Spring break is coming up quick and it’s never too early to start planning. Make sure while you are busy planning all of the fun parts of your vacation you are also planning for safety. Before diving into specifics, let’s review the basic principles of safe travel that apply to all travelers.
- Set yourself up for safety by planning ahead and thinking in terms of prevention, i.e. secure way to carry your cash and passport, phone to use abroad, etc.
- Have prior knowledge of the culture and maps of the area you’ll be traveling to make yourself aware of your surroundings
- Send your itinerary to a family member or close friend at home and arrange check in times
- Understand basic costs for things like taxi rides so you’re not left alone at night in unfamiliar areas
- Remember that knowledge protects you from misinformation, scam artists, or unknowingly ending up in an unsafe area
- If traveling for an extended period in a foreign country, consider registering with the U.S. government as a citizen traveling abroad.
- Know that just because it’s cheaper, doesn’t mean it’s better. If you need help funding a fun and safe trip check out our personal loans and get your next trip on the calendar.
Save money getting there
The first rule of saving the most money on airfare is staying flexible, both on travel dates and the destination. Consider setting your budget first and then seeing what itineraries you can afford. If you have limited flexibility on your travel dates, aim for off season trips to save you the most money across airfare, hotel, and tours.
When you have an idea of possible dates and locations, set airfare alerts through a travel app or Google Flights. They’ll send you a notification when the prices drop. Check out AirfareWatchDog.com or SecretFlying.com.
In addition to the traditional hotels, hostels, and AirBnB options for accommodations, solo travelers have access to “upscale” hostels, communal living, and home sharing options that still reduce the price tag but come with added security. You can even confirm who will be staying with you. More hotels are now offering women-only floors, which is nice for solo women business and leisure travelers!
If possible, schedule your arrival before dark. This allows you to see the type of neighborhood you’re in, to find the location more easily, and the time to make other arrangements if you arrive and feel uncomfortable or are unhappy with your lodging.
To save money at hotels, ask if there’s a discount for a single-sleeper room and skip the breakfast—often that bland buffet adds $20 a day to your rate, so see if you can opt out of it.
Researching and planning your transportation ahead of time is the single best thing you can do for your wallet and your safety. If you know the approximate distance and price for getting to your planned activities, hotels, etc., you’re less likely to fall for a scam, be overcharged by a taxi, or opt for public transportation when it would be safer to pony up and pay for a taxi. Understand local tipping customs and carry a map or app on your phone so you can always identify where you are and where you need to get to.
Save on activities
Traveling solo doesn’t mean being alone! Consider group tours to more remote locations or for challenging nature hikes. You can find group tours based on age, sex, and interests. If you enjoy a busy vacation schedule, be careful not to overextend yourself and become sleep deprived, as this impairs your decision-making ability. Be sure to schedule downtime by the pool or a relaxed activity like a cooking class.
Believe it or not, Groupon offers deals for more locations than just the U.S.! Explore the Getaways section for discounted package tours.
Finally, educate yourself on the typical con games of the destination. There are unscrupulous individuals and groups who will offer too-good-to-be-true last-minute tour deals—walk away from the temptation to save money! Also be vigilant when someone approaches you offering something for free; it’s often a way to guilt you into giving away money.
Research, saving, and flexibility go a long way when planning a solo travel adventure. Where will you go and discover a whole new you?
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