Updated: Aug 26, 2021
I have been a traveler for most of my life. From school trips to international vacations, I love to hit the road and visit new places. But I have always traveled with others. It’s great to see new places with my friends or my husband. But after a year of forced family togetherness, I was in need of a break. We were fortunate enough to get our vaccines in March, so travel became a viable option again. We decided that I deserved to take some time to myself and go to Cancun, my FIRST SOLO TRIP EVER.
Traveling solo can be a great adventure. If you travel alone, you’ll get to know yourself better and follow your own schedule. But I can totally understand that it can be intimidating, even scary! If you’ve been holding back, these tips will make it easier for you to head out alone. You’ll learn how to deal with some common concerns.
Coping with Loneliness and Boredom
You may wonder about whether you’ll get lonely if you travel alone. The truth is that learning to enjoy your own company makes solitude rewarding. On the other hand, you can definitely find companions if you feel like mingling.
My mother used to say, “only boring people get bored.” That was her way of telling me to use my imagination to come up with fun things to do to entertain myself. The world offers so many options when it comes to activities. You just have to know where to look!
Get out there! Don’t be afraid to leave your room and check out what the location has to offer. Getting caught up in new experiences as you travel will leave little time for boredom. One website I always check before I travel is Groupon. You might not have thought about it in years, but it is a great way to see what locations have to offer and you can save money, too!
Take a tour. A day tour is ideal for meeting new people. It’s easy to strike up a conversation when you share the same interests with others and you’re away from your usual routine. My personal favorites are food tours. There are few things in life that connect people like sharing a good meal.
Dine out. Look for places with communal tables or ask your hotel to recommend them. Eat at the bar if you feel awkward at a table. This is another opportunity to meet new people or learn about the locale from the bartender if it isn't too busy.
Stay at a bed and breakfast or a resort. The owners of a bed and breakfast are happy to talk about local attractions. Eating breakfast in such a small and intimate setting often makes it easier to strike up a conversation. Resorts are another good choice as a place to stay. The sheer number of guests will increase the likelihood that you'll find a friend. There may even be other solo travelers.
Frequent local businesses. Visiting the same fruit stall or coffee shop every day will quickly turn you into a regular. Exchange greetings and let them know you appreciate any advice on what to see.
Talk with new people. Approach your fellow travelers or locals who seem friendly and helpful. Trains and coffee shops are two good places to start. In a foreign country, try to learn to say hello in the regional language. It is polite and they will appreciate the gesture.
Pursue solitary activities. Visit an art museum or lie on the beach with a good book. Enjoy the peace and relaxation you get from being alone. Practice some self-care and book a spa treatment or take a yoga class at a local studio. Napping during the day after a morning full of activities was great and you could do it all on your own schedule!
Keeping Safety a Priority
Security is an important concern for any traveler. Some basic precautions will reduce your risks.
Blend in. Looking like a tourist may leave you vulnerable. Walk with confidence and step inside a hotel to check your map. Consider researching clothing trends in your destination. One thing that screams "tourist" in Europe is white sneakers!
Be alert. Be mindful of your surroundings. Observe what’s going on around you. Ask your hotel to advise you about where it’s safe to walk. If you’re near an unsafe area, avoid unnecessary risks by taking a cab or rideshare to your destination.
Watch your money. You may want to wear a shoulder bag strapped across your body or under a coat. Consider using a money belt or clip. Solo travelers are often the perfect target for pickpockets. It’s a good idea not to keep all of your money in one place. Leave some cash and at least one credit card at your hotel in case you are targeted.
Assess your fluency. Language skills also matter. Ask yourself if you can communicate clearly in case of a medical emergency. Learn important words like “help” “hospital” and “pharmacy”.
Gather your documents. Put a copy of your identification and health insurance in your pocket. Leave a second copy with loved ones at home. Secure any documents in a safe in your room, if provided.
Check-in with home. Speaking of home, give your full itinerary to at least one person. Call or text them every few days to let them know you’re okay. There have been way too many instances of travelers disappearing on a trip and nobody realizes it for quite some time.
Pack light. Leave your valuables at home. Wearing flashy jewelry can bring unwanted attention. Also, it would be a shame if you lost something that was precious to you. Traveling with minimal baggage increases your comfort and your ability to move quickly.
Spend a whole week at a food festival or browse the Louvre at your own pace. Or, stay closer to home. Visit your nearest big city or quaint town. When you travel by yourself, you see the world from a different perspective and create new memories.
Have you ever taken a solo trip? Where did you go and what did you do? Tell us in the comments!
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