Tips for Going Solo
It isn’t always possible (or maybe even desirable) to have someone travel with us when we set out on a new adventure, as not everyone has the luxury of time, unlike most seniors do. Sometimes traveling by oneself is just the point—a chance to be free of other peoples’ agendas and move about at our sole impulse. It can be exhilarating to gain a real sense of accomplishment in making a journey under our own steam. However, there are certain drawbacks that need to be heeded even before beginning the journey. The tips given here are based generally on travel to other countries, but most of them also apply to solo trips in our own country.
Everybody traveling alone is vulnerable to criminal behavior towards the traveler but (without being sexist) that is especially true for single woman travelers. There are entire cultures where a woman traveling unaccompanied is looked upon as having loose morals and, therefore, proper game for assault. In such cultures the legal system will side with the accused and shame the victim. Therefore, advice number one is to avoid traveling to or in those countries when going alone. However, it may not be an entire country where such vulnerability exists. Some countries have large minorities of that persuasion and act against the moral code of the majority of citizens. Advice here is always to proceed with caution. Wherever you go, stay near groups of people and in well lighted areas.
Be more careful of your passport, cell phone, and documents than you might do if traveling in a group. Your passport is worth its weight in gold to criminals seeking to smuggle illegals into the USA, so keep yours on your person where you know its location at all times.
Travel smart. Be wary of strangers who are eager to help you in any way such as be your “guide” around a city or take you to places that offer great bargains. If you can’t smell that as a scam from a mile away, you probably should have stayed at home. If you have to seek advice, go to the nearest American Consulate or, if that is not possible, seek help at an internationally known hotel.
If you plan to stay at a hostel for a night or two, check it out before you book a room. It would be extraordinarily good fortune if someone you know back home could recommend a place where they had stayed before.
Look for familiar places such as churches and university campuses where you can meet and be friendly with the locals. One of the best perks of travel is to become acquainted with new people you might stay in touch with long after your trip is over. If you must go to a nightspot for drinks and entertainment, control your alcohol intake and be as careful about the ones you talk to as you would be at home. It’s a good idea if you go out to take along a new friend and never walk back to your room alone at night.
Traveling alone is not the most highly recommended way to go, but a good dose of common sense before you leave could make the difference between a happy experience and an outright disaster.