The world can appear to be a dark and scary place at times, but those that travel know and understand that there is so much love and beauty to be found everywhere. The thought of traveling solo is probably nerve wracking to some, but ponder a moment about being on vacation on your own terms – the options are endless. If this is your first time traveling alone or perhaps just your first time in a long time, read these tips to help you stay safe and ease your mind about your upcoming solo vacation.
Choose your destination
See? This is already fun. You have complete control over your trip starting with where in the world you’ll go. When traveling with friends, family or your SO, you don’t always see eye to eye on what your next destination should be. However, that all changes when you travel solo. Some of the safest places for solo travel in the United States are Austin, TX, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Washington D.C., Charleston, SC just to name a few, and if you’re thinking something more international, Iceland, New Zealand, and Canada are among some of the safest places to travel solo in the world.
Decide on a budget
Okay, you know where you’re going and you have a pretty good idea about what you want to see while you’re there, so now you just need the means to do it. If you’re a planner, it’s not a bad idea to go ahead and buy tickets for things you know you want to see just for the sake of paying for them ahead of time; but if you’re a little more free spirited when it comes to traveling, write out a rough estimate of your budget and always allow some breathing room. Regardless of how you plan, make sure some type of emergency fund exists.
Book accomodations accordingly
The place you choose to lay your head at night is important, especially when traveling alone. The number one priority is that you feel comfortable so that you can actually rest. Booking a loft through Airbnb is okay, booking a 5 star hotel room is okay, opting for a hostel is okay, just make sure that at the end of the day you’re somewhere you can relax and unwind comfortably.
Remember, you’ll be responsible for lugging around your belongings. Don’t make it harder on yourself by overpacking. This might seem like an obvious tip, but it’s easy to get carried away while packing. Remember that no matter where you’re heading, chances are you’ll find there anything you might need, whether it’s additional clothes or toiletries.
Plan how to stay in touch
One of the best things about traveling alone is having complete freedom, but it’s also one of the hardest things, as you might miss your family and friends back home. Consider where you’re traveling to and how much WiFi access you’ll have to stay in touch with loved ones. From there, make a plan of who you’ll check in with and how often.
Once you arrive, breath and be patient
Arriving somewhere new can be a little overwhelming at first. It’s important to take a moment to just breathe and allow yourself a few moments to collect yourself. It might take a few days until you find yourself, but remember the fun and adventure is just beginning.
Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers
Locals know what’s going on, where to go, and how to get there; don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions or directions! Most people are willing to help, and chances are you might even make a new friend in the process.
Talk like a local
If you’re traveling somewhere and there may be a language barrier, the best thing you can do is learn a little bit of the local language. You probably don’t have time to become fluent in a new language, but learning the basics will not only help you in any situation, but it also shows locals that you respect them and their culture enough to try to communicate in their native tongue.
Visit local spots
Find the nearest indie bookstore or local cafe and strike up a conversation with the locals. You can see this as an opportunity to find out about more local spots, meet new people, and really submerge yourself in local culture. An added bonus, local spots are great places to take a breather and enjoy some free wifi.
Don’t forget to pack a book
Whether you need a few minutes in the middle of the day to take your mind somewhere else, or you need a little escapism to calm your mind before bed, make sure you packed a book. (Or two or three if you’re a real bibliophile!). This is something you might not find anywhere – depending on your destination – and you’ll be glad to have at least one book with you for the ride.
Book day tours
Being a little leery about going out after dark in a new place when traveling solo can be a bit daunting, but there is plenty to do during the day. Booking day tours is a great way to learn new things and chat with fellow tourists, as this is a wildly popular tourist attraction, no matter the destination.
If you’re planning on going out at night (which you probably are), make sure you stay safe. Catch a cab both ways if you don’t feel comfortable walking alone, talk to the concierge before you decide where you’re going and get their input on the safest places and areas, stay sober so you keep your wits about you, leave a note in your room stating where you went for the night, be coy to those trying to strike up a conversation with you and don’t tell others where you’re staying, and if possible, carry some sort of self-defense with you at all times.