One of the downsides of traveling alone in a strange place is that you are more susceptible to attracting crime. There are certain safety precautions that solo travelers should take. For one, they must be extremely careful when walking alone at night. In some places it may be fine, but in large cities you should stick to well light streets, roads with many others around, and take a taxi whenever you can. Taxis can be dangerous to solo travelers as well, so be sure to have your hotel or guesthouse call a cab for you that they trust. In major tourist areas be aware of your surroundings. Try not to stand out or flash that new camera or diamond ring.
Food and Water
When traveling in a strange country eating strange foods and the chance to drink unfiltered water is quite common, as are certain ailments. Medicines to counter these travel illnesses are recommended such as antibiotics and diarrhea medicine. Only drink bottled water in tropical areas, as the chance for cholera and water borne diseases is still high in many tropical countries. If you cannot get bottled water or want to cut down on your plastic bottle waste try iodine tablets, purifying drops, or water filters. You have to be extra careful when traveling solo, as you likely won’t have anyone to help you get well.
You should always check with a doctor who specializes in travel illnesses to see what types of medicine and vaccines you should take before embarking on any long trip. In many third world regions diseases that don’t exist in the western world anymore may be common. In jungle areas check to see if you need to get a yellow fever vaccination as well as some sort of malaria tablets such as doxycycline or mefloquine. Antibiotics such as Cipro are good for food borne illnesses. A basic first aid is a good idea to keep around as well.
For the solo traveler, your communication with friends and family back home is important in a number of ways. Not only does it let them know you are ok, but it gives you an outlet for when you are feeling alone and frustrated for a taste of comfort. While the postcard is slowly fading into memory, the internet has become the cheapest and easiest way to communicate with friends and family back home. Cyber cafes are everywhere, especially in third world countries where the local population cannot afford internet service. Rates are usually less than $1 per hour, often considerably less. Online voice services such as Skype are downloaded at many net cafes and set up with headsets for foreigners to make international calls rather cheaply. While satellite phones are nice to have, they are expensive. Call centers in most third world countries, often inside or near cyber cafes, are relatively cheap, although the connections aren’t always crystal clear.
Traveling solo is generally more expensive that traveling with a friend. While hostels may charge per person anyway, most hotels will make you pay the full price of that double room and tours are often based on a per person occupancy. Many budget travelers end up meeting friends in their journeys and don’t mind sharing a room with someone they may have just met, although many prefer the security and comfort of their own room.