6 Tips for Traveling Solo
By Cara Batema
Traveling alone is nothing to be afraid of – in fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to create your own itinerary and do exactly what you want to do. If you prepare some things before you leave and keep other details in mind as you travel, you’re in for an experience of a lifetime. Check out these solo traveler tips to learn how to travel smart.
Your Phone as Your Travel Partner
There’s no shame in using your cell phone as your personal assistant when you travel. As long as you’re not sticking your nose in apps, you won’t be ignoring the scenery around you. Before you travel, especially if you journey abroad, figure out if you can use your phone without WiFi and set up a plan with your phone service provider. Download a map application for navigation, a translation app for quick lookup, a portable travel guide or other app you find necessary. Don’t forget to attach a Cube tracker and install the app.
Solo But Not Alone
Traveling by yourself does not mean you have to be lonely. Try a hostel that encourages socializing; you’ll likely find you have lots in common with other tourists. Learn a few key phrases and go to a local coffee shop. Sit at a communal table to position yourself for striking up conversation. If the thought of kicking off conversations with strangers causes anxiety, sign up for a bus tour or other group outing. Many of the other individuals on the trip are in the same boat you are, so it should be easier or more comfortable to make new friends. Buy a ticket to a play, concert or other entertainment that does not involve conversing, so you can enjoy a night out without necessarily feeling pressure to talk.
Become a Part of Your Destination
As a solo traveler, there’s no one else there to motivate you or get you to try something new – you have to do it for yourself. Before you leave, research some destinations you’d like to visit. Don’t believe that just because something is extremely popular it is worth checking out. Read reviews and blogs and check for things off the beaten path. Use the trip as an opportunity to knock something off your bucket list. The best way to explore a new city is walking, because it encourages you to slow down and shows you nuances of a region.et comfortable shoes ready, and don’t forget to break them in before your trip.
Wander, But Not Too Far
Solo traveling gives you a chance to improve your confidence. It can be difficult to explore a place you’ve never been before or where you don’t speak the language; but once you’ve done it, you’ll have newfound respect for what you are capable of. Take time to wander around. Push the boundaries of your comfort zone, but don’t stray so far you induce panic. Have some safeguards in place in case you get lost, such as taking a business card or brochure of your hotel with the address (and possibly a map) listed on it.
Not to sound like an overprotective mother, but you need to possess a set of safety skills. You don’t need to be constantly in fear something bad will happen, but keep your eyes and ears on the ready. Don’t use earbuds when you walk alone. Leave jewelry at home. Keep cash in your wallet and keep close tabs on it to prevent pickpockets. Practice safety for activities you might try, and wear safety vests and helmet as needed. Leave an itinerary with a friend back home as well as your lodging information. Also write down emergency contact information on a paper you can easily access. If you’re one of those people who has a habit of losing things, have Cube Trackers and the app ready on your phone, keys, purse or other important items.
Live In the Moment
We all know how difficult it is to avoid the pressure of wanting to show off our experiences, but when you’re a solo traveler, learn to embrace the #latergram. Absolutely take lots of photos, but don’t keep your nose stuck in your phone such that you miss an amusing conversation or even a dangerous situation. Walk around and look at shops with a gelato in hand and explore what the area has to offer. Use a solo dinner or coffee to document your trip or touch base with family and friends so you don’t miss an experience while you’re in it.
Cara Batema is a freelance writer and musician based in Los Angeles. She likes to write about the arts and psychology.