You are about to embark on an amazing solo experience. When you travel alone, there can be times when you feel lonely surrounded by couples or groups of friends/family traveling together. Planning your itinerary and keeping a busy schedule can reduce the chances of that happening. Cherish this opportunity and make the most out of it!
1. Do Your Research
Especially when traveling solo, research is a MUST-do beforehand. In order to take in as much of a new place as possible, it is important to find as much information on the place you are visiting as possible. Information on its history, culture, the must-sees & do’s. As well as the food, the people, the weather, places to avoid, and places to stay.
Adequate planning would help you avoid dangerous situations or awkward conversations with locals, while ensuring your immersion into the local climate.
Some reliable resources I recommend would be:
2. Money, Money, Money
It goes without saying that traveling will undoubtedly cost you a decent sum of money. When you travel, it is best to do so comfortably. This is likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it is best to make as much as possible from the opportunity.
Planning a budget for accommodation and transportation prior to the trip would make for a more enjoyable experience, as you have an allotted amount available for events! Booking tours earlier in the year may also come with additional discounts. Would you really want to leave Venice without the infamously overpriced Gondola ride?
Saving honestly depends on how costly the place you are visiting is (this is where you research comes in handy) and how much you are currently making, but I recommend saving at least 3-6 months before the trip.
1. Stay in Touch
While disconnecting and going off the grid would allow for a more immersive experience, it is also important to have a means of communication with your loved ones. Especially if you are traveling far, you may feel homesick. If you are like me and homesickness just does not happen, having access to a device is still important in case your safety is jeopardized or you run into difficulties such as losing your credit card or passport. Having a phone with service or internet connection is always important as you are able to look up important information like directions, the location of your embassy, phone numbers on the spot and to go to/call the police if you are ever in any danger. Having access to a phone also enables you to use the application “WhatsApp”, available on both IOS and Android, which allows you to place international calls without spending any money.
2. Take Pictures & Videos (but not excessively)
While you would be doing the place you are visiting a disservice if you spent all your time taking photos and videos, it would be a disservice to yourself (and your loved ones) if you had no pictures to look back on or even show off to with your friends and family. It may be fun to bring a disposable film camera on your trips to add a bit of fun and surprise. It also prevents you from spending too much time on your phone!
3. Cheaper is Not Always Better
While traveling can be expensive, especially if you are traveling alone, it is best not to gamble when it comes to basic needs like accommodation, safety, and food. Cheaper accommodation could mean greater distances from the city center or sights which means more traveling time and less exploring time. Hotels, Airbnbs, or even hostels could also be located in unsafe areas. Especially if you are a solo female traveler like me who likes to make the most of her days by waking up early and coming back late, accommodations that have been flagged as unsafe or not recommended should probably be adhered to. It is important to look up reviews of your accommodation, or ask a friend who is familiar with the area for some recommendations.
4. The World is Not Your Playground
While advancements in technology are making the world seem smaller with accessibility to places and the ability to connect with people who are thousands of miles away, it is also important to keep in mind that differences that can be found all over. If you are coming from a more developed country with likely more developed attitudes on the equality of women, chances are places in Southeast Asia and the Middle East will be very new experiences. To be safe, it is best to dress modestly (covered shoulders and knees) as you can never be too safe, especially when traveling alone as a female.
Something to also keep in mind is that the places you are visiting could have cultural practices that REQUIRE you to dress modestly. Religious countries in Southeast Asia like Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar have varying degrees of how conservatively you should dress when visiting certain places. For example, Thailand and Myanmar are only particularly strict on making sure your shoulders and knees are covered when visiting religious sites.
5. Make Friends
If you are staying in a hostel or shared Airbnbs where you have the opportunity to meet people who are either also traveling or from the place itself, befriend them. You should obviously exercise caution and not share too much information but also take this chance to meet someone new who could potentially accompany you (optional) on your explorations or provide additional local insight. The people you meet may end up being lifelong connections that could affect your life in ways you never know.
6. Enjoy Yourself!
Visit all the places you want in your itinerary. Enjoy the different cuisines. If you are not traveling far, it is still good to research which restaurants are popular. Who knows? One of those restaurants might just make it on your Top restaurants list. My piece of advice as a foodie is to eat your heart out. This is an opportunity you do not get often so take advantage of it and do not worry too much about the number on the scale. Plus, if you are someone like me who likes to cover an entire city in a day, chances are the calories consumed will likely also be depleted on that same day.
You did it! You traveled alone. Do your part and share your useful tips and experiences with your friends. Each person takes away a different experience and learns something different, especially when they are traveling alone. No experience is the same, but it is still important to not only show off all the highlights that occurred in your trip but also give relevant information to those who may be interested in doing the same.
2. Invite Someone Else Next Time
Traveling alone is something I personally think everyone should do. Traveling alone means you are free to do whatever you want to do without concern of whether the people you are traveling with are also interested or up for the things you want to do. That being said, while you can only share so much of your experience with your loved ones through anecdotes, pictures, and videos, it is also an amazing experience to travel with the people you care about. If you have yet to do so, travel with a friend, partner, or family member. The experience will be different but what makes traveling with others special is that you are able to share these moments in person.