Traveling, quite simply, is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Experiencing new things, tasting new foods, and seeing new sights can broaden your horizons in ways you didn’t even know were possible. And here’s the best part: You don’t need to ask anyone’s permission to go on the trip of a lifetime. All you need to do is be willing to go it alone.
Solo travel is the number one trend in travel for 2019, according to Klook , a Hong-Kong based booking company. According to the data in its s 2019 travel trends report, the number of solo travelers increased on its platform from 31% to 38% in 2018. Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, mainland China, and the United Kingdom all saw 10% growth in the number of solo travelers as well, according to the platform.
People want adventure. And they want it their way. And as the saying goes, if you want something done right, you better do it yourself. If you’re hoping to take a solo trip sometime this year, you can prepare by following these seven tips for traveling alone.
Picking the Right Place to Stay
Assuming you already have a destination or destinations in mind for your own Eat, Pray, Love adventure, the first thing to do is find accommodations. And as a solo traveler, that may mean staying at a hostel.
Sure, you may think it’s better to splurge on a fancy hotel, but here’s the thing; hostels are getting ridiculously fancy too. Just cruise through some of the listings on Hostel World and you’ll be delighted by all the high-end features you can find at inexpensive prices.
Here’s why hostels are also great for solo travelers: It’s a great place to make new friends who are doing a similar solo journey to you.
Common areas in hostels are brimming with people looking to chat, cook a good meal together, or stay up all night playing worldly drinking games. It’s an environment you’d be hard-pressed to find at a five-star hotel, and traveling by yourself doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.
Just make sure your hostel comes with a private room if you want one, along with a few amenities like free WiFi and potentially breakfast included, which can be a good money saver.
Packing Extremely Light
When there’s no one to help you cart your bags around, it’s doubly important to pack extremely light. Prior to your departure, look at the items you’re hoping to bring with you. Then, try to make some cuts. As long as you have the essentials—a few pairs of underwear, socks, one pair of pants, shorts if it’s warm, a few t-shirts, and a warm coat if the weather calls for it— you should be alright.
If you need to take a laundry day on your trip, you may be able to find free or inexpensive laundry at your hostel. And remember that the beauty of packing light is that you will hopefully have enough room to fit a few souvenirs for the way home.
Finding a Few Activities that Could Help You Make Friends
Beyond staying at a hostel, there are a few ways to make new friends wherever you are in the world. And one smart way to do that is through activities. Websites like Airbnb now offer experiences hosted by locals. These experiences can include photography lessons, walking tours, cooking local cuisine together, art classes, and more.
While partaking in the experiences, you could mingle with other travelers, or just get closer to the people living in your destination. And really, sharing a meal and learning about the history of an area is one of the best ways to feel a closer connection to your travels. (That, and it’s likely a delicious experience, too.)
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Prioritizing Your Safety
The first, and perhaps most important, thing to do is to share your itinerary with a few close family and friends. This way someone knows where you are at all times and how to reach you. If you change your plans, make sure to update at least one of the people with your itinerary.
After that, you could always invest in a few personal safety devices, like a discrete portable e-alarm. The alarm can hang on any bag or fit neatly in your pocket. If you’re feeling scared you can pull the black pin out and a loud alarm will sound. Finally, make sure to also have a small portable charger with you so you never find yourself without your trusty cellphone ready to make an emergency call if need be.
Taking Plenty of Photos and Try to Journal Everyday
You’re going to want to remember every single detail of your trip not only for yourself but also so you can share what you did and saw with your friends and family back home. A good way to do this is by taking plenty of photos and bringing along a journal to write down your favorite memories.
Every day, take 10 minutes in the morning to set a few intentions and write them down in your journal as if you are writing a to-do list. That will ensure you fit in all of the things you want to do that day. If you need a few writing prompts for your travel journal, Wanderlust has a few ideas to get you started .
If you want to preserve space on your phone, go through your favorite photos of the day and delete the rest. (Or, as Marie Kondo might say, only keep the photos that bring you joy.) By taking photos and journaling, you’ll be able to look back for years to come and continue to stay inspired by your travels.
Planning, but Being Okay with Changing Things up Along the Way
Sometimes you’re going to miss a train or a bus. Other times you’re going to get to a museum too late, or not be able to get a reservation at the restaurant you want. But, that’s okay because traveling solo means you can easily swap out one thing for another.
When things go awry on your solo vacation, just take it all in stride and know that you can do whatever you want to do today because you are the only person responsible for your happiness on your vacation.
Be okay with walking down the street to find a new place to eat, waiting until morning to go to that museum, or appreciating when you miss your bus and get to stay an extra day in a city you love. (Though, again, just make sure to let one of your trusted family members or friends know about your change of plans.)
Accessing Your Money No Matter Where Your Travels Take You
There is one trusted companion you should bring along while traveling alone: a SoFi Money® cash management account. SoFi Money users gain access to an ATM card that works at any ATM in the world that accepts Mastercard (subject to change).
You’ll also get unlimited free atm withdrawals, which come in handy when you’re traveling to far-flung destinations. Plus, by saving on fees you’ll be able to buy that one extra trinket along the way to remind you of your sojourn forever.
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