Family vacations can be a source of memory making for years to come, as can traveling with friends or a partner. But traveling solo is such an underrated mode of vacationing and frankly, most folks don’t know how to do it right. Traveling solo can be cathartic and exhilarating, not to mention you can make the rules up as you go along; plans and itineraries can be so easily undone if you’re the only one involved in them! All of this makes for a traveling experience that, if you haven’t tried yet, you really ought to. Still, there are some tricks of the trade worth knowing to maximize your journey’s potential, so read on for the run-down of our best tips for traveling solo!
Location, Location, Location
It should come as no surprise that the first and most important thing to figure out is where you’re going to go! Whether you plan on hanging in one spot for an extended period of time or hitting several locations in one trip, you’ll want to make sure that your location meets your needs.
Are you looking to be engaged and exhilarated from start to finish? If you’re traveling without the company of others you know personally, then you’ll definitely want to choose an area with a plethora of activities and new people to engage with, like a city with robust restaurants, entertainment, and art scenes.
Not into engaging with others? That’s ok, too! Part of the beauty and appeal of solo traveling may be to disconnect and get away from it all. Cities provide plenty of opportunities in the form of museums and art, theater and performance venues, tours, sight-seeing, and so much more. But the same goes for more rural areas as well; being out in nature provides an endless array of activities of the hiking, camping, and exploring variety. Just be sure to take a map!
These days, with the popularity of AirBnb, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to picking a place to rest your head at night. Between services like that, hotels and motels, campgrounds, and hostels, choosing where to stay comes down to two major criteria: your budget and your comfortability.
Hostels are a great way to stay somewhere that’s cheap, easy to book in advance or last minute, and, not to mention, a fantastic way to meet other people (if you’re in the market for that). I personally like to mix up my trips with stays at higher-end hostels plus a couple of nights at a nice hotel (booked with points, of course); so I can decompress, relax, and get some much-needed rest and privacy!
As with sleeping arrangements, not only is the type of place going to be an integral part of the success of your journey, but also the location. There’s nothing worse than staying at a cheap hotel or hostel that turns out to be so inexpensive because it isn’t near anyone or anything. Keep an eye on where you’re booking your stays and their proximity to the places in which you want to engage and explore. If it’s not close by, be sure to research the best modes of transportation to get you where you want to go ahead of time.
Part of the beauty of vacationing on your own is that you don’t have to worry about keeping up with others (or them keeping up with you). Half the burden of traveling comes down to what you’ve got with you, and packing appropriately for a solo trip is certainly key! As with any trip, take a look at the weather ahead of time and pack appropriately. In addition to your wardrobe, pack the minimum essentials like toiletries, your wallet, and devices (don’t forget that charger!).
Since you’ll be on your own, you may want to consider bringing a book, downloading a favorite show or film to your device, or having an ongoing project that you can work on if you get bored. But trust me: don’t overdo it. You may be surprised how much you get out of your destination, which will leave you regretting having lugged all those books around when you never needed them all to begin with! Ask yourself: are you really going to read all seven Harry Potter books on your vacation? Just one will suffice for filling the travel time or spaces in between activities.
Walking tours are a great way to experience the greatest hits of a city you’re visiting without having to do all the research yourself. Many walking tours are free, but even the ones that have an admission price may be worth it, especially if you’re traveling to a place you know absolutely nothing about. It’s a great way to get acclimated to a location that’s foreign to you. Free or not, be sure to give your tour guide a little tip for their effort.
These walking tours can be a great way to meet other people too, as there tend to be folks in the same boat as you going on them. You may even come out the other end with a couple of new friends and plans!
Hear us out: for all the nightmare stories we see online about bad dating app experiences, using these services when you’re traveling in a new area can not only be a great way to meet people, but if they’re willing to show you around, will be a better means to get to know that place since you’re with someone that lives there. As always, be kind, respectful, and upfront in your interactions, lest you want to end up the subject of a dating app cringe-story yourself! Letting them know that you’re simply here for a vacation and want to get to know the area is a key detail, the absence of which could lead to some potential awkwardness.
Spending Time with Yourself
It should go without saying but, in all likelihood, a good portion of your solo travels will be just that: solo! This isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, a popular reason for traveling solo is simply because people want to be by themselves.
Traveling alone and spending time on your own can be a great way to recharge. Knowing yourself and what energizes you is key, here. My guess is that you’ll really enjoy the time spent alone; when you aren’t beholden to anyone else, you can do whatever you like, whenever you like, which may prove to be an even more exciting and eventful trip. Who knows– you might even get to know yourself a little better by the end of it all!
Written by John Garner John Garner is the founder & CEO of Card Curator. John spent 5+ years as a volatility trader for Merrill Lynch before deciding to start Card Curator and follow his real passion: credit card rewards and travel. To date, he has visited almost 90 countries by using rewards earned from 100+ credit cards. He’s an expert in all things related to credit cards and free travel, and loves helping others crack the code in the points and miles game.