If your goal while traveling solo is to be social and hook up with like-minded fellow travelers, consult our handy travel tips. You'll find yourself in entertaining company and tantalizing conversations before you know it.
1. Make eye contact and smile. This may sound obvious, but vacationers often end up looking stressed and anxious rather than relaxed and friendly. Smile at others to show you're open to making friends and, in some cases, that you're a fellow traveler. Note: In some cultures it is not very common to smile at strangers, so observe what the locals do first. Plus, exercise caution in situations where you feel threatened or harassed.
2. Be flexible -- take advantage of a moment when an exciting opportunity presents itself. Exercise all ordinary cautions, but don't be timid about talking to strangers, going to public gatherings, or accepting an invitation to share a restaurant table.
3. Sport a conversation piece. Carry or wear something that starts a conversation, such as an unusual bow tie or necklace, an antique pocket watch, or an interesting slogan T-shirt. Someone is sure to comment on it and start chatting with you.
4. Use your own experience to help out a fellow traveler. If you see someone struggling to translate "sun block" into the local language, and you just learned it yourself yesterday, speak up. The shared experience will impart a sense of camaraderie.
5. If dining in a restaurant, maximize your chances of meeting people. Ask to sit at a community table, such as the chef's or captain's table, with other singles. Or, let the host know you're willing to join others. Sit with your back to the wall, facing the room, so you can make eye contact with other diners. And don't stick your nose in a book--that says: "Leave me alone, I want to be by myself."
6. Bring along something to share with people you meet. Who can resist a chocolate or a bite of a local delicacy prepared in your home town? Ditto for bug spray, umbrellas, guidebooks, and maps--you'll find yourself instantly popular with people who forgot theirs.
7. Ask questions. Ask for advice on the best restaurants, shops, and beaches. This starts a conversation, lets the other person feel your interest in his or her opinions, and provides you with helpful information to boot.
8. If you plan to travel alone, you'll probably pay more for hotel rooms, cruise cabins, etc., since you're not sharing accommodation costs with someone. Some hotels in Europe do offer smaller single rooms that cost less; you may wish to request one. Otherwise, there's no way to avoid paying more if you stay in a room by yourself.
9. While being friendly and open on vacation, observe commonsense security: Leave your itinerary and contact info with someone back at home; do not reveal too much personal information until you know someone well; meet people in public places; request a hotel room on an upper floor; don't display wealth ostentatiously; etc.
10. Above all, think of solo travel as a pleasure, not a burden. Enjoy the luxury of being able to go where you want, when you want. Your confidence and pleasure in your own company will draw others to you and make you receptive to their overtures.