Are you considering travelling alone?
It's not for everyone, but setting off to see the world by yourself can be quite liberating.
Travelling by yourself means that you won't be held back by other people's agendas. This allows you to go to the places that YOU want to see, stay there for as long as you want, and then move onto the next place.
But travelling alone does come with its challenges. For starters, you won't have anyone by your side keeping your bag safe, or helping you navigate a foreign city when you're lost.
And the confronting reality is, that if you make one or two small mistakes it could ruin your trip.
So how do you avoid making these mistakes, and enjoy your solitude without worrying?
Here are 16 common mistakes people make when travelling alone, that you can avoid with some simple awareness:
1. Booking hotels with no reviews
Before you book accommodation for your next trip, try to be smart about researching.
With sites like TripAdvisor you can get an honest review from real guests, at just about any hotel in the world.
So don't make the mistake of booking a hotel without reviews, or customer feedback. It could prove a costly mistake.
2. Not adapting your behaviour to the culture
Every country in the world has subtle differences in their culture. These differences could relate to food preference, acceptable behaviour, or even clothing choice.
If you don't appropriately adapt to the culture, two things could happen that any solo travel will dread:
- You could stand out like a sore thumb, becoming a target for theft
- Or even worse, you could offend the locals and get yourself in hot water
To be safe, learn about the culture before you go and become as accustomed as you can.
3. Walking down the street with a map open
In most major cities there are going to be thieves... It's just the way of the world.
These thieves are typically on the look out for tourists that they can target, because you are perceived to be more vulnerable.
So if you're travelling alone, do everything you can to NOT look like a tourist. Walking down the street with a map wide open sends alarm bells off straight away!
4. Listening to music with both headphones in
It's important to have your wits about you at all times so that if anything does happen, you can act quickly and avoid dangerous situations.
That means being alert and aware of your surroundings. If you are listening to music on your phone or iPod with both earphones in, you open yourself up to vulnerable situations.
5. Sleeping on trains
Much like the tip above about not wearing both headphones, sleeping on public transport can present an opportunity for anyone looking to steal your belongings. Especially when you don't have a buddy next to you to keep an eye out.
The important thing with all of these tips is to stay aware and do everything you can to reduce dangerous situations.
6. Taking rides from unlicensed cars
With the rise of services like Uber, the line between licensed and unlicensed cars is becoming more and more blurred by the day.
But that doesn't mean you should just jump in any old car and trust anyone. Make sure you are aware of exactly what car you getting into before you do, because if it is unlicensed it may not be safe.
7. Carrying too much cash
Carrying too much cash is never a great idea, whether you're travelling alone or not.
If you can get by with card payments as much as possible, it will safeguard your money and reduce the chance of people stealing from you. If someone steals your card, you can simply call up your bank and cancel it.
8. Not knowing where your embassy is
Before you go on your trip, make sure to find out where your country's embassy is in any cities you plan on visiting. It's easy to do, and will be a HUGE help if anything does happen to go wrong.
DFAT have a worldwide list of Australian embassies and consulates here.
9. Sharing personal info (like your room number) with a stranger
This might seem like a straightforward one, but you'd be surprised how easy it is to let your hotel room number slip in a conversation with someone.
Just be careful about who you are talking to, and what information you give up to them. Thieves or other dangerous locals can be pretty crafty when trying to manipulate a tourist into giving up the information they are looking for.
If in doubt, don't reveal your personal information to anyone.
10. Walking around at night alone
It's hard to know exactly where the "not so friendly" areas are in most cities.
Sometimes you might be walking down a well-lit, high-traffic street, and then before you know it you've stumbled into the exact place you don't want to be.
You can ask the staff at your hotel and do some research before you arrive, but the best way to stay safe while travelling alone is to avoid walking by yourself at night.
If you absolutely have to, stick to well-lit areas and try to blend in with the locals.
11. Staying on the ground floor of a hotel
Sometimes you may not have a choice of where you stay at a hotel, but if you do, steer clear of the ground floor.
The ground floor is the easiest place for thieves or other people to get access, and subsequently they are the rooms that get broken into the most.
12. Staying in conjoining rooms (even if they seem locked)
If you are travelling with friends or family, conjoining rooms are a great way to keep your privacy while still staying close and sharing the experience.
However, when you're travelling alone there is no reason to stay in a hotel room with another room attached. It may seem locked and secure, but if there is the slightest chance of someone getting through that door it's best not to take the risk.
13. Having an easily “slash-able” bag
Modern luggage technology is making it harder and harder for thieves to strike a traveller, and ruin your trip.
With things like RFID blocking technology to protect you against identify theft, and slash proof bags - your things are much safer than they used to be.
If you're travelling alone, invest in a slash proof bag to help protect your belongings and above all else, give yourself piece of mind.
We have a range of anti-theft bags here at Zoomlite, like the one below:
14. Getting too drunk
Not everyone likes to have a drink while they're travelling, but if you do it's important to think about your limits.
Getting too drunk can make you extremely vulnerable, because you lose the ability to make smart or rational decisions.
15. Telling everyone you’re travelling alone
One little trick solo travellers use to stay safe is to make it sound like they are actually travelling with other people.
You don't have to flat out lie to everyone, and turn it into an elaborate story. But just try to be discrete about who you tell that you are travelling alone. The less people that know, the less chance there is of someone taking advantage of your situation.
16. Not knowing where you are going
It's very easy to get lost in a place that you've never been before. So if you don't plan exactly where you are going and become familiar with it, you could end up in a part of town that you don't want to be in.
Once you're lost, the first tendency is probably to pull out a big map - that makes you look like a tourist. And if you still can't find your way to where you need to be, all of a sudden nightfall hits and you're stuck in a very sticky situation.
Be planned, and make sure you know exactly where you are going at every important milestone of your trip.
Travelling solo can be the type of experience that expands your horizons, opens your eyes to new opportunities, and enables you to meet some amazing people all over the world.
But don't take your safety for granted.
When you plan your next trip and you're going to do it solo, try to avoid making these 16 common mistakes.
Do you have experience with travelling alone? What mistakes have almost ruined your trips?
About to head off on a trip...
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