The idea of solo traveling typically comes with a barrage of negative thoughts. Will I get bored? Will I be lonely? Will I have anyone to talk to? Not to mention, as a female solo traveler, the constant nagging thoughts of safety (on top of the judgmental commentary of others) can often cloud any adventurous desire of planning your dream trip. Yet, as a frequent traveler and a mostly solo one at that, I’ve come to realize that time spent alone experiencing, meeting, witnessing, navigating and relishing in our incredibly diverse world has offered me some of the greatest lessons in life.
While we should approach all travel with a healthy dose of caution, the fears of the unknown should never hold you back from venturing to an unseen part of the globe. There are a variety of ways you can set out on a solo journey safely and wisely to ensure an experience that will teach you something new about both yourself and the world.
Understand your destination.
Yes, you may be traveling to a place you’ve never been before, but research is key. I encourage thorough study on the current state of affairs, cultural traditions and newsworthy events in the region you are headed to. It’s always best to be aware and informed, and your research will prove helpful when trying to navigate the area, too. I also recommend learning from other solo travelers; they are often the best teachers. This TripAdvisor Solo Travel Forum offers some interesting insights and stories to learn from.
Get the word out.
You may be on your own for this journey, but you should let those close to you know what your travel plans are and how they can reach you if needed. It’s also helpful to include a brief itinerary so others can follow along from afar.
One of the cons to traveling solo is the unfortunate reality that none of the costs can be split. It’s all on you to fund this trip, so make sure you have a reliable amount of money to get you through your travels and any unforeseen costs that may arise.
Act like a local.
Because you are relying on yourself for this journey, do your due diligence by acquainting yourself with maps and transportation guides before heading out. An air of confidence will suit you much better than a confused, lost one. Even if you do get a bit turned around while navigating, take a moment to stop in a populated area to consult your map or ask for assistance.
Plan around your likes.
This is all about you, yes you, so travel like you mean it. Don’t go to the museums if you aren’t a fan of art. Eat dinner at 4:30 p.m. and have four gelatos for dessert — it’s your choice! Sit under the sun in the park all afternoon and daydream about life if you want to. Don’t wait in line for a single landmark entrance. You can and should move as freely as you like. You’re a party of one, so let your choices run wild.
Join the group.
While you’ve made the decision to travel alone, it doesn’t mean that all of your activities have to be done so. When opportunities arise, join in on group tours, outings, adventures and experiences. There are so many wonderful touring groups (both for longer travel and day-trips) that allow you to meet people from around the world and bond over a shared love of travel.
Don’t skimp on the good stuff.
Whether it’s a local concert in the park or a delicious dinner at a highly recommended restaurant, don’t skimp on treating yourself to special travel delights because you are solo. You are traveling to experience and partake of a community that is not your own, so now is not the time to hold back or let your insecurities get the best of you. Revel in your solo status … more dessert for you, anyways!
Embrace the solitude.
There may be bouts of loneliness throughout your journey — it’s only natural — but instead of dwelling in it, embrace it and remind yourself that you have taken a bold step to becoming more aware of the world by actually stepping out into it.
You are part of a rare breed of adventurer and experience-seeker. For that, you should be proud. Dare to dive in, open-hearted and unashamedly alone.
Have you ever taken a solo journey? What’s your advice?
Images via Megan Robinson