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30 tips for traveling alone

  • 30 tips for traveling alone

    There's nothing quite like the thrill of traveling alone to a foreign country—getting lost, experiencing a new culture, and making new friends along the way. Solo travel is exhilarating in so many ways that the trend of embarking alone has grown in popularity around the world.

    In the last few years, travel researchers and data analysts have seen large spikes in solo travel. Taking a peek at Google Trends shows a more than 100% increase in solo travel interest alone in the past five years. In 2018, 70% of the travelers on Intrepid Travel's U.S. trips were traveling solo.

    Solo travel, of course, has its pros and cons. Going alone means more mobility, the ability to change plans on the fly, and a great way to get out of one's comfort zone. The negatives can be loneliness, safety concerns, and a lack of shared experience.

    But people travel alone for a myriad of reasons. Some venture out to meet new people. Others take trips to find themselves. And many travel solo simply for the thrill of an unknown adventure. Regardless of the reasons, single travel can be one of the best experiences a wanderer can have, or one of the worst if they're wholly unprepared. Stacker delved into the world of solo travel and came up with 30 useful tips so adventurers can make the absolute most of their single sojourns.

    You may also like: 20 tips for the ultimate road trip

  • Pack light

    One of the best things about traveling solo is the ability to be mobile without another person's baggage (literally and figuratively) getting in the way. But packing too much can hinder your flexibility in the same way. Rolling clothes creates the most space and packing cubes can be lifesavers. But getting the right bag is the most important thing. Go for a good rolling carry-on paired with a shoulder bag or try out one-bag travel to stay light.

  • Learn self-defense

    While most vacations are free of any real danger, there are always moments when knowing a thing or two about self-defense can really come in handy. The number one rule in all self-defense advice is to try to run away, but taking a couple of classes may make you feel more comfortable out on your own. One great method is Krav Maga, which is an Israeli fighting style that teaches you how to get out of any situation quickly.

  • Know before you go

    Being armed with the most information possible is always ideal in case you run into sticky situations like a coup d'état, random arrests, or just getting hurt in the wild. Download and register on the Smart Traveler app, the official app of the U.S. State Department, containing all the info for embassies, travel alerts, warnings, and more.

  • Get smarter

    Contrary to popular American belief, not everyone speaks English. Learning, at a minimum, a few words in the local language is crucial for things like finding bathrooms, giving directions, ordering food, and saying hello. Download both the Google Translate app and the dictionary of the country's language you're visiting. That way, the app works offline for all your translation needs.

  • Set up your phone

    International phone plans, SIM cards, burner accounts: It can be exhausting (and painfully pricey) to figure out how to stay in touch on the road. Luckily, apps like WhatsApp, FaceTime, Google Voice, and Skype make keeping in touch free and easy—as long as there's Wi-Fi. Also, if you have an iPhone, you can stay connected with any other iPhone user via iMessage over your internet connection. But if you're really concerned about touching base back home, check out mobile Wi-Fi devices in the country you're visiting or consider swapping out your SIM.

  • Book your bed

    One of the best parts of solo travel is being able to plan, or not plan, as much or as little of the trip you want. One thing is certain: Wherever you land, you'll want a bed for the night, and booking your first night or two in advance helps minimize any jet-lagged arrival shocks. Obvious choices for booking include Booking.com, Trivago, Hotels.com, etc. But for great last-minute rates, check out Hotel Tonight for serious discounts that benefit the procrastinating traveler.

  • Exploit social media

    Most travel experiences are greatly enhanced by knowing someone in the place you're visiting. You get the best local knowledge for food, drinks, non-touristy sights, and more. While the amplification of your voice on social media has its downsides, one positive is that you can blast a message out to the world to see if your friends or friends of friends know anyone for you to meet on vacation.

  • Battery life saves lives

    Although your luggage may include a built-in battery charger, it's always smart to carry a small spare to avoid getting stuck on a long flight, a car ride, or train trip with a dead phone. The best portable batteries weigh next to nothing and can charge your phone multiple times before they need to be recharged themselves. Check out brands like Anker, Belkin, and Mophie for some of the better ones out there.

  • Orient yourself

    As a solo traveler, one of the biggest fears can be getting lost in unfamiliar territory. Regardless of your feelings, one of the better safety blankets for this situation is Google Maps. Download the app, along with the offline map of the city you're traveling to, and you can use the map offline so you need not worry about a Wi-Fi signal in the middle of nowhere.

  • Money matters

    First things first, always have some cash in your pocket. Depending on your preference, you can either go to your bank or local money changer before you leave and grab $100 in whatever the currency is of the place you're going, or wait until you arrive and hit up an airport ATM to avoid worrying about exchange rates in advance. Just make sure your bank doesn't charge astronomical foreign transaction fees, and take out a larger sum one time instead of small sums multiple times, as the bank fee is the same no matter the amount you withdraw. You should also only use a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, as these can really add up, and always pay in local currency.

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