My upcoming trip to Columbia will mark my 4th time leaving the country alone. I know people who’ve backpacked through Europe by themselves and others who refuse to go to the movies in their own neighborhoods alone. So when I tell someone I’ve traveled alone in the past, plan to continue to do so in the future, and actually enjoy my solo adventures, people have a lot of different opinions. I’m a firm believer of people “doing them”. If you’re the type of person who is nauseated by the thought of getting on a flight alone and knowing no one once you land, this post is not for you. If you’re a global couch surfer, this post will put you to sleep. If you’re someone who loves and desires to travel, but thinks you can’t do it alone, it’s easier than you think. These three tips helped make the process less overwhelming for me.
1. It’s not as expensive as you think
While sharing a room with a couple of friends seemingly cuts down on lodging costs, travel apps are making staying solo more affordable. Whether you’re comfortable sharing space in someone’s home or prefer having someone else’s home all to yourself, Airbnb is often cheaper than paying for your own hotel room. Check the reviews to ensure the space truly reflects the description and pictures. Still not ready to make the home sharing leap? Prefer the comfort of a hotel? The Hotel Tonight app is a must! Hotel Tonight allows you to book last minute rooms for a fraction of the cost. I once booked a room in San Francisco right before my flight left New York, and got it for over 50% off. You can only book up to a week in advance. Read the fine print for room details and extra fees the hotel may charge on-site.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
Still unsure of how you’ll fare alone in a different location? Practice before you go. Start small. Take yourself out to dinner in your own neighborhood. Sit at the bar and make a new friend. It’ll help you get a feel for doing the same in a new location. Traveling for business is another way to practice. If your job sends you away for a couple of days, request to leave early or stay a little later. When my job sends me to another city for work on a Monday, I usually request to fly out on Friday so I can spend the weekend exploring. It’s a great way to save on airfare and test the waters in a place that’s a little farther from home.
3. Travel with strangers
If you don’t like the idea of traveling all alone, consider going with “strangers”. Sites like Travel Noire provide solo travelers with a group of like-minded folks to travel with. Another option is connecting with people in your destination before you land. The first time I went to Panama, I enrolled in a Spanish school and set up a homestay. This helped ease my fears and assured me I’d at least have a friend in the woman I was staying with and the people who worked at the school.
My solo travels have blessed me with friendships I’m not sure I would have made if I’d gone with a group of friends. You tend the see the world in a different way when you’re forced to do it without distractions. Traveling alone has also helped me to grow in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise. There are a million opinions about why you shouldn’t travel alone. The only one that matters is yours! Happy solo travels!