Since 1993 I do independent travelling on my own. I have been to a total of 55 countries on 5 continents. During these times I never had severe problems. In fact I never lost my wallet, flight ticket or something similar or ithey got stolen.
I tried different providers for guide books and at the end stuck the editions of Lonely Planet. I got a first book from them as a present of a fellow traveller in China in 1995. She asked me which guide book I had and then she said "how can you do China on your own without a Lonely Planet book?". I only had a similar german book at that time. As she was leaving the country shortly afterwards she gave me hers. Good guide books have a list of essential travel targets, city maps with infrarstructure and attractions and lists of recommended hotels. Normally the don't include bus lines and you might need to buy local maps in addition.
I have an account on Hotel Reservation Service where I book my hotels. Here you can book and in many cases also cancel on short notice. This is a german site and sometimes in remote locations they have limited offers. In that case I switch to the meta site Trivago, but one time I had to pay before the trip and had problems with my booking and didn't get back the money. This never happened with Hotel Reservation Service.
For flights there are many sites on the internet and often I used Mcflight. They find the cheapest and best options for you after you entered your destination.
For car rental I didn't see many differences between the big companies and all my bookings were fine. A navigation system is of course a great help.
If you need a visa you have to organize this by yourself or via an agency but this never was a problem for me.
Contrary to bus tours where there are many elder people or you might be the only single between couples you don't have this problem when travelling independently. You just need good English skills and start your journey. You can freely decide on what to do. Me for example liked to sleep in during vacation but many organized tours start the day at 08:00 in the morning. In many countries you make easy contact to the local population or fellow travellers. In general the less touristy a place is, the easier you get to know other people. I was never robbed or something like this, but I usually don't enjoy the nightlife very much and therefore avoid such dangers. I also don't like arriving by train or plane in the evening. It is always better when there is still light when you look for your accomodation. Taxis are sometimes little criminals but you don't always have a choice. Using a subway is easier than using a bus as you might not always be sure where the bus leaves or stops. I am more a culture visitor than a beach guy and therefore I try to avoid the hottest months of a year when I walk through the citites. Local eating is always an adventure and interesting experience. When I was younger I didn't go to restaurants alone but preferred fast food. Nowadays I eat in restaurants recommended by my guide book. In the evenings I mainly update my travelblog, prepare the next day or watch CNN or something similar if the hotel offers such a channel. But going out to bars and clubs can also be an interesting experience.
So in general I was quite happy as an independent traveller and look forward to see many more countries.
In response to: Msg #209050
We like to travel alone or with a small group of friends. We often plan it ourselves. We've also used the expertise of a travel agent to book the more difficult pieces of a trip. Travel agents always have good insider information and I'm always happy when I have used one.
We've used Hotels.com and booking.com along with Agoda and Asia Rooms. These days we use airbnb a great deal. We don't mind staying in a hotel for a short period of time but to cook so we can prevent eating all all of our meals. we get tired of eating out. With that said we are foodies and love diving into the local foods and often take cooking classes.
We don't go out at night so this has not been an issues for us.