Does getting away from everyone sound appealing? If so, you might want to consider ditching your travel companions in favor of a solo vacation.
Taking a trip by yourself can actually be empowering: You can set your own schedule, do the things you'd like to do, and embark on your own personal adventures. Plus, you don't have to worry about anyone other than yourself.
But before you hop online and book an independent voyage, there are some valuable things to remember to stay safe and make the most of your journey.
We spoke to some of foremost experts in the travel, self-defense and security industries for some of the top tips on traveling alone:
Research and plan aheadHave your lodging and transportation planned out ahead of time and know what’s around you, says Jeanenne Tornatore, Senior Editor for Orbitz.com. “If you’re traveling internationally, find out where the U.S. Embassy is located before you arrive.”
Inform your family and friends of your tripMake sure everyone knows where you are staying and where you are going at all times and keep them updated if your itinerary changes, advises Pat Brosnan, a former NYPD officer and CEO of Brosnan Risk Consultants.
Try to assimilate into the cultureIf possible, learn how to say hello, goodbye, please and thank you in every language, says travel expert Lee Abbamonte, who is also the youngest American to visit every country. “It's amazing how that endears you to locals." Also, do your research on the culture. Find out which gestures are appropriate and which may be insulting.
Dress the partAvoid dressing provocatively in a way that could offend the culture or make you a target for sexual assault. This also goes for expensive jewelry, designer bags and sunglasses. Leave them at home, says Brosnan. “You don’t want to become a tasty morsel to pickpockets.”
Protect your IDIf possible, your passport should remain on your body at all times. “A US passport can fetch upwards of $10,000 if it falls into the wrong hands. Buying an inexpensive passport cover is an easy but effective fix,” says Jen Lownik, self-defense instructor and Executive Vice President of IM-Safe. Lownik also suggests taking photocopies of your passport just in case you fall victim to theft.
Be visibleTornatore advises to only go where there are people around; don’t enter into remote areas. “It may be tempting to wander off to sightsee, but you want to make sure you are always in eyesight of people so they can see or hear you if anything happens."
Always have your phone charged“You never want to get caught with a dead battery, especially in a foreign country where there is a language barrier.” Brosnan suggests purchasing an external backup battery charger for your phone.
Keep your bags close“Never leave bags unattended ever, especially in foreign countries. You don’t want to become an unwitting carrier or transporter of illegal substances,” says Brosnan. Tornatore also advises that if you’re nervous about leaving something in your hotel room, bring it with you.
Watch the alcoholIt’s one thing being drunk with trusted friends who can help you get home at night. But when you’re alone in an unfamiliar location, the only one you can trust to keep you safe, is yourself.
Listen to your gutIf you feel threatened or unsafe, follow your instincts. That voice inside your head is usually right.