Traveling can enrich your life in so many ways. Although it’s nice to share an experience, it isn’t always possible. Whether finances, relationship status, or availability of friends and family seems to be holding you back from going to destinations you dream of visiting, traveling alone could be the solution you’re looking for. It can be daunting to take that step alone but actually solo traveling is on the rise and it can help you on a path to self-discovery too. Here, I share my experience and tips for those thinking of diving into traveling alone (and why you should).
Go on a group adventure
If you find the idea of going away on your own too daunting (or you just don’t like your own company), there are lots of companies that coordinate group trips where you’ll share an itinerary with a group of strangers and go on an adventure together. The beauty of these is you can get to know the group you travel with and could make some lifelong friends along the way, giving you that shared experience if you want it.
You can also look into group tours at your destination if there are places you want to visit but don’t want to go alone. The advantage here is you’ll have your transport catered for and as you’ll be with a group of people when out on your excursion- and the guides know the area and destination, you’ll get complete peace of mind that you’re in safe hands when out and about. This helps to ensure you make the most out of the destinations you visit and have a ton of stories and experience too without feeling like you’re incapable of doing anything or going anywhere.
Have a contact you can turn to
You may find traveling alone a little overwhelming at times, it’s only natural. As such, it’s always good to have a point of contact at home, someone you can turn to when things do feel a bit too much. Ensure you check in regularly too and share in the good experiences as well as the bad.
It’s also helpful to share an itinerary with your loved ones so they know where you are and have access to emergency numbers just in case. Set up a regular schedule to check in to give you all a little bit of comfort.
You’ll look back on the experience with rose tinted glasses
When traveling alone (depending on what you do, where you go and for how long), you may have good days and bad days- I had these when working away in Florida for a few months and even when I did short trips visiting friends. Despite an awareness of some bad days- like missing transport or feeling overwhelmed in New Orleans, I don’t recall them with any negative emotions. In fact, I’ve managed to turn them into positives in my memory. You will find overall you’ll have an amazing experience.
Additionally, solo traveling has highlighted a number of strengths I have, such as resilience, adaptability, curiosity, a sense of achievement and pride. It certainly allows you to connect with yourself in a way everyday life doesn’t offer.
Don’t let other people’s perceptions or experience put you off
When preparing for a trip to New Orleans on my own, I was inundated with opinions of how dangerous it was and how I shouldn’t be traveling alone. The torrent of these messages from others made me increasingly nervous as I was preparing to travel there, and by the time I did get there, I felt too afraid to leave my hotel. Thankfully I was meeting some friends who were familiar with the city who took me to Bourbon Street- notorious for violence and parties, so I wouldn’t visit alone (and could say I did it) and because they were with me for the day, showed me around a little. Thanks to them I felt much more comfortable going out alone on the days following.
However, the opinions of others did impact my trip and I missed out on so much. I decided against a trip on the Mississippi River or going on one of the Voodoo Tours or on a Bayou Tour as I felt I couldn’t do this alone. Don’t get me wrong, New Orleans is a rough city. It has had a significant share of hardship and devastation (you’ll no doubt have heard of hurricane Katrina) and with-it high levels of homelessness, poverty and violence but there are measures you can put in place to feel safe, wherever you go. Don’t let opinions (emphasis here on opinions, if they’ve experience that’s entirely different), put you off.
Get to know your surroundings and going prepared
It’s always a good idea to do a little bit of forward planning. Get to know the area you’re visiting and any customs or cultures you need to be aware of. Be sure to find out where your local supermarket or pharmacy is (to get water, snacks and medicines if you need it) and also find out about transport options to allow you to get out and about safely and any other important details to help you have a safe and enjoyable trip. Having this information outlined in advance can help you to feel more prepared and ready for your adventure.
In addition, bear these safety tips in mind:
- Carry a personal safety alarm.
- Don’t carry too much money or your passport (if you don’t need it) with you when out and about. If your room doesn’t have a safe, ask to use the building safe to lock up your valuables.
- Be aware of your surroundings: when traveling alone you may feel the urge to pop in your headphones and listen to a podcast or music when out and about, however, this can make it harder for you to keep up with what’s going on around you.
- Charger for out and about: you’ll likely use your phone a lot more so be sure you always have a way to keep it fully charged.
Have you traveled alone before? What experience would you pass on?