Solo travel is appealing to many, as it can be thrilling to travel alone. You get to pick the location, stay in any hotel you like, visit all the sights on your must-see list, eat at all your favorite restaurants, and essentially do whatever you want. Sounds like a dream, don’t you think? Absolutely, but there can be some things that many may overlook when venturing out alone.
I have personally experienced many ups and downs around the world on my journeys and learned many lessons to make for a better travel experience. Here are 10 tips to help ensure your solo travel experience is positive and the first of many great trips as you explore the world on your terms.
Keep It Light – Avoid Overpacking
It’s crucial to keep in mind that you won’t have an airline employee or a hotel employee helping you with your bags along the way for most of your travel. Because of this, solo travelers should only bring what is absolutely needed. Your luggage should be roomy enough to hold all of your necessities without being too heavy to handle for extended periods.
Always plan your packing
Many tools and resources are available on the web to help you create a packing list, such as The Ultimate Packing List. However, make sure that any list you use or create is specific to your needs and is appropriate for your destination. You may also want to consider packing carry-on only to help you further minimize your luggage as a solo traveler.
Have a Flexible Itinerary
It can be tempting to schedule your whole day around everything you want to see, do, eat, and experience because you’re in charge. On the other hand, it’s wise to make sure you give yourself some breathing room while traveling. As I have experienced many times, delays, unexpectedly extended travel times, and the possibility that you may wish to extend your visit to a café, museum, or spa can make your day or trip longer. I usually plan 3-4 activities for the day, with plenty of time in between to extend as needed. Sometimes the best experiences are completely unplanned.
Have a Backup Plan
When traveling solo, it’s important always to have a plan B; for many things. Have a backup plan for transportation and a few ideas for what to do if your original plans fall through in case of delays or cancellations. I usually try to plan a couple of different things to do each day in case something is closed or takes less time than expected.
Know where key facilities and services are located in your destination city. Where can you get cash anytime? Is there a medical facility close by? What if I need to print or copy something? Where is the US consulate located, and more importantly, how might I get there if needed? These are just a few of the many plan B sort of questions you may want to ponder as you map out your solo travel plan.
Adjust Travel Expenses – Up and Down
generally, I have found that travel, even extended travel, can be much less expensive than most people imagine. Obviously, many expenses are variable, such as different flights, classes, or sizes of hotel rooms, which can impact how much is spent. Aside from that, solo travelers may sometimes have to spend more money, but on the other hand, they may be able to save money in some areas along the way.
Some things have fixed costs when you travel. If two or more people are traveling, the net costs of such things can be divided amongst the individuals, lowering expenses. For example, a $50 hotel room is $25 per night. These sorts of expenses may be more expensive in this regard, but there are some ways to save here.
There may be solo discounts
First, some accommodations have a lower single price; make sure to adjust the number of guests to 1 when searching online; 2 people is often the default. Also, I have found that there are some things I don’t mind as much solo, as opposed to when I travel with a significant other. Obstructed views, hotels a little further away from the center, or even ones with fewer amenities. I have personally found that when solo, I spend much less time in the hotel and seldom use amenities like pools and spas when alone. You will learn to save even more as you get better at solo travel.
I really enjoy seeing the city, the country, the people, and all a country has to offer. Much of the time, my activities are low-cost. I can spend hours getting lost in a new city, finding many sites along the way. I also look to stay at budget hotels and prefer public transportation when I can. My rationale for this is simple: I would much rather spend more time away and travel on a budget than go the shorter luxury route. Having said that, I do occasionally splurge as well.
Look for deals
The key here is to plan it. I have found that solo travelers can often be more flexible, which is good, as sometimes you have to be to find better deals. Search for local deals posted online, ask the hotel staff, and keep an eye out for promotions as you go. Take advantage of your ability to be spontaneous and jump into those last-minute deals when they come up.
Enjoy the Silence
Solo travel can be a powerful and transformative experience for many. One of the most valuable benefits of traveling alone is being able to take time for yourself. Taking some quiet and alone time for yourself can help you to recenter and reflect on your life and the lessons you have learned along the way. Traveling in silence is new for most people and may even be hard. Resist the feeling that you must join a tour or sit at the bar to eat because you are alone. Take time to get to know yourself, reflect on your journey, and enjoy the silence.
Connect with New Friends
Traveling solo does not mean you have to be alone all the time or at any time. You will find a virtual plethora of opportunities to meet others on your solo travel journeys. There are many solo travel groups, some of which may specialize in specific groups, such as solo women travel. You can seek to join a solo travel society, grab a bag, jump on an airplane, and travel to any destination on your own.
If you feel that meeting others may be difficult or you feel some anxiety toward being alone, you shouldn’t be, as it is actually extremely easy to meet people while traveling solo. I have personally met some of the most amazing people on my journeys around the world and created some lifelong friendships in the process.
Bucket List Checkoffs Daily
Traveling, in general, can create some of the most amazing experiences, some of which we may consider once in a lifetime level. Some people may think that some experiences may not be fully appreciated without a significant other. While there may be a few honeymoons or a couple of specific sorts of activities, almost everything can be done and even embraced individually. In fact, you may find that you can be extremely flexible and open to just about anything that comes up, which often leads to discovering sites and scenes that are off the beaten path or isolated and hidden away from the public. Meeting new, local friends will also open many doors to bucket-list, check-offs, and other once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Lastly, the most important tip is always to be safe. Traveling alone is amazing, and it can be the catalyst for personal growth and development. However, it is important always to keep safety in mind, perhaps even more so than when traveling with others. Always remember that should an emergency occur, you are all alone and may have to rely on yourself to resolve any challenges that arise. Always be mindful of your surroundings and the areas you visit, and do whatever is needed and appropriate to remain safe when you travel.
Keep in touch with others
It is also very important to stay in touch with friends and family, tell them where you are, and routinely update them on your activities. It is also helpful to provide the address and phone numbers of your hotels and some information about your mode of transportation.
The world is often safe, but always putting your personal safety first is important. If something does not feel or look right, it may not be, and you should trust your instincts to avoid it. Be mindful that there are people who will seek to take advantage of tourists, so ensure you are protected along your journey. Safeguard your valuables at all times, and again, always have a plan in place in case there is an emergency.
Traveling solo is an amazing experience and one that will provide many valuable, powerful mental, physical, and emotional experiences for those who are anxious about the experience; trust and know that it is much easier than you think. Best of all, many will find that they enjoy it much more than they imagined.