At some point in your life, you may find yourself traveling solo. Whether it is by choice or not, there are numerous advantages to traveling on your own, the main one being that you can do whatever you’d like to do, whenever you’d like to do it.
Traveling solo can also be intimidating, though, so here are some tips on how to set forth on an adventure with a plane ticket for one.
1. Enjoy your own company. You are going to spend a lot of time by yourself, so you should feel comfortable with a book, a journal or your own thoughts. Before you take your trip, try going on a few simple outings at home on your own – visit a museum, see a movie, or go to dinner by yourself to get used to the feeling.
2. Keep your eyes open. When you travel on your own you have to look out for yourself and your belongings. Some tips for staying safe: always keep your drink in your sight, use the hotel safe or a money belt for your valuables, and always take your belongings with you (even if it means lugging your suitcase to the airport bathroom every time). Quite simply, use common sense and trust your intuition. You probably wouldn’t walk alone at night down a suspicious-looking alley in your hometown, so don’t do it when you are in a new city.
3. If you’re a woman, you may want to take extra precautions. Women traveling on their own may attract unwanted attention in some countries. Dressing modestly and wearing a wedding band (fake or not) help to detract unsolicited attention. Even if you are very happily single, even if there is a boyfriend or girlfriend at home, even if you are legitimately married, the easiest way to escape an uncomfortable situation with a persistent suitor is to say, “I’m sorry, my husband is waiting for me at the hotel/restaurant/museum, I have to go.”
4. Be savvy about the area you’re in. Before you even arrive, you should have a fairly good idea of the layout of the place you’re visiting and if there are any areas to avoid. If you’re heading to a new country, research how much a taxi or other such services should cost. Just because you are alone, it doesn’t mean that you should be easier to rip off. If there isn’t a meter in your taxi, negotiate a price before you start driving.
5. Get to know the locals. Chatting with people who live in and know your holiday destination works in your favor in many ways. Not only will you get a more authentic view of the local culture, you will instantly have a friend and a potential tour guide, someone to fill you in on the must-sees and must-dos. You will also have a person to turn to if you are in need of assistance in any way.
6. Smile. You are going to meet a lot of people on your trip: hotel and airport employees, restaurant staff, shopkeepers, and, of course, other travelers. Stay open-minded and confident, and within no time you will find yourself chatting with a salesperson or sharing anecdotes with the person sitting next to you. You will most likely make friends, but you may also fall in love, find a business partner, or even join up with someone to continue your travels. Sometimes all it takes is a smile to break the ice.
Traveling on your own can be very difficult, lonely and frustrating, but let’s face it – traveling with friends or family can be all of these things, too. For me, traveling solo is exciting and challenging, and an amazing way to meet people. I’ve seen and done incredible things that I might not have done had I been with someone else or a group. The trip you take will be exactly the trip you want to take, and it is a way to learn more about yourself and about the places you travel to. Always remember: it is better to be alone than to want to be alone. If you are considering traveling solo, do it. You won’t regret it.
About the Author
Brenna Holeman is a travel writer and photographer. She posts regularly on her blog, This Battered Suitcase, which attracts thousands of new readers a month. An avid adventurer, she has been to over 60 countries in the last six years, often travelling off the beaten track. Her next trip is through Central and South America for eight months.