I have this theory that the best test of any relationship is how people travel together – because that’s when you find out the limits of someone’s patience and how well they deal with situations they simply cannot control. (Watch the rage at airline ticket counters and tell me I’m wrong.)
Traveling is also a good way to learn those things about yourself, so why not leave your relationships safely intact and go solo? Why not explore the option of how to travel alone and see the world as a solo act.
Yeah, I know, it sounds weird and brings to mind those sad people you see eating alone at restaurants. But here’s a secret: Those people are often alone because not because they’re sad, but because they just don’t want to deal with anyone else’s bullshit. Sound familiar?
Traveling solo gives you the infinite freedom to do what you what, how and when you want to do it. Gone are the endless conversational back-and-forths that always end in “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” It’s all about you, all the time, baby.
That means, for example, if you’re in Paris and want to spend all day at the Louvre, you can. And if you loathe museums, you can skip it without judgmental glares. (Truth be told, the Mona Lisa is kinda underwhelming anyway.)
Plus, not to sound all hippie at a love-in, but traveling alone gives you the chance for some self-exploration, too. Smartphones and the internet mean many of us are connected to something – or someone – pretty much 24/7. It’s often hard to even recognize your own thoughts in the constant buzz of outside chatter. Getting away by yourself grants the opportunity do that – and maybe even to say “sorry, I didn’t get your text” and actually mean it.
Here are some quick tips on how to travel alone this summer.
How To Travel Alone
Even if you pick a destination by just throwing a dart in a wall map, there are still some smart tips for how to travel alone that you should keep in mind. Some things are true for any sort of global travel (make sure your phone will work where you’re going, let your credit card company know you’ll be traveling, etc.) but here are some tips specifically for solo excursions.
Before you go:
Plan ahead. I’m not talking about a detailed itinerary here, just some basics. If nothing else, line up your first night’s lodging (whether hostel or five-star hotel) in each city you’re going to visit, and plan to arrive during the day to make it easier to find your way around. Ideally, you’ll also want to read a few travel guides so you’ll have a general idea of what you want to see and do.
Pack light. Pare down your wardrobe and toiletries to the absolute bare necessities for wherever you’re going. Keep in mind you’ll probably have access to laundry facilities at some point, so even if you’re taking a lengthy trip, you don’t need weeks and weeks of clean clothes.
Once you arrive:
Talk to the locals. No one knows a city like the people who live there. For example, ask the person working the front desk at your hotel or hostel where they like to eat, and the places they’d take a visiting friend or family member.
Take an organized tour. They’re not all full of screaming brats and sanitized experiences, and they’ll give you the chance to meet other people (and let someone else handle the planning for a while).
Be safe. One of the easiest tips for traveling alone is to simply stay in public, well-lit places. I don’t care what kind of a badass you think you are, you’re not much of a match for someone who knows the local terrain when you don’t. Use common sense, and trust your gut. If something feels off to you, get the hell outta there.
How To Travel Alone: Which Countries Are Best?
Ask 100 independent vacationers for tips on how to travel alone and where to explore and you’re likely to get at least a few dozen different answers.
New Zealand is popular thanks to its friendly, English-speaking population and many opportunities for outdoor adventures. Reykjavik (Iceland), Ireland and Amsterdam are beautiful and considered especially safe for tourists. Budget-minded travelers will enjoy how far their money stretches in places like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Valparaiso (Chile).
Learning how to travel alone doesn’t mean you have to BE alone. Leave yourself open to it and you’ll meet all kinds of interesting people – and some dullards, too, because that’s how humanity works. But by and large, you can adjust your solitude like a dial – and be anyone you want to be. (Within reason, dude. No one’s going to believe a guy with a paunch is an underwear model. Check yourself.)
It’s really just a matter of what kind of solo adventure you want. The world is your oyster, darling. Crack it open and find your pearl.