on you for that day that way if you are robbed, you wont be completely broke. Make copies of your passport, plane ticket and any other important documents and keep the copies separate from the originals. Use a money belt and wear it inside your clothing, if you have to carry your passport or other valuables with you. Keep a tight grip on your wallet or purse in crowded places, and watch for the distraction tactics that many thieves employ.
Write down the name and address of your hotel in English and the local language, if applicable and carry it with you at all times. Rather than mispronounce the name of your hotel to a cab driver and perhaps be taken to the wrong destination, simply hand over the card. Always use licensed taxis be particularly careful of unlicensed taxis at airports, train stations and major tourist attractions that will almost certainly overcharge you and are also illegal.
In many cities, public transportation is so good that you might not need to take a taxi. Be particularly careful with your purse, wallet or handbag when riding the bus, metro or subway. Try to wait in a well-lit area and board a car that is occupied by several people. Most city transit systems have easy to use route diagrams displayed; if you arent sure where you are going, you should be able to read the map without making it too obvious that you are a tourist and not a local.
If applicable, try to take a hotel room that is on the first floor; that way there is less chance of your room being broken into. Always use the deadbolt lock to secure your door; you can also put a rubber doorstop under the door to further deter any would-be intruder. Avoid using the doorknob hang tab to order room service it can leave the impression that you are alone in the room just pick up the phone instead. Use the Do not disturb sign to prevent the hotel cleaning staff from entering your room unless you actually want them to.
Unfortunately, women still face many more challenges and dangers than men do when traveling alone. Some countries and parts of the world are particularly challenging for a single woman traveler, such as the Middle East; and in many places, the normal rules of behavior that apply at home just wont work. Try to do some research before you leave home and if in doubt, observe how the local women behave and react in particular situations.
Women in particular should be aware of their surroundings at all times. If you just dont feel comfortable, or are being pestered by somebody, be prepared to take refuge in a public building, hotel or large store a tactic that almost always deters people. Be firm but polite if accosted on the street by homeless people, panhandlers, or people trying to sell something. Even if you arent married, a wedding ring can be an essential device for fending off unwanted attention.
Traveling solo can be a rewarding experience just take some basic precautions, avoid looking too much like a tourist, and your trip should be everything you hoped it would be!