Solo travel is incredibly exciting, especially if it’s your first time. When you travel alone, you can dictate what you want to do and see without having to consider anyone else. Of course, it’s also not without its challenges either, especially if it’s your first time traveling solo.
For those of you who haven’t traveled alone before, we’re here to tell you everything that you need to know in advance so that you aren’t met with any sudden surprises. With a little bit of preparation and the right attitude, you can have the traveling experience of a lifetime.
With that being said, here’s everything you need to know about traveling solo!
Reasons To Solo Travel
If you’re debating whether you should travel alone or in a group, it may be helpful to know just a few of the benefits of solo travel. Here they are!
It Can Improve Your Mental Health
If you’re struggling with your mental health, then it may be time to book that solo traveling trip! Traveling is great for providing you with feelings of calmness, meaning that it can sometimes help you to manage stress and anxiety.
One of the great things about traveling is that it can help you to get away from the working grind, a source of stress for many people. Traveling can help you to feel happier and more relaxed, which in turn is good for your mental wellbeing.
It Can Detox You From Technology
It should come as no surprise that excessive attachment to technology isn’t always the best thing for our wellbeing. Just a few of the side effects of being glued to technology include isolation, depression and anxiety and poor posture.
When you’re on vacation, you’re less likely to be checking your social media accounts on your phone every 30 seconds. There will be too much to see and do for you to have any time to do that! As such, it gives you time to connect to the natural world and enjoy a life outside of a screen. A digital detox is fantastic for your mental health – just make sure to keep in contact with your friends and family every once in a while!
Traveling Alone Makes You Braver
The biggest issue with traveling in groups is that you have to come to a consensus about what you want to do on a trip. That may mean that some members of your group are unwilling to participate in certain activities that you may have otherwise done if you were on your own.
When you travel alone, the choice is entirely yours. If you want to do daring things like bungee jumping or hiking up a volcano, then you can do so without leaving people out. You can experience the dangers of the world and come out alive, which is pretty brave!
It Helps You Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
As we have mentioned already, you are a lot more willing to try new things when you are traveling alone. That isn’t the case for just activities however. You also don’t need to consult anyone about what you’re all going to eat in the evening. As such, you may be tempted to try some new and exotic local cuisine that you may not have tried if you were with a group. Getting out of your comfort zone can help you to experience more of the world.
It Will Teach You Independence
When you’re with other people, you are often relying on others. Relying on other people to help with directions, to choose what to do and what to eat. You need to make all of your own decisions when you are traveling on your own. You will have a lot of time to reflect since there’s nobody else with you, it’ll give you time to figure out what you want in life. You will be able to learn more about yourself in the process, and this can be incredibly empowering.
You Will Get The Chance To Learn About Different Cultures
One of the best things about traveling is that you get the chance to learn about a world that’s different from your own. You will learn more about the people in that country, what they value and how they spend their time. You will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in that country’s histories and ideology. It’s very eye opening, especially when you’re used to living an entirely different life. As such, you can also become more empathetic and understanding to those around you.
You Will Learn To Love Your Own Company
Most people don’t enjoy being by themselves, and that’s okay! It’s good, however, to learn how to handle being in just your own company. You are the only person that’s going to be a constant in your own life, and there’s a lot of value in learning to enjoy being by yourself. It can certainly help you to feel a lot less lonely in life.
You Will get To Taste Different Cuisines
We are all creatures of habits with our own likes and dislikes. For this reason, you may end up gravitating towards the same foods all the time. This can be tempting, but one of the best things about traveling is getting to experience all new kinds of foods! It can be a lot easier to do this when you are traveling alone in comparison to when you are traveling with a group. You can choose what foods you eat when you are traveling alone since you don’t need to coordinate with a bunch of other people.
You Will Get To Know Yourself Better
You’ve probably heard people say that when they went traveling they ended up finding themselves as people. It’s true! When you go traveling you get to learn a lot of things about yourself. You will have the opportunity to reflect upon the things that matter the most to you, you will learn more about your own confidence and resilience levels. When you get the chance to learn more about yourself, you can be happier as it can give you a lot of clarity.
It Makes You More Spontaneous
When you’re traveling with a group, it’s often important to have more of a structure in place so you can coordinate yourselves to enjoy time together. This is not the case when you are traveling alone. Sure, some things will need to be planned but there are other things that you can enjoy on a whim. Do you fancy going skydiving? Go for it – you don’t need to coordinate with anyone else! This level of spontaneity can be incredibly exciting.
You Will Make Wonderful Memories
Traveling helps you to experience all new things that you may never have had the opportunity to see back at home. While it can be a little disheartening to travel alone because you won’t have anyone to share those memories with, you will still get to be spontaneous and make memories that you will remember for the rest of your life. Travel can be expensive, but it’s worth it for those once in a lifetime chances.
It Will Make You More Confident As A Person
You need to have a lot of self reliance when you are traveling alone. You need to make your own decisions, and you may need to ask for help from time to time for things like directions and more. Perhaps you may also need to learn a new language for your chosen destination. These things can all help you to become more confident as you realize that you are capable of getting by on your own. It’s great if you’re looking to build your confidence, to say the least!
How To Travel Alone Safely
It’s vital that you know how to keep yourself safe, whether you are traveling alone or with others. Keeping these tips in mind can help you to have an even better trip as you will be safe.
Safety Always Comes First
Make sure that your safety is always your top priority when you are traveling. Bring the right gear with you to keep you safe, and don’t take any risks that could put you in danger. Make sure that you are always alert when traveling alone, and are aware of any potential risk factors.
Plan Your Journey Carefully
Being spontaneous is great for traveling and having new experiences, but you also need to ensure that you plan in advance. Make sure that you get all of your vaccinations beforehand, and choose safe accommodation. Do your research, know where you are going and be prepared. This will help you to avoid any dangers that you could have otherwise avoided.
Choose The Right Accommodation
If you’re traveling alone, make sure that you put a lot of thought into where you are staying. Do your research and make sure that you are staying in the right location. Choose somewhere that’s in a safer part of the town, and somewhere that has things like transport and restaurants nearby. You can find a lot of information about your chosen location on websites such as TripAdvisor. These websites will usually give you information about what the place is like for solo travelers.
Try To Arrive During The Day
Sometimes it’s hard to choose your arrival time, but if you are able to then it is in your best interests to try to arrive at your destination while it’s still light outside. It can feel quite intimidating to navigate a whole new area alone in the dark. It can be a lot easier on your nerves if you arrive during the daylight.
If you are going to be arriving during the night though, you should try to take a taxi. It’s worth the extra cost as it will help you to stay safe.
Don’t Carry All Your Valuables In One Place
While we all like to think the best of people, it is always important to remember that thieves do exist. For that reason, it is best to protect yourself and your valuables. Don’t keep all of your valuables in one place, as this will mean that you are left destitute in a new location with no way of reaching any help. When you get to the destination, make sure that you look up your key valuables, and don’t make it obvious that you are carrying them around with you. For instance, don’t show off your phone or your fancy camera, as you may be at higher risk of experiencing robberies. Be careful.
Trust Your Gut
It can be easy to overthink when you’re in new situations, but sometimes it really is in your best interests to trust what your gut is telling you. Use your common sense, and leave if a situation seems bad to you. For instance, if you’re feeling wary of a dark street or a nightclub, then it may be best to stay away from them. Oh, and try not to flash your cash down any dark alleys – it’s best to be wary for the sake of your safety.
Stick To Public Places As Much As Possible
If you’re visiting a new location, it’s best to be vigilant. Try to avoid going into unknown areas that are off the beaten track too much if possible. Instead, try to stay in the highly populated areas where there are plenty of people around that can look out for you. This can help you to stay away from danger. This is especially important during the night time when there may not be as many people around.
Try To Blend In With The Locals
If you’re in a new place, it’s always a good idea to try to blend in as much as possible. Of course, you may struggle to look like a local in some respects, but it’s best to try to blend in. For example, if you are visiting an Islamic country then it’s a good idea to avoid wearing any clothing that shows off too much skin, especially if you are female. Make sure that you follow the local customs. Also, when you are walking around it’s a good idea to avoid staring at the map as you go. Try to be discreet when looking for directions, and don’t make it too obvious that you are a tourist.
Stay In Touch Regularly With Friends & Family Back Home
Just because you are away from home, it doesn’t mean that you need to cut everyone off back at home. Make sure that you are keeping in touch with your loved ones – tell them where you are going and keep them updated on your whereabouts. You never know when that will come in handy! Not only that, but they’re bound to want to know more about your travels anyway, so it’s fun to keep in touch with them.
Mistakes To Avoid When Traveling Solo
Now that you know how to keep yourself safe, it’s important to ensure that you avoid making some critical errors when you are traveling solo. These things also contribute to your safety, but they can influence your enjoyment of the trip too. If you avoid making these mistakes, you are sure to have a trip to remember.
Running Out Of Money Too Quickly
We all know that it’s tempting to spend all of your money at once when you go traveling. There are so many exciting things to buy and do that it can be hard to practice self control. It’s important that you try to be in control of your budget, however. Running out of money is a real problem when you’re traveling, and it’s even more concerning when you are traveling alone. You can’t just go and crash at some stranger’s house when you’re in a foreign area – it can be quite dangerous. Always make sure that you have money with you, and don’t put yourself in a situation where you are strapped for cash.
Not Being Organized
Being organized can help you to stay safe on your travels, and it can also help you to have a more enjoyable journey. Make sure that you have booked all of your hotels and key attractions before you go on your vacation, as this will help to ensure that you aren’t scrambling at the last minute. Make sure that you pack in advance too so that you have everything that you need with you to have a successful trip. Failing to prepare can leave you in some rather sticky situations that are best avoided.
Not Focusing On Yourself
Your traveling adventures are all about you. For that reason, it’s best to avoid putting everyone else’s needs before your own. Take your traveling time to reflect on what you want. Figure out what things you really want to do. What things interest you – are there any obscure things that you would like to do that you can’t do with others around? If you want to go surfing, make sure that you do it! Don’t do your trip in accordance to what everyone else wants you to do – focus on you and your interests to ensure that you get the maximum enjoyment out of your time away.
Avoid Getting Drunk
Getting drunk can be a lot of fun for people back home, especially when you are with friends. It can be tempting to enjoy the feeling of getting intoxicated when you are away too, but you need to err on the side of caution when you are traveling alone. It should seem obvious, but there are a number of reasons why it’s a bad idea to get drunk when you are traveling alone. For starters, you have reduced inhibitions when you are drunk, which isn’t a good combination with being alone.
In addition to this, you are also less likely to be aware of your horizons so you aren’t on the lookout for potential dangers. You have nobody to watch your back when you are traveling alone, so you need to be vigilant. It’s okay to have a drink or two, but don’t get completely intoxicated by yourself in public in a foreign place.
Not Listening To Your Instincts
When it comes to traveling alone, the only person that’s looking out for your wellbeing is you. As such, if you feel that something is wrong then you should follow your instincts. Is your gut telling you to stay away from a certain location? Follow those instincts! Your instincts are a powerful thing that can help you to stay away from dangerous situations. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Sometimes being overly cautious can be a good thing. If your body is telling you that something is wrong then you should listen to it – always be aware of any signs of potential danger that your body is alerting you to.
Planning Too Much At Once
Look, we know that you’re excited. You’re raring to go on your next exciting trip, and you’ve been researching different locations for weeks. Perhaps you’ve created a jam packed itinerary. It’s also important not to over schedule, however. It can really ruin some vacations if you plan too much. You may end up feeling burned out, and all of the organization can be rather draining. By the time that you get to your holiday, you may just feel burned out.
We’re not saying not to plan, however. Having a plan is a good idea and it’s actually really important for ensuring that you are safe and have a good time when you are on holiday. Instead, it’s better to make a plan but have some flexibility too. Allow for some gaps in your schedule where you can be spontaneous. You will have a much more enjoyable time if you can go with the flow and change your plans when needed. You may end up making all new memories that you wouldn’t have had if you had followed your plan to the letter.
Being Shy And Not Talking To Locals
We’ve always been taught not to talk to strangers. To a degree, you should still be cautious when you are on vacation too. With that being said, don’t completely close yourself off to people when you are on your vacation. You have the perfect opportunity to meet all sorts of new and interesting people when you are traveling, so don’t be afraid to speak to people! Take the chance to learn more about the locals and the culture. Learn about how they live and put on a brave face! Try not to be too shy – it’s certainly something that will come in your favor when you are traveling.
So how exactly do you hold back your shyness when you are traveling? Well, if you’re making casual conversation with people in places like shops, don’t cut it off. The same can be said for when you’re asking for directions or you are standing in a line for something. Don’t cut the conversations short – try to continue them by asking questions like about the neighborhood, the person’s family or anything else that you can think of. If you take the opportunity to speak to new people, you may also make some new friends!
In addition to this, it’s also a good idea to look for other people that may be traveling too. Maybe talk to some other people who may be traveling from the same country as you. It can help you to feel a little less alone, and you may even find yourself a new travel buddy! There are websites online that you can use to see if there are any locals in your area, and there are even specific locations set up for foreign travelers, such as ‘American bars.’ It can be handy to visit these if you want to meet some new people.
Not Having A Plan B
We all want to think that our travels will go perfectly smoothly. Unfortunately, things can have a habit of going wrong from time to time. If you are going traveling then it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan, especially if you are going to be traveling by yourself. Make sure that there’s someone that knows where you are, even if you’re in another country. For instance, let your friends and family members know where you are going via social media, email or text. They will then know if or when they need to start worrying.
Having a plan B also means having a backup plan when you are traveling. For instance, if your hotel you are staying in needs to ask you to leave earlier than planned, make sure that you know where the nearby hotels are. Know backup routes that you can take if you get lost, have plans for when you are taking a trip outdoors and it starts to rain. Make sure that you always have a failsafe in place so that you are never caught off guard. This can help you to have a more enjoyable time while you are traveling too!
Not Putting Effort In Learning The Local Language
Learning the country’s language before you visit comes with a wide range of different benefits. The most obvious one is that you are being respectful towards the country in question if you learn their language. You can’t just expect that everyone is going to speak your language! Not only that, but learning the language can also help to get you out of any unexpected situations. Need to take a taxi? You will know how to ask a local about how to do that. You will know how to ask where things are and people will be able to understand you. It can certainly make things a lot less frustrating while you are traveling.
So, how do you learn a local language? It’s best to prepare in advance if possible. These days, there are a wide variety of different tools that you can use to learn a new language. You aren’t restricted to just reading things in books and learning things from flash cards. Instead, you can practice with another person or a language learning program or application. Websites such as Duolingo are especially helpful, and they even have fun ‘stories’ that you can read in that country’s language!
When you are learning the language it can also be useful to watch TV shows or listen to media in the native language. You will understand the flow of the natural conversation then, and it will help you to adjust to how the locals speak.
Of course, you’re probably not going to be fluent in the language by the time that you arrive, and that’s okay! It can be helpful to have some information with you that pertains to the most common phrases that you can use. This is another example of when preparing for your trip can help you to get the most out of it!
Traveling solo is an incredibly rewarding experience. It gives you the opportunity to learn all sorts of new things, not only about the place that you are visiting but also about yourself. Use these opportunities as chances to be spontaneous, to enjoy new cultures and to bring home a bunch of stories that your friends and family are going to love! So long as you are prepared, you are sure to have a fantastic time. Just make sure that you follow the advice in this article, and your solo travels will be a success.