The art of traveling alone is completely different from going somewhere with friends or family. There are more individual decisions to be made for someone doing everything on their own. The flight and hotel processes are stressful enough, but everything else needs some thinking put into it. Someone traveling solo will have to figure out what to do, where to go and what to eat without any other input. Millions of people all over the world do it with the hopes of finding a fun place to enjoy if no one else wants to go with them.
There are both pros and cons to traveling alone. Pros include getting to make all your decisions without sacrificing any forms of happiness as well as just getting to do everything on your own time. The cons come from not having anyone to share moments with or help you make judgment calls when you’re undecided.
Many travel hacks are out there offering advice on what to do when traveling solo. Most of them are good tidbits that can improve your trip, but quite a few offer minimal or negative value. We will look at some of the ones you should not think too much about. These are twenty common tips for traveling solo that are actually unhelpful.
20 "Plan all activities ahead of time"
Many people believe that preparation is important when it comes to taking a trip on your own. The idea behind it is always having something to do and a schedule to follow will provide an easier time of fun without the stresses of unpredictable variables coming into play.
However, there are so many things to do and easily accessible fun outlets. The best way to have a good time is to know a handful of things you want to do, but also have the open mind to do anything else that interests you. There could be a new museum or fun park you stumble upon that you didn’t know about beforehand. Trust yourself to make the right decisions about what to do, and don't listen to everyone's nagging advice to plan out each second.
19 "Pay extra for better flight ticket"
The flight heading to your destination is an important part of the trip. A terrible flight could set someone in a bad mood to start such a trip. This leads to many people paying extra for a better seat with more space, better perks or just for the early boarding access.
It is a nice bonus to have when flying, but this is not a very important aspect of the trip. Most flights go smoothly with enough space for carry-on luggage and an enjoyable flying experience. Unless you have enough to comfortably spend the extra money, you are best suited using those funds on fun things in the place you will be traveling instead.
18 "Only order take out"
One anxiety many people get when traveling alone or just being alone in general is eating in public. There is often a discomfort that comes with eating by yourself at a public restaurant considering most other tables will feature groups of two or more people together.
Some tips for traveling suggest ordering take out to eat alone at the place you’ll be staying rather than deal with the awkward nature of eating in the restaurant alone. However, there is some fun that comes from eating on your own. Eating at fun new restaurants is part of the perks from traveling. Read a book or listen to a podcast while eating at a restaurant that catches your eye.
17 "Go to bars to make new friends"
The potential awkwardness of being on your own for an entire trip can get to be a bit much. Some people try to suggest fun public places where a solo traveler can interact with others. Bars are typically a common choice where many people do interact with each other, but there are some negatives.
It is impossible to predict the atmosphere of a bar and if you will enjoy it beforehand. There is also the stress of not knowing if anyone is looking to just have a friendly conversation with someone new. However, the biggest problem is the potential of having too many drinks or meeting the wrong crowd of people. In an unfamiliar place, this isn't the best idea when traveling solo.
16 "Pack for every season"
Another old school idea is to take everything you need when traveling. Many people used to pack clothes for various weather scenarios. There is also the thought process of bringing everything you use in your daily life to make your trip as comfortable as your home life.
The problem with that is that it adds another element of annoyance into the trip. No one wants to lug around heavy luggage or wait at baggage claim for two flights. There are also many things offered when staying at a hotel or Airbnb. People should pack lightly to have the best time bringing only important things.
15 "Just Make new friends"
The biggest difference in traveling alone is having to do everything on your own. One suggestion from many people is to meet new people and make new friends. The idea of having fun with people you’re getting to know for the first time is a good idea in theory, but it doesn’t always work.
Most people you encounter in a new place are living there and not looking to randomly make a friend. There are some instances where it can lead to great things, but most scenarios will just end in awkward moments. It is usually best to enjoy yourself unless a specific situation presents itself.
14 "Stay at a hotel instead of an airbnb"
There is a strong belief that hotels are the best bet for someone traveling alone. It provides an easy and private location to stay in between your trips to different places in the area. Most hotels are located in central areas ideal for staying in as your base during the trip.
Times have changed a bit and there are better alternatives to hotels for most people. Airbnb locations are usually cheaper than hotels and offer a lot of the same perks. You can pick your ideal area and stay in a home rather than a hotel. The potential of others in the building shouldn’t scare you away since the value makes it worthwhile.
13 "Study maps of every destination"
An old-school tip for traveling was studying maps of every area you want to visit. It took away the fear of getting lost and having a difficult time getting around in a new place. Technology has changed the world in many ways and the ability to have an easier time traveling is one of those manners it has improved.
Phone apps offer many maps that make it easy to always know where you are and how to get to your destination. It is still possible to get lost, but the ease of finding your way back makes it less of an issue.
12 "Buy all the gifts at the airport on the way home"
Many travelers have the idea of wanting to buy gifts for their relatives and friends when heading back home. It is a nice gesture to bring something back that shows your loved ones that you were thinking of them when on your trip away from home.
Some people strongly believe that waiting until you’re in the airport is the best time to get those gifts. It does make sense in some ways to not waste time on your trip shopping for souvenirs, as airports offer great items and you get to pass time waiting on your flight. However, the prices at airports are usually out of control. You’re much better suited finding something convenient outside of the airport.
11 "Download a weather app"
Phone apps have become extremely important to our everyday life. Flights, reservations, banking details and many other significant things can be done at the comfort of your phone with a couple of clicks. Weather apps are very popular, and some travelers believe it’s extremely important to have on your phone when visiting a new place.
It is always worthwhile to know the weather forecast, but a weather app is not necessary. Simple web searches can show you the forecast for the day and week with in-depth information. Many apps often hurt the battery life of your phone so it isn’t worth the risk of draining your battery for details you can find as quickly without the app.
10 "Only travel to places you know"
Many travelers get into their own heads when traveling alone. It can lead to avoiding certain appealing destinations due to being in a different neighborhood or tougher place to figure out. Some people will only visit places that are on a list they have carefully scouted.
This takes a lot of the fun out of traveling. It can be fun to wander around and take yourself on an adventure in a new place. As mentioned earlier, phone apps will find your location and make it easier to figure out how to get back to your location. Don’t feel stressed out about exploring without knowledge about every attraction or location.
9 "Rent a car"
Renting cars is a big part of traveling for many people all over the world. The idea of relying on others to get you around can be difficult for someone used to driving. However, times have changed and renting cars are typically a poor choice when traveling.
It can be very expensive to rent a car for your entire stay in a new place. The popularity of Uber and Lyft make it easier to get around with your own personal taxi service often offered at a discount price. Shared options make it even more affordable. Most places also usually have solid public transportation systems that will take you around without a rental car.
8 "Stay away from using too many electronics"
Many people will suggest you refrain from using your electronics as much as possible during a trip. It can be distracting and take away from the fun of being in a new place. There is also the issue of wasting your battery power and risking it running out before you really need it.
This is not as helpful as one assumes due to the variables in play. Portable chargers make it easier to use your electronics as much as you want with the ability to recharge them. Technology also provides comfort for people traveling alone that don’t have company. Checking social media can give you the interaction you’re lacking when on your own.
7 "Only eat locally"
Eating is a big part of traveling. The goal is usually finding fun new places that are great in the area you’re visiting since you won’t get that chance to go there again when back home. Some people make it a rule that they must only eat at local restaurants and try new foods.
There is even judgment towards people that eat at national or international chain restaurants when visiting a new place. That is not helpful as anyone should have as much comfort food as desired when traveling alone. If you want to eat at a popular restaurant you are familiar with, go for it. You know what is best for you, especially when it comes to food.
6 "Don't worry about the amenities where you stay"
Some travelers believe sacrificing amenities is the best path for a good trip. Every hotel and Air BNB location offers different amenities. Wireless internet, television, cable, free meals and other things play a role in making up the difference between different places.
Quite a few people will suggest giving up the amenities for a cheaper price. That isn’t always the right move if certain things are important. Internet will likely be needed on your trip for updates on weather, places you want to visit and for scouring your return flight. Make sure you are getting everything you need when booking your stay.
5 "Stay in popular places"
There is often a fear associated in visiting new places whether you are traveling in a different state/country or even finding a new area where you live. One frequent suggestion when traveling alone in a completely new place is to stay in popular areas.
The fear is that something bad can happen in a relatively empty area you’re unfamiliar with. Safety is important, but it’s impossible to figure out which places will have huge crowds and which won’t. Some popular places will be relatively empty when you visit. You shouldn’t sacrifice things you want to do based on fear of the unknown.
4 "Pay for things with cash"
There is an old-school belief that paying with cash is safer when visiting a new place. The mindset is that being dependent on a credit card can be risky. Anyone unfortunate enough to lose their card can attest to the difficulties of getting by without it.
Cash used to be the easier method as well with machines taking longer to process. It has changed these days with credit cards being the preferred method of payment from most places. Some locations only accept cards as a form of payment. The best idea is to carry a small amount of cash on you for emergencies, but pay with your card unless cash is the only option.
3 "Read online reviews for each place you visit"
The internet is a gift and a curse when it comes to many aspects of life. It plays out during a trip in a new place as well. Many people rely on review sites like Yelp and Google to squash any doubt about attractions, parks and restaurants.
If there are worries about doing something, the review page will provide more insight to find out if it’s worth going or not. However, the idea that every place should be scouted on review sites is a bit much. Trust your instincts when finding something that stands out as a fun location. Other people liking or disliking something isn’t always compatible with your interests.
2 "Study public transportation systems before leaving"
The old days used to feature people writing down the routes they need to make when taking public transportation to travel all over the area they are visiting. There is a paranoia that it will be tougher than expected to figure out how to get around in this new place.
Technology is once again key here and makes it very easy to get anywhere you need to go. The apps on a phone will show you the transit route, how many stops are in between them, and even the walking distance from the buses and trains. A simple glance is all that’s really needed before the trip and the apps will help you the rest of the way.
1 "Take lots of pictures"
One common tip that people get when traveling solo is to take a lot of pictures. The idea of pictures being more important on solo trips is that you are not sharing the experience with anyone else. Snapping a lot of pictures of the good moments will allow you to share the memories with friends or relatives.
The issue here is that taking too many pictures can often be annoying to do. Sometimes you have more fun enjoying the moment and forgetting about going into your pocket to get your phone. Play it by ear and take pictures when you want to. Otherwise, don’t even think twice if you’re enjoying the moment too much to snap the pictures.