Lone travelers guide to flying solo

‘Traveling solo allows for a time of introspection, relaxation and self-discovery. It’s like meditation, but with food, drinks and the opportunity to meet new people.’ Adventure, excitement, and freedom are all the great reason to travel on your own but more than that, it’s the prospect of self-exploration and self-reflection that makes your travel experience truly elating. Traveling alone is easier than one thinks and allows you more rewarding and intense experience. Family vacations and group excursions are great, but there is a certain freedom and excitement that can only be found by taking a trip all by yourself. Whether you’re traveling solo by chance or by choice, make the most of your independent adventure by having some great resources close at hand. We’ve got the top 10 tips to keep you safe, happy and ready to hit the road solo:

  1. Do your homework: Thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to preview a potential destination. But remember, official tourism websites have an objective to paint only the rosiest of pictures to attract visitors. If you want the real lowdown, a great source of information online is forums like Traveltalkonline. These are the best spots to receive in-depth information from locals about safety and culture, as well as to have your questions and concerns answered in an unbiased manner.

  1. Stay Connected: Look for warnings about destinations you are about to visit and let your friends and family know about your travel plans. Make sure that they can contact you should alerts escalate or if a crisis arises at home. You should also research reliable hotspots like Internet cafés close to areas you will be staying to ensure you can regularly connect with loved ones about your whereabouts and ongoing itinerary.
  2. Pack Smart: When travelling solo make sure all of your essentials are in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost. That means a complete change of clothes for hot, cold, and wet weather, walking shoes, medication, and all of your identification and important technology. Split up your cash and credit cards into different spots so if you lose one set you still have another. Dress for comfort and always have some emergency cash stashed on you.
  3. Be Aware: Personal safety and protection of your valuables can be a big concern but need not be such a fear that you become paranoid. Don’t dress like an obvious “tourist” (fanny packs, cameras swinging, and home country flag patches) and don’t flash money, expensive technology or wear valuable jewelry. Be aware of your surroundings and stick to main roads and well-lit areas when possible, but walk with confidence and purpose if you end up in unsavory locations.
  4. Befriend Professionals: Discover secret spots by getting to know local service people such as store clerks, hotel staff, security guards, taxi drivers, and servers. Tip generously to make a lasting impression.
  5. Meet People: Vacationing alone is a great way to enjoy doing your own thing without restrictions, but eventually you might get lonely. A good way to meet people is to be a real “tourist” and join a group tour outing. Or seek out like-minded groups of locals that share a hobby you enjoy and attend one of their functions or go to a local church service of your faith. Having something in common is a wonderful ice-breaker. It’s much easier to meet people if you use public transportation and stay in local homes, small inns, or bed-and-breakfasts.
  6. Choose friendly accommodations: A five star hotel or chain hotel is not your best choice. When looking for accommodations, watch for words like “lively”, “friendly”, and “family-owned” which ensure plenty of opportunity to meet other independent travelers like you.  After reading your guidebook, double check the hotel on tripadvisor and filter the reviews by solo traveler. Stay in local homes, small inns, or bed-and-breakfasts. Don’t isolate yourself in a rental car or big hotel.
  7. Be Adventurous: Try things that really push you outside of your comfort zone, after all, you’re on an adventure! It doesn’t have to be something extreme like bungee jumping or dangerous like hand-feeding sharks. It could be as tame as singing karaoke at a local bar or taking a windsurfing lesson, as long as it’s something you’d never consider doing at home. You might be surprised to discover what you’re capable of when no one is watching.
  8. Avoid Unrealistic Expectations: If you’re not comfortable doing things on your own at home, then vacationing solo might not be for you. If you’re not sure, then you might first try being part of a group tour or cruise to see if you like it. Once you’ve tackled vacationing solo successfully, you’re sure to feel a renewed sense of confidence and pride you would never have had experienced had you not done it alone. Go for it!
  9. Buy or download guide books geared to solo travelers: The Lonely Planet guides, used by travelers of all ages, list accommodations and restaurants that are likely to draw other independent travelers, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to meet a variety of people.

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