Mistakes Solo Travelers Should Avoid

You’re tired of wanting to travel but never having anyone to go with, so you’ve finally made the decision to take a trip by yourself! You know where you want to go, and you’ve traveled before, but how is traveling solo different than traveling with a group or another person?

There are plenty of aspects that are the same, but avoiding some of these common mistakes for solo travelers will make your life (and trip) a lot easier.

Tell Someone Where You’re Going

fight board destinations
Photo Credit: Unsplash
Photo Credit: Unsplash

You’ve made the decision to travel solo, the whole point of which is that you’re doing it on your own. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell people where you’re going, though.

Give someone an itinerary of where you’re going to be on which dates, especially if you’re going to multiple different cities or countries. It’s always nice to know someone knows where you are, just in case.

Consider Not Posting Your Whereabouts In Real Time

person taking photo in italy
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Dominik Dancs
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Dominik Dancs

You want to brag about your trip on social media and share photos of all the great places you’re visiting or the fun times you’re having, but posting your location live can open you up to safety issues when traveling alone.

Post about the cities you’re in, but think about holding off on bragging about the great hotel you stayed at until after you’ve checked out.

Leave Room For Error

man looking at flight board in airport
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Anete Lusina
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Anete Lusina

Something is going to go wrong. Your flight is going to get canceled, your hotel room isn’t going to be ready when you arrive, the tour you booked is going to get rescheduled, or the museum you wanted to see will actually be closed for maintenance.

No matter how much you plan or research, something on your trip isn’t going to turn out how you expected, so leave yourself room for those mistakes.

Don’t Tell Everyone You Meet That You’re Traveling Alone

woman walking through city alone
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Steven Lewis
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Steven Lewis

You’re proud that you’re finally taking your first big trip by yourself and that’s great, but you don’t need to advertise to every person that you meet that you’re alone. Sometimes it’s better to not let people know you’re by yourself.

Get A Local SIM Card Or A Travel Plan For Your Phone

woman using phone on tour in London
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Daiga Ellaby
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Daiga Ellaby

There’s always a debate about whether or not you want to buy a SIM card for your phone, or invest in a travel plan from your carrier, or just rely on Wi-Fi while traveling.

If you were traveling with other people, it seems less important to have a working phone, but when traveling alone, you’ll want to have the option to make a phone call or use Google Maps without racking up a huge debt on your bill because of international roaming charges.

Don’t Overschedule Yourself

stack of books on the beach
Photo Credit: Unsplash
Photo Credit: Unsplash

Don’t overestimate how much you’re going to be able to accomplish in a day or on a trip. Traveling is tiring, especially when you’re by yourself and are completely responsible for every aspect of your trip.

Make sure you leave yourself a morning to sleep in or an afternoon to wander around without packing in every tour and museum possible.

Make An Effort To Meet Other People

four people standing at top of mountain hike
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Matt Heaton
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Matt Heaton

Making new friends in a hostel or on a tour won’t take away from your experience of traveling solo. It’s not cheating your experience. It’ll actually improve your trip as a whole if you end up meeting some great new people.

Do Your Gosh Darn Research

flat lay of camera and notebook on map
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Annie Spratt
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Annie Spratt

Beyond reading reviews before you book your hotel or tour, do some research about the places you’re actually going. Look up places to visit and a couple of restaurants you might want to try so you don’t spend 45 minutes wandering around hungry and tired trying to find a reasonably priced place to eat.

Have A Budget

coins from different places on table
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Steve Johnson
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Steve Johnson

It’s fun to be spontaneous and plan a trip on a whim, but it can also be expensive to be spontaneous, which is why having a budget is important.

Be realistic about how much you’re willing to spend, and set yourself limits for things like meals and activities after you book the main things like flights or accommodations.

But Be Willing To Step Outside Your Budget

woman standing in hot air balloon area getting photo taken
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Mesut Kaya
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Mesut Kaya

Don’t fall into the trap of using your budget as an excuse to turn down fun opportunities. The great part about solo travel is that you can do whatever you want, so you should always leave yourself a little wiggle room in your budget for those spontaneous activities that arise.

Don’t Overpack

man with hiking pack
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Philipp Kammerer
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Philipp Kammerer

When packing for your solo trip, remember that you’re the one whose going to be responsible for lugging your suitcase around or carrying that backpack. Do you really need three pairs of shoes, or could you make do with less?

Always Copy Your Passport

person holding passport standing outside
Photo Credit: Agus Dietrich
Photo Credit: Agus Dietrich

Make a photocopy of any identification like your passport, health card, or driver’s license that you can take with you in case you happen to lose yours or something happens to it.

It’s not as good as the original, but it could come in handy in an emergency to have some sort of proof of who you are.

Don’t Keep All Your Valuables In One Place

woman walking in busy area at night
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Anubhav Saxena
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Anubhav Saxena

Make it as difficult as possible for someone to take all your valuables by keeping them in separate spots.

Carry your health card or driver’s license as ID for the day, and leave your passport locked in the safe in your room. Stash your cash in more than one pocket of your backpack so it can’t all disappear if a pickpocket picks the right pocket. Don’t make it so easy for theft to happen.

Trust Your Gut

woman walking through stairwell alone
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Filip Mroz
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Filip Mroz

If you find yourself in a situation where something just doesn’t feel right, or you meet a person who makes you uncomfortable, don’t doubt your instincts. You have to be able to trust yourself and make decisions for yourself when you’re traveling alone.

Always Read Reviews

two bunkbeds in a hostel room
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Marcus Loke
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Marcus Loke

Don’t make a decision based on the one Trip Advisor review you read. Spend the extra 15 or 20 minutes before you book a hotel or hostel room and read the reviews so you know what to expect when you arrive.

You’ll thank yourself in the long run for making your trip better by not picking a hotel that recently had a bed bug infestation.

Don’t Prioritize Your Budget Over Your Safety

man walking through dark underground tunnel
Photo Credit: Unsplash / David East
Photo Credit: Unsplash / David East

As much as you want to save money, your priority should still be your safety. Don’t make the mistake of opting for a hotel in a less safe neighborhood or walking home at night instead of taking a cab because you want to save a couple of dollars.

Get Yourself Some Insurance

photo of a doctors office
Photo Credit: Flickr / Herry Lawford
Photo Credit: Flickr / Herry Lawford

Travel insurance, health insurance, credit card insurance, all of the above. No one plans to be in a situation where they have to use health insurance abroad, and no one expects their credit card to get stolen, but it happens. Be prepared.

Ask For Help If You Need It

man with backpack walking through back alley in day time
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Evan Krause
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Evan Krause

While you want to be wary and not too trusting of strangers, it’s also not a bad thing to ask for help. Ask the hotel desk for directions before you leave, or ask a friendly looking fellow tourist for help if you need it. You’re not expected to be completely solo and self-sufficient all the time.

Don’t Be Too Solo

jungle photo
Photo Credit: Flickr / Psijic Void
Photo Credit: Flickr / Psijic Void

More than just letting someone know where you’re going, when you’re traveling solo, you might not want to go too far off the grid.

A trip deep into the jungle of an unknown country where you have no cell service and can’t contact someone if there’s an emergency isn’t the wisest itinerary for someone traveling alone.

Be Aware Of Your Possessions

man standing outsdie with lots of luggage
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Tommaso Pecchioli
Photo Credit: Unsplash / Tommaso Pecchioli

Be aware of where your bags are or where you leave your stuff at all times.

Even if you trust the roommates in your hostel, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so lock up your belongings every day and walk with your backpack on the front of your body in big crowds if you’re worried about someone reaching into your bag.