Yes, Kati and I are a couple and always travel together. But before we met, we both explored and discovered many places as solo travelers. It is because of our love of travel that we were attracted to each other and have never looked back. Are you traveling alone? Then, that’s great! Sure, exploring a new country is great with family and friends. However, you can still get the best experiences as a solo traveler. Traveling solo is also a great time to connect with new people, and you can choose to move alone if that’s what you love. Whatever your choice is, here are some of the best travel tips for the solo travelers to help you get the best of your adventure:
Before you leave checklist
Before you leave for your destination, you should prepare your mindset for the journey. Why are you traveling? To see new places? To explore different cultures? Your ultimate aim should be happiness, and you need to be sure of your why. Of course, before traveling, you need to have a budget to work with. It would be disastrous to pack your bags and wing it in a foreign land. Instead, have a specific amount in mind and save towards it. Being financially stranded in another country is not fun in any way and a horrible position to be in. So, make sure that you have enough funds to take you through the trip and handle any emergencies. Up next, decide on your destination. Are you trying out a summer destination, or would love to go in the winter? Do you want a country with lots of beaches, or you’re a sucker for architecture? Your destination matters a lot, and you should put some thought into it, especially regarding your safety. Before taking your trip, you should have travel insurance, which will save you when the unexpected happens. Not having travel insurance means that, if anything goes wrong, you and only you would be responsible for it. Travel insurance saves you the hassle of unnecessary expenses. It can come in handy when you miss your flight for reasons beyond your control if you have to visit a hospital for treatment or misplace an essential item. Not every country has affordable healthcare, and if you find yourself in a health emergency, travel insurance could save your life. here are other things to do before you leave for your solo adventure:
- Book your accommodation beforehand. As a solo traveler, you can explore the accommodation option that would be friendly to your mode of travel. Hostels, small inns, and Airbnb are all great options that are also affordable. Take some time to research accommodations in accessible locations or with hosts that have a good track record.
- Pack light: If you’re going to be moving around a lot, it’s always best to pack light. However, packing light saves you the stress of hurling your baggage around, not to mention the extra expenses. Packing light also means packing smart. Make sure you have the essentials included, such as clothing to last you through your stay and essential documents.
- Safety checks: Make sure you have an emergency contact who will take your calls at any point in time. Preferably, have the person’s number saved somewhere else apart from your phone in case it gets stolen. Also, don’t carry out online banking transactions while using public WiFi. Hackers can steal your private information easily and compromise your accounts. Instead, use a VPN which masks your identity and saves you from attack by hackers.
Get familiar with your destination
Navigating a new city alone requires a lot of patience. Take at least a day to relax while you watch how the wheels of the city turn. Use that time to settle in properly and watch from the sidelines. Don’t be in a hurry to dive into your activities as soon as you arrive at your destination. Also, it’s okay to ask for help anytime you’re unsure of your location. It won’t help to stand around looking dazed for several minutes while you try to figure out where you are. Instead, it could draw attention to the wrong people who will take advantage of the fact that you’re alone and strip you of your valuables. So, smile and walk up to someone to ask a few questions. As long as you’re polite, most people will be willing to help you out of your dilemma. Also, your tourist pack is not complete without a map. Use a detailed map to get a sense of where the major landmarks in the city are. Knowing the landmarks helps you explore the towns safely, and you can always route your movements based on their locations. Be sure to keep your expensive cameras and jewelry out of the view of prying eyes. Try as much as possible not to draw attention to yourself for the wrong reasons as being alone could make you an easy target.
Traveling alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. There are several ways you can fill up the time and even start up a conversation with other friendly people around. The first thing you have to do is maintain a cordial appearance. Be approachable, and this means smiling as much as possible. When you’re approachable, friendly, and happy, you’re giving room for lots of conversations, which could help fill the time while you’re in a new city. Locals always appreciate people who make an effort to communicate in their local language. I’m not saying you should whip out a Spanish dictionary and start up a crash course. Instead, learn a few words that would always come up in basic conversations. This includes greetings and names of everyday items. Be confident enough to use these words and see the positive response you’ll get. If you would love to meet new people and strike up conversations, a great place to do this is at a local coffee shop. Sit close to someone at the window area, and you could end up having great conversations. Don’t restrict yourself to quiet locations. Places like hostels have common rooms where you can meet new people and also watch a lot of bubbly activities going on. Here are other things you can try out:
- Keep a book handy and make sure that it’s one that makes you laugh out loud. Usually, this attracts people who would love to have an interesting conversation
- Have a daily routine that involves meeting people at the same location daily. It could be a restaurant you visit for lunch. When you go there often enough, people will start to look out for you.
- Join in on some day tours and be receptive to making friends.
- The right kind of curiosity is always a start to great conversations
Tips for eating alone
Eating alone doesn’t have to be a bore. You can enjoy your meal times as a solo traveler. One way is to become a regular at a particular restaurant or café. Sure, being in a new city is all about exploring different parts, including their cuisine. However, as a solo traveler, you can gain more from dining at the same place. Of course, they would have a menu where you could try something new while you’re in the city. By being a regular, you can make friends with the staff and even other diners that go there often too. The best time to dine at a fine restaurant is at noon. Usually, the prices are lower at this time with better lighting. Instead of going over to a table for four, which doesn’t give you much chance to be social, eat at the communal tables or bar with the locals. It won’t take long before you blend in with the locals easily. It’s okay to let people know you’re a tourist by leaving around obvious signs. This could be placing your map on the table, which will also attract other tourists. Remember, run a quick assessment with whoever you’re talking with to be sure that they are not a threat to your safety. Also, don’t divulge a lot of personal information about yourself. Finally, as I said earlier, keep a book handy as this is a huge signal to other solo travelers that you’re traveling alone.
Exploring the city
There are several ways to explore a city, and you can pick whichever one fits your budget or personal preference. Here are some great ones:
- Join a Hop-Off tour to get an overview of the city really fast before checking out specific locations
- Take a walk around various landmarks or parks in the city. Walking is one of the best ways to understand a city’s culture. Although it’s slow, it gives you a lot of time to appreciate the beauty of your natural environment and how the city is designed
- Research how the transport system works out before heading to your destination, especially for non-English speaking countries. Find out if they have special deals for tourists or passes for the buses. Local transits are cheaper and, most times, comfortable.
- If you’re working with a specific budget, you can try renting bicycles and riding around the city. There is a plus here too. You get to exercise your body and explore the country at the same time. Whichever way you see it, it’s a win-win.
- Move around from destination to destination using planes, buses, or trains. They are incredibly convenient, especially if you are living within the limits of a backpack or carry-on bag. You’ll be glad you packed light. Make sure you double-check your flight details before leaving for the airport. Check that the flight is on schedule and double-check to ensure that you have all documents necessary to get to your destination without hassles
- Don’t leave at the last minute. Be at least thirty minutes early to catch your plane, train, or bus. It will give you lots of time to settle unexpected issues without running around confused. When you board early, you’ll also be able to put your carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment instead of going through extra luggage procedures.
- If your flight is light, you can look around for a better seat.
- For connecting flights, be prepared with all the information you need before getting on your flight. This will help you make the connection easily when it’s time for the next flight.
- It’s not a good idea to rely on airplane food. So, carry around light snacks which you can much on during your flight. Try snacks that won’t hurt your stomach. Ginger snaps are great and don’t forget to have some water handy.
Maintaining your safety
Your safety is super-important while you’re in a new city. Vacation time is when you get to have some fun and get in on an adventure of a lifetime. However, this should not be at the expense of your safety, especially as a solo traveler. Lots of people don’t like to move at night when traveling alone. While this is okay safety-wise, there are some measures you can put in place to ensure that you’re safe when you move at night. It will be a shame to miss out on those serene city walks at night under the starry skies. So, if you’re moving around at night, here are some tips to know:
- While you may not need a taxi when walking to your destination, it’s a good idea to take one when heading back to your hotel or hostel. Plan your transportation in a way that you won’t be at risk of being stranded in an unknown location at night.
- Before heading out, confirm from someone who knows the area about the safety of the place. Feel free to ask questions from a trustworthy person who will let you know if where you’re going is fun and won’t pose any danger
- When moving at night, it’s a great idea to be as sober as possible. You need to be alert, so drink responsibly.
- Don’t head out without telling anyone. You can leave a note in your hotel room which contains details of where you are and when you will be getting back. This will ensure that the hotel is aware of your movements and can step in if the need arises.
- Be friendly with the staff at your hotel as these people will most likely have your back
- Don’t move around at night with your valuables
So, these are our best travel tips for solo travelers. Happy exploring, and remember to have as much fun as you can.