12 things every woman should do when travelling alone

Don't be afraid to ask people to take your picture so you don't have just selfies.​

By: Alexandra Martell

Like most people who live in a place with all four seasons, I love them all except winter. After 2015's Winter of Cold and Doom™, I knew that I needed to make sure I escaped to a warm place at least once during winter 2016. I set my sights on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula after a friend raved about her trip, but none of my usual travel pals had free time or money.

I was determined to be warm, so I decided to make the trip to Playa del Carmen alone. I'd traveled alone on business before, but I'd never done a solo vacation. While I definitely prefer travelling with someone else, vacationing solo turned out to be kind of great. It's really nice to do what you want, when you want, with no one to check with. And if you plan carefully, you can save money, do lots of cool stuff, and stay safe.

  1. Don't skimp on a more expensive anything if it makes you feel safer.** After booking my flight, I set a budget for accommodations, but once I started researching, it became clear that I was going to have to go over that number if I wanted to stay somewhere that was both on the beach and didn't make me uncomfortable. I compensated by doing things like not shopping for a month or two, but feeling safe is definitely worth more than some new clothes. Which brings me to:

  1. Don't feel bad about the money you're spending if you're not going into actual debt. *Travelling alone is expensive. You're not splitting a hotel or transportation costs, which are often the biggest expenses when travelling. But if you actually can afford the nice hotel and the spa appointment and* pay off your credit card bill (as long as you bring your lunch instead of buying it next month), do it. You'll be happier that you did the things you wanted (and who needs a sad deli salad, really?).

3. Research transportation options carefully. Google "best way to get from x to y" for literally anything you're doing. In a lot of places, public transportation will be both faster, cheaper, and safer than taking a cab, even though a cab always sounds most convenient. Check with your hotel too: Many offer affordable airport transfers they don't necessarily advertise.

4. Research everything* obsessively — really. An incognito window in Chrome for checking prices on things is your best friend. It won't cache your searches, so airlines/hotels won't know the dates you keep searching and raise prices. TripAdvisor is your other best friend; the hotel website is never, ever going to mention that rooms on the north side of your hotel are adjacent to da club. You'll need an account to read endless full reviews, but use an incognito window not logged in to compare prices. Once you book a hotel, continue to check its rates as you get closer to your vacation date: If they have a lot of empty rooms, they may have dropped prices, and you can rebook at a lower rate. I did this online a week before I left and saved $60 a night on my room! And like any trip, ask friends who have been there what they liked — and what they didn't.

  1. Pack less.** You can wear the same thing out to dinner every night! No one will know!

  1. Remember to text your mum.** Pick someone to check in with on the regs — someone who you know will check in with you if they don't hear from you, whether it's your mum, your best friend, or both. Send them a photo or quick text whenever you have Wi-Fi. It's also helpful to give them your full itinerary: One day on my trip, I went straight from a full-day tour of the jungle and Mayan ruins to a two-hour spa appointment that I forgot to mention, and came back to many texts from my mum worrying that I'd fallen into a sinkhole or been eaten by pumas.

  1. Ask people to take your picture so your camera roll isn't just selfies. **While about to climb a Mayan ruin, I spotted a group of girls in their 20s trying to squeeze themselves into a selfie. I offered to take their picture, and they not only then took mine, but suggested we all climb together so we could keep taking photos for each other in the middle and at the top. Instead of sweaty and gross selfies, now I have triumphant top-of-a-temple photos.

  1. Do a group tour.** This is just a good thing to do generally if you're going somewhere where there's stuff to see, but it's an especially good idea if you're on your own. It guarantees you'll have other people to interact with if you want to, but you can totally skip polite conversation if you're not in the mood. Plus: more people to take your picture.

Related: 7 destinations to discover in 2016

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Source: Cosmo US