1. Don't skimp on a more expensive anything if it makes you feel safer.
After booking my flight, I set a budget for accommodations, but once I started researching, it became clear that I wanted to stay somewhere that was both on the beach and didn't make me uncomfortable. I compensated by doing things like not shopping for a month or two, but feeling safe is definitely worth more than some new clothes. Which brings me to:
2. Don't feel bad about the money you're spending if you're not going into actual debt.
Traveling alone is expensive. You're not splitting hotel or transportation costs, which are often the biggest expenses when traveling. But if you actually can afford the nice hotel and the spa appointment and pay off your credit card bill (as long as you bring your lunch instead of buying it next month), do it. You'll be happier that you did the things you wanted.
3. Research transportation options carefully.
Google "best way to get from X to Y" for literally anything you're doing. In a lot of places, public transportation will be both faster, cheaper, and safer than taking a cab, even though a cab always sounds most convenient. Check with your hotel too: Many offer affordable airport transfers they don't necessarily advertise.
4. Research everything obsessively—really.
An incognito window in Chrome for checking prices on things is your best friend. It won't cache your searches, so airlines/hotels won't know the dates you keep searching and raise prices. TripAdvisor is your other best friend; the hotel website is never, ever going to mention that rooms on the north side of your hotel are adjacent to da club. You'll need an account to read endless full reviews, but use an incognito window not logged in to compare prices. Once you book a hotel, continue to check its rates as you get closer to your vacation date: If they have a lot of empty rooms, they may have dropped prices, and you can rebook at a lower rate. I did this online a week before I left and saved $60 a night on my room! And like any trip, ask friends who have been there what they liked—and what they didn't.
5. Pack less.
You can wear the same thing out to dinner every night! No one will know!
6. Remember to text your mom.
Pick someone to check in with regularly—someone who you know will check in with you if they don't hear from you, whether it's your mom, your best friend, or both. Send them a photo or quick text whenever you have WiFi. It's also helpful to give them your full itinerary: One day on my trip, I went straight from a full-day tour of the jungle and Mayan ruins to a two-hour spa appointment that I forgot to mention, and came back to many texts from my mom worrying that I'd fallen into a sinkhole or been eaten by pumas.
7. Ask people to take your picture so your camera roll isn't just selfies.
While about to climb a Mayan ruin, I spotted a group of girls in their 20s trying to squeeze themselves into a selfie. I offered to take their picture, and they not only then took mine, but suggested we all climb together so we could keep taking photos for each other in the middle and at the top. Instead of sweaty and gross selfies, now I have triumphant top-of-a-temple photos.
8. Do a group tour.
This is just a good thing to do generally if you're going somewhere where there's stuff to see, but it's an especially good idea if you're on your own. It guarantees you'll have other people to interact with if you want to, but you can totally skip polite conversation if you're not in the mood. Plus: more people to take your picture.
9. Bring a book that fits in your purse for dinner.
Dinner is the time where you'll really feel alone, with no one to talk to and nothing to do until your food comes. I brought a really giant book with me, and it didn't fit in my little vacation purse. I didn't want to start a second book on my Kindle, so I spent a lot of dinners playing Two Dots and other dumb games on my iPhone when I got bored of people watching.
10. Don't advertise on social media that you're alone.
I of course Instagrammed and Snapchatted from my vacation, but I never once mentioned that I was by myself or geolocated my hotel. Brag about being a badass who took a vacation alone after you get home.
11. If you have doubts about telling a stranger you're traveling alone, lie.
If a creeper asks why you're eating by yourself, tell him you're with your boyfriend/sister/third cousin once removed, and they got too much sun and are resting.
12. But don't be afraid to make friends.
While you should never give out details like your room number, if you want to chat people up, do it! Being alone is a lot of time with your thoughts, and it's good to get out of them sometimes. One morning, I asked a woman around my age who was sitting next to me on the beach if she could take a picture of me. The woman next to her, her mom, started art directing, and I ended up chatting with them on and off throughout the day and even went out to lunch with them.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.