Traveling solo may sound intimidating, but with proper planning and the right attitude it can be one of the most rewarding trips you’ll take. Here are 4 simple tips that you’ll need to read before taking off on your own.
So you’re thinking of taking off and traveling on your own. Maybe you’ve been dreaming of a solo excursion for a while, or have recently been inspired by a close friend or life event. No matter how you got to this point, we’re excited for you. It’s important to recognize that traveling by yourself is a different experience, and preparation - both mentally and physically - in going to make all the difference. I’ve compiled some tips I’ve learned while exploring on my own that will help build your confidence and make the most of your trip. Read on to understand how to plan for your trip, pack your bag, and get out the door.
One of the joys of traveling solo is the ability to create your own schedule, or lack thereof, if that’s more your taste. You’re no longer tied to anyone else’s schedule or expectations, which allows you to do what you what, when you want. However, some planning is still crucial to maximize your enjoyment. It’s important to do your research before you take off. Learn about the cultural and social norms of where you are going, and plan some things out like accommodations, transportation and a budget. Even if you don’t make your reservations, know where you’re going and how you’re getting there.
Make sure you have a phone or access to a computer in case anything happens and you need a hand. Also, share your itinerary with friends or family. Not only is it important for someone to know where you are, but by sharing your plans they can also live vicariously through your travels. If you’re traveling abroad and want to register your travel with the U.S. Government, you can register here in order to receive any travel warnings issued by the United States.
Lastly, spend some time packing, and question everything you are bringing. Think about lightweight and versatile luggage and packing organizers to keep your weight to a minimum. Also, I never take off without a first aid kit.
Chances are you are a pretty open-minded person already if you’re considering traveling on your own. But if not, I can’t stress enough how crucial this is for a fun and meaningful solo trip. Introduce yourself and meet new people. Interact with the locals, and remember to always be respectful. Generally, locals tend to be more open to chatting with a tourist if they are by themselves versus a loud group of friends or family. Get to know the people that you meet. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like suggestions of things to see and places to eat, or directions if you find yourself turned around. The locals are the real experts, wherever you are. These experiences will be the truly magical moments of your trip.
Smile, Attitude is Everything
If you are traveling abroad, you may come across some communication barriers which can be hard to overcome, but body language is universal. I definitely recommend researching the culture of the place you’re visiting to learn about body language people may find offensive, but generally I’ve found that people all over the world respond well to a smile, and attitude really is everything. No matter where you are, you will most likely find the help you need by smiling and being respectful. Whether you need directions, are ordering food or drinks, or trying to check in to the next hostel, smiling and being respectful will nearly always help your situation.
It should go without saying that safety is the main concern for most solo travelers because right out of the gate, you are skipping the classic ‘buddy system’ rule. When traveling by yourself, it is extremely important to be aware of your surroundings. Become familiar with the area you plan to travel to, and know which parts of town might be worth avoiding. While attitude is everything, realize that not everyone you come across will want to be your friend. Recognize those people, and always avoid any confrontations or sketchy situations. Another key factor regarding safety is to maintain a low profile. Prevent bringing lots of attention to yourself by keeping your voice down, avoid wearing loud or bright clothing, and although you’re on vacation, avoid drinking too much to keep your guard up. A RFID blocker wallet is another crucial tool to protect your ID, documents, and especially your credit card information.
Obviously there are some risks associated with traveling alone, but with proper planning and the right attitude, the rewards will far outweigh the risks. Remember to prepare properly for your trip with some easy research and familiarity of your destination’s culture, keep safety in mind, but most importantly, smile! You will be amazed by the people you meet and the experiences you will encounter by respecting the locals and their culture, and staying positive. Lastly, don’t forget to take advantage of your alone time! If you’re used to traveling with a loved one, friends or family, then I am sure you have made sacrifices to do things a certain way because of your group. Now is the time to do things your way.
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
Adventure for One: Solo Travel in the American Southwest
Solo Travel Survival: Your First 24 Hours on Your Own
7 Travel Trends for 2016