Thinking of Traveling Alone? Here 15 Tips for Solo Travelers
Traveling alone is one of the best ways to develop and grow as a person, become more independent, and have a lot of fun. However, it can also get intimidating at times – eating alone in a restaurant, walking alone at night, or planning everything all by yourself. If the idea of traveling alone still seems scarier than fun to you, we’ve got 15 tips that’ll leave you full of confidence and ready for an adventure.
Tip # 1: Practice Before You Leave
Before embarking on your solo trip, we recommend building on your solo travel skills closer to home. Try taking a solo day out in your local city or town. Take yourself out to dinner, watch a movie, explore – whatever you plan to do whilst you’re abroad, try to recreate it closer to home. After you’ve become used to taking day travels, attempt a weekend alone adventure.
Tip # 2: Do Your Homework
Definitely one of our top solo travel survival tips. Take some time to think about what you want out of your vacation and where you’re most likely to receive it. Research your trip – book a hotel, hostel, or Airbnb in a popular area for the first night and plan how to travel from the airport to the accommodation ahead of time. You don’t want to waste precious hours of your trip stuck at the airport.
If possible, try to arrive during the day to get a sense of the city, and aim to start early on most days to get the most out of your vacation. Even though you’ll probably be tempted to fill your holiday full of activities, remember to include rest days or rest half-days in your itinerary.
Tip # 3: Stay At a Central and Convenient Location
When traveling, staying in a central location allows you to see so much more and not feel so solo, especially if you’re new to being in your own company. Staying in a live town or city can help you to feel at home and give you lots of opportunities to meet other people.
If you stay in the middle of nowhere, you’re less likely to meet someone else along the way. While solo traveling is mostly about you, you’ll want to have some friendly conversations with others along the way. It also makes it a lot safer and convenient for you to get around and sightsee.
Tip # 4: Always Pack Light
You’ll want to pack light whilst solo traveling because anything larger than a suitcase and you might as well call it moving abroad instead. Make sure to take what you need as where you’re headed may not sell replacements, but don’t go OTT. You don’t need to take the entire contents of your wardrobe.
It’s best to pack your baggage based on what you can carry on your own in a manageable way (preferably a bag pack), because there won’t always be someone around to help you. You’ll also make it really obvious that you’re a solo traveler. Confidence is key to fitting in, and if you can’t move your luggage around on your own, everyone will know you’re from out of town.
Tip # 5: Simply Say No!
While traveling alone, you may get a lot of attention, some you’ll want and some you won’t, particularly in more friendly and foreigner-fascinated cultures. Learn how to say “no, thank you” and “absolutely not” in the local language, as well as the local nonverbal “no” gesture, which is frequently more effective than both.
It’s a good idea to put local support numbers, such as the tourist police, in your phone as well. You’ll probably never use them, but knowing that if you did, you know the best point of contact.
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Tip # 6: Have Multiple Payment Options
If you’re a fan of Apple Pay, you can’t rely on your phone to be fully charged whilst you’re solo traveling. You may need it for maps, looking up reviews for a good place to eat, or just uploading travel pics to your Instagram – all of which use up phone battery. Having to pay for a meal or transport back to your hotel with only 5% (or less) is risky business.
We recommend taking the physical card you have on Apple Pay, as well as others, and gathering some local currency before you go. When you arrive in a new place, you shouldn’t depend exclusively on your debit card to withdraw money, as some nations make it very difficult to withdraw money from an ATM using a foreign debit or credit card. Some countries will also charge a currency conversion rate, so if you want to avoid the extra charges, apply for a debit card that won’t charge you to make payments.
Tip # 7: Purchase Travel Insurance
Think you don’t need it? Think again. If you don’t buy travel insurance, you’re responsible for anything that goes wrong and all costs associated with it. And you just don’t need that pressure whilst solo traveling, right? Having coverage is super important and may save you and your vacation more than you realize, from emergency medical coverage to flight delays and missing luggage.
Tip # 8: Be Proactive
If you’ve never been somewhere before, the chances of getting lost are pretty high, so you need to be proactive in what you do next. First of all, stay calm. Ask for help if you need it. If you’ve wandered into a slightly dodgy area, ask someone in a restaurant or shop rather than a local.
Standing around disoriented won’t get you anywhere, except maybe noticed by the wrong people. Be polite, smile, and ask for assistance. It’s one of the most important aspects of staying safe while traveling alone.
Tip # 9: Don’t Overschedule Your Trip
Overscheduling can ruin a vacation under nearly any circumstances, but as a solo traveler, it can really leave you feeling worn out when you have to do everything by yourself. The point of a vacay is to relax, and overscheduling will do the complete opposite. You’ll come back more tired than when you left and need to go on another holiday just to wind down!
Tip # 10: Create a Plan B, C, and D
You don’t have to take it all the way to Z and have a backup plan for every aspect of your trip, but make sure you have a few options for when things don’t go the way you originally planned. You’ve probably previously encountered a delay or even cancellation of transportation due to strikes, protests, or marches. What could be more stressful than needing to find a last-minute solution to reach your destination?
Our advice for not worrying too much is to have a backup strategy or plan B (or even a plan C). This way, if your initial choice fails, you’ll be less taken aback and will know what to do to eventually get to your destination. This will make you feel more in control of the situation and, as a result, more confident. Say goodbye to worry, neither anxiety nor a strike will detract the joy of your solo trip!
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Tip # 11: You Don’t Have To Finish the Drink
Many cultures place a high value on alcohol. The British like unwinding with a pint at the bar (I can confirm this). Guinness and Jameson are basically the lifeblood of Ireland, and vodka gets a lot of Eastern Europeans through the week.
You may find yourself in settings where drinking is expected as a male traveler. If you’ve been asked to a party or bar, you could feel a lot of pressure to keep up with the other males. Just remember that you’re not required to match anybody shot for shot.
Keeping track of your bar tab in the same way that you keep track of your cash is usually a smart idea. If you end up a little more than boozy, there’s no guarantee anyone will help you without your most trusted wingman.
Tip # 12: Eat Big
While the prospect of visiting restaurants as a solo traveler may fill you with dread, fight the urge to order take out. You didn’t travel halfway around the world to eat pizza in bed. Plus, it’s a good way to practice the local language.
Tip # 13: Be Aware of Over-Friendly People
Some people are genuinely really friendly. However, some people will be over-friendly with the purpose of pickpocketing you. If someone’s friendly, they don’t typically force conversation. They’ll make a move and if you don’t positively engage, they’ll move on.
Someone with a bad intention will often seem like they’re pestering you and trying to force a conversation. Calmly walk away from anyone who seems suspicious.
Tip # 14: Combat Emotions of Loneliness or Homesickness
Don’t allow your negative emotions to get the best of you. Keep yourself busy (but not too busy, remember?) Remind yourself why you wanted to go on this solo vacation in the first place and take small measures to deal with your feelings such as heading to public spaces or diving into your favorite book.
Tip # 15: Revel In It
Even if you become lonely, remember all of the things you can do whilst traveling alone. Some of the pleasures are simple and sweet, such as being able to double-dip your chips in guacamole or being able to change your mind every hour (or less) without worrying about driving anybody insane. But the true benefit of solo travel is considerably greater: complete freedom.
Indulge in your own company. Because before you know it, you’ll have someone who wants to join you on your adventures.
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