There are many reasons why you might want to travel alone. Maybe you need a break from your current life. Maybe you’ve experienced a major upheaval and you need time to get away and heal. Or maybe you just want to go on a vacation, but your friends and family can’t afford it, don’t have the time for it, or aren’t interested in doing what you want to do.
Taking a trip that’s focused around what you want to do with minimal input from outside sources can give you a different travel experience compared to going on vacation as a couple or with friends. While autonomy is one of the best things about solo travel, there are many things to consider before embarking on a solo adventure. Here, we provide helpful tips to ensure a successful solo trip.
Traveling Alone Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely
Although group travel may provide a sense of security, it can also force you to make compromises that affect your overall experience. When you don’t have to worry about whether your travel companions are enjoying themselves, it takes a lot of the pressure off. As a solo traveler, you’ll be able to skip destinations and activities you aren’t interested in and do what you want, without having to consider whether others will enjoy the same things.
Traveling alone doesn’t have to mean being physically alone. Even if you don’t go with a group, you are likely to meet people along the way who share the same interests, depending on the activities you plan for yourself.
Considering staying at a hostel, where you’ll find lots of other solo travelers. (And keep in mind that many hostels now offer private rooms, so you don’t have to bed down with strangers.) You might also try booking a room in someone’s home via Airbnb or Homestay.com—many hosts enjoy meeting and socializing with their guests. Other ways to meet people while traveling include conferences, festivals, and other gatherings; volunteering; taking a class; or catching up on work in a co-working space.
Meeting locals and other travelers can create camaraderie during your trip, and even lead to long-lasting friendships.
Do Your Research
Doing your research is more important than ever when it comes to planning a trip by yourself. Since you’re going alone, your personal safety will be a concern throughout your trip. Thoroughly researching your destination will give you insights about how to safely navigate it alone. Ask people who’ve been there before if it’s safe to take public transit, if there are particular neighborhoods or areas you should avoid if you’re alone, what you should do in an emergency, if you absolutely need to know the local language, and similar questions.
For your first solo trip, it can be a good idea to consult a professional travel agent. Using a travel agent gives you access to an expert who can assist with planning your trip. Not only that, travel planners have a wealth of knowledge about the ins and outs of solo travel and can serve as a point of contact for questions.
Prioritize Your Safety
It’s a common misconception that traveling alone is unsafe, and though anything can happen, that statement isn’t completely accurate. Whether you’re traveling solo or in a group, there are always safety risks. However you travel, it’s important to understand both the general and destination-specific risks.
One of the biggest things to consider is how you appear to the local population. Appearing as a tourist can sometimes make you an easy target for dangerous situations. Always be careful about the clothing you pack and any cultural norms around clothing. In addition, be aware of your surroundings—study a map of the area before you go out and any public transit routes you plan to take. Adopt a friendly but confident and assertive demeanor to avoid looking like an easy target for pickpockets, thieves, and scammers. When you appear comfortable and knowledgeable in your surroundings, you won’t seem lost, and sketchy people are less likely to target you.
Knowledge of what’s normal and not can also help you. Certain places are notorious for imposters like fake taxi drivers and tour guides, so something as simple as knowing how much your taxi fare should be from the airport to the city center can protect you from a bad situation. If you are approached by a travel guide, be wary of paying for tours that weren’t pre-planned. Don’t be afraid to say “no, thank you” or do an internet search to make sure the company they claim to work for is legitimate.
Another important safety tip when traveling alone is to be mindful of your personal belongings, especially your wallet and personal electronics like cameras, smartphones, laptops, and tablets. No matter where you travel, thieves are drawn to electronics, and they are known to target tourists and visitors. Consider putting your small electronics and wallet in a belt-bag to keep your valuables close by at all times.
You Can Have an Amazing Solo Trip
A solo trip can be an amazing experience. Taking the time to make sure you are fully prepared is the best way to ensure this. Consult with a reputable travel agent who can help you personalize your trip and guide you to the safest destinations for solo travelers. Once you go, use the time as an opportunity to relax, explore, and do what you want to do. With a little research and planning, you can have a safe and enjoyable solo vacation experience.