Traveling alone may seem a little scary at first but, as long as it’s done safely, solo travel can healthy and exciting.
I wrote this blog post on my flight down to Los Cabos in Baja California Sur, Mexico to celebrate my friend Vasilios’ 30th birthday. The guests flew from around the globe for the occasion. A few of us came from California, family flew from Wisconsin and a couple even met us from a business trip in Sri Lanka!
Taking the flight to Cabo alone was the best way to start my trip! I’ve caught up on reading Start Something That Matters by Toms shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, practiced my birthday speech and completed the yoga class I will be teaching to our guests.
My First Solo Travel Experience
While studying abroad in Madrid, Spain in 2008 I traveled alone by train through Northern Spain into Southern France, Monaco, ending in Berne, Switzerland where I met up with American friends.
On the train I met an awesome girl from Hawaii and a great group of guys from Texas. We spent the days gallivanting around the French Riviera, eating cheese and drinking French wine on the beach in Nice. Seriously, in a world where all of that is possible – life is good!
Then, at the tail-end of my Euro-tip I also had a sola stint on my way home through the same area in southern France. On the train I met an awesome guy from Alaska who introduced me to his favorite band, Tegan and Sara.
During my spring break I also spent a night alone in Athens, Greece since my friends had to leave a day before me. It was a fun day where I was able to explore the city at my own whim!
Needless to say, some of the best experiences I’ve had abroad have been when I was traveling by myself.
4 of the Top Reasons to Travel Alone
- Self-reflection. While traveling alone without anyone to constantly talk to, you’re left to your own thoughts. Your thoughts will start out very busy. As you sort through them one by one you will begin to slow down and relax. Hopefully, by the end of your solo trip you will feel clear-headed and focused. The quietness clears your head.
- Exploration. I find I’m always a bit more adventurous when I’m traveling alone. When I’m with someone I love, I can sit in a park for hours talking about the weather. Meanwhile, if I’m by myself I’m more apt to explore more. I talk to the locals, find out what there is to see in their neck of the woods and go from there.
- Autonomy. You can make decisions for yourself based on exactly what you want to do, when you want to do it. When you travel with a group, there always has to be a group consensus.
- The people you meet. I find that I’m much more likely to spark up a conversation with a total stranger if I’m out and about by myself. There’s something more vulnerable about approaching someone you’ve never met when they aren’t with someone else.
A Few Things To Remember Before Traveling Alone
- Safety first! Check travel sites for any possible security warnings. Know your surroundings and practice caution. You are out of your element and don’t want to get taken advantage of.
- Protect your valuables.
Women: Travel with a ZIP purse that has all valuable assets zipped inside and don’t leave your purse unattended. In Madrid I was robbed while my mother was in town visiting. We were near one of the most crowded plazas, carrying bags and fresh flowers. We stuck out like sore thumbs. A wristlet was hanging outside my purse that they snagged in the blink of an eye.
Men: Consider shorts with zip pockets or by using a hidden passport wallet strapped underneath your clothing. In Europe men are often pick-pocketed on public transportation.
- Don’t carry too much cash on you. I usually have a bit of cash if needed but otherwise carry cards. Contact your bank in advance to let them know you’re traveling or they could freeze your cards due to spam concerns. Also, check for international transaction fees.
- Pre-arrange transportation.
– Explore what’s available in your destination. What’s the common method of public transportation? In some areas shuttles are the best option while other cities offer underground metros and convenient bus systems.
– Travel books like the Let’s Go series help!
– Write down the phone number of your hotel and address before you go, in case you can’t get mobile access when you arrive.
- Plan out your packing! In order to get around swiftly, you won’t want to pack too heavy or have too many bags. In Europe, I had one rolling carry-on on size luggage bag and a tote that I squished all of my belongings into. Roll your similar sized clothing to fit more and reduce wrinkles.
Now you should be ready for your next adventure.
Safe travels and have fun!