Most people are intimidated by solo travel, which is unfortunate because taking a vacation alone can be meaningful, empowering, and yes, fun! Everyone should take at least one crack at solo travel in his or her lifetime. Here are some tips to help you embrace the experience.
Name Your Fears
What makes you nervous when you think about traveling alone? Do you have safety concerns? Are you worried about being lonely? Do you fear looking silly while eating alone? Figuring out exactly what your concerns are can help you address the issues head on. Most of the time when you unpack your vague, nameless dread, it disappears on its own.
Get Excited About Your Trip
One of the most common reasons that people travel alone is because they can’t find anyone to come with them. If you’re committed to traveling alone, pick somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Read up on your destination and let yourself get excited. Soon that enthusiasm will outweigh your nerves.
Practice Being Alone
Many people find it hard to be alone in public, but this is a skill that you can hone with practice. You don’t even need to leave your hometown to give it a try! Take yourself out to dinner (or lunch if that’s less intimidating). Get a table for one and spend your time reading, writing in a journal, or just people watching. It’ll feel very strange at first, but with time you will get used to the feeling and realize that nobody is judging you.
Start with Baby Steps
If taking an entire vacation alone just seems impossible, dip your toe into the pool of solo travel a different way. Start small: what about just a couple of days alone tacked on at the end of a group vacation? Or traveling with an organized group tour where you don’t know anyone beforehand? Even a day trip to a new city on your own can give you a good taste of what solo travel feels like.
Once you realize how much you can truly handle, you can ramp up to a truly solo trip.
Make New Friends
One of the things that solo travelers learn quickly is that you’re only as alone as you want to be while traveling. If you’re an extrovert who loves being around people, reach out in your destination for new friends. You could use a website like Couchsurfing, connect with a local meet-up group or reach out to friends of friends. Even if you can afford more, picking a hostel over a hotel is a great way to connect with new people, many of whom may also be traveling solo.
Address Your Safety Concerns
Safety is one of the biggest issues that solo travelers struggle with. Although travel is usually quite safe, even when you’re alone, there are certain things you can do to mitigate risk. Do your research before you leave so that you fully understand any safety issues involving your chosen destination. Choose your accommodation carefully, with an emphasis in staying in a safe part of town. Keep your wits about you and pay attention to your surroundings. When you feel safe, you’re better able to relax and enjoy your trip.
One of the greatest joys of traveling alone is the freedom to do whatever you like, whenever you like. Take advantage of this unusual freedom and treat yourself to a few luxuries you might not otherwise. Give yourself a spa day, a fancy dinner, or the freedom to sleep until noon. Don’t just endure solo travel—have fun with it!