How to Enjoy Traveling Solo (10 Tried-and-True Tips)
1. Choose a Dream Destination
It seems obvious that we would choose to go somewhere we really want to see. But sometimes we get talked into going somewhere with our friends or partner that is convenient and well priced, but perhaps not a dream destination.
For your solo trip, you are the only one making the decision, so pick a place that excites and entices you. This helps give an extra push to go ahead with traveling solo. For me last winter, Lisbon fit the bill. I took the chance and capitalized on a fantastic fare offered in January. This beautiful destination offered incredible history, culture, scenery and wonderful food and wine as well. I loved it.
2. Enjoy the Freedom
On a solo trip, you can create your own schedule and adjust it as you go. Take as much time as you need to get ready, and enjoy the privacy of your own space in your room. You can linger at places that intrigue you and take a detour without asking and hoping someone will agree to go.
Without the pressure to have a stimulating conversation with your travel companion, you can just relax and enjoy an afternoon cocktail at a swanky bar, or enjoy basking in the vibe of an atmospheric cafe. These are all positive sides of the solo travel experience.
3. Some Experiences Are Ideal to Explore Solo
During your trip, take advantage of places that are ideal to spend some time on your own. Museums and art galleries, a relaxing spa, a slow walk in the neighborhood or on the beach, and reading a book at a coffee shop are all nice to do at your own pace. Same with participating in certain sporting activities.
We sometimes have different goals and may not be on the same page with travel companions, so I encourage you to embrace the opportunity of choice and pace when you travel solo.
4. Make a Plan of Things to Do and See
Setting up a plan of things you want to see and how you are going to get there helps gives purpose to your solo trip. It keeps you busy and will give you the satisfaction of checking off these items off of your to-do list.
Be sure to do your research ahead of time (especially for major attractions), take action and plan well. Walk with confidence and purpose. But also allow some time for spontaneity—it may lead to a fun add-on or detour to your must-see plan.
5. Consider a Cruise
One of my best solo trips was the cruise I took on the Norwegian Getaway. I was actually pretty nervous about this one (mostly because of being out at sea), but felt very comfortable and safe on the ship and met many people.
Norwegian has a good number of petite cabins priced for the solo traveler and a meetup group every evening. I was able to secure a balcony and larger room, but still took advantage of the solo meetups. I was most surprised by the variety of people that were part of the 'solo' group, including some that were in relationships and had more opportunity and time off to travel solo, and chose to do so.
There is no pressure to dine with the group or to attend the meetups, for on a ship as large as the Getaway, you can simply get lost in the crowd and do your own thing. There is an amazing variety of stuff to do every day. It is nice to have the choice of either or both experiences. Highly recommended.
6. Stay in Contact With Friends and Family
During solo travel, there can be moments of loneliness and/or just wanting to share things with others back home. Keep in contact regularly for both safety and social reasons. In some ways, it can seem like they are there with you on the trip. On the other hand, try not to be glued to your phone and remember to be (mostly) in the moment so you can enjoy the vacation without constant distraction.
7. Be Open to Socializing and Meeting People
If you are open to it, it can be fairly easy to strike up a conversation while travelling solo. It may be hard to do this at first, but give it a try. Everyone's goals are different, but even casual and brief conversations can help make the solo travel experience a little less lonely at times.
Of course, be careful and cautious, but if you keep conversations general and friendly, it's a nice way to pass part of the time during your trip. Big cities are a great choice for your solo trip, as there are generally a good variety of tourists and residents in a bustling scene of activity. Not everyone may agree, but a Hard Rock Cafe is usually a good place to socialize, or at the very least watch some great videos and take in the rock memorabilia.
8. Choose Accommodations Carefully
For the most part, a decent hotel in a central location will make for an easier and safer travel experience. This doesn't have to mean a high expense, but sometimes you will pay more for a higher standard of hotel which has better security and higher occupancy.
This will help you feel more comfortable, and will likely be closer to transit options as well. Another advantage is you can wind down in the evening at the hotel lobby or restaurant on-site or just enjoy the view from your hotel room.
9. Go to an Entertainment or Sporting Event
Entertainment and sporting events can be surprisingly comfortable to be at on your own. It really can be the luck of the draw who your seatmate is. I went to Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati (a cool city to check out) this past fall and had a wonderful time. I ended up sitting next to a mega baseball fan attending with her parents; she was quite friendly and enjoyed sharing her knowledge of the players' stats and her view on the playoff race. This made the experience of seeing this entertaining ballpark even better.
But even if you don't have someone friendly beside you, just enjoy the experience. Concerts or the theater can be good to experience solo as well, just focus on the artist or play you are there to see and be in the moment. If you talk to some people who are sitting near you it's an added bonus, but not necessary.
10. Just Do It
If you really need a vacation or want to check some cities off your travel bucket list, don't keep putting it off or overthinking! You can wait for the right time for travel companions to join you, but if you want the experience of getting out there on your own, do it.
Don't worry about what people think or let your doubts get the better of you. Give it a try, and go from there. At least you will have experienced something new and exercised your independence. More than likely, it will be a fantastic memory!
© 2020 Nella DiCarlo