PLAY IT SAFE ON THE ROAD
Too much luggage slows you down and makes you stand out. Never pack more than you can carry yourself.
If you're a woman alone, you don't want to call unwanted attention to yourself with a plunging neckline. Pack a rain jacket and baseball hat so you can defeminize in a hurry -- say, if your rental car breaks down in the middle of nowhere.
In some countries, telling strangers that you're traveling alone could be construed as an invitation to follow you around. Say you're expecting your husband/brother/boyfriend/strapping male person to come along any minute.
Sit With a Family
While waiting for a train or bus, sit near a family and make a point of introducing yourself. Establishing a connection makes you less of a target.
HOW NOT TO BE SHY
The slick Matador travel network (matadornetwork.com) is an online magazine and social network where thousands of travelers exchange contact info and arrange to meet.
Look Like a Tourist
If you fit in too well, locals are less likely to notice you -- or want to help you. A map or guidebook under the arm (coupled with a smile) announces you're open to suggestions.
Be the Photographer
Instant icebreaker: Offer to take a fellow traveler's picture and ask that person to take yours. Compare your shots, travel notes…next thing you know, you’re touring a museum together.
Find a Walking Tour
You'd be surprised how many low-key (non-stuffy) walking tours are offered for very little. Ask your hotel or check coffee shop bulletin boards. Then chat up your fellow travelers!
HOW TO EAT ALONE
Become a Regular
Find a restaurant you like and return the next day. The staff may recognize you, befriend you, maybe invite you out! Who knows? You might even get a free snack out of it.
Sit at the Bar
Tables are islands; the bar is the mainland. You can talk to fellow patrons without encroaching on their space.
Order Finger Food
Spaghetti bolognese: messy and built for one. Tapas, nuts, chips and dip: made for sharing!
Splurge on Lunch
Eating midday is less expensive and less conspicuous. That night, you can order a cheese plate while chatting up strangers at the bar.
Bring a Journal
You appear closed off with your head in a book, and creepy staring into space. Writing in a notebook is the perfect balance: You’re engaged yet approachable. And your journal can be a conversation starter.
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