Considering most family vacations and trips with loved ones fill our hearts and minds with wonderful memories, it does not seem so strange that people all over the world prefer to travel with companions. Yet what many don’t realize is that this form of travel can prevent us from fully experiencing the journey itself. On vacation with family and friends we often, rightfully, spend much of our time engaging with them - discussing surroundings, taking meals and so much more. Yet we miss the beauty of simply allowing a destination and its inhabitants to speak for themselves.
In today’s world there is definitely a stigma attached to the idea of travelling alone. People assume it is too dangerous, lonely and, even worse, no fun. This view, however, forgets the most positive aspect of traveling alone - it’s freeing. By traveling alone you can develop a sense of self-confidence, a new type of intelligence, awareness, ease in your own skin and so much more. You become unbound from the desires of companions to truly do anything you choose, to explore, learn and appreciate however you see fit. You are able to travel at your most comfortable pace and the trip is nearly half the cost. Traveling alone may seem frightening at first but we promise you won’t come back the same. Here are our favorite tips and tricks for taking the plunge and travelling alone.
Meet the locals. Traveling alone provides more time for thinking, for time spent enjoying your own company. However there’s nothing wrong with being open minded towards the locals around your destination as well as to other travelers. Keep a look out for restaurants with communal tables or small tour groups in the areas.
Also make sure to meet local professionals. Local bartenders, servers, clerks and store owners will be very knowledgeable and will most likely be more than willing to fill you in on their favorite spots around town. To establish a strong rapport find a small cafe or restaurant to visit every day, that way you'll get to know the people there - and they will get to know you.
Make Sure to pack lightly! Traveling alone can be one the most rewarding and uplifting experiences in your life, so long as you’re not weighed down by luggage. Keep in mind that anything you bring with you you’ll have to carry and take with you between each destination.
While most guide books are geared toward travelling in groups the Lonely Planet Travel Guides do an excellent job of suggesting activities, entertainment, housing and transportation options for the solo traveler. The company boasts more the 480 completed guides to the most extraordinary locations around the globe -- all just waiting for you.
If you’re interested, look out for destinations with strong expat communities. A nice way to combat loneliness on trips alone is to make connections with people who understand where you’re from. Chances are they’ll also be able to assist you with possible language barrier problems or understanding public transportation.
Use technology to your advantage by checking out the Google street views of areas around your hotel. The virtual tour will give you an idea of what your surroundings will look like and will subsequently make it easier and more comfortable for you to get around.
Hit the big sites first, especially if it your first solo trip. One of the most difficult elements of traveling alone is getting accustomed to being by yourself in a completely new place. By visiting the most popular tourist locations first, you won’t be the only one on their way there and there will be no lack of signs or willing locals helping you get there. By planning your trip this way you may be able to get your bearings a little sooner and become more comfortable alone as well as have the safety net of heading to an extremely popular location.
Lastly in terms of experience, be true to yourself. Figure out why you’re traveling and what you hope to get from it. If you’re a person who enjoys meeting new people, who enjoys new experiences and wants to take a step outside of their normal comfort zone in exchange for an incomparable experience - then travelling solo could be the best time of your life.
Try to arrive during the day. Even in safer parts of the world it is more difficult to find your way in the dark. Streets look different and are less safe during the night time. Making sure that your travel plans leave you at your destination during the day is a small precaution you can take to ensure you can find your way from airport to hotel safely.
Make sure to carry copies of all your essentials, and a little bit of cash all over. By keeping copies of your documents you’ll have the information in case of emergency but you wont have to surrender the originals in case of robbery. Secondly if you keep a little bit of cash all over, in your sock, shoe, pocket, belt etc, even if you are in the unfortunate situation of being mugged you’ll have enough on you hidden to get to your lodging safely.
Try to blend in. Do a little bit of research beforehand to get an idea of what fashion and cultural standards are like at your destination. Chances are they’re far different from where you’re coming from. While shorts and a t-shirt may be completely normal for North America that same outfit would be a sure giveaway in many European countries. Similarly if you are a woman traveling to the Middle East or some Asian locations be sure to understand the rules of modesty at your destination. In some places showing elbows and knees may be considered very rude and would also be clear signals that you are a tourist.
When out and about at night make sure to limit your alcohol intake. A night out in many destinations can be a fun and exciting way to meet locals and make lasting memories, but alcohol can lower your awareness of surroundings. Also as an added safety measure take a picture of each taxi’s license plate before you get in and send it to a friend or save it to a google drive. This information could come in handy in case of emergency.
Trying to keep costs down? Southeast Asia is a very popular solo travel location. It’s known not only for its welcoming and beautiful local people but also as one of the least expensive trips you can take.
- Make lunch your main meal. Since lunch menus are often less expensive version of dinner menus take your main meal at noon and enjoy the delicacies of the local restaurants. You’ll save some money and avoid the evening crowds.
Find people through your people! Take to social media and ask for connections in your final location. You’ll be surprised how many people may respond to show you around, be a tour guide for a day or even open their home to you for a night.
Travel at the right time. Most sites will advise even to groups to travel during the off-season but not many people realize how much easier this is for solo travelers. Since it is indeed the off season, more single rooms and events are available!