5 Ways To Become A Smart, Yet Savvy Solo Traveler
A few months back, while heading back to Berks County on the bus for my grandmother’s birthday, I found myself reminiscing about the many trips (the good, the bad, and even the ugly) I’ve taken over the years. Plane rides to and from Europe, train and bus rides up and down the East Coast, and even trolley rides around Philly always left me with unique, and sometimes disturbing, experiences to share. At times, I was joined by friends and family, but most of the time, I was riding solo. That realization got me to thinking… Do people really know how to travel alone?
I understand that the notion of “learning to travel solo” sounds overly simplistic and appears to be a downright no-brainer. However, it’s something most people do need to actively learn and above all, something you need to be smart about, whether we’re talking about business trips, vacations, your daily commute, or, in general, any type of travel that doesn’t involve you cruising in your own vehicle. While I know that practice makes perfect, I’ll start you off with a few solo travel tips that will keep disaster from striking during your travels (well, at least temporarily).
Be A Reasonable Packer: I will be the first person to admit that I am a habitual over-packer. I go to the beach for a weekend trip and I bring a suitcase full of ten different outfits, jewelry, belts, you name it (of course, I wear less than half of the wardrobe I bring). However, once I started to travel more and more by myself, I realized that there’s no way to comfortably fit a purse, suitcase, small bag, and you in one seat on the bus (And note to self: it’s highly frowned down upon when you only pay for one seat, but you occupy two seats with all of your luggage). So, I advise that you think before you pack and as a general rule, if you can’t sit, stand, walk, pay for your ticket, etc. with your luggage, you probably shouldn’t have brought that much stuff. Downsizing in this economy isn’t just aimed toward companies…it’s for us travelers as well!
Keep Personal Items in View: In a perfect world, everyone would be honest, kind hearted, and wouldn’t hurt a fly. Sadly, we don’t live in a world like that. Therefore, when traveling from city to city, country to country, or even throughout the suburbs, be sure to always have your belongings in view or a fellow traveler may help themselves to your luggage. If you must hoist your suitcase up on a rack, make sure to place it on the rack across from your seat so you can keep a good eye on it. While it’s terrible to think that anyone is capable of taking your belongings right out from under you, being a solo traveler opens you up to many more gutsy criminals. As long as you’re strategic in placing your bags, you will have happy travels!
Use the Facilities Before Boarding: Now, I know this task may physically not be feasible for some people. However, using the restroom before boarding is always a great idea regardless. If you’re only taking a quick trip (say, from Reading to Philadelphia) and you have more than one bag, I would suggest trying to refrain from using the onboard bathroom. You become quite susceptible to theft when leaving your belongings at your seat to use the facilities. If you must use the bathroom, bring your most valued possessions with you (a purse, laptop, cell phone, etc.) and leave those belongings, like clothing, that you can easily replace. Another option may be to ask a trustworthy-looking traveler to watch your luggage until you return (which make still be a bit risky…use your best judgment!).
Have Your Ticket or Money in a Convenient Location: I cannot stress how important it is to have your ticket or money ready to go when boarding a plane, bus, train, and so on. Fumbling to find something in your purse or carry-on bag takes your attention away from your surroundings and your other baggage, which leaves you vulnerable to theft. As a solution, make sure to keep all tickets and money in a front pants/shirt pocket, a front pocket of a purse or briefcase, or even in your hand. Not only will you have less to worry about when boarding for your trip, but you will be one step closer to being a prepared and confident solo passenger.
Take A Cat Nap, With One Eye Open: I love napping when traveling and from what I’ve observed, so do most other travelers. However, sleeping can be the biggest reason for ending up in Harrisburg when you meant to get off in Trenton. When traveling alone, you need to be your own travel buddy and be sure not to allow the sweet sounds of The Backstreet Boys (sorry…I grew up in the band boy era!) to lull you asleep for hours. Make sure to get a full 8 hours the night before and cat nap in small increments.
Happy Solo Traveling!
(Photo Soure: mysardinia.com)