Solo travel, while gaining popularity, is still a mode of travel that a lot of people are not comfortable with. Most people worry about feeling lonely or unsafe. But those who do it regularly know that traveling alone can be the ultimate experience to be able to enjoy a new (or repeat) destination without dealing with the tastes, schedules or budget of other people. You get to indulge as much or as little as you’d like. And your mistakes are all your own; you don’t have to worry about disappointing your travel companion if one of your ideas does not go as planned. With that said, there are some things that solo travelers should keep in mind before and during their trip.
Let Someone Know Where You’re Going
I know it can be super exciting to just pick up and go, but its always a good idea to let at least one person know where you’re going and how to contact you before you leave. This should be someone you speak to regularly, and would notice right away if they haven’t heard from you since you were supposed to be back home. If you purchased travel insurance, make sure you forward this person a copy of your policy, and send them your travel itinerary if one is available.
Make Friends With A Local
There are tons of websites out there with lists of must-dos, but you’ll almost always get the most authentic experience when you’re actually hanging out with a person that lives in the area. This is where your gut instincts will come in. I’m not suggesting you go out an announce that you’re looking for new friends. In fact, I recommend that you keep the fact that you’re traveling alone to yourself until you meet someone that doesn’t set off your spidey sense, and who you actually think you’d enjoy hanging with.
I’ve made friends that are still my friends to this day, just by being open to meeting new people. Sit at the bar when you go out to eat, instead of getting a table for one. You’re much more likely to be approached by other people who may be alone at the bar, or even the bartender and service staff. Hotel and restaurant staff are often the most friendly and resourceful people you’ll meet. If you go on any excursions, use this shared adventure as an opportunity to spark conversation with others. You never know where it’ll go!
If and when you do decide to hang out with someone new, let someone know where you’re going and who you’re going with. Take a selfie with your new friend and send it to someone at home. Mention to the front desk staff at your hotel that you’re going out for drinks with a new friend. And always carry some form of identification on you, even if its just your drivers license.
Try Avoiding Single Supplements
One downside to traveling solo is that many hotels, cruises and tour operators will charge you extra to make up for the fact that they are not profiting off an extra person in the room with you. One way around this is by booking with a tour operator that caters to single travelers and will match you with a roommate, such as G Adventures and Intrepid Travel. By matching you with a roommate, they maximize their own profit off each room and save you the single supplement. The catch is, of course, that you’ll have to share a room with a stranger.
I also recommend staying in an Airbnb, which for the most part will just charge you per room, instead of per person. Others have recommended staying in a hostel. I’ve heard it is a great option, but it is not something I’ve actually done myself, so I won’t push that too hard.
Do any of you like to travel alone? Where are some of your favorite destinations to go on a solo trip? Post it in the comments!