Travel is the best way to meet new people, make new friends, re-kindle old friendships, find a mate, increase your awareness of the world around you, experience personal growth, lower your blood pressure or just relax.
But traveling as a single can have its challenges and risks, so you should be aware of the various options that are available to you that can make your single travel experience a fun and fulfilling one.
If you are looking for a full and worry-free vacation experience, you might consider an all-inclusive resort that will give you the safety of "communal" living, yet provide the flexibility of structuring a complete experience of your chosen destination.
Some tour operators cater specifically to young people traveling abroad on their own so they can share their experiences with others in the same age category.
Enhance your vacation at an all-inclusive by signing up for the many on-site activities offered and participating in the unique tours offered by the resort. These mega resorts, such as Club Med, offer tours for shopping, sightseeing, night life, educational and adventure, giving you the perfect opportunity to interact with others.
If you would rather travel to two, three or more cities, then a cruise or escorted tour may be your best choice.
Despite the very few incidents that have received exaggerated and sensationalized media attention, cruising is a very safe and enjoyable way to travel even as a single. And of course, there are single cruises that are tailored to the "high end" markets and specifically structured to facilitate single encounters, meaning they won't make you feel uncomfortable, as if you are on the prowl.
But it all gets down to basics. Evaluate your travel options by a travel professional to assist you. Do not expose yourself to questionable situations or people. Mingle with like-minded people when deciding which tour you plan to take and be aware of your surroundings when you do get to your destination. Hotels, cruise lines, tour operators, etc., do whatever they can to make your travel experiences as safe as they can be, but they cannot cover all eventualities.
Your personal safety is, to a significant degree, up to you and should be seriously considered before and during your trip.
Here are a few tips that may help make your single (or otherwise) vacation a safe and pleasurable experience.
When you check into a hotel, consider introducing yourself to your concierge or doorman and ask him or her a question about services at the resort. Keep the conversation, brief and professional. A small tip may help them remember you in the days ahead.
Use the hotel/cruise ship safe for money, your travel documents and jewelry. If you use your room safe, be sure you know how to operate it properly.
If taking a taxi, always try to originate your ride from your hotel and get directions before you leave the premises. When away from your hotel, try to avoid asking strangers for directions. If you get lost or need help, go to the nearest hotel (the larger the better) and ask for help at the front desk. If traveling internationally in a country where you know neither the language nor the signage, or simply where you cannot decipher the writing, have someone at the hotel write in local script the destination to which you wish to be taken.
Select your return trip cab with caution and always be aware of your surroundings.
A "body purse" or money belt is a good investment
Do not show your money (flash cash) foreign or domestic. Worse case scenario: if you are not sure of the money exchange, it is better to leave a little extra money on the table than risk a total loss.
Be very careful to whom you give your hotel room or cabin number. Unless the person is a close personal acquaintance, meet people in the lobby or have the hotel operator connect them to your room.
If you decide to go out with a special someone that you meet, have him or her pick you up at your hotel. Find your bellman or concierge (whom you met earlier, remember?) and casually mention that you are going out with one of the locals and ask for suggestions about where you might go for a safe and good time.
Always remember to be safe in personal encounters. Don't get caught up in the moment. This can get to be more than exciting in a foreign country where perceptions are different.
Unfortunately, in these confused days, if you are an American, you could be a target. Keep your wits about you and be aware of your surroundings. If you are uncomfortable in a situation, find the quickest and least conspicuous way out.
Wait until the last day before your departure before giving out your home address or telephone number. You would not want this information forwarded to a professional thief while you are away on vacation. It happens.
If traveling abroad and you find yourself in trouble, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, a safe haven for all Americans.
Finally, you should consider leaving a detailed itinerary with a friend or relative at home and, if at all possible, check in at some appropriate time during your vacation to let them know of your whereabouts, where you will be next and how you are doing in general.
With Internet cafes available just about everywhere, an e-mail to your family and friends would be in order.
Traveling, by its very nature, will always carry some inherent, but generally acceptable risks.
And while every reputable travel supplier will always do their best to make your trip as safe as possible, you also need to do your part.
Geraldine Blanchard is vice president of Global Tours and Travel, at 559 W. Eau Gallie Blvd., Melbourne. She can be reached at (321) 676-6040 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information visit, www.globaltours.com.