June 19, 2024

Mistakes You Should Avoid When Traveling Solo

There are a few mistakes you can make when traveling on your own. The list below outlines 13 Mistakes Solo Travelers Could Make. These are a few that comes to mind when I think about my past solo trips and my mistakes.

1. Overpacking  

I cannot say it enough. Don’t over pack. You have to haul your bags everywhere you go on your own. There are places where there won’t be escalators or elevators. And if your room is on the 4th floor – Ouch! The airline will have restrictions and they will charge you for being over the weight limit. I use this Swiss case and it works out great.

2. Giving Into Your Fears

Solo travel can be a little intimidating. It’s not easy to avoid anxieties. You’re going out into the world on your own to a new place where you don’t have your support team. For me, that is exciting but I still have few butterflies even after all these years. It is something new and different and I’m always up for that. I hope you don’t allow your fears to take over and keep you home. Baby steps. Go local a few times and then branch out.  

3. Being Too Nice 

You will come in contact with many who will try to take advantage of you. People will be trying to sell you something most of the time and they will get aggressive. They do not always take your input when you say you are not interested. They feel the need to press on and try to wear you down. Don’t be too nice. Put your foot down and make them understand you are not interested. This also goes for people who are approaching you for personal reasons. Be firm. Experience: I had a gypsy lady follow me for 20 minutes trying to sell me a trinket while visiting the Eiffel Tower. I finally had to get right up to her and be very firm.

4. Telling people too much   

Have you ever gotten into a cab and you feel like you are being interviewed? Well, they could be collecting information that you really don’t want them to know. The standard “Where are you from” is harmless but then when they ask if you are alone or where you plan on dining, don’t tell them anything that is true. Make up anything and get away from them as soon as you can. Don’t give them your full name – be anyone you want to be. If they are up to no good then they have nothing to go on. I find it sort of fun to make up a whole new person and life for a cabbie!

5. Informing Family and Friends  

Your family and/or close friends need to know your plans. The details. And check in often so they don’t worry about you. I have an agreement with one of my close friends that if she doesn’t see a social media post or hear from me every 3 days then she needs to call out the dogs!

6. Not Listening to Locals

Talk to the locals to learn the best places to eat and what you should see while in their city. They will also tell you the areas and places to avoid. But remember…don’t give them too much information. I always say “My partner and I would like a nice place for dinner…”

7.  Not Registering with STEP 

Before you go, register for the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This program allows U.S. citizens to receive information from the Embassy about conditions in their host country. The U.S. Embassy will also contact you in case of an emergency, and helps family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.

8. Mishandling of Personal Items

You need to keep your possessions safe. Here are a few mishandling situations:

  • Flashing Expensive Items. Thieves can easily grab your things out of your hand and run.
  • Leaving your handbag open. You need to pay attention to your handbag at all times. People are not paying attention and they’ll have their purse or bag wide open in the metro area or in a public square. Keep your bags closed, and preferably in front of you.
  • Putting your handbag on a chair. Thieves can grab it and run. Keep your items on your lap.
  • Trusting strangers to watch your stuff. When you’re traveling solo, I would be a little more skeptical than usual. It is best to not ask people you just met to watch your stuff while you go to the toilet.
  • Not securing items in the hotel room. When you leave your room, make sure your things are locked, especially money and passport.

9. Not Doing Research  

Research is important. Lack of research could cause an expensive mistake. Check Weather, Safety Stats, Festivals, Religious Events, etc. There are so many mistakes that can be avoided if you do research ahead of time.

10. Not Documenting Your Bookings  

It is easy to make mistakes or even forget where your next hotel is if you are on an extended trip. Write it down and keep track. Check for overlaps and gaps.

11. Not Having the Right Clothing Items  

If you’re visiting a area that has a requirement to cover your head and shoulders you will need a scarf. And you may also need to have a dress or skirt/dress that goes to the knees. Don’t forget to consider these items if you are planning to visit religious sites.

See Travel Clothing Article

12. Traveling After Dark

You should manage your bookings so that you arrive and find your hotel in daylight. It is easier to be aware of your surroundings and be safe. Landmarks could be missed if you’re traveling at night to the hotel and that could make this a bit confusing in the daylight. Remember, carry a little flashlight or use the light on your phone when needed. Even when I’ve traveled during daylight I have had apartments with very dark hallways and a flashlight was required so I didn’t fall on my face.

13. Leaving a Drink Unattended 

Not all people are bad and have bad intentions. If you are at a bar with a drink make certain you have it with you at all times. Many have found themselves in a bad situation after having something slipped into their drink. If you must leave your drink, don’t drink it when you return. Order another one. It’s not worth the risk.

If you can avoid these 13 Mistakes Solo Travelers Could Make then you are on your way to a great trip. Enjoy!

FAQs

Q: What are some common mistakes solo travelers could make?

A: Solo travelers may encounter various mistakes during their trips, such as overpacking, giving in to fears, telling too much personal information to strangers, not doing sufficient research, and mishandling personal items. It’s essential to be aware of these potential pitfalls and take necessary precautions.

Q: How can I avoid making too many mistakes during my solo trip?

A: To avoid common solo travel mistakes, start by packing light and being cautious about sharing personal information with strangers. Embrace new experiences while being aware of potential risks. Conduct thorough research about your destination, check safety statistics, and be prepared for any religious events or festivals that might impact your travel plans.

Q: What safety precautions should I take as a solo traveler?

A: As a solo traveler, safety should be a top priority. Always keep your belongings secure, avoid flashing expensive items, and keep your handbag closed and in front of you in crowded places. Be cautious about trusting strangers to watch your belongings, and ensure you lock your hotel room when you’re not present. Registering with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is also advisable for added security.

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Q: Should I consider travel insurance for my solo trip?

A: Yes, travel insurance is highly recommended for solo travelers. It provides financial protection in case of unexpected incidents, such as trip cancellations, medical emergencies, or lost belongings. It offers peace of mind and can be a great idea, especially when traveling alone.

Q: How can I make new friends during my solo travel experience?

A: Solo travel doesn’t mean you have to be alone all the time. You can make new friends by joining group tours, staying in social hostels, or attending local events and meetups. Engaging with other travelers and locals can enrich your experience and make your solo trip more enjoyable.

Q: What should I consider when planning my solo trip during religious holidays?

A: When traveling during religious holidays, it’s crucial to respect local customs and traditions. Be mindful of dress codes, especially in places of worship, and plan your itinerary accordingly. Some attractions may have altered opening hours or be closed during specific religious observances.

Q: What lessons can solo travelers learn from their experiences?

A: Solo travel provides valuable life lessons, such as becoming more independent, adaptable, and self-reliant. It teaches you to embrace new challenges and overcome fears, leading to personal growth and self-discovery.

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Q: Is it safe to travel solo after dark?

A: Traveling after dark can present additional risks, especially in unfamiliar places. It’s advisable to manage your travel schedule so that you arrive at your destination and find accommodation during daylight. Carry a flashlight or use your phone’s light when needed for added safety.

Q: Should I be concerned about leaving my drink unattended while traveling solo?

A: Yes, leaving your drink unattended is a safety risk, regardless of where you are traveling. It’s best to keep your drink with you at all times and not consume it if you’ve left it alone for any period. Ordering a new drink upon return ensures your safety and peace of mind.

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