PHOTO: Even traveling alone, a Hurtigruten adventure is awesome! (Courtesy Hurtigruten)
One truly is the loneliest number when you find yourself dining alone on a trip. In fact, the fear of dining out alone is such a universally dreaded activity that there’s even a name for it: solomangarephobia.
And given people’s aversion to traveling on their own, there is likely a name for that, too.
But what most budding solo travelers don’t realize is the sheer exhilaration and freedom that comes when you successfully navigate an adventure all on your own.
Many travel entities, like Hurtigruten cruises, make it extraordinarily easy
For those who are ready (or even toying with the idea) to travel solo, we’ve put together our top five tips for hitting the road on your own.
Nothing like the last minute: Barbara Mandrell once crooned about the perils of sleeping solo in a double bed but for solo travelers, it’s the single supplement surcharge that can get to you. If you have a flexible schedule, consider booking last minute as tour operators with excess inventory will often reduce the surcharge or if you’re lucky, waive them altogether. Another option is to get paired with a roommate. Who knows, you might just hit it off.
Call a therapist. Or just grab a good book, even better one that’s set in the country you’re traveling in. Dining out alone might not be your favorite activity but if you come armed with some things to keep you busy (think crosswords, updating your Instagram, or even study up on the local language) and you’ll have gone from soup to nuts before you know it. If the idea of eating out truly appalls you, consider grabbing lunch at a casual eatery and getting room service for dinner, or eating in a booth or at the bar, where it’s less obvious you’re on your own.
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Safety first. Typically safety is the largest concern for solo travelers. It also goes without saying that solo travelers, especially women, need to be extra vigilant when it comes to their surroundings and who they jump in a cab with. Aside from the obvious pointers of staying in well-traveled (and lit) areas and using common sense when carrying cash and not wearing flashy jewelry, it’s always good to carry a matchbook or business card of the hotel in which you are staying. It’s an easy way to carry around your local address without having to whip out your phone lest you need directions, especially in countries with a different alphabet or where English isn’t prevalent.
Trust no one. Solo travelers, especially, women, are ideal targets for con-men and other ne’er-do-wells. And while your mother might have told you it’s wrong to tell a lie, sometimes a little white one is a good idea. For single women, it’s not a bad idea to wear a fake wedding ring and even carry a picture of your fantasy husband (Brad Pitt is back on the market. Now’s your chance!). Men and women can always claim to be meeting their imaginary friend/spouse at tourist spot if they feel a cabbie is taking them for the proverbial ride.
Trust someone. One of the joys of travel, whether solo or as part of a group, comes from meeting new people and learning about their culture and lives. Don’t let the fact that you are traveling solo keep you from opening up and making friends.