Solo travel can be absolutely thrilling and life altering and is fast becoming a popular way to travel. I first started solo traveling about two and a half years ago mainly because I was in between grad school and a job and had lots of time to travel whereas none of my friends could. I knew it was then or never and took the plunge to solo travel and have never looked back since! This solo travel guide will cover tips for solo travel that I have gathered from my experiences.
Benefits of Solo Travel
Before I get in to tips, I want to touch a little about the benefits of solo travel. There are so many benefits of traveling by yourself. My favourite ones are;
- Self discovery and learning – Since you have no one else to depend on but yourself, you may learn things you never knew you were good at. Your triumphs are completely your own (i.e – never once getting lost with no data on my phone for maps) or you learn from your mistakes (i.e – the time I lost my phone in Lisbon)
- Downtime – Solo travel is a great way to spend much needed downtime, not just from a job but also from people, especially if you are introverted. When I travel by myself, my thoughts are my own and I have found that not having to speak to someone the whole time can be very liberating.
- Freedom and independence – This is probably my favorite one! You are free to do what you like at whatever time you like, at the intensity of your choice! If I travel solo, I love to walk all day and I sometimes don’t have lunch until very late. If I was traveling with someone, I would have to be considerate of the other person. I am also a museum junkie (especially art museums) and I know that is not everyone’s cup of tea. If I travel with someone who didn’t really care for museums, they would be miserable or I would not be able to spend the time I would have if I were by myself.
Solo Travel Tips
Here are some of my solo travel tips for a safe and fun time on your own.
Plan in Advance
This is my number 1 tip! As my friend and fellow travel enthusiast of Tourama.net once said, there is a difference between spontaneity and ignorance. It’s perfectly fine if you like the element of spontaneity and don’t want to plan your day from morning until night. However, planning can be the difference between spending too much money because you didn’t read up about a place or even your safety.
Me? I plan like crazy. I read travel guides and blogs, watch YouTube videos and go to official websites of places months in advance. When I visit a place, I know exactly what I am doing, where I am going and how I am getting there.
With the above being said, it is also ok if things don’t go according to plan! Having a plan B or even a flexible mindset is important so you can continue to enjoy your travel experience even when things don’t go your way.
Don’t Draw Attention to Yourself
That designer handbag? leave it at home! I carry the most simple black satchel I bought from Amazon when I travel. Also try and avoid flashy jewelry, bright colored suitcases (great for identifying your bag on the baggage carousel at the airport but not so great for walking on the road by yourself) or distracting clothing.
Juggling multiple pieces of luggage or struggling to lug a heavy bag is sure to turn a few heads around (in a not so good way)
Walk with a Purpose
Always walk with confidence and try not to look lost (even if you are). How?
- Don’t walk reading your guidebook or looking at Google Maps on your phone
- Check directions, important details before you leave your hotel room, train or bus
- If you feel like you are lost, step inside a cafe or shop to figure out your bearings
Know the Local Transportation System
Trains in and out of the city, the metro system, buses and taxis – read up about each type and have a rough idea about costs and times, especially to your hotel so you don’t wander through a city, lugging a suitcase or backpack looking lost.
Another tip, especially for beginner solo travels is to go to the train or bus station the evening before you leave and do a dry run to see where the station is (if the city has multiple stations), which platform, section, level of the station the train/bus comes to and how much time it takes to get there.
Be Cognizant of Hotel Locations and Ratings
I usually try and book hotels close to most of the attractions on my itinerary. Hotels with 24 hour front desks are great for when you need to get to a train station early in the morning or have a late night flight.
For me, hotel ratings do matter. I don’t stay in places that are below a 8/10. (high ratings doesn’t necessarily mean expensive places…just needs some researching). I also read comments from other travelers. Especially solo travelers.
Carry Copies of Documentation
Carry extra copies of all important documentation and keep them in multiple places.
Carry an Extra Phone
Or another device that can keep you connected (i.e., laptop, tablet). I learned this in Lisbon in January of this year when I lost my brand new phone. Luckily I had my old phone with me. If I didn’t have my old phone, I wouldn’t have had an alarm, wouldn’t have been able to call ubers, and worst of all would have not had a camera to take pictures! I fully understand this is not easy for everyone to do, but if you have an old phone lying around, charge it and take it with you.
Buy Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is not expensive and provides great peace of mind when you’re by yourself and have no one to depend on if things happen.
In addition to these 10 tips for solo travel, trust yourself and follow your heart! You got this!
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