For those of us who travel alone, there are three main things we look for in our travel accommodation. We typically want it to be safe, social and central.
Safe: Safety must take a high priority when choosing your accommodation. There are three aspects to safety: personal safety inside your lodging, personal safety outside your lodging and the safety of your things. Whether you’re staying in a hostel or a hotel, B&B or a resort, you can check out the safety before booking. Go onto Google’s Streetview to confirm that it is in a safe area. Is the area buzzing and in good shape or is it in a sketchy neighborhood? Ask about the security at your preferred lodging. Is there front door security? Do people have access to all floors or just the floor that their room is on? Is there a deadbolt on your door? Is there a safe in the room? If it’s a hostel, do you have a locker in your room?
Social: For some, solo travel is about solitude. But for many of us it’s about the opportunities that solo travel presents for meeting locals and other travelers. Your choice of accommodation greatly affects your ability to meet the people. Hotels with casual lounges, hostels with common rooms and cafes, B&B’s where everyone shares breakfast… all present chances to chat with other travelers, learn from them and possibly spend a day or evening together.
Central: Central means that your accommodation is near your destination’s main attractions. The farther you have to travel in a city the greater the range of neighborhoods you’ll travel through. Going it alone, it’s better and less expensive to be explore near your temporary home than far away from it.
Questions to ask before booking your accommodation
Nice surprises are great but, more often than not, when a friend tells you about an accommodation surprise, it’s a bad one. Many problems can be avoided by asking the right questions before you book. Call directly or email to get more details than a website will offer.
- Every hotel, inn, B&B or hostel has some rooms that are better than others. Ask about the best room (check the rate in case there is a surcharge) and to be booked into that room specifically. Get the room number and your confirmation number so that you have these details at check-in.
- Accommodation should be a safe haven especially for those who travel solo. For safety reasons you may want to choose a room on the second floor or near the elevator over that room with the perfect view. Again, confirm the best room for you before you book.
- Security is important. Before you book ask whether the rooms have key cards or keys (key cards are reprogrammed for every guest and, therefore, safer), if there are deadbolts on the doors and and a safe in the room.
- Ask about additional charges. City taxes can make an enormous difference in your room cost.
- Ask what’s included: WiFi, breakfast, pool or beach… (this information is provided for each listing in the solo travel accommodation guide.)
- Find out if there are any weddings or large parties planned for when you want to book. These could interfere with your experience.
- Ask about discounts. Perhaps there’s an online booking discount. Triple A membership may cut you a deal.
Solo Female Travel Accommodation Tips – good for men too!
There is a lot of talk about solo female travel lately. Having compared men traveling solo to women traveling solo a number of years ago, my conclusion was that the type of danger each might face is different but the ways to stay safe tends to be the same. So, these tips apply to men too.
- Always book your first night in a new location in advance. Scrambling for a safe place to stay at the last minute is not a good idea.
- Arrive in the mid-afternoon at the latest. Arriving after dark can make it difficult to find your accommodation and it will leave you no time to change it if you find that you have chosen the wrong place to stay.
- Ask for a room on the second floor or above. Ground floor rooms are more accessible for unsavory characters.
- Book a room near the elevator. This way you’ll avoid walking down long halls alone at night.
- Check the accommodation on Streetview. Using Streetview you can see whether the location of you accommodation looks lively and well kept. In other words, whether it looks safe.
- Don’t book too near a train station. Though this may sound convenient, train stations are often in bad areas and there may be danger lurking for unsuspecting tourists.
- Ask to see the room before you commit. This gives you the chance to ensure that it meets your safety and cleanliness standards.
- Carry a doorstop. Small, light, these can be very handy in smaller hotels off the beaten track where card keys and deadbolts are not common.
Are Hostels Right for Solo Travelers
Many of the recommendations in the Guide are hostels. Slow down. Don’t panic. While some of the hostels are for young people wanting to party, many are wonderful places to stay if you want a more laid back atmosphere that includes people of all ages. Really, the choice is yours. Hostels are for the young at heart just as much as they are for the young. So what do you need to know to make a hostel experience great?
- In popular destinations, book early – especially if you want a small dorm.
- Check the hostel’s reviews on YHA in the UK and Hostelworld for the rest of the world.
- Check out the location in advance to make sure that it is in a safe area. You can use Streetview for this.
- Always pack a padlock for your locker, towel and sandals suitable for the shower.
- You may have to leave your pack or suitcase in the luggage room if you arrive early so have a way to secure it with a lock as well.
- A headlamp is a great to have for reading when the room lights are low.
- Hostels often have free walking tours and other tourist services. Check them out when you arrive so that you don’t miss a free or discounted offering.
How to stay safe in hotels – eight tips.
Your accommodation should be your safe haven. Choose your hotel carefully and then take precautions when you’re there. Here are eight tips to make sure you and your things are safe in your hotel.
- Before you book:
- Check the surrounding area. Is it safe?
- Confirm that the front desk is staffed 24 hours and they there is video and security guard surveillance of the facilities.
- Ensure that the hotel uses electronic key cards and has dead bolts on the room doors.
- Book a room that is on the 2nd floor or higher.
- Ask for a room that is near the elevator so that you aren’t wandering down long halls alone at night.
- Confirm what number you dial in case of an emergency. This is especially important in foreign countries.
- Use the room safe for your valuables. Even better, use the hotel’s safe and get a receipt for what you are leaving with them
- Place the do-not-disturb sign on your door when you go out..