Recently, solo traveling has gained popularity with people who’d rather go alone than not go at all. According to a study by Visa, one in five people have traveled on their own during their most recent leisure trip. They’ve enjoyed the many benefits to traveling solo which include cultivating mindfulness, alleviating depression, making new friends (across the globe), total relaxation and time for reflection. If you’re thinking about a solo trip, check out these tips to help you plan an unforgettable vacation.

Find the perfect destination: There are many destinations that are better for solo travelers than others. Check out this list from USA Today, which includes Great Britain and Ireland, Reykjavik, Iceland and the California coast.

Make new friends: don’t be afraid to make conversation with the locals, especially retail shop owners. They typically know the ins and outs of the area and can steer you to the best restaurants, hidden local spots and warn you about places you probably shouldn’t travel to alone.

Stay alert: without another traveling companion there to watch your back, you may look vulnerable to criminals or scam artists. Make sure you ditch the guide book and try to blend in with the locals, instead of sticking out like a tourist. Be sure to keep an open mind, but be guarded enough to ensure your safety. Independent Traveler has a few safety tips as well.

Keep in touch: before you go, make sure a friend or family member has your complete travel itinerary and copies of your travel documents. It’s also a good idea to Skype, facetime, call, or text friends and family back home at least once a day to update them, especially if any of your plans have changed.

Join a group: If you want to go alone but feel safer in a group there are a few solo travel communities to check out. One we came across is Under 30 Experiences. You’re still able to step out of your comfort zone and meet new people, but you’ll experience a more guided itinerary to make sure you get to see the coolest spots your destination has to offer. Top Tours for Single Travelers from the Travel Channel is another great list that provides other touring options to consider.

Have you traveled on your own before? Share with us and other Fast Park guests on our Facebook page!