I Made These 10 Solo Travel Mistakes, But You Don’t Have to


Alice is a solo travel expert and has traveled to six continents and been to more than 30 countries. Some of her adventures include hitchhiking in South Africa, living in a forest in Bulgaria, solo island hopping in Greece, and riding in a hot air balloon across Cappadocia, Turkey.

Whether you’re a female traveling solo or looking for a solo travel group, avoiding these solo travel mistakes will help you navigate like an expert.

Traveling alone can lead to unforgettable experiences, cultural discoveries, and a closeness with a place that you may never have felt before. However, when you’re traveling alone, you are more vulnerable to making dangerous mistakes.

If you stay alert and avoid these 10 solo travel mistakes, you can bypass the frustrations of common solo travel disasters.

Whether you’re an expert, a beginner, or you simply forgot these tips, read on to discover some basic advice that will help your trip go smoothly and avoid dreaded solo travel mishaps. 

1. Being careless with your stuff

Image by Peter Dazeley

The list of things I’ve lost traveling is hefty—from a stolen passport, missing $200 in cash, and a hard drive containing all my business secrets to some of my favorite dresses, shoes, and even a camera (tragedy). Needless to say, taking care of your stuff while traveling solo is extremely important. Yet, when you’re visiting so many places and moving from hotel to hostel to airbnb, keeping track of your stuff can present a challenge.

Here are the basics of how to take care of your stuff when alone:

  • Don’t display expensive items obviously in public
  • Keep your bag/wallet close to you and hidden if possible, always in your sight, and fully zipped, fastened, or even locked
  • Don’t leave your stuff by itself for any reason (yes, even to use the bathroom)
  • Don’t trust a stranger to watch your things. How do you know they won’t take your stuff themselves?
  • Lock your items in the available lockers in a hostel or hotel room. Make sure you lock up your suitcase when you leave. 

2. Getting overly intoxicated

Many situations in which things go wrong for solo travelers involve a nice glass of gin. When you’re traveling alone, don’t get too drunk. Don’t expect people you’ve just met to take care of you. Avoid situations where your safety might be in question. Especially if you’re a woman, make sure to watch the bartender pour your drink. Don’t accept drinks without knowing what’s in them, and, remember, strangers may be nice, but they may not have your best interests in mind.

3. Messing up navigation

Image by Franckreporter

Even if you were able to buy a SIM card at the airport or order one in advance, there may be part of your journey that isn’t covered by 5G. Getting lost in a foreign country without Wi-Fi is probably my most frequent mistake. To avoid this, while you have airport Wi-Fi or even at home before you go, preload maps just in case and/or download offline maps. Write down everything by hand, and make sure your phone is charged (say “yes” to packing a portable battery). You can always ask for help if in a tricky navigation situation, but beware, sinister folks may try to take advantage of you in places like airports or popular tourist destinations, if they’re not officially dressed.

4. Not researching scams

There are countless locals waiting expectantly for naive tourists to cross their path. I’ve been that naive tourist more times than I could count. I’ve bought fake expensive perfume, been tricked into purchasing expensive turquoise jewelry that was dyed, and bought a scarf for nearly $70 that was likely from H&M. Many locations have common scams in their area. In Madagascar, fake taxi drivers are dying to give tourists a ride. In Jordan, street peddlers sell fake iPhone cords, and the list goes on. Do some research on the places you’re visiting before you go in order to avoid these risky tourist traps.

5. Not telling your bank you’re abroad

Image by Evgeniia Siiankovskaia

That smile will fade to a frown if you go to pay for your first taxi and your bank card says “locked.” Trying a locked card at a foreign ATM may also cause your card to be eaten. Make sure you’ve told your bank in advance that you’re traveling so they don’t flag foreign transactions as fraud. Bank fraud detection services are more cautious than ever, so save yourself the trauma of needing to make a very expensive long-distance call to your bank before you’ve even had a chance to buy a local SIM card.

6. Using expensive money-exchange booths

Back when I started solo traveling, there were far fewer online resources with warnings and advice, so I’ve nailed getting currencies down. The single cheapest way to exchange money currency to currency is actually by getting a travel credit card without a foreign exchange fee. Using money-exchange booths in airports can be some of the worst exchange rates and will end up costing you big time. Using exchange booths downtown if it’s a tourist-heavy city can be even worse. Don’t you dare take cash to that seemingly harmless exchange employee; get yourself a travel credit card.

If you can’t get a credit card, the second best method is to check your foreign ATM fee and take out a chunk of cash when you first arrive. Make sure you don’t take out too much and end up with extra cash though, because there are often minimums for exchanging it back at poor rates.

Also, there are lots of affordable ways to transfer to foreign banks nowadays, including Wise, if you need to pay for an airbnb or hotel that doesn’t accept foreign cards or you don’t have cash. 

7. Forgetting a back-up cash method

Image by Agrobacter

Don’t stash all that cash from the ATM in the same place or wave it around. Be smart and spread it out in multiple safe and locked places. Make sure you have more than one method for acquiring cash, so that if you get stuck, you don’t end up like me, begging a Western Union transfer agent in Athens, Greece to let me accept a transfer when I didn’t have any other way to get some cash from back home.

8. Traveling without insurance

If you travel without insurance, it’s going to be the one time you lose your camera or phone or your flight gets canceled. Many credit cards provide travel insurance that covers some situations but not all, so invest in travel insurance to protect you in case you get sick, your expensive belongings in case they get stolen, or your trip in general in case there are unforeseen circumstances. 

9. Too many activities 

Image by Urbazon

Sitting on the plane or bus en route to your destination, you’ll want to make a long list of things to do, as this might be your only chance. Don’t give in to FOMO, though. You don’t have to see everything. The fear of missing out is a lie. Your experience is just as valuable whether you tick off your whole list or only venture out one time. Use this solo travel experience to enjoy yourself instead of creating a 9-5 out of your travel plans. Especially on the first day, take some time to relax and recover from your journey. Don’t cram endless attractions into one day, but do take the time to enjoy yourself and leave space for unexpected journeys with new friends. 

10. Being too rigid with plans

Your solo travel might be your opportunity to see some of the most incredible places alone. Experience the Egyptian pyramids, the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, or bask in the wonder of China’s Great Wall, but don’t just stick to a rigid travel bucket list, leave space for new adventures, unexpected crossings, and wild discoveries. Hang out with strangers, make some new friends, and visit a local’s favorite brewery. Be open to new experiences and you’ll have the most amazing solo travel adventure. 

Have you made any of these travel mistakes?

This article was originally published by 50campfires.com. Read the original article here.