Traveling on your own can be really fun yet extremely tough at the same time. You need to be more responsible for your own survival while you’re away from family and friends, and yet you’re free to do whatever you want without having to consult a traveling partner.
However, making those decisions can be painful, and your best dependable tool is having the right information. Make an effort to be very well informed before setting out on your trip. Plan ahead, so that you have a clear idea of how to get everything you need with what you have. Following your instinct or gut feeling won’t hurt either, particularly when faced with a new experience that you may or may not feel right about.
Always keep in mind that no one will look after you out there, so you need to be more aware of your surroundings. As a dazed tourist who doesn’t speak the local language, you’ll be a more likely prey for scammers and thieves. The key is to look like a local and try to blend in. Learn a few phrases in the local language, and wear what locals normally wear. You can also make a habit of going into establishments or malls to browse or make calls, instead of waiting outside or standing in a street corner where you’re more susceptible.
Also remember that just because you’re traveling by yourself doesn’t mean you have to be alone all the time. Check out the social scene in your destination, or take a little tour of the hostel you’re staying in, and make a few new friends. If you can find fellow backpackers who are taking the same route, or know a local who can help you out if need be, then you won’t have to worry so much about your safety or having no one to talk to.
When you have nobody to constantly consult with on keeping within budget or help you convince the flea market vendor to give a good discount, a useful skill to develop is negotiating, along with knowing where and how to find cheap goods. Learning to negotiate will come in handy when you suddenly find yourself short of cash, and can prove useful in the long run as your money will take you farther in your travels.
Although most experienced travelers have only good things to say about going traveling alone (and meeting tons of friends while they’re at it), there will come a point during your trip when the silence or having nothing to do between sightseeing tours is too much to take. The easy remedy is to take with you a bunch of books, your favorite music, or whatever it is that keeps you sane when no one’s available for a chat. Another would be to make friends out of them friendly bartenders and waiters, and maybe they can point you to a worthy nearby destination you haven’t heard before. (Then maybe you’ll decide that you’re wasting such precious sightseeing time by sitting around for a whole afternoon.)