The first time I traveled solo was because I had no choice. Since I was little, I’d always wanted to visit New York and I became obsessed with everything related to the city. For my high school graduation, I got an IOU from my mom for a flight to New York. My sophomore year in college, I decided I finally wanted to go there for Spring Break; I had a friend who wanted to visit too. We made plans, booked our hotel and flights. A week before we were to leave, my friend cancelled on the trip. I was devastated! I cancelled all my arrangements and ended up just going home instead.
Ten years later, I was still obsessed with New York, and still hadn’t gone. I, once again, found a friend who wanted to visit and we made plans, booked flights, and organized everything. With the trip a week away, the same exact thing happened… the friend flaked. I was, once again, devastated. But, this time I couldn’t just cancel everything. The ticket was non-refundable, and it took weeks to get my vacation days approved with work, so I couldn’t just not use them. I remember sitting in my apartment for hours trying to figure out what to do, because the thought of going alone never occurred to me. People who went places alone were pathetic, right?
I slept on it, and when I woke up I decided to go alone. Why the hell not? I was single, I had a cousin in Brooklyn that could help if I ran into trouble, and if I waited for someone else to actually follow-through, I’d probably be waiting forever. The thought of waiting for someone else to come along that I could travel with seemed sad and ridiculous.
That was, and still is, one of the best trips I’ve taken. After that I was officially hooked on traveling, and especially hooked on traveling alone. That trip was expensive- and I’m pretty sure I ate Ramen for months until I paid the trip off- but it was more than worth it.
Now I’m in love with traveling solo. Don’t get me wrong, I occasionally love traveling with others, but traveling alone is just an all-around amazing experience. Traveling alone allows me to do things exactly how I want to, it’s less stressful, and I’m not sitting around waiting for anyone else’s schedule to align with mine before I make plans. If I want to go somewhere, I just go.
I get questions all the time about traveling solo, and I can’t even tell you the look on some people’s faces when I say I’m going somewhere alone.; they look at me like I’m crazy. What’s crazy to me is missing out on a travel experience because of the fear of going alone, or because I have no one to go with me; that will never happen again.
If you’ve ever thought about traveling solo, do it! Step out of your comfort zone, and just go. I travelled solo when I was single, and I still travel solo even though I’m not single. Don’t make your single status be a reason not to go on a trip. Don’t wait for someone else to come along to try exciting things. If you’re thinking about traveling solo or if you are about to for the first time, here are some tips to help make the experience smoother:
Ease into traveling solo by getting used to doing things alone; go have dinner alone, do a small day-trip somewhere, or take a small road trip. If you are planning a vacation with another person, maybe extend your stay one extra day so that you’re only solo for a small period of time. Over time you’ll get comfortable being alone.
Be smart about what you post on social media.
To stay safe, it’s best not to post every detail about where you are and what you are doing. Don’t put yourself out there too much, because it can make you a target.
Let people back at home know your itinerary.
On a recent solo trip, I used the app “TripCase” to plan my itinerary and to notify my loved ones back home about the details of my trip. The app is genius! It gives updates, sends out emails every time you arrive somewhere by plane or train, and lets them know when you’ve checked-in and out of your hotel.
It’s also a good idea to give important documents to people back home, like your travel insurance info, a picture of your passport, and all your hotel and flight confirmation details.
Factor in being solo when you book everything.
When I book a solo trip, I book things a little differently. I won’t take a late train or flight, because I know it can be less safe, and I try to book hotels in high-volume areas with a lot of people so I feel safer walking around. I also research everything about my destination a little more so I am better prepared for anything.
Bring things that will entertain you.
The one thing I had to get used to when traveling solo was the silence. At first, I felt lonely, but then I started enjoying the silence. The only time traveling solo can be weird is when I eat out. I’ll usually sit at the bar so I can chat with the bartender, and I find that a lot of other solo travelers are at the bar, too. If you think being alone will feel lonely, try bringing headphones so you can listen to music, or bring a book or a journal.
Book tours if you want to meet people.
If you want to meet new people when you are traveling solo, book city tours, bar-crawl tours, or some type of social activity where you will be around a lot of other people.
Absolutely NEVER tell strangers, hotel staff, taxi drivers, or anyone you casually encounter that you are traveling solo. It makes you a huge target! Come up with some sort of lie, or story, about where your travel partner is so that you seem less vulnerable; better safe than sorry.
Use your instincts.
Always, always, always use your instinct when you are travelling by yourself. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Be smart, be safe, and, most importantly, have fun. When it comes to traveling solo, just take the chance and try it. It is an amazing adventure and you will learn a lot about yourself in the process.
I’m Drea and I am a freelance writer, bartender, and professional napper. Although I live in lovely Las Vegas, you can usually catch me on my couch eating Taco Bell and cuddling with my animals. Check out my blog at ImDrea.com and portfolio at Clippings.me/ImDrea. I also have an awesome Twitter account with fun travel memes and content @ATravelMeme. Drea@ImDrea.com