If you want to travel, but can’t find a companion for your trip as you are single and all your friends seem to be busy with something else, don’t wait too long – just pick a destination and go. Traveling alone isn’t as bad as it sounds. In fact, it can be much more fulfilling, enriching and entertaining than if you are with a group. If you are a first-timer in solo travel, our eight essential tips can save you from loneliness and unpleasant situations.
Why travel alone? Define your motivation
Why do you want to travel? Most people prefer going on a vacation with their families, friends and closest people to either explore new places, or to relax. However, solo travel has one very important component – it allows, or force, you to explore yourself. This is a time of introspection, facing your real you, with all the angels and demons inside you. It’s a self-discovery, which can be really useful and liberating. So, are you looking for relaxation, or prefer something more adventurous? If you suffered heartbreak, a loss of a loved one, an all-inclusive beach or spa resort may serve you as a therapy and help you get back in track. And of course, let’s not forget that being on your own is actually much more relaxing than taking a trip with the family.
But solo travel is also a rewarding experience if you really want to immerse yourself in the local culture, explore all the amazing things and people, without having to comply with anyone else’s wishes, requirements and interests. This is the best way to fully indulge yourself and your personal experience. Also, you will be able to try any activity you’ve always wanted such as surfing, diving, or spending the entire day in Disneyland.
The first concern of the solo traveler is always safety – from scam and robbery, to simple health issues, traveling alone can be very risky. But in fact, sometimes it is better to be on your own. You can blend in more easily and not draw much attention as a tourist. However, there are few tips on how to ensure safety, with the first one being good preparation. You should know the cost of things – from the taxi charges to the price of souvenirs, clothing and food. Then, find out if your hotel closes up during the night – otherwise, you can easily end up sleeping on a park bench. Research online about general crime and certain dangers at the destination you are considering. A good way is to contact directly with people who live there at websites for expatriates, for instance.
Read more: Do You Really Need Travel Insurance?
Carry identification in several places, as well as passport/visa copies and emergency phone numbers. Stay in touch with your family or friends by making regular calls or via Internet, telling them where you are. You home country should have some kind of safety program for tourists – research well before leaving.
Pack as light as you can
You don’t really need two suitcases, a backpack and a handbag, do you? Don’t forget that most of the time, there will be no one to help you out with the heavy bags.
Read more: Health Care During Travel
Don’t be too excited
Try to be as calm as possible – it will be extremely difficult if this is the first time you are traveling solo. Usually, the simple sight of the new, unknown surroundings and the fact that after so much planning you have finally arrived will be overwhelming. Try to control yourself and stay in the present – no more daydreaming; you are now living your dream.
Try not to look as a tourist
Put away your camera and guidebook and wear acceptable clothes. Leave all your flashy jewelry, branded watch, and extravagant clothing at home. Also, check the bus schedules and maps before leaving the hotel. Try to walk confident and purposefully, not asking everyone for directions. And always carry a dictionary; if you can, memorize some common words or expressions in the local language, such as the names of the museums and attractions you are visiting, the name of your hotel, words like “hello”, “thank you”, “help”, “how much”, and so on.
Trust the people you meet, but not too much
Traveling alone makes you more vulnerable, although you may find really amazing friends during the trip. Spend time with them, but don’t leave them your luggage or ask them to hold your money.
Take your time
One of the greatest benefits of solo travel is that you can do whatever you like without the pressure and rushing to get everything done in the first day. No need to hurry – this is your vacation, your experiences, so take your time to fully enjoy them.
There is no “right” and “wrong” situations when you are alone – follow your instincts and you will have the best time of your life. Instead of waking up early, as we recommend you, you can afford to relax a little more, especially right after you arrive. And instead of eating at a restaurant, try grocery shopping as local, fresh produce is always better than restaurant food.
Most people think solo travelers feel lonely all the time. In fact, this is a huge misunderstanding of solo travel itself – it’s not about being with someone and sharing things. It’s about seeing and experience the new on your own. It helps you appreciate it more and understand yourself. Yes, you will feel lonely sometimes, but it’s normal. Besides, that’s easy to fix as making friends is actually much easier while on the road than back home. It’s easier to start a conversation with a stranger when you are not at home. And you can always find company at least for the part of the trip.
And don’t think that solo travel is only for men. True, it’s a bit more dangerous for women in some corners of the world, but as long as you stick to these rules on how to travel alone and be reasonable, you should be perfectly safe.