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Tips for Traveling Solo (and Why Everyone Should Do It)

Published:
June 17, 2024
June 17, 2024
Read this article for tips on how to travel alone on your best, safest, and most fun adventure yet.

Whenever I’m visiting a place I haven’t been to before, I think of J.R.R. Tolkien’s words: “Not all who wander are lost.” One of the best parts of traveling for me is getting to explore the unknown, to wander around a city or country you’ve never set foot in and see what awaits you around every corner. It’s exciting to be guided by a sense of curiosity, purpose, and wonder, rather than a map. My family, friends, and coworkers can attest to how much I enjoy traveling. Once I return home from a trip, I start researching where to travel next.

Trips with family and friends are always fun, but solo trips hit differently. You make the arrangements for flights, hotels, things to do, etc. It’s all under your control!

My first solo trip was to Denver. I didn’t know a single soul around me, but I didn’t take those eight days for granted — I made some core memories on that trip. The experience showed me what I needed to do with my life: I needed to take better care of myself, practice slow living, and focus on the present moment

After learning so much about myself on that first solo trip, I was hooked. Now, I try to schedule at least one solo trip each year.  If you’re wanting to try traveling solo, here are some tips from a fellow traveler.

Do your research

Although I consider myself a flexible traveler, I always research these three topics before every trip: what to pack, safety tips, and budget. 

Packing: Universal travel adaptor, eSIM card or a WiFi Hotspot, visas, insurance cards in case of an emergency — the list goes on! If you’re going to a different country, then you’ll want to know what to pack. Here’s a list created specifically for solo travelers.

Safety: Should you go out past sunset? Should you avoid less populated areas? Are there any areas you should avoid completely? Did you look up the country’s emergency hotline? Are there any apps you can download that will help you if you’re in a dire situation (i.e. Noonlight)? These are all valid questions for anyone to ask themselves — that way, you’re better safe than sorry.

Be sure to check the region’s crime rates. Before my first solo trip, I took a self-defense course to feel safer in case the worst happened. And for extra protection, these devices are allowed in your checked baggage.

Budgeting: Nomadic Matt is a great resource. He has budgets that range from backpack traveling to luxury living — his website’s slogan is, “Travel smarter, cheaper, and longer.” 

Ask for help when needed

The best traveling advice I’ve received from my dad is “If you’re ever lost in a new city or country, just ask. Someone will be willing to help you.”

He once got up on a chair in Paris as he was lost and yelled, “Does anyone here speak English that can help me find my way?!” Three people approached him with smiles on their faces, willing to help a stranger in need.

Learn new things about yourself and others

I felt imposter syndrome for a long time, as well as derealization. So traveling in general has always been an appreciated escape from reality for me. However, traveling solo was more than an escape — it was a way back to myself. It made me realize I had so much more to do in life, and I didn’t want to let fear hold me back.

The whole trip is planned by you, so this is a time to get out of your comfort zone. Learn new cultures, new religions, new languages. Meet fascinating people. Smile at the sight of animals you’ve only seen in photos. Be in awe of what this planet has to offer.

Take the jump

Even if you don’t want to travel internationally, going to a town two hours away from you, staying at an AirBnB, bringing books to read, and just having some peace of mind in nature or in a new city can be satisfying. 

We all have one life to live, my friends. And there’s so much out there to see and experience. There’s so much living to achieve in this short time on Earth.

***

There may be a future time when I am financially stable to travel around the world and take a gap year. But the future is a mystery — we are not guaranteed tomorrow. 

Take the trip because life is too short for us. I’d rather have more “oh wells” than “what ifs.” The money will return to you, but the time won’t. Go make some memories.

Creators:
Makaela Douglas
Published:
June 17, 2024
June 17, 2024
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