|Islamic Mosque, Abu Dhhabi|
Here are my tips for women traveling alone. Men, you can listen too.
1. Leave an Itinerary at Home
Leave your travel itinerary with a loved one back home. Make sure they know your flight and hotel information, including phone numbers and addresses. You may also want to give them a copy of your drivers license and passport (depending on how worried you or they may be). This will give them comfort while you're gone, and it's just good for them to have.
2. Set Up an International Phone
This may not apply to all, but if you need to set up your phone in case there is an emergency, make sure you do it prior to leaving, and be sure to turn off your roaming. If you do happen to pick up a signal while abroad, the roaming fees can be a killer. If you aren't using a phone, make sure you check in back home when you get to the hotel.
3. Check Maps Prior to Departure
Get familiar with your surrounding area. It will make you feel more confidant while traveling alone and may prevent you from getting totally lost. You don't need to memorize every street on the map, but know the general area of places of interest. At minimum, know the address of your hotel.
4. School Up on the Customs
Learn about the country's customs prior to departure. This is especially important for women, and will help you when deciding what to pack. You don't need to dress in traditional garb (this will only draw more attention to yourself and you will feel awkward), but if you are traveling to a conservative country dress accordingly. You don't want to offend anyone or get yourself in a sticky situation.
5. Only Pack What You Can Carry
This is true whether you are traveling alone or not. If you can't lift your bag off of the revolving carousel, then don't pack so much. Although you can always ask a strong gentleman to help, they don't always freely offer assistance as you struggle with your bag. Make sure to have one carry-on. Your purse items and carry-on items should fit into one bag. It will be easier to slip this under your seat then lift it up overhead. Remember you're traveling alone, you want to make things as easy as possible.
6. Get the Number of the Person Picking You Up from Airport
If you are arranging a pick-up, make sure you have the cell phone number of the driver, not the main number to the office. Some airports do not allow the drivers to wait in the airport (like in Dubai), so make sure you have their cell number just in case you can't find them among the crowd.
7. Carry Cash
Not all of your cash has to last the entire trip, but make sure you have the correct currency prior to arrival. Once there, find a good exchange company, if you can, and have enough to get you by every day. Sometimes exchange companies are hard to find, so you don't want to scrabble to get cash one day. Make sure you carry your purse tight and hold it on your lap when seated if you can, never on the floor. It's dirty there anyway.
8. Arrive During the Day
You will feel safer, and be able to get a better sense of your surroundings. Also, make sure you arrive alert. No sleeping in the cab or on the bus. Pay attention to major street names and the area in which you are staying.
9. Don't Accept a Cab Ride from Someone Who Finds You
If a taxi driver comes into the airport and asks you if you need a ride, it's best to say no and head straight to the queue outside. These people may not have insurance, and in general may just seem a little creepy. Despite how tired you may be, roll your bags out to the curb and get a cab from someone who has been waiting in line.
10. Ask for Directions
Ask the concierge or the closest barista for directions. Don't stand on the street looking at the map, drawing attention to yourself. Go in and ask for directions. Or scoot into a shop or cafe and look at the map. Nothing screams, Lost Woman Traveling Alone more than staring blankly at a map.
11. Follow Your Instincts
If something or someone looks shady, then don't do it. Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean all hell can break loose. Be cautious of your surroundings. If the shortcut down the alley looks scary, then don't go down there. Pick-pocketers and gypsies are just waiting to score some extra loot.
12. Have Fun!
Don't be so freaked out about getting lost, or robbed, or captured by the mafia. You don't want your over-cautiousness to hinder your experience. You travel to have fun and explore. So do that!
Note: Take at least one trip in your life alone. And take these tips along with you.