There is no denying that the time we are in now, SUCKS. COVID19 has caused schools to close, people to become abnormally distant from everyone they love and things they love to do, and of course, cancel travel plans. (Rest in Peace to those who hav lost their lives as well).
BUT, this too shall pass, and what better way to use this socially isolating down time than to plan your post quarantine travel plans. Now, I mostly travel solo, which seems to be out of the ordinary to the people that I know and love (which is okay). Anyways, I love traveling solo because I can operate on my own time. And honestly, there is a different perspective that you have when you travel alone. You are kind of forced to soak in the experience yourself because there is no one else there to talk to. You are forced to talk to locals, at the very least to take pictures and find directions. All the things, I love. So without further ado, here are 7 tips to plan and enjoy your solo travel!
I cannot tell you how important doing your research is before you travel. This is more than just looking at the weather for the time you are traveling. I have seen French people not dressed appropriate in Morocco and get ridiculed for it. I, myself, have traveled places where I assumed they spoke one way, and was cursed out when I heard otherwise. Research requires finding and understanding culture boundaries. Meaning, are the clothes you pack culturally appropriate for the destination you have. Are you traveling or staying in a place that is accepting of black women, queer men, solo females, etc? Do you know what language and dialect the locals speak (i.e the main language of Brazil is Portuguese, NOT Spanish. Or, Chinese people speak mandarine and Cantonese, not “Chinese”). Do you know how to greet people? All these things are important to having a safe and fun experience. Also, locals will love you and want to ensure you have a good time as well.
Likewise, do research on where you want to stay (#3) and what you want to do (#4).
2. PACK LIGHT, FOR COMFORT, AND FOR THE LOCALS
When you are traveling alone, the last thing you need or want is to be lugging around a massive suitcase. The natural solo traveler has a fair amount of paranoia. It’s natural. You are trying to navigate sidewalks and streets of a place you’ve never been. You may be looking at a map, or a phone or whatever, and your suitcase does not need to be one of your 99 problems! So, I suggest packing a backpack, a duffle bag, or something you can carry with one hand, and search directions or hail a cab with the other.
Now in the suitcase should be things that are culturally appropriate and comfy. If you want to go out on the town and dress up, thats totally fine. But during your day time walk arounds and site seeing, you will be surprised the interactions and friends you make when locals can see that you respect their culture. Something as small as wearing red in China, covering up in Morocco, hiding tattoos at the Duomo in Italy, or whatever your research tells you to do, goes a very long way and will only add to your experience.
3. If its safe, stay in a HOSTEL or HOME SHARE
Alright alright. I don’t need to hear about how you saw Taken and… or the movie hostel made you think…or whatever. Your research should always include locations that you want to stay. We often look up locations to stay close to the sights we want to see. But as a solo traveler and maybe on a budget (I’m always trying to go cheap…and safe of course) you may find pleasure in staying a little further out and then walking or using public transport to get to your destinations. Hostels are great places to stay as a solo traveler (Hostelworld.com is great for reliable and highly rated stays) as you get to meet different people, book excursions through the hostel with other residents, and get out of your comfort zone. Say with home stays. If you don’t want to be around too many other folks or want your private space, hostels have solo rooms as well. Hostels and Home shares are cheap ways to organically fuel a fun experience and meet people to take your photos! HA.
4. Combine PLANNING what you want to do and WINGING IT.
Okay, so again, you want to limit the amount that you are scrambling around. So it is important to have a lose list of what you want to do and how you want to get there. I often find my place to stay first before making my to do list. Then, I map how to get to general hot spots and areas from my Hostel or Home Share. For example, when I stayed in a Hostel in Rome, I mapped out how to get from there to the Colosseum and Vatican City. I also found some cool things to do on the way to those destinations that were on route. I ended up finding the Trevi fountain (which I’d never heard of) the Roman Forum, and some other cute shops and places to eat. So, I’d had a plan, but I loosely went about it because I never felt lost and was not on a time schedule. I knew what I wanted to do, and in free time just did want I wanted.
It is also important not to over plan. Over planning and having too many expectations is a sure way to stress yourself out more than you need to. Solo travel is supposed to be relaxing, so let it be relaxing. Do the couple of things are your list, and then use time to browse and wander and maybe even get lost. Its fine! Phones work (you can download maps or get international services), most places will have free maps or let you buy one, and honestly, most locals are happy to help (in my experience). Likewise, if you limit over planning, you’ll have down to lounge in bed, stare out the window and just be. You’ll have time to hang out in the Hostel or Home Share and get to know new faces and hear new stories. ITS GREATTTTT!
5. BRING SOMETHING FAMILIAR WITH YOU!
So, I travel with a teddy bear. His name is Jefferson and I love him more than any other material item in the world. He reminds me of home and I honestly never feel alone when I have him. So for you, maybe bring a blanket, a stuffed animal, a T shirt from a loved one, whatever you want. It’s kind of like a calming and soothing mechanism.
6. TAKE PICTURES
You don’t need to be with another person to take pictures. Take selfies, take pictures of the sights, take pictures of random things. Just take the damn picture. You literally have no one to impress but yourself.
7. JUST DO IT
Don’t second guess yourself. Don’t say you’re going to wait until… Don’t wait until that friend or partner is ready. Just go. And enjoy yourself.
Ah, this has been fun. From my journey to yours. (For more travel posts, find me on instagram and twitter)!
Peace,Love, and All the things!