Solo travel is something I never imagined for myself. But after finding myself on my own and a passion to travel, I stepped out of my comfort zone and took my first solo trip. While it wasn’t to a exotic destination, it gave me the courage to continue my passion. Along the way I discovered that traveling on my own terms was kind of exciting.
Traveling solo can be a great adventure. I found that taking a solo trip gave me an opportunity to discover myself. I didn’t march to the beat of someone else’s drum. I followed my own schedule and took my time exploring things that made me happy. If you’ve been holding back, here are a few tips that made it a little easier heading out alone.
Combating those feelings of loneliness and boredom
I wish I could say you never face feelings of loneliness and boredom when you travel alone, but they happen. Especially when you’ve always traveled with a companion. The truth is that learning to enjoy your own company makes solitude rewarding. On the other hand, you can surely find companions if you’re willing to get social and mingle with others you meet along the way. These tips will help you maneuver those feelings of loneliness.
1.Engage fully. Be mindful of your surroundings. Getting caught up in new experiences as you travel will leave little time for boredom.
2. Take a tour. A day tour is ideal for meeting new acquaintances. It’s easy to strike up a conversation when you share the same interests with others and you’re away from your usual routine.
3. Dine out. Look for places with communal tables or ask your hotel to recommend them. Eat at the bar if you feel conspicuous at a table.
4. Stay at a bed and breakfast. The owners of a bed and breakfast may be happy to talk about local attractions. Hostels are another good choice. There will likely be other guests and maybe even other solo travelers at these types of places.
5.Talk with new people. Approach your fellow travelers or locals who seem friendly and helpful. Trains and coffee shops are two good places to start.
6. Do volunteer work. Sign up with a non-profit organization and perform group volunteer work. For example, travel to exciting places while building new homes through Habitat for Humanity.
7. Pursue solitary activities. Visit an art museum or lie on the beach with a good book. Enjoy the peace and relaxation you get from being alone.
8. Frequent local businesses. Visiting the same fruit stall every day will quickly turn you into a regular. Exchange greetings and let them know you appreciate any advice on what to see.
Keeping yourself safe
Let’s face it, we are living in some crazy times these days and it can be scary when you are out there alone. This is a common concern among travelers, solo or otherwise. Here are some basic precautions to help you reduce the risk of a bad experience.
1. Blend in. Looking like a tourist may leave you vulnerable. Walk with confidence and step inside a hotel to check your map.
2. Be alert. Observe what’s going on around you. Ask your hotel to advise you about where it’s safe to walk. If you’re near an unsafe area, avoid unnecessary risks by taking a cab to your destination.
3. Watch your money. You may want to wear a shoulder bag strapped across your body or under a coat. Consider using a money belt or clip. Solo travelers are often the perfect target for pickpockets.
4. Assess your fluency. Language skills also matter. Ask yourself if you can communicate clearly in case of a medical emergency.
5. Gather your documents. Put a copy of your identification and health insurance in your pocket. Leave a second copy with loved ones at home.
6. Check in at home. Speaking of home, give your full itinerary to at least one person. Call or text them every few days to let them know you’re okay. There have been way too many instances of travelers disappearing on a trip and nobody realizes it for quite some time.
7. Pack light. Leave your valuables at home. Traveling with minimal baggage increases your comfort and your ability to move quickly.
Always keep your budget in the forefront
I have found that the travel industry can sometimes make a solo traveler’s budget more challenging with things like “single supplements” on cruises and tours. This happens because the suppliers are trying to recoup the cost of loosing the “second” traveler. However, there are still plenty of ways to vacation affordably on your own. Here are some ways I’ve found to be helpful.
1. Save up in advance. Put money aside gradually. Small amounts add up over time.
2. Be flexible about timing. You’ll tend to find the best deals at the last minute or several months before your departure. Be open to traveling during the off-season for further monetary savings.
3. Look for special bargains. Check discount travel sites and look for deals. Some venues may even be willing to waive the single supplement.
4. Accept roommates. Contact travel companies who specialize in solo travel. Ask to be paired up with another single traveler who is headed to your same destination. I have found several Facebook communities specifically for solo travels that provide opportunities to meet up with other solo travelers. These have been a great way for me to meet others and build some wonderful new friendships.
Traveling solo allows you to vacation your way. Spend a whole week at a pumpkin festival or browse the Louvre at your own pace. Avoid being intimidated by the thought of traveling alone. Solo travel creates memories you’ll treasure for life. Those first few trips don’t have to be on the other side of the world, I started with a few four day weekend trips that were just a few hours away.
Till our next adventure!