Is your bucket list overflowing? Are you sick of waiting for the right travel companion to walk into your life? Do you want us to stop asking annoying questions? Then it’s time to take a solo trip.
Solo trips not only allow you to see the world on your own terms, they mean you don’t have to try and organize activities for people who can’t commit to brunch three days ahead of time.
Many people believe that solo vacations are only for the brave or extremely independent, but the reality is that traveling alone is also for the nervous and needy! It enhances bravery and expands your independence. It improves your ability to talk to strangers, make fast friends, and be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Keep it up and soon you’ll be your own nation state.
What can a true solo trip give me that I can’t get with group travel?
To start, it removes the risk of being stuck on a bus tour for a week with people who don’t understand the concept of personal space… or worse, need 30 minutes to set up the perfect Instagram shot at every. single. stop. Or the fact that you have to keep explaining that you have a boyfriend. He just lives in Canada and couldn’t make it this time.
Does that sound like your travel style? All the more reason for you it’s time for you to take a solo vacation. You can thank us later. Your friends already sent us a very nice gift basket!
Traveling by yourself also helps you become more self-reliant and better at problem solving. It breaks down perceived limitations and shifts “I cannots” to “I dids,” and lets you shrug off whatever grammatical constraints were holding you back before.
Never thought you’d eat a fried cricket? Now you’ve got something super gross to brag to your strawberry pretzel salad-eating cousins at Christmas. Sleeping across the aisle of the slow overnight train from Beijing to Shanghai may not have been the most comfortable thing I’ve ever done, but it left me with a strong feeling of self-sufficiency… and the gift of ever present back pain!
Looking to take a solo trip? Check out these helpful tips for first time travelers.
Tips for Your First Solo Trip
Let Your Comfort Level Be Your Guide
When you’re traveling solo, be upfront with yourself about your comfort level. If going to the next town over from your own freaks you out a little, maybe don’t make your first solo trip somewhere where you don’t speak the language and you can’t get WiFi.
A good starter trip for you might be a big city or national park in a state nearby yours.
If you handle being out of your element well (because travel of any sort inevitability comes with some hiccups that can’t be solved with a jar spoonful of peanut butter), go wherever your heart takes you. Ideally not your ex’s house again.
Doing a little research ahead of time is key. Depending on how much structure you like, I recommend mapping the main sites you want to see and restaurant you want to check out before you embark on your trip. Travel-based Facebook groups can provide quick answers to important questions you might have about a location. Like how much a pint of beer costs.
When planning your flights, try to choose one that lands during the day. No matter how seasoned a traveler you are, unfamiliar locations are harder to navigate at night.
Choose a Good Hostel
Sure, they have a weird reputation, but so does blue cheese. And, with the invention of review sites where you can see photos and read about people’s experiences – about hostels (and cheese) – it’s easy to select a great one. We can’t recommend Humboldt Fog enough.
Some things you may want to look for in the ideal hostel situation are free breakfast, linens included, free Wi-Fi, and tours or activities. If you’re sensitive to noise, pay attention to what the reviews say about that consider their private room options if you’re not totally gung-ho on snoring strangers.
As long as you’re not allergic, don’t worry about “pets on site.” That doesn’t usually mean they’re trying to class-up bed bugs.
Consider Travel insurance
It’s not as expensive as you may think. It depends on the cost of your overall trip. We priced travel insurance for a fictional $1500 trip to Norway on Insure My Trip and rates ranged from $49 to $139. Insurance for a $3,000 trip ranged from $92 to $282.
The coverage can make a huge difference if you lose luggage or fall ill on your trip and your credit card doesn’t cover either. Strangely enough, hungover does not count as ill.
Don’t make your life more difficult by lugging around 100 pounds of luggage. Try out a travel capsule wardrobe for your solo trip – it will help you pack multiple outfit options with the fewest items.
Share your itinerary
Even though I have nearly 10 years of travel experience, I still share my flight and general trip itinerary with my parents. Even though nothing catastrophic has ever happened, making sure someone knows where you are (or are supposed to be) every few days is comforting. The sooner someone knows if you’re off your itinerary, the faster they can get Liam Neeson on the job.
Get advice from locals
Hotel and hostel employees are the most knowledgeable about the area and should be able to tell you what neighborhoods to visit, which to avoid, where to get the best local cuisine, how to navigate the public transportation, and what the WiFi password is. Want a free souvenir? Try the unsecured WiFi!
Talk to shop owners, waiters, baristas, and cab drivers as well. They can help you uncover cool spots you won’t find in the guidebooks.
Leave the room!
Once you’ve made it to your destination, you may find it intimidating to go out and explore all by yourself. Are people even allowed to go to restaurants by themselves these days?
Having an exciting itinerary will help – just think of all the things you’ll miss (and money you will have wasted) if you never leave the hotel!
Every day will be easier and the fear will be replaced by excitement. And if not, then every day is one day closer to returning to the comfort of your own bed.