Traveling Alone: How to Vacation Solo!
You may think that solo travel is reserved for the gap-year kids taking a backpacking trip through south-east Asia, but the number of people of all ages who are choosing to go it alone is rising rapidly.
Solo trips can be a refreshing and enjoyable experience that allow you to have freedom with the choices you make, and take some well-deserved time to yourself.
However, we understand that travelling alone can be a little daunting, especially if it’s not something you’re used to.
So, if you’re making your first foray into solo travel, we’re here to give you some tips to put your mind at ease.
Begin by setting a budget.
We know, this is the boring bit, but it’s vital that you figure this out first. Knowing your budget means you can determine where you can go, how long for, how you’ll get there, and where you can afford to stay.
Consider the basics such as transport, accommodation and travel insurance, plus spending money for food, activities, and souvenirs while you’re away.
Always plan a little extra for emergencies to give yourself some breathing room.
You can use the Trail Wallet app to keep track of your daily budget while you’re on vacation to make sure you don’t overspend.
The choice is yours! Decide where you want to go!
Is there a destination you’ve always dreamt of visiting? Or would you prefer to just close your eyes and pick a random point on the map?
You may have a particular interest that draws you to a certain place – perhaps you’ve always wanted to explore the Mayan heritage of Mexico, or taste authentic Caribbean cuisine? Or maybe you’ve always dreamt of simply kicking back on a beach in Hawaii, cocktail in hand.
While your choice may be partially affected by your budget and availability, it’s all up to you!
Do some research, and get organized.
Once you’ve decided where your destination is, it’s time to figure out what you want to do when you’re there!
Get your flights sorted first so you can construct the rest of your planning around your arrival and departure – we recommend to use Skyscanner (iOS app notification pictured) to browse flights with a time and price that works for you.
Then take a look in Google to find out what you want to see or experience. Think about the logistics that will link your trip together; for instance, would you like to stay in one place for two weeks, or hop between a few spots within your destination?
Use a site such as Pinterest which helps you to organise your research, and get inspiration from other people traveling alone.
Choose where you’re going to stay.
First, establish how many different accommodations you’ll need for your vacation – you might be staying in one place for the whole holiday, or moving between a few different areas, or even taking a road trip!
You might prefer to stick with the comfort of a hotel room, but don’t shy away from broadening your horizons by considering a vacation rental .
Safety is super important when you’re traveling alone, so be sure to try and select accommodation in an area that’s known for being safe and secure, and check out some online reviews if you need some reassurance. Staying somewhere central is often your best bet, and it will be easier for you to get around this way too.
Now for the fun part! Planning your schedule.
Creating an itinerary for your solitary vacation can be really exciting because you don’t have to compromise on any of the decisions you make – everything is entirely up to you.
An itinerary can also be a little bit of a security blanket as it gives your trip some structure, and means your family and friends back at home can know where you are. If you’re going to multiple destinations within one country, make sure you plan your accommodation and travel first, so you know how many days you’ll have in each place.
Start by making a big list, or Pinterest board, of things you want to see and do. Then, whittle it down to the things you want to prioritize – trying to cram too many things in isn’t realistic, and you’ll want some flexibility to relax when you’re away too – you’re on holiday after all!
Highlight some activities that you absolutely can’t miss, cut out ones that you can, and keep the others open as options if you have the time. Be sure to check opening times for attractions you want to visit, especially for local or religious holidays and weekends.
Check out sites such as Viator and Get Your Guide for a variety of great experiences and tours all across the globe – from guided volcano hikes to local wine tastings.
When you’re traveling alone, it’s important to pack things that will make you feel a little more secure, as this will make all the difference to your trip!
For instance if you’re packing a jacket or coat, make sure it’s one with zip-up pockets to keep your belongings safer, or consider buying a discreet money belt which can be worn out of sight under a layer of clothing.
Make sure you keep your important documents organized in a folder, pack a basic first aid kit, and keep an emergency contact information card on you at all times in your wallet or purse. This should hold significant contact numbers and personal medical information in case there’s an emergency and someone is trying to help you. Label it clearly with an international red cross.
For more packing tips, check out our complete guide to packing for your vacation here.
Stay in touch with family and friends at home...
If you’re away traveling alone, then your family and friends will likely be anxious to know what you’re up to.
Solo trips are perfect for taking some time to yourself and disconnecting from the outside world, but make sure you keep them updated through a couple of Skype or phone calls, or a few posts on social media – they’ll be desperate to see photos from your time away, and you may even inspire some of them to take their own solo trip!
If you have an iPhone, you may also want to consider synchronizing your Find My Friends app with your family or friends at home. This will keep your family and friends happy (because they can look up exactly where you are), plus it will help you find your phone should you misplace it on your solo journey!
... But don’t be afraid to make new friends!
Sure, you might be traveling alone because you wanted alone time, but one of the best things about single travel is meeting new people – something you may not be as motivated to do if you were travelling with someone else.
Sign up for a walking tour or group hike, spend a few days volunteering for a local charity, or take a cocktail workshop or a dance tutorial. Who knows – you could make a friend for life in that sunset yoga class on the beach.
One of the many great things about travelling alone is that you can be sociable when you feel like it, but you can also retreat at any time you want and just enjoy your own company!
Enjoy new culinary experiences.
You no longer have to suffer the debate of ‘where are we going to eat tonight?’ – you can pick whatever takes your fancy!
Have a taste of some unusual food you never thought you’d try! Use TripAdvisor or the Where Chefs Eat app to find the best foodie spots near you.
Embrace eating alone, or eat with the locals using EatWith or Traveling Spoon for a really genuine experience of the local cuisine!
Step out of your comfort zone.
If you’re traveling alone for the first time, then congratulations – you’re already out of your comfort zone!
A solo trip is the perfect opportunity for new experiences that you’ll never forget; test your bravery with a zip line adventure through the jungles of Tulum, go scuba diving with turtles in the reefs of Oahu, or unwind and take time to reflect with a wellness retreat in the Yucatan Peninsula.
While traveling alone appear to be a bit intimidating at first, it can also be incredibly empowering and full of perks.
For all ages and walks of life it can be refreshing to spend time alone, make choices entirely for yourself, immerse yourself in new cultures and experiences, and rebuild confidence in yourself. No matter where you go, we’re sure that you’ll return home feeling rejuvenated, and eager to plan your next solo trip!