Going solo? 5 tips for travelling alone

If you decide to go it alone, here are some tips for the single traveller.

Travelling alone can be a great adventure – but even the most intrepid of travellers can sometimes find it daunting. If you’re considering a trip alone, here are some tips for safe and happy travels.

Be prepared. While thorough planning is always a good idea, it’s even more important for the single traveller. The more advance preparation you do, the more confident you’ll feel.

Research your destination on the Internet, in the library or with materials provided by your travel agent. Acquaint yourself with the customs, language and history of your region. For updated travel alerts, go to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada or travel safety websites such as AllSafeTravels.

Be certain all travel arrangements are confirmed before departure, including details as to how you’ll get from the airport or train station to your hotel. Once your itinerary is complete, this can be emailed or passed along to family and friends so they can stay on top of where you’ll be during your travels.

And when booking your trip, make sure to ask your hotel or cruise line about any penalties or supplementary fees for single travellers.

Travel light. The less you pack the more independent you can be. Limit yourself to what you can easily handle, such as a roller suitcase, backpack and money belt.

And along with your toiletries, be sure to include a small first aid kit with essentials such as painkillers, antacids, hand sanitizers, germ-killers and bandages. (For information on travelling abroad with over-the-counter medication, click here.)

Be diligent. Stay safe by paying attention to everything going on around you. Walk with confidence even when you’re unsure of your surroundings. Once at the hotel, ask about any local areas to avoid.

Tip: some experts advise wedging a small rubber doorstop at the base of your door, in the event you aren’t confident about your accommodations. Such a prop makes it virtually impossible to open the door from the outside.

Try to fit in. Research the local fashion customs and styles and dress appropriately.

Make yourself accessible to new friends. Alone doesn’t have to mean lonely. If you’d like to meet fellow travellers, turn off the iPod or close your book. Often a friendly smile or brief eye contact is all that is needed to start a conversation. Hotel personnel may also offer a welcome reception or other ways to meet guests.

Some single travellers find meal times particularly uncomfortable or lonely. You may want to eat at a restaurant bar or a diner counter, which makes it easier to chat with other diners. B&Bs offering meals at shared tables also provide an opportunity for conversation. If you’re planning a cruise, look for one with assigned dinner seating.

Single traveller resources
Organized tours are also an option for solo travellers looking for enhanced safety and built-in social interactions. Here are some websites that can help with your planning whether you’re travelling independently or as part of an organized excursion.