In this article, I will show you the best tips for traveling alone. Being prepared will help you overcome your initial fears to get the most out of the experience.
I wrote this article thanks to my own experience. I’ve always had vacations when most of my friends were studying or working, so traveling alone was the norm. What I enjoy the most is going into the wilds with my dog. Although we are not discussing traveling with a dog here, I highly recommend it.
Whether you go into the wilds or to a big city, most of the tips are the same. You will get different experiences depending on how well prepared you are. Here, you will learn everything from the mindset to the best means of transport.
Table of Contents
1. Plan your trip
Traveling alone is not for everyone. If you want to travel alone, odds are you are an adventurous person and open to new experiences.
Even so, spend some time getting to know yourself. Can you withstand the loneliness? Do you have basic survival skills? Will you get bored? What is your threshold before asking for help? Are you comfortable talking to strangers?…
You should be asking yourself all these questions and many others. I recommend you practice some activities alone before your trip, and meditate. Meditation is the single most important self-improvement habit, period. It will be your best tool when you are alone, so start meditating right now.
Yet, you will never gather all the confidence you think you need. So, how do you know you are prepared? You won’t. That’s all that it’s, a leap of faith.
Know the place
Spend some time beforehand investigating the place you are going to. Trace an itinerary and plan your days. Once you start your trip, you should already know much about that place and what you are going to do.
Locate your sleep place. Plan your day so you know you are going to end up there, no matter what. Make sure to book it in advance if necessary. Schedule your activities so you get places on time. Whether it’s a camping or a museum, you don’t want to show up after it’s closed.
Plan your meals. Can you get food or do you need to bring it from home?
Check local regulations and remember be a sustainable traveler. Ignorance of the law excuses not.
Budget for the place you are going to. You don’t need the same money in the wilds than in Las Vegas.
But don’t overschedule your trip. You want some freedom to discover and enjoy things you didn’t knew about. Leave some room for spontaneity and exploration.
Get offline maps
Whether you are going into the wilds or to a big city, get offline maps. Don’t rely on your phone connection if you are alone. It could go out of range, out of battery, and even break.
If you are with a group, their phones act as a backup for yours in any of these cases. But if you are alone, you must get your own backup. Check this guide on how to use a map so you will never get lost.
Make a plan B
Safety is number one priority. You must ensure that you will be safe whatever happens. Have a backup plan to return home.
For example, let’s say you are going on a bike trip alone. Be prepared to change your tires if they get flat. Some trails may also be closed, so you have to change your route. And you may have to return home early because your camping is flooded by heavy rain.
If you prepare for unforeseen situations, it will give you confidence and peace of mind.
If you are going abroad, you should take extra time to learn about the place. First, check local regulations. Ignorance of the law excuses not. Also make sure your passport is up to date and check the visa requirements.
Consider getting a SIM card to have an internet connection. And learn some phrases of the local language, even if you don’t plan to talk with people. It may come in handy in case of necessity.
2. Choose a nice place to sleep
Some general tips on your lodging:
- Check if they offer things like Wifi, laundry service, HVAC, and entertainment. These will be invaluable.
- Spend a little bit more to make your life easier. Like booking close to the airport, or paying more for an extended check-in hour.
- Check reviews and look for solo travelers friendly places. Hostels usually are a good option.
- Camping will give you an incredible but hard experience. It’s extremely rewarding if you are prepared.
- Always book in advance. You will secure your spot so don’t have to be wandering until you find a free bed.
- Mark the place in your map and make sure you will end up there at the end of the day.
3. Meet new people
You should not venture into the middle of nowhere by yourself. If you want to travel alone, go to a place with people.
I highly recommend you do pilgrimage. You will be alone most of the time, but there will be enough people who can assist you in case of necessity. Also, most of the villages you will visit are used to travelers, so they will welcome you.
Do not worry about what others think, they probably are not thinking about you at all. You can take this opportunity to talk with locals and learn about them. You can always attend activities and social events if you are feeling lonely.
Be open to meeting new people and making friends. Share your travel stories, the experiences you had and your hobbies. You will find like-minded people, especially if they are travelers too. It’s amazing how much you can connect with a stranger.
4. Use your meals to relax
Meals may be the best or the worst part of your solo trip. It’s a time to sit and relax, so you can enjoy the moment and the place you are at.
Make sure to always carry water and food. Even if you plan to eat at a local restaurant, have an alternative just in case.
Eating alone may feel weird to you if you have never done it before. You can bring a book to keep your mind occupied, but I don’t recommend so. Use this opportunity to immerse in the local culture, ask for the waiter’s favorite dishes, and share some stories. If you don’t want to socialize now, just relax and enjoy the moment.
5. Go the extra mile for security
There are a few guidelines you should follow every single time you go on a solo adventure:
Carry a first-aid kit
Especially if you go into the wilds. Take essential supplies to take care of yourself in case of necessity.
It should include things like bandages, adhesive tape, antibiotics, alcohol and tweezers.
Also, bring something for your feet. If you walk for too long, you will get blisters so keep that in mind.
Inform someone about your trip
Tell your family and friends where you are going. This may save your life if you get in trouble, because they will know where to look for you
Give someone you trust a copy of all the relevant information, such as itinerary, lodging, or flight numbers. Keep in contact with them so they know you are ok. If you won’t carry your phone or there is no internet connection, set a date to contact them. That way, they can set on the alarms if they have no news from you after that day.
Create an emergency plan
Besides your plan B for the trip, you should also have a safety plan. Check how you can ask for help, if there are any hospitals and the best way to return home.
You should also make a brief list with your emergency contacts (Such as your family) and carry it at all times. Include relevant health information such as your blood type, allergies and required medications. That way, whoever comes to help you can easily handle the situations and warn your family.
Make life easier for your rescuers.
Use common sense and avoid dangers in unfamiliar environments. Needless to say, avoid alcohol and other drugs. You must be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially at night.
Don’t join people you don’t trust and don’t fear saying no. Know your limits and take care of yourself. Keep your money safe and hidden, and listen to your own instincts.
A pro tip for women is to wear a fake wedding ring and be confident in public. It will divert many eyes.
Get travel insurance
Don’t risk yourself for a few bucks. Buy travel insurance that covers rescue and medical care.
Knowing that they will take care of you when you are in an unknown place will make your trip far more enjoyable. You just have to worry about having a good time.
6. Don’t overpack
The most important thing about packing is not what to add, but what to leave out. Focus on ending up with a light bag, so don’t overpack.
I’ve prepared a list with some items that you may need. These are by no means mandatory, use this list to get ideas and build your own packing list:
- First-aid kit.
- Water and food.
- Hidden wallet and cash.
- Documentation (Passport, driving license…)
- Pocket knife.
- Fire starter kit.
- Extra clothes.
- Trekking poles.
- Tent and blankets.
- Map and compass.
- Phone or satellite phone.
- A book.
- Journal and pen.
Organize your bag so your most used items are easy to access.
7. Choose how you want to get around
Best is to use a bike. You can ride trails or roads with heavy bags and park at almost any place. It doesn’t need fuel and it’s easy to repair.
Go and get lost sometimes to discover new unique spots. Yet, you can explore cities by walking or using public transport. This will bring you directly to the most famous places at a low cost.
There are plenty of options, so feel free to choose whatever fits you best.
8. Try new things
Use this opportunity to explore places that you find interesting. Embrace spontaneity and get lost. You can do whatever you want!
You should get up early to get the most out of your days. Walk or ride during the morning, especially in summer. Learn about the place, the local culture and its inhabitants.
I recommend you to seek new challenges and push your boundaries. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new. You can engage in local activities and learn new skills. You can start by getting your first diving course, or learning to make a fire if you are in the wilds.
You have absolute freedom, so it can also be a contemplative experience. Observe your surroundings and meditate, do some yoga, and enjoy your own company. Pilgrimages are the best for this.
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