Travel Tips and Advice for the Solo Traveler

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If you’re dreaming of ditching your daily routine and hitting the road solo, you’re not (completely) alone. According to a recent American Express survey, 16% of adults will be traveling alone this year – up from 12% last year. It’s a new travel trend in which more and more travelers are opting to explore solo. Here at Hipmunk, we’ve collected some tips and advice from our personal travel experiences, so if you’re deciding to take that trip for one, read on — they’re sure to help you have a smooth and enjoyable experience!

 Here are our top tips to make sure that all travelers enjoy their trips and feel safe when exploring as a party of one.

FOR LADIES

  • Plan your routes ahead of time – spend your flight or train ride looking at a map and planning which sites to see first so you can maximize your time.
  • Travel with the locals during the day by using public transit, but if it’s late and you’re alone, spring for a cab.
  • If you want to meet fellow travelers, a group tour during the day is a great way to connect with people, and the adventures may even continue into the evening!
  • If you’re in a country where it’s common for men to be overly forward, wear a fake wedding ring to prevent any unwanted advances.
  • Enroll in a foreign language class where you can meet other travelers.
  • Even if you’re heading out for a night on the town, it’s best to leave your expensive jewelry in your hotel safe.
  • If you ever feel like you’re being followed, walk into a hotel or restaurant and chat with an employee.
  • Ditch the heels when you’re exploring – opt for comfortable shoes that are easy to walk in – your feet will thank you later!
  • Don’t know where you’re going? Ask a friendly face for directions.
  • Local culture might include a glass of wine or cocktail with dinner, but don’t indulge too much, especially if you’re not familiar with the area.
  • Enjoy an activity that locals do! Take a surf lesson or a cooking class.

FOR MEN

  • Remove sunglasses when talking with locals – it’ll help you connect and be less intimidating.
  • Pack a deck of cards or board game with you for train travel; it’s a great icebreaker.
  • Making long eye contact can be seen as aggressive, so use it wisely.
  • Thrill seekers beware! A foreign country is never the best place to pick up a new hobby like motorcycle riding or cliff jumping.
  • Opt for a walking tour of major cities to simultaneously meet new people and check out the sites.
  • Watch those wallets in the back pocket! Best practice is to keep your wallet in your front pocket.
  • Don’t rely on your cellphone for the time – wear a watch.
  • Head to happy hours for discounted drinks, appetizers, and to meet some locals.
  • Be mindful of the dress code for certain sights like churches or fancier restaurants. 

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FOR ALL TRAVELERS

  • Before you leave for your trip, know a couple back-up hotels you could stay at if you’re uncomfortable at the first one. Have their phone number and addresses handy.
  • Ask someone to take a picture for you! Just because you’re not traveling with a partner, doesn’t mean you have to forfeit photos in front of landmarks.
  • Don’t go off the beaten path for a hotel or hostel. Stay in more populated areas, which will likely be better lit if you come back after dark.
  • Hit the biggest tourist attractions first. You’ll get to know the popular and central areas, and have a better frame of reference for the rest of your trip.
  • Learn the tipping habits of where you’re traveling to before you go; you don’t want to offend the locals by over or under tipping.
  • Get the business card of your hotel. In the event you forget the hotels name, you can show the card to your cab driver.
  • Go with your gut – if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Trust your instincts when it comes to big decisions.
  • Learn a set of phrases in the country’s language before you go. It helps to show locals that you’re interested in their culture.
  • Be discreet and don’t draw attention to yourself by wearing items with religious imagery, curse words or flags.
  • Although flights and trains at night time can be cheaper, try to arrive at your new location during the day so you’re not busy getting oriented in a new place in the dark.
  • Start your day early and head to the must-see sites that are farthest from where you’re staying.
  • Always carry a credit card, copy of your passport and some local currency with you. Leave your real passport, extra cash and cards locked up in your room.
  • When traveling in areas like Barcelona that have unusually high pick pocketing rates, wear a cross-body bag and keep excess cash in a money belt.
  • Pack your favorite e-reader to accompany you for train rides or flights. It’s light and you can download books as you travel.
  • Don’t be worried about feeling lonely! Be open to new sights, cultures, people and experiences that await!
  • As a solo traveler, you call the shots! Eat at the restaurant you’re dying to try, or see that museum you’ve read about – make the trip your own!