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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Why and Where to Travel Solo

Solo Travel can be scary, but it can also be rewarding. As an only child, I'm used to my alone time (even away from my husband), so solo travel and other activities doesn't seem weird to me. I've traveled solo before, by air and by car, and I'd highly recommend it. If you've considered it or even if you haven't, I think everyone should travel alone at least once in their life. It doesn't have to be lonely or boring. It can really teach you about yourself, too.

solo travel tips


Do Whatever You Want (When You Want)

When you travel alone, you only have to plan for yourself. It's much easier to do things, because you can travel on your own schedule, not worry if anyone else is bored and you can skip the things you don't want to do. That sounds pretty great to me. If I want to go to the museum for four hours, I can. If I want to watch a parade, I can. If I want to get takeout and then take a nap, I can! The freedom when you solo travel is pretty great.

It's Easier to Travel

Truthfully, when you travel with others, you have to find tickets for more than one seat on the plane, on the bus, on the train. As one person, it's easy to find a free seat and it's sometimes cheaper, too.

Staying Safe Requires a Little Extra Effort

You maylet your guard down when you travel with others, but when you travel solo, you need to really pay attention to your surroundings and the people there. I always bring a cross-body purse that has anti-theft zippers. I figure as a single person, I'm an easier target for thieves, but I like to stay alert when I walk around, and that means looking around, not playing on my phone as I walk, not walking around with headphones in, doing everything I can while it's light outside, wearing shoes I could conceivably run in, and trying not to walk in deserted parts of town. I'm probably more untrusting than a lot of people, but I have never been mugged and I still have fun, so I'm doing okay. 

Other tips to stay safe: 

  • Don't take drinks from anyone except the wait staff and never leave your drink unattended. In fact, don't even look away from your drink if you are sitting at the bar or with strangers, because it only takes a split second for them to slip something in.
  • Research the area you plan to stay and make sure it isn't affordable/cheap because it's sketchy.
  • Know where you're going before you head out. Study your map or directions a bit before you leave your hotel, so you aren't walking around with your nose in a map. This immediately makes you the "lost" target.
  • Look confident. People don't tend to mess with those that look like they know where they're going...even if they don't.
  • Never tell people you're traveling on your own.
  • Give someone at home your itinerary, or text someone to let them know where you'll be. On my solo road trip, I had three people I checked in with throughout my drives I use Voxer to keep in touch instead of texting, because it shows when I send the message and from where, plus I can see that the message was delivered to the person and if they read it or not. Make sure you check in throughout your trip, so people know you didn't die. I'm sure your mom would appreciate it.

Learn More About Yourself

Some people never really take the time to learn who they are. Being inside your head is something that you should do, if only to to figure out who you are when you don't have a travel buddy. I know who I am when I am around other and I know who I am when I'm alone. It's not necessarily the same person, but I find myself enjoying different things as I go about on my own. Learn what you like, what you don't like, what you're capable of and how to deal with being in a foreign place when you only have yourself to depend on.


Stay On Your Travel Budget

When you know what you have to spend, it's easier to travel within your means. There's no one saying "let's do this or that" when you really don't have the funds to do it. If you decide to splurge when you solo travel, it's because you know you can swing it, not because of peer pressure. 

No  Fighting

When you spend 24 hours a day with someone(s), things can get stressful. You may not agree with them, you may be hangry or just generally tired of being near them. There has almost never been a trip that I have taken with others where I haven't had a meltdown of some sort and either yelled at them or broke down crying for one reason or another. Travel with others is hard, but solo travel can be totally pressure-free, as you are the only one who can stress you out or annoy you.

Gain Confidence

If you weren't confident before, because you were uncomfortable eating alone or wandering a museum alone (both of which can be rectified by having a smartphone and a backup battery and a magazine, book or notepad), doing it more often will make you more comfortable. Maybe you think everyone's staring at you, but they aren't. Everyone's focused on their own thing and they aren't paying attention to you eating alone and writing an email or playing Sudoku. 

If you want to interact with people (or you don't), bust out your camera and take some pics. It'll give you something to do, but it can also be a talking point between you and others, especially if you ask them to take your picture. Probably don't do this while at a restaurant, unless you want photos of the cool decor and your awesome food. There are so many food bloggers out there, this doesn't seem weird to anyone anymore. Also, servers are probably used to taking pics of diners and are usually happy to do it. 

You're Not Holding Anyone Back

So, on my last trip to Vegas, when I road tripped all alone, I had driven non-stop (well, potty breaks and gassing up happened) from Portland to Vegas to save money on accommodations and airfare. It  practically 16 hours of being in the car, but it was fun for me, but it was also exhausting. Since I was all alone, I could sleep in or go back at 2 in the afternoon to take a nap. I could eat a sandwich and chips for dinner if I wanted. Nobody was going to be annoyed with me that I didn't have the energy to go out after spending half a day at the Travel Goods Show. 

As an introvert, forcing myself to engage with a bunch of strangers is also draining, so if I wanted to eat my sandwich in bed, because I was done with people, nobody tried to get me to do otherwise. The only person who could be mad at me was me. Luckily, I've been to Vegas so many times, I was happy with the one day of "sightseeing" and the lunch I had with my husband's lovely aunt that I stuffed in before heading back home. One night I picked up a giant selection of sushi and ate it while watching TV and checking emails. It was awesome.

Get Away From it All

Don't limit yourself when you travel solo. Just because you don't have someone to go with you doesn't mean foreign travel is out of the question. Budget Travel has a nice list of 35 easy solo trips to try. Cooperatize rounds up 10 solo female travel bloggers whose pics will make you want to get out and see the world. Travel+Leisure wants you to jetset on your own and, to get you started, made up a list of the best countries for solo travels.

Are you a solo traveler? What do/did you enjoy most about it?

P.S. Learn more about how to meet people and make friends while traveling solo. {#sorrynotsorry about all the selfie pics in this post}
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