Going it alone on your travels can have all sorts of perks. There's no squabbling over where to go, you're free to follow your own schedule and you're more likely to go out of your comfort zone. It's no wonder then that 35 per cent of holidaymakers are now travelling alone, with the biggest rise in solo travellers among the over 50s. Safety concerns needn't be necessarily holding you back from travelling alone. Just take these precautions and you'll stay out of harm's way while you explore the globe.
Choose your holiday destination wisely. Costa Rica, Sydney, Iceland, Stockholm and Thailand all have a good reputation for safety, as well as friendly locals and good provisions for tourists. China, Egypt, Russia and Brazil, on the other hand, may not be the best choice if you're unfamiliar with navigating foreign places alone. Be fussy about the accomidation you choose, too. Before booking somewhere online check out reviews on www.tripadvisor.co.uk and discard any that have more than three bad reviews.
Alternatively, book your holiday with an agency such as One Traveller (01760 722011; onetraveller.co.uk) or Solos (0844 815 0005; www.solosholidays.co.uk).They cater exclusively for solo travellers, often aged 50-plus, and won't charge you pricey single-occupancy costs.
Be organsied and if necessary, get up early, so that you don't find yourself alone at night in a strange place. But just in case, have the number of a reputable taxi company with you, so you can get safely back to your hotel. Leave details of your itinerary with friends back home and even someone at your hotel, so other people know where you've gone. And before you head out each day, check you have a charged mobile phone, same form of indentification and minimum cash you need or else traveller's cheques. Keep these close to your body or in a secure bag not a rucksack.
When in Rome...
..do as the Romans do. Fitting into the culture of the counrty you're visiting will not only give you a more authentic experience - it could also keep you safe. Before you jet off, find out as much as you can about the country's beliefs and laws. Travel guides, such as Lonely Planet, and friends who have already visited your destination could help. You'll also find destination reviews, as well as the chance to meet like-minded travel companions, at www.thelmaandlouise.com.
When you arrive, take note of how people dress, eat and communicate. If the women cover their shoulders or wear a headscarf, do the same. Erring on the side of modesty and a polite but reserved manner is always best. When you're out, don't make it obvious you're a tourist. Consult maps privatly, and try to look confident.