Are there people who still can't eat by themselves at a restaurant?
What of traveling solo? I personally think it's great to enjoy your own space and thoughts.
According to Forbes, solo travel gives you a chance to listen to your gut and control what direction you want to head. It allows you to reflect on your decisions and discover more about what makes you, you. Spending even a minimal time in solitude will allow you to embark on an inward journey of self-discovery.
People who have never traveled alone often describe their first solo trip as an almost religious experience. To take in new surroundings unfiltered by the prejudices, tastes, or preferences of a traveling companion can be heady stuff. Solo travel gives you the chance to indulge yourself fully.
Of course, traveling alone has its perils too, such as safety concerns, loneliness, and the dreaded single supplement. But a little preparation and common sense can save you money and get you through the rough spots.
Here are a few tips to take with you when traveling alone
- Do your homework
Know how long it takes and how much it costs to get from the airport to your hotel or to the city center. Solo travelers are more likely to be “taken for a ride,” so ask the taxi driver for an estimated fare before you leave. If it’s considerably different from what you know to be true, take a different cab. Take time to consider what you want from your trip, and where you’re most likely to get it. For inspiration, and to help you focus on what you want, and how to get it.
- Go out and meet other travelers
According to Forbes another way to break up the monotony of solo travel is to meet other travelers. Your conversation doesn't have to end when you land and deboard the plane. In fact, two great resources that can help you connect with fellow travelers and even locals are Couchsurfing (similar to Airbnb) lets you stay with local homeowners where you might also be able to meet other travelers.
Regardless of where you stay when you travel, you can also use Meetup to find local events and activities that are happening in town. You might be able to hang out at a certain cafe or even attend a local festival that isn't mentioned in any of the guidebooks. There are many opportunities in each city so be sure to check this out before you arrive.
- Learn the local language
It may sound obvious, but making the effort to learn a handful of phrases in the native tongue can make a huge difference in how you experience a country, especially when you don’t have anyone with you to lean on for translations.
Always make sure to at least learn how to say ‘Hello, thank you, excuse me, sorry and please’. It will open up so many doors for you, and it shows locals that you're genuinely interested in learning about their culture.
- Carry great identification
In more than one place. If you choose to wear a money belt, use it for storage and not as a purse. Constantly reaching under your shirt for money draws attention to it and defeats the purpose. Instead, keep your passport, extra stores of money, and other important documents tucked away, and use a theft-resistant bag or purse for carrying daily spending money.
- Take as many photos as possible
Making photography a mission, even if it's just snapping odd little details you notice about a place, gives structure to your day. Your friends back home will appreciate your perspective and the stories behind the pics. It's also a great way to reminisce after your solo travel adventure and remember what you've achieved.
With smartphones and near-universal free wi-fi hotspots, it's easier than ever to take pictures of every you visit. By instantly sharing your pics on social media, it's almost as if your friends and loved ones are with your trip as they can relish nearly every moment in real-time. While you can break out a selfie-stick, it's not necessary. We are always envious of seeing new places that we can't currently visit.
- Take a chill pill while you eat
Don't get me wrong, I mean relax while you eat.
If you don't want to look out of place, you might consider visiting a cafe where the casual environment brings in many a single person and groups that are seeking a respite as well. If you want more privacy, choose a restaurant booth. Either setting can give you the anonymity you might be looking for, and, the food and atmosphere can be more enjoyable than a fast food joint.
Meals can also be a good time to unwind and be yourself. Yes, you can strike up a conversation with the waiter or bartender, but, your meal can also be a good time to sit and reflect. Maybe you will use the time to plan the rest of your day, catch up on emails if the joint has free wifi, or read a book.
- Challenge yourself
Boredom and loneliness can happen at times when solo travelling, but finding ways to keep yourself entertained and curious can also lead to you seeing a city in a new way.
Embrace this travel as an opportunity to experience the sort of thing that your family and friends wouldn’t necessarily be keen on us doing together. To keep things interesting, establish some sort of theme.
For example, you can spend all day touring an art museum when they would rather hang out on the beach, or vice versa. Maybe there's something you can do alone that you can't do if you bring the kids along.
This trip can also be an excellent opportunity to cross an item off your bucket list.
- Arrive during the day
Areas around bus and train stations can be scary and/or deserted, and small towns tend to shut down early. Veteran solo traveler Mara Rothman of San Francisco notes that plenty of beautiful towns can appear eerie at night, and locals who are genuinely trying to help you can appear unnecessarily threatening. Arriving during the day means you’ll be able to find a place to stay and get your bearings before dark.
- Be confident and believe in yourself
Solo travel can be challenging, but the rewards make it all worth it. Many travellers report heightened feelings of confidence and happiness after undertaking a trip by themselves, as well as some newfound outlooks on life.
For example cycling through remote places all by yourself can be the most fulfilling experience you'll ever have.
Whether you’re on a street at home or 7,000 miles away, walking confidently and with direction is an effective technique for deterring unwanted attention, since appearing lost or confused can make you vulnerable. If you are lost, walk into a shop or restaurant and ask for directions there.
- Safety first
While it definitely pays to be cautious, it shouldn’t stop you from heading off on your next adventure. Picking the right destination can make all the difference, with some places more suited to solo travel than others. Travel insurance is always a good idea, as is keeping family and friends notified of your whereabouts. Apps like Find My Friends have proven popular for this, providing peace of mind for people back home.
Solo travel can be both safe and rewarding, but be mindful of safety concerns just as you would travelling in a pair or group. Take care in large cities at night, watch your drinks, be aware of any local scams and keep a close eye on your valuables.
While it's certainly challenging, the hardest thing about solo travel is making that initial leap to do it. After that, all you need is a bit of know-how, an eagerness to explore, and these tried and tested tips on how to travel solo. An incredibly rewarding experience awaits.
All the best in your solo travel
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