Traveling solo offers a unique opportunity to discover the world as you discover yourself. As publisher of Solo Traveler, Janice Waugh offers solo travel stories, tips, safety advice and destination ideas. You can sign up for her newsletter and download her free ebook: Glad You’re Not Here, a solo traveler’s manifesto.
A professional writer and entrepreneur, she is also co-founder of the Global Bloggers Network, an interactive, online service for travel bloggers.
We asked Janice (via email) to provide insider tips for first-time and experienced solo-travelers:
Are there specific destinations that lend themselves to solo travel more than others?
Truly, you can travel solo just about anywhere you can travel with a companion.The key to successful solo travel is knowing yourself. If you are an experienced traveler and accustomed to navigating new places and getting what you need despite a language barrier, you’re good to go anywhere as a solo traveler. If, however, you’re new to travel, try a destination where the language and culture are not that unusual. It could be within your own country or it could be to a country with similar traditions or one that you know a bit of the language.
Stretching yourself is one of the fun things about travel. When it comes to solo travel, you’re likely already stretching yourself so choose destinations that are beyond your comfort zone, but not too far beyond.
Are there tours, events, or festivals that bring solo travelers together?
There are lots of tours that suit solo travelers. The challenge is taking a tour without paying a single supplement. Many tour companies will pair you up to share accommodation with a person of the same sex if the opportunity presents itself. I also suggest that people who want to take a tour travel on the off or shoulder season. Tours, cruises and resorts lower their single supplement significantly during these times and you can sometimes negotiate it away completely.
As for events, it depends on your interest. Cooking schools, music festivals, events like Burning Man are all great for solo travelers.
When is your favorite time for a solo journey? Does it depend on the destination?
It’s always cheaper to travel in the off or shoulder season than in high season. I suggest these times because, as a solo traveler, you don’t have someone to share the cost with. Of course, what is the off-season will vary according to the destination. If money is not an issue, travel when it suits you.
Any basic money-saving and safety tips for solo travelers?
Safety is a priority for solo travelers. With no one to back you up, you must be aware of safety at all times. My number one rule for safety is to always stay in public. I meet many wonderful people on my travels but I don’t enter a private space with them because I don’t really know them. I go to restaurants, the theatre, public park; I don’t go to people’s homes, get rides in private cars or unofficial taxis.
I write extensively on safety. Some of the basic safety tips are: trust your instincts, don’t drink excessively, wear simple clothes and little jewelry, carry your documents in a money belt, walk with confidence, respect the local culture, be polite but be rude if you’re being bothered by someone. There is so much more to be said on this topic. (ed. note: check out the Solo Travel Safety section on Solo Traveler for more on the subject.)
Follow Janice on Twitter @solotraveler