Most people travel with someone else, whether it's on family vacations to the beach, cross-country trips with friends or romantic getaways with a partner. However, solo travel is becoming more common, with 24 percent of travelers going overseas alone. If you're about to venture off by yourself for the first time, check out these tips.
So you have an idea of where you want to go, but do you have your itinerary set? Are you looking for a relaxing vacation or one where you're hiking volcanoes? Deciding what you want to do has a huge impact on what activities you'll do, what you'll bring, and where you'll stay, and it'll be key to figure out what you want before you do anything else. When traveling solo, it's vital to do your research so it's best to decide at least the basic experience you want before you step on the plane. If you're relatively new to travel and looking to just go on your first solo trip, picking somewhere that you know the language makes it easier, with popular destinations where English is spoken include the UK, New Zealand, and Iceland.
After you've decided where to go, the next vital move is buying your ticket. Buying far ahead of your departure date is typically cheaper, with the best time to buy an international flight a whopping 171 days ahead of time.1 Additionally, flights tend to be the cheapest if you decide to depart on a Tuesday. Shopping around by researching various routes and online comparison sites, like Skyscanner or Google Flights, could also save you hundreds of dollars that you can put toward adventures on your trip.
Hotels are generally in hip neighborhoods and have great front-desk staff who can help you find your way, a huge plus for new solo travelers. It's important to know exactly where you'll be and how you are going to get around, particularly if you're staying at a hostel or an Airbnb. Research how close you will be to the attractions you want to visit and what the transportation options are to get there. Also, try to determine which areas are considered dangerous, and make an informed decision on if it's worth the risk.2,3 Remember, it's best to follow the age-old axiom of "better safe than sorry."
Often overlooked, travel insurance can save you if a trip goes sour. When a flight gets canceled, or when you need to see a doctor, insurance can save you thousands of dollars and many headaches. The 15 minutes it takes to sign up could save you days during your trip if something happens. This should be purchased after you've bought things like your ticket, hotel room, and any activities you plan on doing. Get information about travel insurance from Allianz Global Assistance and head over to Lee Abbamonte's site to see 20 reasons why you should have travel insurance.
When traveling alone, it's vital to pack exactly what you need for that particular trip. Are you hiking up Kilimanjaro? Make sure to bring extra socks. Are you planning on a beach-only trip in Vietnam? Don't forget sunscreen, which can be much more expensive abroad. The number one thing to pack is a backup phone charger. No matter the type of trip you're planning, this will be a savior when you're trying to figure out a route home, when you need a calculator for currency conversions, or when you're trying to capture that perfect sunset, and your phone is fading fast.
If you're in a city where there's an iconic landmark, just go. There's a reason they're popular, and who knows when you'll be there again. If you want company, group tours can be a great way to meet fellow travelers who you can then invite on other excursions.
Watch the world pass by from a coffee shop. Walk the street without a plan, and find the local thrift stores that aren't in the guidebooks. Traveling alone gives you great opportunities to experience new places at your own pace, so be sure to make the most of your time by doing exactly what you want. These will be the experiences you remember the most. Just trust your intuition, and when alone, avoid areas considered dangerous.
Are you curious about where locals see a comedy show or where you can find the best tapas bar? Striking up conversations with the neighbor of your Airbnb, the waiter at your restaurant or the street vendor selling watermelon can lead you to experiences you would never have known about otherwise. If you're unsure how to start, simply state that you're visiting, and ask, "Can you tell me what to see in town?" 4
Traveling alone is thrilling, but there will be times when you'll want someone to discuss the strange new food you found at the hole-in-the-wall restaurant down the street. Eating out, going to a bar or even hanging at the beach presents lots of opportunities to interact with locals and fellow travelers alike. Additionally, if you're staying in a hostel or Airbnb, it'll be easier to meet people by proximity. Say hello, ask where they're from, and invite them along on an excursion into the town. Be open to experiences, and you might just make a new, lifelong friend in the process.