When you’re traveling solo, don’t let the world convince you that you’re a pathetic loser. Journeying to faraway lands alone has tremendous benefits. You’re not shackled to the whims of others, and you can truly immerse yourself in anything that interests you. Here are some tips for the savvy solo traveler.

Stay in Hostels

Hostels have many benefits besides the low price. They’re a great way to meet other travelers and get in a little socializing. You can hook up with others who are going to the destinations you want to visit. Hostel staff can provide insider tips and help you plan your days.

Many hostels also provide breakfast, which is a good time to find a traveling companion for the day. Lending libraries offer tourist books and maps. Since lugging a laptop around is ill-advised, hostel internet computers are available for doing travel research and staying in touch with loved ones back home.

Safety First

Do your homework before you settle on a destination for your solo traveling. Some areas are unsafe for those traveling alone. Choose a contact person back home and provide updates several times a day as to where you’ll be and whom you’ll be with.

When you’re out and about, don’t bury your face in a map and make yourself a target. Avoid wearing touristy clothes such as Disney t-shirts. Wear a money belt inside your clothes to avoid pickpockets. Consider replacing your wedding band with a “disposable” silver temporary band that you wouldn’t mind losing.

Mind Your Papers

Keep extra copies of all your important documents stashed at your home base when you go out. Before your trip, scan all of your documents and email them to yourself so there’s an accessible copy online. If you’re a U.S. citizen traveling abroad, sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Keep a Flexible Itinerary

One of the best things about traveling alone is the flexibility. Don’t make plans that are too rigid. Instead, go with the flow and perhaps meet some new people to hang out with. You have the freedom to change plans anytime you like, so revel in it! You may enjoy an activity more than you anticipated and want to stay a bit longer.

Bring a Book

Traveling always brings about some downtime, so be sure to have a good book with you. When you’re dining solo at a restaurant, you may feel especially uncomfortable. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone — at least, not figuratively. There’s a condition called “solomangarephobia” that’s actually pretty common.

But if you think about it, why dine with a table full of prattling chuckleheads when you can keep company with the likes of Flannery O’Connor, Vladimir Nabokov, or Kurt Vonnegut? Plus, you’ll look intriguing as you pore over your literary works. Just leave the Twilight series at home — they’re too big to lug around anyway. Still, you may want to choose an outdoor cafe over a restaurant. Solo diners with books are more commonly seen at cafes, regardless of what country you’re in.

Solo travelers know that adventuring alone is wonderful way to dive into the experience and truly go your own way. Just be sure to plan ahead and stay safe!