Solo travel. When I heard those words my first thought was: I want to do that. Can I do that? Traveling solo is something a lot of people are interested in doing, but they might have the same question I did. Can I do it? The answer is yes. Yes, you can! My first (and so far only, but I need to change that) experience traveling on my own was one of my favorites. I loved being able to explore a new city on my own, to be able to change my plans on a whim, and to take time to reflect on my experiences—and my life—without feeling like I was being anti-social. It also gave me complete control over everything I did while I was gone. If you have an interest in solo travel, here are some tips to help you out before and during your trip!
7 Tips for Solo Travel
1 // CHOOSE A HOTEL (OR HOSTEL OR AIRBNB) NEAR THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS.
I chose a hostel that was close to the center of the city. It was about a ten to fifteen-minute walk to most of the main attractions. It was nice to know I didn’t have to spend a lot of money or time to get from my hotel to wherever I needed to go. It also means that if you want to get a ride and take an Uber, Lyft, or taxi you don’t have to spend a lot of money. I called an Uber whenever it was dark out and paid $6 max for a ride.
2 // DON’T MAKE A RIGID ITINERARY FOR YOUR TRAVELS.
Part of the fun of traveling solo is flexibility. While I was in Ottawa I heard that an author I like was going to be speaking at the Ottawa Writer’s Festival (I didn’t even know the festival existed or was taking place while I was there), so I decided to go and I had a blast! It also gives you room to explore. You can spend time walking around to really get a feel for the city and it gives you the flexibility to see anything that jumps out at you as you move around.
This doesn’t mean you should go completely unprepared. Take some time before you leave to see what’s there. I knew some of the attractions I was most interested in and I had a general idea of what I wanted to do and when, but my itinerary wasn’t written down in stone. Actually, it wasn’t written down at all since I knew I’d have WiFi at the hostel (along with my phone and an iPad), which led to the most awkward encounter I’ve had trying to enter a new country. So maybe you should have some things written down in a notebook… just make sure it’s in pencil. 😉
3 // TALK TO PEOPLE TO FIND THE BEST PLACES TO GO.
Talk to the people who work at your hotel–or the other guests if you stay at a hostel, the guides if you go on any guided tours or the employees at the restaurants and coffee shops you go to. Find out the sights they recommend you see and where they suggest you grab a bite to eat. The recommendations from locals will often be different than recommendations in travel guides–and they’re often the best suggestions! I’m an introvert who tends to be kind of “rude” when traveling and out on the street–I don’t want to draw attention to myself for safety purposes–but I like to talk to the people I mentioned. I put together my Ottawa itinerary based on the advice from another guest at the hostel who had been to Ottawa multiple times. When I returned to Ottawa with my mom to see the Canadian Tulip Festival, it was through one of the Haunted Walk guides that we learned about the special anniversary tulip that had been planted that year.
4 // DON’T PANIC.
Going from Minneapolis to a new location on my own wasn’t something that was new to me. I often travel by myself, but I have someone waiting at the airport to pick me up once I arrive. They’re able to tell me what to expect in their city when I do venture out on my own and how to get around. About a week before I left for Ottawa, I panicked. What am I going to do when I get there? I had to remind myself: I’m not a traveling newbie and I have been to new places with other people before. What did we do to get from the airport/train station to our accommodations? I think there are some travels that can make you nervous as they’re approaching and in my experience, those are some of the best ones! If you have a moment of panic, take a deep breath, and think through what you’ve done in the past. Since I usually know someone is going to meet me on the other end and it was getting from the airport to the hotel that caused my anxiety, I went through everything: look into buses and shuttles, make sure you have enough budget for a taxi just in case you decide you’d like to sit back and relax for a few on the way. (Spoiler alert: I took the taxi. To be honest, I always take the taxi when I have a suitcase with me. It’s easiest.)7 Tips for Solo Travel Click To Tweet
5 // KEEP IN TOUCH WITH PEOPLE BACK HOME.
Congrats! You’ve arrived at your destination and you are having the time of your life traveling on your own. Any sort of travel—whether it’s on your own, with family or friends, or even just out in your city—brings with it some safety concerns. It came up with so many people when I talked about traveling on my own: what about safety? I had a few people that I kept in touch with every day while I was gone: my mom (because she worries), a friend who I talk to all day every day on Snapchat (and still do), and my sister. If something had happened to me, one or all of these people would have noticed that everything went quiet on my end. You don’t need to be in touch with them all day like I was with my Snapchat friend. Just check in once a day to let them know you’re well and having a blast! Also, if you’re traveling to a different country it doesn’t hurt to let the embassy know you’ll be there. Since I was traveling to Canada from the US my mom made me register with the embassy before I left. I didn’t think it was necessary–and it wasn’t–but as my mom said, it’s better to be on the safe side.
6 // BRING A SELFIE STICK.
I used to be one of those who thought selfie sticks are laughable… and then I tried one. Now I don’t travel without one. If you want photos of yourself, but you don’t want to ask strangers to take them (for all the introverts out there) a selfie stick is a necessity. You don’t have to have it out all the time. Just carry a bag it fits in and you can pull it out when you’re ready to use it, then slip it back in after you’ve taken the photo. This is also handy when you’re traveling with people, but definitely so when you’re on your own!
7 // HAVE A GREAT TIME.
Traveling is always a great time to gain some new experiences, learn about different parts of the world or country, and it gives you a chance to really take some time to reflect on your life. Have fun exploring a new place and growing in ways you wouldn’t if you were with a group of people. I love traveling with others, but after traveling on my own once it’s definitely something I want to continue doing. It was such a unique experience and I’m glad I finally got all the questions that filled my mind and did it. Be safe, have fun, and enjoy the experience! I guarantee you’ll have some fun stories to share with friends and family when you return.
HAVE YOU TRAVELED ON YOUR OWN? IS IT SOMETHING YOU’RE INTERESTED IN DOING?