Most of us have grown up with the notion that when we travel, we should do so with at least one other person – partner, friend, or family member. The reasons have been two-fold. First, you have someone to share the amazing experiences with and to talk about when you return home. Second, it has always been considered somehow “safer” to travel with someone else.
Let’s “throw that baby out with the bath water” and consider what it would be like to travel solo for a change. Here are the many benefits of a sojourn all by yourself.
Benefits of Solo Travel
You Make All the Decisions
You get to plan your itinerary without taking into consideration the wishes of anyone else. How refreshing! Not only that, you are in complete charge of booking all of your travel and hotel reservations. If you decide that you are going to splurge on the most luxurious hotel in one of your destinations, there’s no one else to complain that it’s wasteful.
You Have the Amount of Solo and Social/Group Time You Want
Suppose you want to spend half a day on your hotel room balcony just enjoying the view and perhaps doing some reading. You want silence and alone time, and it’s yours.
On the other hand, suppose you want to make part of this trip all about meeting and making new friends. You can book a tour or two; you can take part in happy hours offered by your hotel; you can check with the hotel concierge about a safe and vibrant night spot.
Use technology in advance of your trip if you are interested in meeting new people. There are travel groups on all major social media platforms. Or check out a dating app where you can find people abroad to hook up with once you get to a destination. You may just end up with a one-on-one travel guide and even become lifelong friends.
You Can Change Your Itinerary on a Whim
Suppose you have arrived at one of your destinations, and you discover that you can’t do all you want to do in the time you allotted for this stop. No problem. You can rearrange your reservations as you wish without the worry of consulting anyone else.
Some Solo Travel Tips
If you want your solo travel to be all that you have dreamed of, here are some tips to do just that.
Do Your Research in Advance
Obviously, you can’t plan an itinerary at all without some advanced knowledge of where you are going.
But dig deeper into your research, beyond the hotels and tour and major tourist attractions. There may be little-known places that pique your interest and well-known sights you’d rather skip. Going to Hong Kong? Check out the “off the beaten track” offerings – the street markets or a train trip up into the New Territories. You’ll stop at villages where time has rather stood still, and you may really prefer that to a day in the bustle of this major metropolis.
Don’t take more luggage than you can carry on your own, unless, of course, you are on a cruise. You may not have help everywhere you go. Your hotels will have laundry services, and no one will really notice when you repeat clothing. As for valuables? Do you really need them?
Share Your Itinerary
Make sure that someone at home has your full itinerary. And be sure to notify them of any changes you make along the way. This goes for both domestic and international travel. Keep in touch so no one worries.
Take More Money Than You Think You’ll Need
This is especially true if you are traveling abroad where accessing your bank at home may be a problem, especially in smaller towns and more rural areas. If you do this, you will be able to splurge when you wish without having to borrow money from a travel buddy.
Yes, this is a concern for someone who is traveling alone and not on a cruise. Use your common sense and your “gut.”
First, in some places, it may not be safe to be alone on the streets after dark. As lovely as Florence is, there are gypsies and pickpockets all over the place, night and day.
Your best bet is to check with your hotel concierge about the safety of places you would like to visit and the best way to get to them. If you are a female, your concierge can even arrange for a trustworthy escort if you will be going to places that may not be completely safe.
Trust your gut too. If you find yourself in an environment that makes you nervous, get away quickly.
Put all valuables in your hotel safe – this goes without saying whether you travel solo or not.
You will meet strangers at bars, at restaurants, and as you tour through towns and cities. If they should want to spend more time with you and get to know you better, and you feel the same, invite them to your hotel bar or restaurant.
Never Forego Those Experiences that are Once in a Lifetime
Life is short. And you probably have a bucket list. What have you always dreamed of doing just once – a camel ride in Egypt? An African sightseeing safari? Viewing the Pieta in Vatican City? Or, maybe it’s something closer to home – parasailing over Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, watching the Ball Drop on New Year’s Eve in New York City, or zip lining over lakes, rainforests, or mountains.
Check out that bucket list of yours, and get started all on your own.