Why I Travel Solo
The first time I ever went on a trip by myself was for work. I had to go to Michigan for 3 days and at first I thought, "I'm not sure if I'll like this." Oh how wrong I was! Once I got on the plane and checked into my hotel, I realized that this is awesome! I can go and do whatever I want. I don't have to be afraid someone won't want to eat at the same places, or spend time doing the same activities as me. Even though it was just a short work trip, it sparked an idea in my head....what if I did this more often?
In 2012, I decided to take my first week long solo trip. I went to England for the Royal Wedding (that's a whole other post for another time I think) and I didn't have any idea how much fun it would be. Were there times I wanted to have a buddy to talk to...sure. Did I think "oh this would be fun if someone was with me at dinner?"...sometimes. In reality the independence that solo travel can bring was a life skill I didn't know I already possessed and made me more aware of the culture around me.
I had some life changing conversations with myself on that trip. Some "let's take a look at what I want and who I am" moments, that helped me as I was about to enter my 30s. And for this introvert, who loves independence, traveling solo has proven to be just what I need when I'm feeling stressed out, or that life has become too crazy.
But I understand that traveling on your own can be cause for concern. How safe is it? Will I get bored? What if I really need to talk to someone? Here are some tips that have proved helpful to me.
- Do your research! -I can't say this enough. Its how I start every trip I go on. Where do I want to go? How safe is it to travel alone to that country? Do I want to stay in the US? Once you have made those solid decisions you can move on to the next tip...
- Itinerary, Itinerary!- Have a plan for how you want to spend your time. Research restaurants, attractions, and any special seasonal events that maybe happening while you are in town. Once you have a good itinerary for what you will be doing every day, send it to someone like a family member so that they know what you are planning to do during your trip. Don't worry it doesn't have to be detailed down to the minute. I do a simple breakdown of Morning/Afternoon/Evening with no time stamps just a general outline of how I want to spend my days. This way people back home can keep track and someone knows where you will be.
- Budget- while it may seem cheaper to split a room with someone, you can actually find some great Airbnbs or hotels that have a much cheaper rate for single occupants. You also can go smaller on a few meals and just eat one big meal during the day. I would have some fruit and a breakfast bar for breakfast, a take away sandwich for dinner and keep my large meal to lunch so you don't have to feel like you have to go out somewhere expensive for every meal (and if you want to have ice cream for dinner no one is around to judge you).
- Dining alone does not make you lame- why is it that we can't eat out at a restaurant alone without feeling like people are staring at you and thinking, "Look at that poor, sad girl" Guess what? NOBODY CARES!! If you really don't want to go out to a restaurant for dinner and be seated next to a couple who are too busy putting there tongues down each other's throats then any actual piece of food. Make lunch your big meal for the day. And if you want to enjoy conversation with a local the bar is always a good place to sit. You may even get some great suggestions on other places to check out from the bartender.
- Always be aware!- Check your surroundings. Be aware of who is walking beside you. Check to see if your belongings are secure on the regular. Don't tell people where you are staying or that you are traveling alone. Some of these would be considered regular street smarts, and aren't said to make you afraid. It's just a general awareness that you want to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. If those internal warning bells are going off, than listen to them. You aren't letting anyone down or ruining your day if you decide to change course and do something that makes you feel safe.
These are just a few things that have helped make trips I have gone on fun and stress free. Have you ever traveled somewhere alone? Where did you go and would you do it again?