It may seem daunting or even down right scary but travelling solo can be a life changing experience. Without the preferences and input of a travelling companion you can really indulge in seeing, doing and tasting what YOU want to....
Traveling solo can have down sides too, such as the single supplement, loneliness, safety concerns, and people feeling sorry for you, but the positives really far outweigh the the negatives. So lets delve into why its so incredible being a solo traveler and how to maximize your experience.
Why do it?: Well how long have I got to talk you into what a fabulous time you'll have experiencing everything you will want to do? You can see what you want, eat what you want, talk to whomever you wish, stay up as late and sleep in as long as you see fit, try all those things you've wanted to try but never had a chance to.. Tired of walking to all the museums, art galleries and attractions of the city or town you are visiting? Go again the following day without feeling guilty your traveling companion will complain that they've already seen them. Want to learn a new skill (like water skiing)? Take a lesson and take your time with no fear of having to be somewhere else you don't really want to be. Don't want to see a certain landmark or attraction? Bypass it and see something you really are interested in.
Will I be safe?: Being a solo traveler brings to mind being alone when things go wrong. Be it getting sick, getting robbed or falling prey to scammers, being alone can be scary when all does go badly. However traveling alone makes you blend in easier than if you were in a big group drawing attention to yourself. However doing a little bit of research before you head away will make all the difference on your holiday.
GET TRAVEL INSURANCE... Pretty obvious but so important when flying solo.
Finding out roughly how much things cost (eg. taxi's) and asking for an estimate is a good way to weed out scammers. If this does happen then catch public transport or a ride sharing service.
Book a hotel with 24 hour check in so you're not caught out if you arrive late.
Carry good identification in more than one place. Email a copy of all of your ID to yourself in case you lose or get your bag stolen.
Stay in well lit and open, public places especially at night and trust your instincts. If it feels wrong, don't do it...
Exude confidence and walk purposefully. Confident people are less likely to become a target.
Don't look like a tourist with the cliche t-shirts and a map in front of your face. Research before leaving your hotel room and try not to keep checking your phone for directions too often.
Keep jewelry and expensive clothing to a minimum as you could become a target for thieves.
When asking directions, ask where such and such is as you have to meet a friend. Don't let anyone know you're alone
Give your family and friends back home updated itineraries on a regular basis and stay in touch regularly via phone, text, video chat, or email.
Register with Smart Traveler or similar to get help when needed.
Making new friends: One of the greatest reasons to travel solo is meeting new people that love travelling as much as you do. Exercise caution though as you are more vulnerable to scam artists. People are generally good but you don't want to leave your money or ID with people you've only just met. Be open minded but smart as well.
Avoid The Single Supplement: A single supplement is a charge paid by a solo traveler to compensate a hotel or cruise line for losses incurred because only one person is staying in the room or cruise ship cabin. Avoiding the single supplement is not easy. Some cruise lines and tour operators offer a roommate finding service. This service allows you to avoid paying a single supplement if you sign up to share a room with another solo traveler. A few tour companies cater exclusively to single travelers and offer supplement-free pricing, while others offer a limited selection of supplement-free itineraries. A good travel agent will be able to help you to quickly identify supplement-free tours and cruises. In some countries, hotels offer single rooms. While these rooms tend to be tiny, they are less expensive than a traditional double room. Be sure to reserve your single room early, especially if you plan to travel during peak season. Other options for avoiding the single supplement include joining a singles travel network that can help you find travel partners or finding a roommate on your own.
Eating Alone: If you find it uncomfortable eating alone then a great idea is to eat at a cafe or outdoor restaurant with a good book or newspaper. You won't look as out of place like you would at a fancy restaurant. Also eating at bars on stools is great as you can talk to other single diners, drinkers and bar staff. If you don't want to be scrutinized then a booth seat is brilliant as you can eat in peace with out a whole restaurant staring at you, likewise room service for extra privacy. Remember to chat to the wait staff as they are generally locals and may give you some great travel tips for that particular area.
When you've almost had it: Sometimes travelling solo can wear you down so take a break.... Sit back in bed and watch some TV, read a book, have a hot shower/bath or have a nap. Also finding an expat bar can help with homesickness as you can chat with people of your native tongue and swap travel stories.
Resources for solo travelers: The following sites are a valuable tool for anyone thinking of travelling solo. Check them out and hopefully you'll find some helpful tips and advice.
- Best Single Travel offers trips, cruises, and weekend getaways for solo travelers of all ages.
- Intrepid Travel has dedicated solo trips as well as a roommate-matching program on the rest of its offerings, so you never have to pay a solo supplement if you don’t want to.
- Singles Travel International offers trips for solo travelers with an average age of 48 through 65. If the company can’t find you a roommate by the time you make your final payment, you can have a room to yourself for free.
- Solo Traveler offers tips, resources, and destination guides for solo travelers.
- Women Traveling Together is for solo female travelers who prefer to be with a group of like-minded women. The company offers tours, retreats, and other getaways, complete with roommate matching.
- Solo Traveler 50 tips for successful solo travel
Remember to take your time and savor every moment...
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