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12 Essential Solo Travel Tips to Avoid Totally Awkward Situations

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Do you love solo travel escapades? Have you done it again, or is it the first time? Here are some of the most awkward solo travel situations this type of traveling might present.

Traveling solo is an excellent option as you can enjoy your independence during the travel. Also, you can freely roam around whenever and wherever you like without any pressure. On a lone trip, you’ll mostly meet new people and sometimes even make new friends. You might find new people you can roam around with and chat with.

However, this isn’t always as charming as it sounds. Sometimes, traveling solo can turn out bad due to some silly and awkward solo travel situations that one can face on those solo trips.

But what exactly would these awkward situations be? All that in a bit, we’ll cover all the things a person traveling alone may face and how to cope.

Top Awkward Situations for Solo Travelers 

1. Miscommunication with the Pharmacist

Wrong medicine

This one is undoubtedly a very bad and awkward situation. Say you are on a solo trip and you go to the chemist’s shop to buy some medicine, but the pharmacist actually gives you a different medicine instead of the one you want. All this is due to the communication gap and lack of understanding.

When you cannot explain what type of medicine you require, you are in an embarrassing situation—potentially worse if you’re dumb enough to take that medicine.

The best solution to this problem is always to have a phrasebook with you. Alternatively, bring your own drugs and medical supplies to avoid visiting the pharmacist.

This way, you do not get into awkward situations where you feel embarrassed and pissed off. Such occurrences are common in countries where the local language is not English – which, believe it or not, is in most countries. Yikes.

2. Miscommunication with the Taxi Driver

Taxi ride, wrong destination

Generally, when one travels alone, the best source of transportation is hiring a taxi. A taxi is quite convenient, unlike other local transport modes, including mass public transportation. It’s quiet, more private, better for hauling luggage, and easy to find in towns and cities.

However, problems may arise when you hire a taxi driver who does not understand what you’re saying. As a result, you cannot explain where exactly you want them to drive you.

This can result in a horrifying situation. One can even get lost somewhere else and not find the right location. Then, ultimately, one might need help from the local police, which is a hassle.

And who knows if they can understand you! To avoid such a situation, one should always carry a map of the city you are traveling to. Besides that, one should always have an emergency phone of a local friend or family member whom one can call when stuck in such an awkward situation.

You can also use rental car services and drive yourself or opt for a rideshare app like Uber, where you must plug in your destination before booking.

See related: Things about Long-Term Travel You Can’t Miss

3. Confusion at the Railway Station

City subway

Getting confused at the railway station is quite a common problem among tourists who travel alone. Generally, travelers might get into an awkward solo travel situation, especially if it’s their first solo trip.

For instance, they might buy the wrong ticket and travel to an unknown place where there is no place to escape, save the way they came. Or, they can get on the wrong train, which lands them in a similar situation. You can feel upset and embarrassed when you end up alone in an unknown city.

One of the best solo travel tips is always thinking before doing something. This is crucial when traveling alone and having less knowledge of the city or something entirely new.

If the ticket tellers do not understand your language, give them your destination and desired departure timings in writing. Point to signs or rail maps. And be EXTRA sure you’re on the right platform at the right time for the right train!

 4. Wrong Food Order

Restaurant food order

This is another common situation that people generally face when traveling alone in a new city. If the city’s local language is not in your codex, you might mess up by ordering some unknown food you cannot eat.

This might be unpleasant if it’s not to your taste, but it could be lethal if there are ingredients you’re allergic to! The problem occurs when you are unaware of the city’s local cuisines and randomly order something from the menu.

Many tourists find themselves in such situations when they order something because it looks attractive on the menu. And when the order comes, it’s something they are not used to or can’t even imagine going down their throat.

In such an awkward situation, you can’t throw the food because you are in a restaurant, and in some cultures or certain types of restaurants (think fast food), returning the dish is easier said than done – especially if none of you speak the same vocabulary. So, you are forced to eat something you don’t want to avoid embarrassment.

The situation can be horrible, especially if you are a vegan and what comes is more than 50% meat. The best solution here is to learn some keywords regarding recipes and ingredients in your destination’s native language or have a translation app handy. You can always write it down on paper and convey it to the chef, but who knows if they can understand your writing?

So, are you traveling to France, Germany, or Japan? Research the best restaurants there, and explore the best dishes and how to order them.

See Related: Places to Visit in France That You’ll Fall in Love With

5. Unexpected Strangers

Meeting unexpected strangers

When you travel solo to a different place where you do not know anybody, you should always be aware of the strangers out there.

Sometimes, you meet a stranger and find them quite kind and helpful. Then you start chit-chatting with them, but you do not know whether the stranger is genuine or if they will ditch you and take away your valuables.

Even worse, you may be the victim of a violent crime, and nothing will ruin your trip more than being murdered – this, I promise.

This may land you in a terrible situation (especially if you’re dead), and in most cases, you’ll not have any other option than to contact the local police. The situation might ruin your experience in the city, making you hate traveling there ever again.

If you want to avoid such situations, always be assertive and alert. Whenever you smell something fishy, immediately back out of the situation and maintain your distance from the stranger.

Trust your gut – it’s right about more stuff than you’d think!

6. Stranded Alone in a Remote Area

Traveler on a Desert

We always believe that solo traveling is the best option to enjoy a perfect getaway where you have your own rules. No one to interfere with or question your decisions when you travel alone.

But sometimes, this can be bad and awkward, especially when traveling to a remote destination. A person will realize the importance of other travelers when they find themselves alone in a remote and deserted area.

Have you seen 127 Hours? Yeesh. This situation generally occurs when traveling on foot in remote areas. We have covered miles but still haven’t found anyone to talk to. It can easily result in an emotional breakdown where you start missing your loved ones.

Or it will be like 127 Hours, and you have to see your arm off with whatever you have to hand.

If you are in such a situation, try to divert your mind and enjoy the tranquility. You can also immediately video call your loved ones to help give you some relief.

Or saw your arm off. If you go into a remote area alone, TELL PEOPLE. Let them know your plans, the area you’re visiting, the route you are taking, everything. Ensure you also have emergency gear, a phone, a solar charger, water, food, and the details to contact emergency services.

See related: 15 Best Places to Travel Alone in the World

7. Sitting Alone at a Table for 8

Eating alone

If you prefer traveling alone but still love socializing, you might find yourself alone at a large table. For instance, you might enter a restaurant and sit at a table for 8, alone with nobody to entertain or talk to you. All you can do now is eat your ordered food and feel jealous as you watch others giggling joyfully.

At that point, you realize it might have been better if you had had company. Your own company doesn’t seem entertaining anymore.

The only solution is to concentrate on your food or start chit-chatting with the hotel staff or the people dining there. You can always invite people to your table, too, but this might present you with a different awkward scenario!

8. “Women Problems”

Woman on the Beach

I’m not talking about dating. Did you know being a woman can land you in some awkward solo traveler situation? Yes, it can. It’s a sad fact of life.

If you are traveling abroad alone as a woman, you might be shocked by what you find – or not; girls have to put up with much more crap than men do. Fight me on this.

For instance, some countries have quite different social rules for women. In some cultures, the age limit for unmarried women is 30, meaning that after 30, you should be in your husband’s house rather than exploring on vacation. This situation worsens when the local law doesn’t allow such women to travel alone for long distances, like in Saudi Arabia.

In the former scenario, you might get locals staring at you and gossiping about you, which can be disturbing. In the latter, you might go to jail – or worse.

Unless you’ve broken some law, you should ignore the stares and comments. This is easier said than done, but seriously, these people don’t have a say in your vacation.

Continue with what brought you to the place, and have a good time. Remember, various countries have different cultures and beliefs, and you’ll not be the one to change them.

Respecting local culture and customs is good, but you are your person, and as long as you are respectful and law-abiding, you’re all good!

9. Stalked by a Guy

Being stalked

This is another big problem solo women travelers face – and just women walking alone in general- now I think about it. It can become quite serious, potentially leading to fear, trauma, or worse.

Generally, when women travel alone, it’s not uncommon for them to get stalked. This can start with guys who enter the eve-teasing process and gradually start stalking and potentially even sexually harassing or assaulting women. This unwanted, uninvited attention makes women’s lives a living hell.

This is a tough one, as you shouldn’t have to be the one to change the way you act to make up for men’s bad behavior. These people should understand that the women are in the country as guests!

Be assertive; no means NO. If someone refuses to leave you alone, call attention to it among those around you—most societies hate a persistent sleazebag. If you’re alone, shout the local word for “police” or “fire” to attract attention and deter the attacker. It’s also not bad for women travelers to have the destination country’s women’s helpline number handy.

In addition, women should always keep pepper spray in their bags to protect themselves from stalkers. I’d also recommend some self-defense classes (for all women actually) so you at least have a chance of getting away if you are attacked. Just remember to use sprays and self-defense moves ONLY as a last resort.

10. Being Made Fun Of

Two_people_laughing

No one likes being made fun of or ridiculed. But this doesn’t mean you can’t find yourself in such a situation, especially when you are far away from home.

Such a situation mostly happens if you have some difficulty with the local language, a disability, a different way of dressing, or even a different skin color. Such differences can cause the locals to start making fun of you openly or secretly.

If you travel as a group or with a family, such problems might not bother you. This is because you have someone you talk to or confide in. This can be very disturbing when traveling alone, especially when you can’t even find other solo travelers to talk to.

The solution to this problem is to avoid or ignore such stupid remarks or make them realize that everybody is equal, which is quite difficult.

The key is to kill with kindness – people generally feel pretty bad for making fun of someone who is wholly nice, and the power you have from being nice while someone is failing to make you feel bad with laughs and jeers is HUGE.

Alternatively, you can laugh even harder at them, giving them a taste of their medicine. This can have interesting results, including finding some common ground amidst fits of laughter.

Ultimately, other people’s words will hurt you if you let them hurt you. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Or you can also stop traveling alone.

 11. Mixed Feelings

Feeling alone, solo traveler

There’s no doubt that solo traveling can be fun, especially when no bad incidents are encountered. Having all that time to yourself without being asked why you made this decision or that is simply fulfilling.

But being alone means being far away from your loved ones, and loneliness might creep in to make the trip a nightmare. You heard that right! Your solo adventure might make your solo adventure awkward!

While you might yearn for that solo trip, you might also not be ready for the loneliness that awaits. Sometimes, you might want to cut the trip short in the middle as you wish to return home for that companionship. That’s an ugly solo travel situation you don’t want to find yourself in.

The solution here is simple! Travel with your better half, a buddy, or your family. “But that’s not solo travel,” I hear you whine – maybe you’re not cut out for it.

“Maybe I’m not, but I’d like to be cut out for it,” you sheepishly retort – well, have you considered we live in the 21st Century, and all of us own a smartphone? Just nip into a cafe or hotel with free Wi-Fi access and call your favorite people if you’re lonely. Jeez!

12. You are the ONLY Solo Traveler at your Destination

Solo traveling

Solo traveling is fantastic. But it will undoubtedly get awkward when you are the only solo traveler in a place full of families, groups, and couples.

Such a situation will not only make you want your partner or friends close but might even make you jealous. Meeting new people makes it harder because you’ll always be the third wheel.

If you are in such a predicament, relax and concentrate on what brought you here: solo travel. Try reminding yourself of the benefits of traveling solo. You don’t want everyone staring at you because they can sense your loneliness. It might make everything even weirder.

See related: Why Are Flights So Expensive Right Now? 6 Pricing Factors to Know

Top Solo Travel Tips

Check out the following tips for a successful loner’s trip.

1. Be Smart About Planning Your Trip

solo traveler

One of the best things you can do before solo travel is to plan your trip early. This will help you avoid stressful situations while you’re on your trip. Planning includes booking a flight, knowing where to stay, and even identifying things you will do or see there.

2. Pack Light

Light packing

The second secret is to pack light. This way, you’ll not have to lug around a heavy suitcase or backpack. Also, know the weather at your destination on your trip. Are you packing for winter or summer weather?

3. Get Travel Insurance

This is crucial for solo and group travelers – getting travel insurance coverage. Since you can never be too sure of what the trip holds, it’s always prudent to be safe.

You should always protect yourself against medical problems and emergencies, loss of luggage, or loss of money due to flight cancellations. TravelInsurance.com offers incredible cover options for you and your family.

3. Bring or Download a Map

It might be weird when you keep asking for directions. It’s even worse when you get lost and waste time locating your destination. Therefore, always carry a map to help orient you to unfamiliar surroundings.

4. Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Always be keen on what surrounds you – whether people or the environment. There is no better way to stay safe in a new place than always being conscious of what’s happening around you. You can never be overcautious.

5. Get Out and Talk to People

Lastly, try talking to people, both locals and other solo travelers. It is an excellent way to meet new people and learn about different cultures. This is much easier if you have learned some of the local dialects of your destinations.

See Related: Winter Travel Tips for Visiting Europe

What is Solo Traveling?

Solo traveling is traveling on your terms and conditions. It means you can change your plans whenever you like, without any stress, as you are alone on the trip.

Solo travelers do things at their own pace. For instance, there is no one to tend to, please, or appease, and no one to snub your ideas or ask why you change your plan at the very last minute. Now, that’s freedom!

Generally, there are many advantages when a person travels alone – it’s cheaper for one. But there are some disadvantages that you should be aware of before you plan a solo travel adventure…lest things get…awkward…

For this reason, you should first conduct detailed research on the place you are visiting alone. Also, it would be best if you carried the essentials that might be hard to find there.

But sometimes, even if we get prepared, we can still be caught up in awkward situations, where we cannot find a solution to help us escape that problematic situation.

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