Go Solo or Go Home
Why I Did It
While solo traveling is certainly not for everyone, some people were built for it.
I believe I am one of those people.
It has allowed me to be who I want to be, do what I want to do, and experience the world the way I want to experience it. When I solo travel, I feel completely liberated; like I can do anything. There is nothing like it in the world; nothing can describe the feeling of complete freedom. This is when I truly feel satisfied and happy with my life.
It isn't always easy though. Along the way I have learned many tips and tricks for planning and executing my solo trips that I think others could find helpful.
Tips and Tricks From an "Almost" Pro
1. Planning your solo trip doesn't have to be scary! I use hostelworld.com to book my hostels and look at reviews, pricing, availability, how to get to and from the airport, pictures, amenities, etc. I use kayak.com to book cheap flights. Just remember that if you're booking with a budget airline, you will NEED to print out your boarding pass or pay an outrageous fee at the check in counter.
2. Create a budget for your trip, but make sure that you aren't missing out on popular attractions and quality food. Yes, booze and clubs are fun, but you can do that anywhere. Make sure you are budgeting for things that you may only have this one opportunity to see or try. I use a website called priceoftravel.com to figure out how much food, attractions, alcohol, and transportation cost in different cities. The further outside the center of any major city you visit, the cheaper everything will be.
3. Be open to meeting different people and new experiences; that's most of the fun of solo traveling! Staying at a hostel makes it much easier because most people at hostels are also trying to make friends. Try to get to know the hostel staff because they have seen it all, done it all, and have some of the most interesting stories to tell. If you want to go out and meet locals or other travelers, also ask the hostel staff about that. They will have the best recommendations for places to go.
4. Speaking of hostel staff, they usually absolutely love the city that the hostel is in! They know every place to go and every cool thing to do. Want to know where to eat? Which attractions are worth the money? Where the safest bars are? Hostel staff are the people to ask. Don't feel like you're bothering them because they actually love helping guests out. Some hostels will even book transportation to the airport for you.
5. Make sure that you keep your friends and family informed about your whereabouts. Yes, you are an adult, however, that isn't going to stop your loved ones from worrying about you. One time I went to Jordan for a two day excursion without telling anyone that I would be offline during that time. When I did get WiFi again, I found numerous messages from my mom and my ex thinking that I had been kidnapped by terrorists or that something terrible had happened to me. Moral of the story, keep people up to date on your whereabouts.
6. If you don't want to use a big, bulky map to find your way around, download an app called maps.me. Be warned that it uses up a lot of battery power so don't leave your hostel/hotel without having your phone charged to 100%. It's a good idea to carry an extra source of power with you and a charging cord so that you can recharge if necessary.
7. In Europe and many other parts of the world, public bathrooms cost money. This can be a major pain so I found a little trick to save money. I would find a cafe somewhere that had WiFi and a bathroom, buy the cheapest item they had (lots of places won't let you use the bathroom if you don't buy anything), use their bathroom, enjoy the free WiFi and recharge my phone (if they have outlets), and rest my feet for a couple hours.
8. Don't be afraid to go out at night, but do make sure that you're safe about it. Stay in heavily populated areas and if you're planning on drinking, set your drink limit before you go out and stick to it. If you're a female, men may buy you lots of drinks to try and get you drunk. Some of them may even be attractive, but never forget that you are traveling alone and need to be safe. Always watch your drink and stay on guard.
9. Cherish every single moment of your travels because they won't last forever. Eventually you will have to go home. Take as many pictures as you can, watch the sunset on the beach, look out over the city from the top of the mountain, find the beauty in everything. The more present you are in everything you do, the more you will enjoy it.
City of Petra, Jordan
What Solo Travel has Done for Me
I have found solo travel to be very therapeutic. Nobody I come into contact with has any preconceived notions about me; it's like a fresh start every time I go somewhere. I can be who I want to be, talk to whoever I want to talk to, and go to the places I want to go to. The most meaningful friends I make are always the ones I meet while solo traveling because I can focus on forming new relationships rather than trying to maintain ones with whoever I'm traveling with.
I have a newfound confidence in myself and my capabilities. A common complaint is that many millennials today are not equipped with the tools necessary to function in society. While solo traveling didn't teach me how to do my taxes, it did give me the confidence to solve my own problems and find my own solutions.
Now, I am able to be the best I can be when I'm home. I've had my solo time to rediscover myself and figure out who I really want to be. When I'm home, I feel much more comfortable with myself now and my capabilities. I've done something that not many people feel comfortable doing, and I've planned it on my own. Persevering through the good, the bad, and the ugly has made me a stronger person and drawn me closer to my values. The newfound confidence I have in every ounce of my being cannot be bought with money, but has instead been bought with experiences. Solo travel has made me fall in love with who I am all over again.
Parliament from the London Bridge
City of Petra, Jordan
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Trevi Fountain, Rome
© 2017 Lindsay Langstaff