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So, you’re interested in solo travel, but you aren’t sure if it’s a one-off itch, or something you’re ready to deep dive into. If you’ve considered solo travel but aren’t sure where to start, then this post is for you!
Solo travel is an adventure within an adventure as you get to know yourself better and learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. You will definitely discover how much alone time you can stand. But just because you will be alone doesn’t mean you’ll be lonely.
You’ll have the opportunity to meet wonderful people (if you want to) and have experiences most people only dream about, but it’s important to be aware of both the joys and struggles of solo travel so you can be prepared for anything to come.
Is Solo Travel for Me?
Solo traveling has its shining moments that are well-worth any learning curves, but amidst the joys of solo travel are also challenges that can frazzle even the most experienced traveler.
There are a few things to consider before your first solo experience.
You’ll spend a lot of time alone and will have to depend on yourself to make important decisions sometimes on the go.
You’ll need to appear confident and be sure of yourself not to attract unwanted attention. You’ll also need to know how to deal with unwanted attention, especially if you are a solo female traveler.
You won’t have anyone to help carry your luggage or dine with. You’ll need to have a good sense of direction, or at least feel comfortable using a map…and not a paper tourist city map; those draw way too much attention and screams, “I’m a tourist, scam me” (that is, if you are using them on the streets).
There are several reasons why people want to travel solo. Sometimes it’s because they don’t have anyone to travel with, and sometimes it’s for self-discovery. Whether you want to travel solo to learn more about yourself or are on a mission to meet other like-minded travelers, solo travel is for anyone with the passion to go.
What Makes the Best Solo Travelers?
There are no hard and fast rules about what personality types make the best solo travelers, but being self-aware is definitely a must.
It’s important to be confident in yourself and your decision-making skills. A great starting place is to consider whether you can handle what traveling on your own entails.
Before you hit the solo road, there are a few skills you should master:
- Become aware of your surroundings and who is in them
- Learn how to enjoy eating meals alone
- Teach yourself how to pack only what you can carry
- Improve your navigating skills when it comes to airports, public transportation, and cities
Solo travel is just that – solo. If you are someone who struggles with being on your own or has codependent tendencies, solo travel will feel intimidating at first.
That doesn’t mean you can’t grow into a fantastic solo traveler, just that you might need extra time and preparation for your first solo trip.
It’s a great idea to take mini trips close to home to see if you like traveling alone. Some people are lost without friends in a city, while others thrive exploring solo.
The best solo traveler, regardless of gender, cultivates resilience, open-mindedness, and a passion for exploration.
What to Expect When Traveling Solo
As a solo traveler, it’s not uncommon to experience unwanted attention or be the target of scams, pickpockets, and theft, especially if you are female.
Always research where you’re going and search for any common tourist scams. Be aware of what to look for and practice common safety sense (more on that in the next section) to avoid becoming a victim.
If men catcall, it’s best to ignore it completely. I’ve tested a few methods, and no reaction seems to be the best method to get them to stop (not in all cases, though). Unfortunately, this verbal harassment is something solo female travelers have to deal with way too regularly.
A common misconception about solo travel is that solo travelers are always lonely.
I rarely feel lonely on my solo escapades, but I often get bored while traveling alone. These feelings arise quicker if you’re not used to being by yourself. You may want to practice a few things like eating alone or find a hobby such as reading or knitting that can easily accompany you during trips and help keep you busy during alone time.
A 2023 study from ASU found that solitary time does not closely correlate with feelings of loneliness – unless someone spends 75% of their time alone.
During times of boredom or if that lonely feeling creeps in, there are a few things you can do to help rejuvenate yourself:
- Schedule a guided tour
- I often find Air B&B experiences that are great for solo travelers
- Start a conversation with a local
- This is easy to do in a gift shop (and if you speak the same language).
- Seek out solo travel groups to connect with others in the area
- I am in several solo female travel Facebook groups that encourage you to connect with other travelers close to you.
- Join EatWith, the Air B&B of dining
- This app offers group dining experiences for solo travelers in many cities across the world.
Safety Tips for Traveling Solo
Traveling solo can be the thrill of a lifetime, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to let your guard down. No traveler is immune from the woes of being the unfortunate victim of theft or even assault. A good rule of thumb is to research enough beforehand to know what areas to avoid, how to dress, and common customs to follow.
A few thoughtful habits can combat unwanted circumstances and improve your chances for a safe and enjoyable journey. Some of these tips might seem like no-brainers, but it’s easy to let your guard down when you’re riding the high of a problem-free trip.
Top Solo Travel Safety Tips
- Make copies of your travel documents and keep them separate from the originals.
- Don’t get drunk or high- that is the quickest way to let your guard down.
- Don’t walk alone at night or in sketchy neighborhoods any time of the day.
- Make sure you take “safe” transportation- in some countries, taxis and buses are not safe at night.
- Don’t advertise you are traveling solo or that you are single.
- Carry as little as possible while sightseeing, and use a secure bag with zippers and locks.
- Don’t put your phone in your back pocket while walking around in a busy city or on top of an outdoor dining table. That makes it so much easier for theft.
- Don’t hang your bag on the back of a dining chair. I’ve seen way too many bags get snatched this way.
- Some girls like to wear a fake wedding ring to help deter unwanted male attention – I’ve never worn a ring, but I have told obnoxious men that I am married plenty of times, and it’s funny how different they respond to you once they think you are married.
- Stay in a reputable accommodation – budget accommodations are budget for a reason. Don’t just nab the cheapest thing you can find; do your research and stay somewhere you trust.
- Listen to your gut – this is probably the most important thing you can do when traveling solo.
What Types of Trips are Best for Solo Travelers?
Any destination can be explored solo, but some destinations make for a better first-time solo travel experience than others.
Knowing what kind of experience you hope to have will help determine what destination is best suited for you.
To make it easier on yourself, look for destinations without a language barrier and with plenty of tours and activities to do just in case you get bored. Stick close to home for your first few solo trips to get your feet wet. If you want to go international, consider staying in a resort with helpful staff who can book your experiences and transportation. It makes the planning process much easier. Once you feel 100% confident, the world is yours!
My favorite solo travel trips involve long road trips, hiking, and plenty of photogenic landscapes. I prefer visiting cities with friends as I never drink alone and rarely dine solo. Eating alone takes some getting used to, I find it really boring so I avoid it when I can.
Depending on your preferences, you might enjoy a cross country road-trip or the solitude of hiking in the Dolomites. If you are looking for company, a lively cruise across the Caribbean might be the best option for you. Whether you’re starving for solitude or want to enjoy the frills of city life, there is a trip style suited to you.
The Best Countries for Solo Travel
Out of 30 countries and 47 states, these are my favorite solo travel destinations:
- Almost anywhere in the US, below are my favorite areas
Although I feel “safe” when traveling around America alone, it is often rated as the most dangerous Western country in the world. It is crucial to maintain street smarts and avoid areas known for violence. I rarely spend time in big cities and have never had an issue sleeping in my car while road-tripping the US on and off over the past 3 years. Just be aware and do research before any solo travel.
I’ll be traveling to these in 2024, they all rank high in safety for solo travelers:
Avoid These Countries as a First Time Solo Traveler
These countries are best visited on a guided tour, especially if traveling as a solo female.
Ready to Give it a Go?
I hope this post gave you some insight into what to expect as a solo traveler and whether solo travel suits you. While challenges may arise, embracing cultural awareness, preparedness, and an adventurous spirit can turn them into opportunities for growth.
By embracing the unknown, seeking connections with locals, and trusting one’s instincts, solo travelers, no matter how one identifies, can forge unforgettable memories and contribute to a global community that thrives on diversity and understanding.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and see the world! Safe travels!
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