So You Want To Travel Solo?
It's no secret that solo travel is my favorite way to travel. As with many of my blog posts, I’ve had a draft on this topic for months that I just did not finish. Well, a Twitter mention yesterday put a fire under me to go ahead and write, so here it is. I am asked about this often, especially by women who want to venture into solo traveling but have some reservations.Traveling alone has SO many perks. You save both money and time. You're able to keep your itinerary flexible and won't have to fork out cash for activities you don’t really care to do and places you don’t really care to eat. You set your schedule. If you want a day of adventure or a day of relaxation--it’s all up you to. You can also meet people you probably never would have interacted with had you not been alone. Solo travel isn’t for everyone, I get it. And this post isn’t to force it on anyone, but if you’re curious and want to get started on your own solo adventures, here are some useful tips for you.
BEFORE YOUR TRIP
Do Your Research
This is a given whether you’re alone or with a group, but it’s sooo important if you’re by yourself. Research everything there is to know for tourists and first-time visitors of your destination. Know the currency, language spoken, areas that are or are not safe for women and solo travelers, and laws as well. If you venture somewhere alone without the proper research, you’re seriously doing yourself a disservice. You don’t want to end up somewhere you can’t find a soul who speaks English (and you don’t speak the native language), Google Translate isn’t working, and you can’t find your way back to your hotel. And you definitely don’t want to end up somewhere, alone, in a place where women are not valued and protected.
Make Sure Someone Knows Where You Are
Ensure someone knows where you’re going and where you’ll be staying. Have their number memorized in case you are without your phone for whatever reason and would need to contact them. It would also be good to set occasional check-ins with them so that they know you are okay and won’t freak out if an extended amount of time passes before they hear from you. My best-friend made me take a picture of a note written on the hotel stationary when I was traveling to meet someone, this is a good trick because it included my handwriting so she knew it was authentic. Little reassurances throughout your trip will do wonders for your loved-one's sanity.If you have an iPhone, activate the emergency contact feature in case they need to be contacted by someone other than you. It will appear on your lock screen so they will not need to unlock your phone first.
Book Travel Insurance
This is for any kind of travel. You never know what can happen and you want to make sure you’re covered in case of an emergency where you would have to receive medical care or need to leave your destination suddenly. It may seem like an unecessary expense until you break a limb overseas or need to be medically evacuated (those can and do happen).
Download Maps and Translations
Google has a great feature that will let you download offline versions of maps and common words and phrases. This is helpful even if you have an international plan because you may lose signal unexpectedly and don’t want to end up lost or unable to communicate. Map out your lodging to popular areas around you or activities you will be engaging in and go from there.
Ensure Documentation Is In Order
From passports to visas, to printed tickets. Make sure to dot your I’s and cross your T’s. Some places won’t allow a passport that will expire soon and some locations require visas and vaccines. Have printed copies in your luggage that you keep locked up, as well as digital copies.
Forget The Hotel
This is just my opinion of course. But there is much to learn from staying with the locals or in non-tourist areas. You can arrange hosting and transportation beforehand. This is also a great opportunity to meet other travelers from all over who may be staying with you. I know this route isn’t for everyone but if you’re interested, my favorite to use is Airbnb. Sign up here for $40 off your first booking.
Take More Than Enough Money
Budget for emergencies, food, transportation, and activities. Traveling with limited funds is not fun and can hinder your experience, especially if you’re alone and have no “fallback”.
DURING YOUR TRIP
Stay Alert and Aware
You don’t have to be antsy and on your toes during your entire trip but definitely, pay attention to your surroundings. Be aware of where you are at all times and keep your belongings secure. If you feel unsafe at any moment, find a “trusting looking” woman or another person standing alone and pretend to strike up a conversation. You can discreetly let them know that you’re just using them for a second as a distraction. Don't alert too many people that you are traveling alone, and you can always fake a phone conversation about waiting for someone.If you’re out at lunch or dinner d not take your eyes off of your food or drinks, especially in open spaces. I like to sit relatively close to an exit in any unfamiliar setting or somewhere where I can see the door. This is not to scare you but to remind you that there are bad people anywhere you go and you are definitely a larger target as a woman traveling alone.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Locals
Stay alert, but don’t be afraid. You can end up knowing or doing more if you befriend the locals and have casual conversations with the people you meet. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or directions, or even suggestions on sites to see.
Don’t Look Like A Tourist
This is self-explanatory. Don’t walk around with your phone constantly out snapping pictures of everything. Don’t have huge maps out and about pointing. If you are lost, don’t panic and make it noticeable. Don’t bring attention to yourself with your clothing (overly flamboyant or exposed based on location). If you aren’t comfortable being alone during the entire trip, look up group activities and tours happening that include other travelers.