How to Travel Alone

Silhouette of a man sitting down at sunset

[macbrianmun] / [iStock] / Thinkstock

 

Traveling alone can be as liberating as it is intimidating. While it’s great to hit the road with an awesome travel buddy or two, sometimes that’s not always an option. You might find a great last-minute travel deal, maybe your vacation time doesn’t match up with everyone else’s, or maybe your favorite travel partner simply has other plans. Whatever the reason, there may be times when you’re hemming and hawing over whether to take advantage of that amazing last minute deal to Belize or Vietnam because in order to do it, you’d have to hit the road alone. If you’re on the fence, here are a few things to consider before buying that ticket.

What Are you Afraid Of?
Start out by making a list of any fears or concerns you may have about traveling solo. Once you pinpoint your concerns, whether they’re pertaining to safety or just being lonely, you can come up with practical suggestions to manage them.

Hostels
If you’re worried about being lonely, don’t be. You’d be surprised how many people you meet while traveling alone. If you’re looking to meet up with other people to do things with, a hostel is one of the best places to meet other travelers. The communal settings are conducive to conversation and you may find yourself included in a group before you’re even aware of what’s going on.

CouchSurfing
If you’re not comfortable with camping out in someone’s home for a few days, you can still check out the message boards and see if there are other travelers you can meet up with or if someone would be willing to meet up with you to show you around the city. Check out the activities board on the CouchSurfing website.

Apartment Swap
If bouncing from place to place in a new country sounds a little too intimidating, then consider a slower type of travel. Head to one place, camp out in someone’s apartment, and get to know their neighborhood and city. Check out airbnb for inspiration.

Itinerary
Spontaneity can be pretty intimidating when you’re alone. Alleviate this fear by doing more research and planning than you would otherwise. Having a detailed itinerary will make you feel more prepared and secure about your adventures. You don’t have to stick to your itinerary, but having a plan can be nice when you’re on the ground and feeling a little overwhelmed. It’s also a good idea to leave your proposed itinerary with your friends and family before you leave along with any contact numbers of the places you’ll be staying.

Transportation
It’s true that taxis, buses, and motorbikes can be a lot cheaper and more manageable if you’re in pairs or in a group. Hopping in a taxi by yourself can get pretty pricey and for longer drives, it’s often a little awkward. Some hotels have drivers that they can recommend and will group you together with other travelers who are looking to head to the same area. Otherwise, do a little research online and track down the routes and availability of trains and buses. Bus stations can sometimes be a little seedy so try to avoid travel times that will have you wandering around with your stuff at night.

Safety
This is always a concern, but it’s one that you can manage by making smart decisions and being aware of your surroundings. Be sure to leave your itinerary with your friends and family, secure your passport behind an RFID blocking passport case, alert the Department of State about your travel plans, and avoid traveling alone at night in unfamiliar areas. For more tips on traveling safe, check out this post.

By Nikki Hodgson

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