10 Savvy Tips for Traveling Solo
1. Plan ahead.
This may sound obvious but you wouldn't believe how many people travel to a new destination without any preparation. I started off as a rookie with my first solo trip being a 3 day trip to Chicago from Minnesota. Now, within the past year I have traveled to Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, alone. Since I work best through an organized approach, my way of planning is by making a list. It's simple: grab a pen and paper, Google places that fascinate you and then write them down. Planning your trip based on the proximity of the destinations is also not a bad idea. It wouldn't be very timely to go to one place, and then have to go all the way back to the other side of town to get to your next destination. Do some research and plan out the spots you want to see and the restaurants you want to try. It requires a little homework, but trust me it will be worth it.
2. Challenge yourself.
Want to go skydiving but aren't sure how'd you react once you see the view from the plane? Or does the idea of trying fried scorpion on a stick in a weird, twisted way appeal to you because it's something you've never done before? Do not let your ears or doubts hold you back. If you were brave enough to travel to a new place, completely alone, then take one extra step and do something to challenge yourself even more and you will surely always be proud to say that you did it. Plus, it will make for a pretty rad photograph!
3. Try new foods.
We kind of touched base on this when we discussed the whole eating fried scorpion on a stick idea in my second point; fortunately, it is possible to try something new that won't make you completely squeamish. Going to a whole new country is a great way to not only explore new sites, but to also try new foods. You know that quote,"Don't judge a book by its cover." There is a lot of truth to it. Just because something looks gross, doesn't mean it won't be amazing. On a recent trip to Jeju Island, my boyfriend and I went to a seafood restaurant by the ocean and he ordered squid legs off the menu. When his dish arrived, it turned out the squid legs were still moving! It wasn't his ideal dish, but he still ended up eating the whole plate. A dish may look intimidating, but you'll never know until you try it! And once again, it will make for a cool picture.
4. Document your moments.
If you're like me, you'll want to take cutesy pictures for your Instagram. Mementos; however, are also special in a different way. Years from now pictures will fade. Pictures are always a great keepsake but so is journaling. Nothing brings back a memory better than reading the words that showcase how you felt in that exact moment. Journaling may feel like a hassle and not be something you want to do when traveling, but writing a few sentences here and there is as much effort as it really takes and you will surely appreciate it one day in the future.
5. Sit in silence.
It's in certain silent moments that you really find yourself. Whether you are standing alone at the top of the mountain peering at the magnificent world around you or meditating in a new place, the still silence can help you learn more about yourself. If you have a relationship with God, praying at your new destination can help bring you closer to Him in new ways. Whichever method you choose to use, make an effort to be in silence at least once while traveling. This will hopefully help you learn more about yourself and appreciate the sights around you even more.
6. Safety - Stay in Contact!
Whenever I travel to a new country alone (or city that is faraway) I make a habit of letting at least one person in my life know where I am going. In my case, I usually choose both my father and boyfriend. I send them an email with the name of the hotel I am staying at, as well as the hotel's address and phone number. I also make sure to text both of them at least once a day during my travels to let them know I am safe. This way they know that if they haven't heard from me within 24 hours, something may be wrong. As much I try to pretend that I am superwoman sometimes, I know that I am not, and I also know that I don't want to put my life at risk in case I need help. Safety always come first, so make sure you take the steps needed to stay safe and keep those in your life informed.
7. Dress for the weather
This may seem like another obvious point, but do try to keep this in mind. Nothing ruins a vacation like a bad sunburn. Remember that depending on where you go, the sun works differently. If you're going somewhere in the south and next to the ocean, the weather will most likely be hot. Take precautions and make sure to bring sunscreen. If you are going somewhere where mosquitoes are known for being prevalent, then make sure to bring bug spray.
8. Bring cash
I remember when I went on a week-long trip to Tokyo, Japan with two friends and we ran into an unfortunate situation. We were all living in China at the time and working as English Teachers. Since we lived in China, we all three had debit cards from our banks in China. Unfortunately, it turned out that our cards didn't have magnet strips on them. I brought enough cash for myself to last the whole week, but my two friends did not. When they tried to get cash from ATM machines with their non-magnet strip cards, it was unsuccessful every time. If you are traveling abroad, make sure to bring cash with you, even if your card has a magnetic strip. Better safe then sorry.
9. Keep Your Items Safe
This tip is kind of piggybacking off the last tip. If you are staying in a shared hostel, make sure to keep your personal items (i.e. passport, cash, credit cards) extra safe. A lot of hotels and hostels have lockers for you to place your stuff, but if that is not an option you can always put your items in a purse or small bag and place them inside your pillowcase when sleeping. I'll admit, there have been times when I put my most valuable items in my backpack and curled up with it the whole night just to be safe.
10. Just do it!
The fact that you are reading this article shows that you're tempted to go on a solo trip. Some of my best travel experiences have been when I was alone. I got to do what I wanted, when I wanted, without having to worry about anyone else. It's the best opportunity to break out of your comfort zone and get to know yourself better. So pack your bags, keep my savvy tips in mind, and enjoy your solo trip!