Things you should know as a solo traveler
Tips for navigating solo travel that I WISH I knew before I embarked on my journeys!
Solo traveling can be daunting! Of course there is the safety aspect, but there are other things involved that can deter people from booking the trip. One being cost! When you travel with others, often you can split the cost of lodging or cabs, etc. As a solo traveler, well,, Another thing: what the heck to do with all your time? You'd be surprised how much time is eaten up by coordinating, navigating, and compromising when traveling with others. When you are all alone, you find yourself with a lot more time than you were expecting. For some, this is scary! But trust me, you will not get bored (but only if you trust me). Here are a few tips I wish I knew before my first solo trip.
Tip #1 - Research the culture of the place
This is crucial. You should know what you are getting into. For example, when I went to Nepal, I was surprised to never see beef (cow) on the menu, but then I found out it is a religious custom to refrain from eating beef. Instead, I found buff (or, water buffalo) on the menu. I tried it and loved it! But there are also things you should know about the place you are going beforehand to keep you SAFE. How are women treated where you are going? Is there some sort of guideline on clothing? What time do people in that place eat dinner? How do people commute? What are offensive things you should avoid? What could land you in jail? Seriously! Know before you go.
Tip #2 - Map out where you are staying
A forty five minute train ride may seem easy peasy, but really map out the things you wanna see in relation to your accommodations. You do not want to spend your precious vacation time in transit. Check out the routes and the safety of the stations. What times do the trains or buses stop running? It may be more to stay more centrally, but you will have more time to explore and can drop off those shopping bags midday. Also! Hostels are typically pretty central and often quite affordable! This can help offset cost WHILE being a great central option to stay.
"Don't let someone else's fear force you into not taking the trip."
Tip #3 - Utilize time and resources wisely
I personally like to arrive to my locations super early. I check my bag in to the front desk of wherever I am staying and go explore! Don't be confined to a specific check in time. And! If you are doing an AirBnb (which is more strict about check in time, and also don't usually hold your bag), you can opt to use Nanny Bag service. Just look it up online, find the nearest location to your accommodation, and drop off your bag! It's maybe $5 to leave your bag. I also like to schedule a cab ahead of my arrival to be there at baggage claim to help me. I typically would use public transit, but when I first arrive and have my luggage with me, I prefer a car to pick me up so I am not huffing and puffing through the stations.
Tip #4 - You can totally lie
Do not feel like you HAVE to tell anyone you are traveling alone. Uncomfortable at the bar? Respond with, "Oh my friend just stepped out to call us a cab." No one needs to know your whole story. Always share your location with someone you trust back home and let them know your plan. If you feel scared, tell someone. Call your friends. Tell the bartender. Call a cab instead of taking transit. Trust your gut.
Tip #5 - Less stuff is better
You will be SOLO. That means little to NO help with your luggage. Some places in Europe do not have escalators or elevators, and let me tell you from experience, lugging around massive suitcases is not cute. You do not need ten pairs of shoes, and if you do, well then you are buying the wrong kind of shoes. Try to rent an Airbnb with laundry facilities so you can wash mid way through your trip! Sometimes, hostels will wash your clothes for a small fee.
Solo traveling is rewarding when you plan!
The best way to ease that fear is to plan in a way that makes you comfortable. Know the details. It's never too much information. Share with your family and friends. You don't have to have every single detail written out, but have a solid plan of where you are staying and the things you wanna see. You got this!