Traveling alone is a rapidly growing craze. Dublin Airport claimed that 57% of its passengers were solo travelers. Meanwhile, Intrepid Travel said that a whopping 70% of their passengers on US trips were traveling solo.
I recall my first solo travel experience to be liberating in a way that I have never been able to reproduce, other than when I am alone in an unfamiliar place. A great perk of traveling alone is the fact that there is no need to compromise with travel companions. You get to decide where you go, when you go, where you stay, what you do, and when you do it. There is a lot more freedom to do things the way you like to do them. And that liberation I mentioned? The freedom that comes with exploring things by yourself gives you an incredible sense of self-awareness and power.
While this is inspiring, and I highly recommend the experience to anyone and everyone, there are certainly ways that you can make the experience more comfortable and enjoyable. Before your next adventure, find a great packing list.
Perhaps one of the reasons for the major influx is the accommodations being made specifically for solo travelers. There are many companies, established and upcoming, that are geared towards people traveling alone and making their experience comfortable. From Busabout, hip hostels, and hop-on-hop-off coach transportation, companies are making it more convenient and affordable for those traveling alone. Research what companies are in the city you will be traveling to and take advantage of their accommodations. Don’t forget your earplugs or headphones for your plane or train ride!
Share your experience with others
I believe that a major contributor to the spike in motivation to travel alone also comes from the inspiration that is so easily accessible on social media. There are thousands of explorers that share their adventures with the world through their social media outlets, inspiring millions of others to live their lives full of experience. If you are an adventurer, why not inspire your own followers, too? Here are a few of my favorite adventurers to follow:
- Travel & Leisure, @travelandleisure
- Sabina Trojanova, @girlvsglobe
- Manuel Dietrich, @manueldietrichphotography
- Claire & Laura, @twins_that_travel
- Annette White, @bucketlistjourney
Travel safe and smart
Solo travelers are even more vulnerable to crime, so they must be smart about their safety. Follow these tips to make sure you are not putting yourself in harm’s way.
- Research where you will be staying. What ratings does the hotel or hostel have, and what is the neighborhood like around it?
- Share your travel itinerary with family and friends before you leave.
- Carry emergency contact info with you. For example, your credit card company info, in the unfortunate case that your card was lost or stolen.
- Don’t hike or explore remote territory without a guide. This goes without saying, I hope, but don’t let this liberating feeling go to your head by venturing out to unpopulated places alone. It is just plain dangerous.
- Be careful about your appearance while exploring. In other words, don’t look like a tourist by holding a map up while you walk alone, or wearing shirts that make it obvious you are a visitor. This can make you a target when you want to fly under the radar.
- Part of the experience of traveling alone is meeting new people and having conversations, but don’t openly share with strangers that you are alone. You never know who you are talking to.
- Don’t be distracted by your phone, pay attention to your surroundings.
- Strike up a conversation with your wait staff at restaurants. They will know the best places to go and the places you should avoid.
Prepare a travel budget
Those that travel alone often can see more places when they know how to keep expenses down. These are some of the ways to save money while on the road.
- Cab drivers can be known to drive around aimlessly racking up your travel costs. Know the distance and average fare from your airport to your hotel and ask your driver the fare ahead of time. Or use rideshare and make a new friend!
- There are many tour operators that offer roommate matching that can help save solo travelers costs on hotels. Look into these options if you are open to making a new friend! But of course, make sure it is a reliable, well-known service.
- Book last minute—you may find some discounts. I always book hotels last minute using booking sites or apps. Also, flights are known to have their lowest prices 2 weeks before departure.
- If you are not set on your destination, but just looking to explore places, use apps and sites that allow you to search for deals on flights to “anywhere.” You can plan your trip based on the best flight deal that you find.
- Traveling on the off-season provides cheaper options for flights and hotels. Though, keep in mind, there is a reason fewer people travel at these times. Decide if the things you want to do there are still doable in the off-season.
- Check out travel groups that bundle excursions, hotels, and dining altogether. This can sometimes save you money and also give you a little travel community.
- Avoid checked bag fees by packing light. I know this can be easier said than done, especially if you are traveling during the winter months, but try your best!
- Stay somewhere with free breakfast. You will want to plan ahead your meals somewhat, and staying at a hotel with a complimentary breakfast can save you a good amount of money when it’s all said and done.
- Many tourist destinations offer free walking tours of the most popular places. Free is for me! Take advantage of the lack of prices and the abundance of local knowledge!
Solo travelers are on the rise and gaining so much life experience because of it. If you are planning your first solo trip, consider these suggestions. If you are a little nervous about traveling alone for your first time, then sign-up with a group of solo travelers, such as Women- Traveling or Intrepid Travel. Chances are, you will create friendships that last a lifetime and memories that last an eternity.