So you’re finally taking the solo travel plunge, feeling the nerves yet? The good news is you don’t have to be nervous. Solo travel is freeing, educational, and unexpectedly empowering. Just like anything else, adjusting to this type of change can be uncomfortable. Follow these tips and you may never want to travel with others again.
Get familiar with the territory before you go
Being alone anywhere can be a bit uncomfortable, so help yourself adjust to the experience by knowing some about where you’ll be. If you’re headed to a foreign country, learn a little bit of the language, research the culture, know what type of transportation is best in the area, and research the neighborhoods for safety purposes. Knowledge is power here.
Do things alone at home that you normally wouldn’t
Oddly enough, doing things alone in your hometown could feel weirder than doing them alone in a foreign place, that’s why this is good practice. Take yourself to dinner, go to a park, take a hike, go to a festival or theme park all alone. This is a great way to ease into enjoying your own company with the slight comfort of being in your backyard.
Find a good book
There will be days and moments you’ll want a little company that isn’t your phone and that’s when having a good read is essential. Beach days, dinners, train rides, park lounging, you name it. Being occupied by a book is also a way to feel less awkward in those moments of silence. Plus, that book getting dusty on your shelf that you’ve sworn you’ll read is calling your name.
Be open to striking up a conversation
You’ll find there are some amazing people out there willing and ready to share their story with you. Those stories can be perspective-shifting and life-altering in ways you wouldn’t expect. Don’t be afraid to initiate a conversation with a person sitting next to you in a coffee shop or bar. Throwing out a compliment is not only a great conversation starter but it can unknowingly make somebody else’s day. The feeling of organically connecting with a stranger is a traveler’s high unlike any other and who knows, maybe you gain a friend in the end.
Book tours and group activities
Group tours are an excellent way to keep the lonely away while solo traveling. This is also a really easy way to feel comfortable talking with strangers. Clearly, you have at least one of the same interests because you booked the same tour. Tours are perfect for educational purposes too. You can google all the things, but a local with history in the area will always be able to give valuable insight you won’t find on the internet.
Book a private room in a hostel
If you’re a person who enjoys uninterrupted sleep and privacy, yet enjoys the company of other like-minded people, book a private room in a hostel. Hostels are full of travelers from every walk of life, and many of them are solo travelers. Most hostels have a common area where those who want to be social will gather. This ends up being a very cool melting pot experience. The beauty of booking this type of accommodation is you can choose if you want to be social, or you want to do your own thing undisturbed. Not to mention, hostel rooms are typically more cost-efficient than hotels or rentals.
Always have safety measures in place
Feeling out of your comfort zone and feeling unsafe are two very different things. Safety should always be your priority. Make sure you’re checking in with a loved one. Give them a copy of your itinerary, share your location with them, and be hyper-aware of your surroundings. Don’t make yourself a target by having expensive items on display. Have your route ready so you don’t end up lost in the wrong neighborhood. Be cautious about walking around alone after dark. Don’t post your location in real-time on social media and don’t ever hesitate to trust your gut. Solo travel is perfectly safe when done right and taking these precautions can help you feel and stay safe.
Allow yourself to embrace all the feelings
Anxious, excited, lonely, fulfilled, free, empowered, stressed and happy are just some of the emotions you’ll probably feel on your solo journey, and all of them are just fine. Humans aren’t conditioned to be alone, so for most of us, that’s an adjustment. Traveling alone will teach you about yourself, it will teach you about others, and it will help you learn to enjoy your own company. You will start to value being alone or decide it’s not for you and there’s no wrong answer.
The best part of solo travel is that the world is your oyster, and it’s not often in life we’re allowed that sort of freedom. Spend your days exactly how you want to, eat the food you want to, go to the museum you want to, and take the tours you want to. You just might find your favorite person to be with, is you.