Solo travel can be an exciting and liberating way to see the world. You are your own master, you can go where you want, when you want and best of all no one knows what you got up to! However, there are plenty of people who have traveled solo and have come up against challenges. If you take their advice and learn from their experience, there is no reason you cannot have a rich and fulfilling journey.
Pinterest has numerous tips as to how to travel solo with success. There are tips for female solo travelers and advice on how to stay safe and places to avoid. If you want to meet up with other travelers in your situation, Pinterest has suggestions for that as well.
One of the main benefits is that there are lists and lists of pitfalls that travelers came across. If you take heed of their advice you could have a snag-free trip, and then come home and publish your own experience and suggestions. Solo travel might not be for everyone, but what an opportunity to see the parts of the world that you want to visit, without having to bow to anyone else’s wishes.
Some travel sites actually advertise a hacker fare if you have a specific date and destination in mind. Take advantage of this, and use comparison sites to get the best fare for your journey. As the flights are most likely to be the most expensive part of your trip, it is worth waiting for the cheapest deals and researching when your destination is cheapest to fly to.
It is also worth signing up to travel websites and getting alerts when prices drop. This way you will be ensured of the best hacker fare for your chosen dates.
If you are determined to get to a destination but don’t mind how long it takes you, you might find a cheaper price by flying with a cheaper airline or by having a stop off. Use the filters on travel sites to get the cheapest fare to choose flight departure and arrival times if that is important to you.
Of course, you can also filter by price, so if you want a particular ticket, but only have a certain budget, you can filter your trip according to the price you are able to spend.
Heat maps are really useful for finding a hotel in a city that you don’t know. Once you have picked your dates and destination, use the heat maps to see where most of the hotels are, and filter the city according to its prevalence of restaurants, shops or nightlife venues. This will enable you to pick a hotel in the part of town that you want to visit and give you the best experience, even if you have no prior knowledge of the place.
Checking in online saves time and hassle. Simply click the button at home and you are ready to go. When you arrive at the airport, you can go straight to security if you have no luggage to check in and it will cut down time at the airport considerably.
Checking in online also ensures you against potential disasters if you get delayed on the way to the airport. If you are safe in the knowledge that you have already checked in you are more likely to have time to catch your flight.
Avoiding checking your luggage will make your trip easier in a number of ways. Firstly, you won’t have the hassle of carrying luggage around with you or of worrying about leaving it. Secondly, you will beat the lines at the baggage claim. You can simply grab your carry on and go.
Keep your packing to a sensible limit and remember you can buy essentials and toiletries on your travels. Take clothes that are easy to fold and roll up and don’t take anything you don’t know you will use. Keep valuables to a minimum and keep money and passport in a small bag close to your body.
It’s really important to keep hydrated when traveling, especially on a plane where the air can be very dry. If you don’t want to spend a fortune on airport drinks, take your own refillable cup, empty it before you go through security, and then refill it once you have passed through.
This will give you plenty to drink while you wait for your flight and ensure that you have a drink for the plane, where they can be very expensive.
At airport security, you will need to take out your laptop and any liquids and put them in trays separate from the rest of your hand luggage. Therefore, it is advisable to keep these easily accessible so you can grab them when needed.
Remember that hand luggage can only contain the minimum amount of liquids and this includes makeup, gels, and creams. The maximum volume for each item is 100 ml. You can buy clear plastic bottles to decant other liquids if you have big bottles.
It is every solo traveler’s nightmare to have their ID and money stolen, so keep them safe at all times. Spread out your valuable documents throughout your luggage, so that there is less chance of them all being taken in one go.
If possible, keep them close to your body when traveling and once in your hotel, keep everything locked in a safe. It is very unlikely that anything will be taken, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
We have all heard the nightmare stories of drinks being spiked in bars. The best way to avoid this is to keep an eye on your drink at all times and hold it whenever possible. If you leave to visit the bathroom, take your drink, or finish it before you go.
If you have any doubts that someone might have tampered with your drink, leave it. It is better to spend a little extra money on a drink than to face the consequences of dealing with drinking a spiked drink.
It can be quite disorientating to arrive in a new place when it’s dark. The journey from the airport can be just a blur of neon signs and streetlights. If it is possible to arrive during daylight, you will get a better idea of your surroundings. You might also feel safer if you have to travel on public transport.
If you are walking around after being dropped off, it is far easier to gauge where you are from visible landmarks in daylight than the dark.
It might sound obvious, but just because a place sounds appealing, doesn’t mean that it is an ideal place for a solo traveler. Do plenty of research on where you are going, and see what other solo travelers make of the place.
You can also get a feel for which areas you are going to visit and cut down time when you arrive if you have a few destinations in mind. See what other solo travelers thought and take note of any tips or advice.
It is vital to get insurance for a trip, in case of illness or loss of property. However, it is important to book your insurance when you have completed your booking, just in case you can’t travel for some reason. If you have already taken out insurance, then you may be entitled to some of your money back in case of an emergency.
Shop around for different insurance deals, and check that you don’t already qualify for free travel insurance. Some banks and credit cards offer it as part of the package you get when you take out the account.
It is a wonderful sense of freedom to travel alone. Part of you may want to get on that plane and enjoy the feeling that no one knows where you are and you have no one to answer to.
However, if something goes wrong, it is important that someone knows where you are. If there is any kind of natural disaster in the place you are visiting, relatives will want to check you are safe. So, even if it is just a skeleton document, let someone at home have a rough idea of where you are.
Travel apps can be a useful way to make your journey better, cheaper and richer. There are apps for air travel, airports, hotels and even where to find the nearest bathroom.
You can access some apps offline if you download the relevant information before you go, giving you maps, city plans, and information about restaurants and cheap places to stay. Apps can help you get around, giving you train and bus timetables and information on where to purchase tickets.
If you have limited Wifi on your phone or laptop, take advantage of free Wifi offered in hotels, restaurants, and bars. Then you can sit and enjoy a meal or a coffee and take advantage of Internet access without using up your own data.
You can Skype friends and family during this time and know you have reliable, free access to data. If you are writing a blog or catching up with emails, this can be a great addition to your daily routine.
Although we like to expect the best, it is always handy to prepare for the worst. If you do have your flight tickets have taken or your money stolen, it can be scary and inconvenient to be left with no money. If you have an emergency credit card, you will at least be able to buy food and get somewhere to stay for the night.
Make sure that the credit card works at the destinations you are traveling to. Most places take Visa and Mastercard, but it is worth checking in advance.
Money might be tight on a solo trip, and there is no one available to take up the shortfall if you have a blowout. If you budget carefully, you will have enough money to enjoy the whole trip. Take time to sit in a café and work out how much you have spent and what you have left, to avoid being left short at the end of the trip.
If you have a surplus at the end of your holiday, treat yourself to a lovely meal or a more special hotel. It will be a perfect way to round off your holiday and prepare you for the trip home.
Traveling solo is a great plan, but it can get lonely. There are many people traveling on their own and they provide a useful source of information and help, as well as the company. If you can’t find a group of lone visitors or don’t want to wander up to someone you don’t know, you could join a walking group.
These are often free and give you the chance to find out more about where you are, as well as providing a perfect opportunity to get chatting.
In the unlikely but catastrophic event that your passport gets stolen or lost, you will still need to produce ID to receive help. Take photos on your phone of your passport and any other important documentation such as tickets and reservations. Then email all this information to someone at home, so that if your phone gets stolen as well, you have a record of all your important documents to produce if required.
There are plenty of solo travelers who have gone before you and there are numerous blogs and articles about their experiences. Learn from their mistakes and give yourself the chance of the best trip ever. Tips on where to go, what to avoid and how to stay safe can give you a head start when it comes to solo travel.
You might consider writing your own diary or blog while you are away. Apart from being a focus for you, it will give those back home a great window on how you are doing.
The flights will cost you a lot of money, so if you are on a limited budget, check out local accommodations at a cheaper price. Often backpack hostels and even universities have reasonably priced beds that solo travelers can benefit from.
The advantage of this is that you will meet others in a similar situation and can make friends, share tips and enjoy some company during your stay. They might have ideas about where to travel next and places to avoid that can save you some costly mistakes.
One of the advantages of traveling solo is that you are free to wander. There is no one else to ask for advice or suggestions on what to do, you are your own boss. Use this experience to find some local culture. You could visit some homes or dine in restaurants where the locals go. It will give you a real taste of what life is like in that country rather than just memories of the beach, pool bar, and airport.
There might not be anyone special, except you, to go in the photos, but that is no excuse not to record your trip with photographic evidence. Anything noteworthy can go on social media and show your friends back home what they are missing.
Make sure you have plenty of memory on the device you are using or the ability to upload the pictures somewhere else if you are away for a long time. You can put together a wonderful photo book of your experience when you get back, and no one will be able to tell if you are telling the truth about what you got up to!
Choosing a particular date or time to travel might be preferable, but if you can remain flexible about when you travel, you may find a cheaper price. Solo seats on airlines are often the last to go, so you may find that you come up with a bargain ticket if you stay open-minded about when you travel.
Some destinations are more expensive to travel to on weekends or on certain days of the week, so take your time to input different dates and times, and see how much money you can save. Some countries are much cheaper to travel to and can be a useful base for visiting other destinations.
You will have a better holiday experience if you travel within your means. The whole world is out there, so you could pick somewhere specific and focus on getting to know it really well. This will give you the opportunity to meet some other solo travelers and really find out what makes the place tick. Take some work if money is short and live like a local. When you are picking your destination, use filters on travel websites to set a maximum price so you stay within it.
References: Travelandleisure, Solotravelerworld, News18, Scti, Justtravelingsolo