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Solo Travel Plans

Travel Professionals Offer Tips for Solo Travelers

Eleven percent of all leisure travelers in the United States travel alone, and the number continues to grow. So it's no surprise that travel counselors are seeing increasing business from single travelers who are looking not only for advice about great destinations, but also tips on how to travel safely.

According to the Travel Industry Association, travelers between the ages of 18 to 35 are the largest group of solo travelers, accounting for 35 percent of all single travel. The next largest groups of solo travelers are 35-49-year-olds, 50-64-year-olds and 65-and-older, at 27, 26 and 12 percent respectively. The number of single travelers is still growing. According to a recent industry survey, 27 percent of travel counselors are seeing an increase in the number of trips they are booking for solo travelers.

According to Sandra Hughes, vice president of travel for AAA, U.S. Census figures show women are leading the pack when it comes to booking solo vacations and travel plans.

"There are nearly 90 million single people in the US, and this is clearly a market that the travel industry has been focused on in the past few years. More than half of these single Americans are women, and the industry is seeing the impact of this particular group due to the increasing popularity of girlfriend getaways and other women-only vacations," Hughes said.

In response to the growing trend, AAA offers the following advice for singles traveling the world alone.

Make Copies. If you are traveling internationally, be sure to make a couple copies of your passport and leave one at home with a relative or friend and store the other one in a separate area of your luggage. If you should lose your passport, this copy makes it much easier for the local U.S. consulate to replace the document.

Keep Emergency Numbers.
It is also a great idea to take along the emergency numbers of your credit card companies, along with you card number information. However, keep this in separate, secure area on your person in case you should lose your wallet.

Plan ahead. If you are traveling alone it is important to know the lay of the land before you arrive. That means doing research, reading maps and guide books and talking to certified travel professionals who have experienced the destination first hand. Know where your hotels are located, how you will get around and where you want to go. The fewer decisions you need to make when you first arrive, the less likely it is you will get lost or distracted.

AAA/CAA travel agencies distribute 26 different TourBook guides for destinations in the US, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Club locations also provide travel guides and maps for North America and Europe. Be sure to have the proper documentation when traveling internationally including a valid passport and visa (if required), medical and trip cancellation/interruption protection for unexpected emergencies and an International Driving Permit if traveling by car. AAA offices can provide assistance in obtaining these services.

Research your hotel in advance. Not all hotel rating systems are equal. Some do not include a full inspection, while others are based on traveler reviews, which are not always reliable. Many reviews do not take into consideration hotel service, only focusing on the hotels' physical features. Before arriving, check out the hotel's AAA Diamond Rating, which will give you the most detailed information available on the hotel's features, services and amenities. More than 60,000 hotels are rated by AAA, and the details are available to all travelers at AAA.com.

Try to exude a calm, no nonsense air in public places. You may not always feel calm and confident, but others will pick up on your cues. Sometimes just acting confident does the trick.

Avoid single supplement fees by using a travel professional. Many tour companies and cruise lines charge extra fees for single people who travel alone. However, an expert travel counselor can help you find deals for single travelers that are not always available, or may be difficult to find on the Internet. A travel professional can also assist solo travelers by placing them on the vacation cruises or tours that best suits their respective lifestyle needs.

Other suggestions include: Don't go out alone at night, be careful to limit alcohol consumption, carry a cell phone, arrive during daylight hours, and wear comfortable shoes. Prepaid Travel Money Cards, offered through AAA, can protect travel funds against loss or theft.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides its 50 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying organization has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at www.AAA.com.

Also, read about RTM's editor cross-country travel safety tips.

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