There are a lot of people that travel alone. Some just because they have a wanderlust and are always jetting off somewhere for an adventure and some because they just had no one available or willing to go on a trip with them.
I travel alone quite a bit and there are both pros and cons to solo travel.
Traveling with friends and family can be fun but it can also be frustrating at times. For some people, going on a vacation or trip means finding a nice hotel and spending time in the room sleeping or maybe venturing out to the pool to relax and have a cocktail. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a nice pool and tall cool drink as well but when I go somewhere, I want to see things and explore the area.
If you travel alone it means you have to adjust a few things. The first thing is to remember that it is just you. There is no one to make sure you get everything before checking out of the hotel. There is no extra set of eyes to make sure that pickpocket isn’t getting to close to your backpack on the bus. There is no one to remind you that you don’t need to pull out a wad of cash to pay for that drink. There is also no one you have to please with finding the right hotel room or what time to get up or what to see and where to go.
If you have never traveled alone or are nervous about traveling alone there are a few things you can do to make sure you have a safe and happy trip.
Traveling alone means you only have one person to make happy, you. You don’t need to plan every single detail of your trip. Make a general plan on things you might want to see or do and leave time to just explore the area and leave yourself open to new experiences. If you want to wake up at 5 am, grab a train and explore a nearby city then do it. I did this once in Prague, where I went to the town of Pilsen and had a blast. Try the street food instead of having to agree with someone on what restaurant to visit. Just leave your time flexible to really enjoy the trip and the experience of being somewhere new.
Avoid the Single Tax
A lot of resorts, hotels, and cruises charge a “single supplement fee”. In other words, they penalize you for traveling alone and charge you more. Single supplement fees range from an additional 10-100 percent of the cost of the room. Not all hotels do this so shop around when you are booking a room. Check the hotel, resort or cruise line website directly. Ask them to waive the fee if you really want to stay there. You can also look into something like an apartment or condo rental. I have often stayed at a condo for less than a hotel and I get a kitchen, living room and more. You don’t have to use the more established rental sites for this. Just do a search for “vacation condo rental in _____” and you will find all kinds of property management sites that rent out short term apartments and condos.
You can still research an area while being flexible and not sticking to a rigid schedule. Research the area you are visiting to take a look at places to avoid, whether they are scams or safety concerns. Look at the overall safety issues of the area and crime reports. Make sure you get the address and phone number to your country embassy. If you get stuck in a country when a volcano blows, a typhoon hits, unrest breaks out, you fall and break a leg or anything else there is no one there with you. The embassy can help you get out of a country, give advice on medical care and all kinds of things. You might lose your passport and need a replacement. Just program the number in your phone and write it down and keep it safe somewhere else.
You really don’t want to lug around a huge suitcase, backpack and camera bag when you are traveling alone. Pack light because it is only you carrying all that stuff around. Do you need 3 pairs of shoes a fresh change of clothes every day for 2 weeks? Take only what you need. Remember you can buy things when you get there. Take travel size toiletries like toothpaste etc. When you run out, they sell that stuff there unless you are trekking down the Amazon there is a store to buy soap and toothpaste. Here is a tip. They do laundry in other cities and countries too not just where you live. Ask the front desk where the nearest laundry is and drop it off in the morning pick it up in the evening or the next day. I have done this in every country I have visited.
You Don’t Have to Always Be Alone
Just because you are traveling alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. There are all kinds of travel agencies and groups that are geared to single travelers. Even if you are traveling alone you can still be around people. Check out the area you are visiting for people traveling there. Meet up with other travelers. If you hit it off, great. If not move on, that’s the nice thing about traveling alone. If you don’t want to plan every detail do a search for “single travel groups” and you will find all kinds of tour agencies that specialize in single travelers. While you are there get out of your comfort zone and meet some of the locals. Just take common sense safety precautions Just because someone says “get in I will show you around”, doesn’t mean you have to forget any normal safety concerns you would have at home.
I have traveled alone to many cities in the United States and many foreign countries, I have always had a great time, met a lot of really nice people and never felt lonely.
Just because you might travel alone, don’t let it stop you from having a great time.