August 20th, 2014
How to Plan a Safe Solo Getaway
Explore a new destination on your own without putting yourself in danger.
There are many reasons to choose solo travel. Maybe you’ve just experienced a loss and are looking for time to reflect. Perhaps there is an area of the world you’ve always wanted to visit and your usual traveling companion has no interest. Or maybe you simply have vacation time and savings, so you decide to go for it. Whatever the reason, packing your bag and choosing a solo trip can lead to one of the greatest adventures of your life.
Below, learn about different types of fun trips you can take when traveling alone and how you can stay safe during your journey.
Choose Your Own Adventure
- Take an Organized Trip: On this type of trip, every moment is basically planned for you. You travel in a group with a guide and you're given an itinerary. Transportation is provided and included in the overall cost. Some organized trips have themes (such as volunteering or extreme sports) while others are just for sightseeing. This is the safest option, since you'll be surrounded by others at nearly all times and it'll be harder for you to get lost.
- Pick a Partially Organized Trip: This selection combines some organized time with some alone time. For instance, maybe one day you go on a morning group hike and then have the rest of the day to wander the streets on your own. Then you’re back with the group in the evening. Just remember: When you're by yourself, you have to be extra alert.
- Go For It Alone: If you truly want to travel alone 100% of the time, you'll have total control over your days (feel like sleeping in? go right ahead!). Just keep in mind that this form of solo travel is the riskiest. It makes you more of a target for pickpockets, so you have to be vigilant, especially in touristy areas. And it's easier to get lost when you don't have a guide pointing you in the right direction and helping you book transportation. You don't want to end up in a dark alley in the middle of the night!
1. Take advantage of daylight: When traveling alone, it's easier to see where you're going during the day, so get up early and try to do most of your trekking before sunset.
2. Don't stare at your phone: Not paying attention to your surroundings while walking around a city? That's exactly when thieves can strike. Always look confident, even when you’re not feeling that way.
3. Protect your belongings: During solo travel, carry important documents (such as your passport and wallet) in a money belt underneath your shirt so you can access it easily, but pickpockets won't be able to see or snag it.
4. Get insurance: Before you leave, make sure you have health and/or travel insurance when traveling alone. This could cover you against trip interruption or cancelation, illness or injury, or damage to your baggage or rental car.
5. Ask for help: If someone follows you as you stroll around, tell a police officer or walk into the nearest restaurant or shop and tell the owner that you're being followed.
6. Get lots of sleep. Bring a pillow, eye mask and blanket on your trip, so you can snooze on any bus, train or plane ride. The more well rested you are, the easier it'll be to stay alert. If you do decide to take a nap you may want to invest in a cable lock, this will either allow you to lock your bag to you or to an affixed object like a bench.
Congrats! You are now ready for solo travel. You are an inspiration to many, and are fueling the dreams that feed your soul. Share your solo travel tips, below!
Gretchen Harnick is a university professor living in NYC and took her first solo trip to Sante Fe, New Mexico, where she took day hikes and art classes and stumbled on a restaurant tasting benefit. She can be found traveling in the South of France every summer.