Don't let the lack of a traveling companion stop you from seeing the world. Sometimes it's more fun to explore on your own.
Step 1: Plan ahead Research your travel destination. Though spontaneity is one of the joys of solo travel, knowing a bit about where you're going is key when you don't have someone along to help figure out things like transportation. Pick a place that's not too remote or couples-oriented.
TIP: Less developed countries tend to be good places to meet other solo travelers.
Step 2: Get a room Consider your hotel options. Less lavish accommodations are more likely to attract other single travelers who, like you, don't have someone to split the cost of a room. On the other hand, you may feel safer in a higher-end hotel. Whatever you decide, make sure to reserve a room for your first night in town, when you're apt to be jet-lagged and disoriented.
Step 3: Travel light Pack only as much as you can easily carry by yourself -- preferably in one carry-on bag to minimize the risk of lost luggage. Leave expensive jewelry at home.
Step 4: Stay in touch Leave your itinerary -- or at least a general idea of where you'll be -- with a few loved ones. Take a copy of your passport with you, and leave them a copy as well as your credit cards numbers. E-mail yourself numbers to call if your cards are lost or stolen. If you're traveling abroad, make sure your cell phone has international service.
Step 5: Blend in Blend in with your surroundings. If you're in a foreign country, memorize a few key phrases and dress according to local fashion. Consider buying a few items that will help you look like a native.
Step 6: Take a tour Take a walking tour, a cooking class, or some other activity; they're great ways to meet other travelers. Consult a newspaper about local events, or ask your hotel to help you make arrangements.
Step 7: Eat out Don't be shy about going to restaurants by yourself and chatting with other diners and waitstaff; a great way to do that is by eating at the bar. Having breakfast at your hotel and snacking at outdoor cafes are also conducive to making friends while munching.
TIP: Though it's tempting to hide behind a book or scribble in a journal, you're more approachable if you forgo those things.
Step 8: Stay safe Stay safe. Write notes and directions on index cards before you leave your hotel; if you must take out a map, do it discreetly. Avoid isolated areas and don't tell strangers you're traveling alone. Above all, trust your instincts. If something feels wrong, get out of the situation.
FACT: According to a survey, 29 percent of leisure travelers took a solo trip in 2006.