Traveling Solo Tips
Make a Friend.
I absolutely love to travel alone and one of the main reasons is I almost always meet someone interesting along the way. It can happen through striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to you on the plane or buddying up with other solo travelers at your hotel or hostel, or even making conversation with the person sitting next to you in a restaurant. When people are traveling, they are more open to meeting new people and sharing experiences, so give it a go! Some of the best memories I have when traveling solo are with the people I met along the way.
Stay at a hostel or a bed and breakfast
Obviously, this isn’t for everyone and the quality of these ‘communal’ reposes are entirely dependent on what city you’re visiting. But with airbnb as an alternative to hostels, you can still book a room in a house and have the advantage of meeting other people. This is a great way to accomplish the aforementioned goal of making friends. And, when it comes to hostels, in some countries those are the best places to stay no matter what your budget. Who wants to go to Beijing and stay in some anonymous hotel when you can experience a Hutong, meet other professionals who are traveling, and participate in the group activities that most hostel Hutongs host? This is the case in many cities, so do your research first on the hostel scene before ruling it out (they are not all only for high school backpackers). Personally, if I decide on a hostel, I usually pay the full price for a 2-person room and enjoy my privacy while still getting the social experience.
Plan perfect days
I know, I’m obsessed with the perfect day theme, but in this case it is a must. After all, what is the best part about traveling solo? You can do whatever you want! So, don’t do what you should do, do what you want to do. Instead of just following a guidebook and wandering aimlessly, put some thought into what a perfect day would be for you. Is there a certain type of food you love, but none of your friends ever want to partake in? Are you a morning person, who likes to get out the door at the crack of dawn? Or, the opposite? If you put just a little thought and planning into your days of solo travel, while leaving some room for the unexpected, you will come home satisfied that you made the most of your vacation.
When you are alone, there is no limit to what you can do. So, make the most of it and get rid of any voices in your head that tell you otherwise. Like to ride motor scooters? Go for it! Always wanted to skydive? Now, is your chance. Obviously, keep your wits about you, but you’re an adult, so have fun with your freedom and you’ll have plenty of stories to regale your friends with when you get home.
Read about the city or country while there
I’m not just talking about guidebooks. There are tons of historical novels out there that will bring the city alive for you. While I was living in Rome, I engrossed myself in Steven Saylor’s ‘Roma.’ The book brought so much to life for me and made me feel like I was surrounded by friends, even when I was alone. It may not work for every destination, but it is a great way to really live the city.
Don’t selfie the whole time
Seriously. You’ll thank me for this when you get home. Sure, a selfie here and there is fun, but honestly you’ll want some pictures of you in front of monuments that can actually be seen in the photo. So, don’t be afraid to ask someone to take a photo or two for you. Oh, yeah and be sure to tell them to keep their finger off the flash.
Nobody puts Baby in the corner
Have you ever noticed that singles often get relegated to the back corner table in a restaurant? Sometimes even facing the wall? I don’t know about you, but I go to a restaurant for some atmosphere and I am sure not going to meet anyone in the corner table by the bathroom. So, if you see the waiter leading you to the loner’s section, politely tell them you would prefer to sit in the middle somewhere (preferably next to the hottie who has an empty chair next to him/her).
Join a tour
In most frequently visited cities, you’ll find a free walking tour (easy to find on google). This is a great way to meet other travelers and get an overview of the city with an English speaking guide who really puts on a show because their pay is based on tips. But, join other tours too. Whether it’s a small group heading to a nearby town or an adventure tour, this will be a great way to socialize without committing to lifelong friendship. Another advantage is you will get some willing photographers for all those non-selfie shots you are going to pose for.
Sure, you should turn technology off when traveling and live in the moment. Which you will. But, let’s be honest, if you can share snippets of your trip on Facebook along the way, you will feel like your friends are with you through their comments and likes. Kind of. Plus, it will make you more adventurous in order to get good Facebook photos. So upload!
Be a party animal
No need to just go back to the hotel after dinner because you didn’t listen to number one and didn’t make any friends to go out with. Go out yourself! Go dancing or go to a bar and sing songs with the drunk locals. Who cares if you can’t sing or dance? You’ll never see these people again – so live it up. No one needs to know (unless you post it on Facebook).