There are a ton of things to consider when traveling: how to get from place to place, how to balance your budget, how to cover the most ground in the least amount of time...the last thing you want to spend your precious vacation time on is choosing your hotel. But, having a great place to come back to at the end of a long day can make a world of difference, and -- especially when you’re traveling solo -- there are a few things you should think about before you book to ensure you have a safe, stress-free vacation. While we have solo female travelers in mind (studies show that single female foreigners are at a higher risk than their male counterparts or those in groups while traveling), these four tips are helpful for all.
You want your accommodation to put you as close to the action as possible, and you also want it to be located in an area that’s safe at night. Most major booking sites will allow you to scout the location on a map, but if you’re not sure about the neighborhood, pick up the phone and call the hotel before you book. Ask them for specifics: is the neighborhood well-lit? Is it close to major attractions? Is it patrolled by police or hotel security in the evenings? Is there key-card only access after a certain time? Staying at a place like Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel while visiting New York, for example, will put in the heart of everything, which also means you'll avoid desolate streets no matter when you return.
Be sure that you’re staying in a secure hotel by looking for things like CCTV, 24-hour reception, secure doors in the rooms (with at least two locks), and safety deposit boxes, so important items like IDs and cell phones are secure. Most major hotels brands (any Sheraton or Hilton, for example) will offer this, but some smaller, more local hotels may not. If you're feeling nervous about staying solo, ask for a room that's not on the ground floor, and a bit further away from the elevator. Never hesitate to ask a hotel attendant to walk you to your room if you're feeling insecure.
Traveling is all about finding what works best for you. If you’re looking to veg out and just hang at a resort, book your stay at a place like El Dorado Royale in Riviera Maya, Mexico, which has enough happening on the grounds to keep you entertained; this can be a safe alternative to venturing out in an unknown area (although we certainly don't suggest you stay cooped up if you're looking for a bit more adventure).
If you’re looking for hotels that offer a lot in value in the way of the details -- nice in-room amenities, quality shampoos, and the like -- Hyatt hotels can be great; many offer the chance to borrow things you forgot at home free of charge. We also like the Hyatt House brand for the in-room kitchenettes, which make it easy to stay in for the night if you don’t feel like making a night on the town. Check out the Hyatt House Charlotte City Center to see what we mean.
4. Women’s Only
Hostels have been offering women's only dorms for years, but these days, several hotels have jumped on the bandwagon as well. The Georgian Court Hotel in Vancouver has an entire floor specific to women, for example, with curling irons, flat irons, and women’s magazines available. While the vast majority of hotels do not offer women's specific floors, most are receptive to the needs of a woman traveling solo. Be vocal with your hotel staff about what you'd like out of your experience as you check-in, so that they can do their best to accommodate you.
Pro Tip: Be Cautious, Not Paranoid
Traveling solo should never limit you from having amazing experiences abroad, and you'll likely find that you're rarely alone with all of the new friends you'll meet abroad. At the end of the day, the hotel you book will likely be an afterthought in comparison to the adventures you'll have as you travel around -- but it's better to be prepared with the knowledge of where you'll stay that first night, rather than arrive at a new destination with no plans. We firmly believe that the world is mostly safe, and that people are mostly good. Don't let anything hold you back from seeing the world. Get out there, lady!