There's something incredibly alluring about the ideal of solo travel. Just you and a backpack, checking out hidden corners of the world. Nobody else holding you back, no schedules to follow but your own.
Sounds great - right? But it's not for everybody.
As much as we all wish we could pick up and go to far-off places on our own, there are very real dangers in the world. While they have to be taken into consideration, they don't have to ruin all your travel plans. With a bit of common sense, the most dangerous situations can be avoided.
Why Do You Want to Go Solo?
Sometimes, people take off on solo vacations for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps the biggest is the boredom they fear on a guided vacation. There's nothing inherently wrong with guided vacations, but they're definitely not for everybody.
If you hate the idea of following somebody else's schedule, then a guided vacation is definitely not for you. However, solo travel might be taking things a bit too far.
Hooking up with a like-minded friend who won't cramp your style is often a much safer approach to travel, giving you 'buddy system' protection while still being free to see and do what you want.
If, on the other hand, you truly crave the excitement, solitude and (occasional) danger of solo travel, then you're a much better candidate. Your next step is to choose a destination.
Where to Go Solo?
If you're traveling solo for the first time, many experts agree it's best to choose a region which has been recognized as generally safe, and, if possible, where you speak the language. These two simple points can help you avoid many dangerous situations.
Once you've narrowed those choices down, look for countries which are known for being visitor-friendly. Some countries, for a variety of reasons, tend to be a bit cold to travelers.
On the other hand, some are famous for welcoming total strangers with open arms! On your first few trips, stick with regions where they welcome tourists.
How to Stay Safe as a SoloTraveler
Play it Safe. Although it's easy to become paranoid thinking about all the potential dangers of solo travel, there are some definite precautions which should be taken:
1. Eat and stay in fairly well-known places.
Inns and private homes offered as lodgings are a great idea for the solo traveler, as somebody will immediately know if you don't return.
2. If you feel in danger at any time, don't ignore your instincts! Immediately get to a brightly lit area with plenty of people. Try to avoid dark alleys with no one walking in it.
3. Social media can be a wonderful 'safety net,' as long as you regularly check in with family and friends.
Ask a trusted loved one to keep a watch out for your postings.
However, be careful not to post your exact location. Even in your home country, predators use things like FaceBook 'check ins' to stalk victims.
4. Ultimately, let common sense be your guide.
Traveling solo has some very real dangers. When you approach it intelligently, however, many of these dangers can be lessened or avoided altogether.
Remember that if you're constantly looking over your shoulder, it's not much of a vacation. If your chosen area has a reputation for violence, or if you're not quite sure if you really want to go solo, choose a new one or wait a while. Or, go with a group. You can always find friendly people in most spots. After all, vacations are supposed to be fun!
More on Travel:
What advise would you give people who want to go solo when they travel?