11 Avoidable Mistakes Every Solo Traveler Should Know About – Curls en Route

11 Avoidable Mistakes Every Solo Traveler Should Know About - Curls en Route

There’s always a possibility for things to go wrong on a trip, and if you’re a first-time solo traveler, you have more reasons. This is not to discourage you from solo traveling, but only to help you set the right expectations. Things go down south all the time, whether you’re home or traveling, and whether you’re with others or alone. Being prepared is more important than worrying, and that’s why I’ve compiled a list of all common, yet avoidable mistakes, solo travel newbies often make.

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11 Avoidable Mistakes in Solo Travel

#1 Having only digital copies of your travel documents

Yes, it’s the age of technology and everything is digitized nowadays. However, relying on digital documents only is a big fat mistake you want to avoid. You see, smartphones break, or even get stolen, and sometimes you simply accidentally lose or delete data. Imagine that happening to you right before your flight back home when your flight ticket is only saved on your phone. Would you want to run around, panicking about missing your flight, and looking for a computer to access your email and print the ticket?

What to do instead? To avoid the panique totale and the waste of time, simply print out hard copies of your important travel documents; like passport, flight ticket, visa, and accommodation booking, before going on the trip.

#2 Setting the wrong budget

solo travel avoidable mistakes include wrong budgeting

A lot of people, unfortunately, make the mistake of setting a budget that doesn’t suit their trip. In fact, some people don’t set a budget at all, but I think we’ve already established that this is not wise either.

What to do instead? While planning your trip, you need to do enough research on how everything will cost you on average – accommodation, transportation, activities, food, you name it. Then, compare that with your travel style and interests and see how you can cut down your spending if needed. But having a budget is not enough, you need to track your spending while you’re on the trip to make sure you’re actually sticking to the budget.

#3 Bringing only one credit card

solo travel avoidable mistakes

Some travelers bring only one credit card without having a backup card or cash on hand. That’s one of the avoidable mistakes you want to keep at the back of your mind because you’ll come to regret it in case of an emergency. You can get mugged, your card can be blocked for any reason, and you may run out of money; a lot can go wrong. Also, cash is king in so many countries and you’ll have to keep withdrawing money from ATMs the whole time.

What to do instead? The best thing to do is to bring along a mix of cash and cards; preferably both debit and credit cards, just in case.

#4 Sharing your location online in real-time

This rookie mistake can seriously compromise your safety as a solo traveler, especially if you’re a woman, and unfortunately, this is quite common. Most travelers document their trips on social media and a lot of the time, they’ll share where they are, whether by tagging the place or tagging the location in a post or story. Geotagging isn’t the only issue as you may accidentally give away your location without noticing you are. This is often the case when you share photos or videos in places with distinctive features or interiors.

Wondering why this is even an issue? Well, if you’re only sharing with close friends and family, this might not be a concern. However, if you have a public account, it’s an issue – there are some real stalkers and psychopaths out there, and not just in horror movies. So, it’s always better to stay safe than sorry.

What to do instead? There’s no harm in sharing your location on social media as long as it’s NOT in real-time. Document all the fun memories you want and share them with your family, friends, and followers, but AFTER you leave. This way, you’ll also enjoy the moment and be fully present.

READ: 10+ Tested Safety Tips for Female Solo Travel Newbies

#5 Inattentiveness to your surroundings

solo travel avoidable mistakes

Additionally, not paying attention to your surroundings is one of the avoidable mistakes that can compromise your safety as well. This mistake can come in many forms such as wearing your airpods in public transportation without paying attention to your personal belongings.

What to do instead? Always keep your personal belongings close and try to stay aware of your surroundings, especially in busy areas.

#6 Picking the wrong accommodation

solo travel avoidable mistakes

If you’re a travel newbie or you’re used to traveling with agencies, you might think you have limited options when it comes to accommodation. You see, travel is not just fancy hotels and resorts – there are other accommodation options that can suit your tight budget or help you meet other solo travelers. My all-time favorite type of lodging is definitely hostels, but I’ve also stayed at Airbnbs, fancy hotels, not-so-fancy hotels, camps, and ecolodges.

What to do instead? Ask yourself what’s your travel style and what would make you comfortable. Then try to match that with your budget and try to find common ground in a listing that matches your travel criteria.

READ: Staying in a Hostel: How to Pick and Book

#7 Booking flights with super short layovers

solo travel avoidable mistakes

No one wants to spend 10 hours in an airport waiting to catch a connecting flight, but no one also wants to miss it. Unfortunately, by booking connection flights with layovers as short as 1 hour, you increase your chances of missing it, especially if you have to change terminals, check in your luggage once again, or go through passport control.

What to do instead? Ideally, you should aim for a minimum of 2 hours of layover – anything less would be too risky. And in case you’ll have to do anything time-consuming like changing terminals, aim for a longer layover.

#8 Not packing meds

solo travel avoidable mistakes

The first lesson I learned on my first-ever solo trip was to always pack emergency meds on all my trips. If you can fall ill back home, you can definitely fall ill while traveling – especially if you’re not the luckiest traveler out there (ouch). Besides, external factors in the world of travel like weather changes and changes in your diet increase your chances of feeling under the weather. Having your meds on you is essential because sometimes you might travel to destinations where healthcare isn’t easily accessible or more expensive than your home country.

What to do instead? Pack a pouch of basic meds that you might need anytime such as painkillers, upset stomach meds, anti-diarrheal, muscle relaxants, and cough drops. Watch this video for all my travel health essentials.

#9 Thinking you’ll never need insurance

solo travel avoidable mistakes

Travel (solo or not) isn’t always rainbows and butterflies – things might go down south sometimes. You might fall ill or lose your luggage, and these things are more common than you think. When you invest in travel insurance and then something goes wrong, that’s when you’ll be thankful for having your back covered.

My personal favorite SafetyWing offers different travel insurance packages tailored to your needs, but their Nomad Insurance is a great option for solo travelers and frequent travelers like digital nomads. It covers lost checked luggage, travel delay, doctors, hospitals, and more. It even covers the COVID-19 emergency quarantine period if deemed necessary by a physician.

What to do instead? GET INSURED – It’s one of the most important avoidable mistakes so many travelers make.

READ: Nomad Insurance: 6 Reasons Why Travel Insurance Is Essential

#10 Being closed off from meeting people

Your beginners guide to travelling alone for the first time
St Catherine © 2022 Curls en Route – All Rights Reserved.

I understand that not everyone is born a social butterfly and that many of us can find it hard to mingle and make friends. A lot of people are shy, introverted, and can get super anxious in social settings. But let me assure you that in spite of anything you may be struggling with, you can still learn to overcome it. It’s just important to understand that it all starts with your mindset – you actually need to be open to the idea of meeting other people to be able to do so.

What to do instead? If you’re struggling with meeting people while traveling, this read will give you ideas on how you can make friends as a solo traveler. In case the whole idea of solo travel gives you anxiety, then this blog post can be super helpful as well.

#11 Ignoring that gut feeling

How to overcome having anxiety about traveling alone
Fayoum © 2021 Curls en Route – All Rights Reserved.

Whether it’s a positive or negative inner voice, there’s a very high chance it’s right – it actually is worth listening to most of the time. If you have a bad feeling about going to that party and don’t feel comfortable about it, or if you can’t contain your excitement about that spontaneous road trip, don’t ignore it.

What to do instead? Listen to your inner voice and follow your gut feeling. However, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between your gut feeling and fear, because the latter can control your thoughts and discourage you from living the life of adventure you’ve dreamed of.

So, are you making any of the previously mentioned avoidable mistakes? If yes, then you need to start taking action for smoother solo travel. And if you’re still new to the world of solo travel, then better know about these avoidable mistakes from the very beginning.

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