Over the years I’ve taken a few solo trips (even one international) and I’ve been asked several times to share tips and benefits of traveling alone. I’m still learning, but I’ll share what I’ve learned and experienced so far!
- Give a friend or family member your travel itinerary and where you will be staying. Not only does this give extra assurance that someone knows your whereabouts, but it helps if you have trouble with your arrangements. You can call them to help you out.
- Pack a small first aid kit and a few emergency meds. I usually need a few things without fail when I travel: sunscreen, bandaids, bug repellent, cortisone cream, Advil or some other NSAIDs, charcoal tablets and melatonin. You know yourself and what little physical annoyances come up for you– pack smart so you don’t end up having to take a cab to a local pharmacy at midnight or paying the hotel $10 for two migraine pills! I made a video of my travel essentials that you might find helpful.
- Have food at your hotel/temporary residence. Not only did I go to a market and buy snacks, I chose a hotel that offered a refrigerator and microwave. As a single woman traveling alone, I wanted to be sure I would have little reason to be leaving the room very late at night. I have a fast metabolism and was making the trip quite an active one. I bought fruit, water, yogurt, cereal, crackers and ordered an extra entree at the restaurant I went to for lunch. You just never know when you’ll be hungry and many hotels do not have 24-hour room service. The many snacks I had also came in handy for my hikes. I stocked my backpack with bananas and a water bottle before heading out to the adventure.
- Save money by checking out Yelp and other online deals. In Waikiki I signed up for a surfing lesson since I’m still a novice and didn’t feel good about going out alone. When I called the surf center I asked if there were any deals and there were! I ended up taking Uber (for free rides use Uber code: fifib105ue) to the location, but there were some schools that even had a free shuttle. Since you cannot share a group rate with friends when you travel alone, there’s no harm in asking the company about special rates. Surfing was great and I met some new people!
- Do group tours. This is a safe and affordable way to make your way around a new city without the fuss. Guided tours may allow you to see sights you may not know of and also connect with other travelers.
- Download WhatsApp. This app allows you to text and call via wifi which is a plus. When I went to London, I changed my plan over to an international plan, but my phone didn’t really work. Whatsapp saved the day! I was able to use wifi at the airport and local coffee shops to stay in touch with friends and family at home in the States as well as catch up with friends in London. International data plans can be extremely expensive, so this saves a great deal. Sending voice notes is a plus if you want to exchange messages with someone on a different time zone.
- Place your valuables and important personal identification in a security safe, or a safe place. I’ve traveled with friends before and someone lost their license. While it was a hassle getting on an airplane, this happened before 9/11 so I cannot imagine how it would be now. Some people like to place secured copies of their identification somewhere in an online account for extra security. Either way, just make sure you’re not carrying important things for an active day trip where things can get lost.
- Grab some maps. Hiking is one of my favorite things to do and I love going off the beaten path, but I also don’t want to be lost for hours. There’s typically a designated person at hotels who can provide info on the best hikes for the weather conditions and will give you free maps. I use the maps and the compass on my cell phone to make sure I can make t back with plenty of time before sundown. It’s a preference of mine that I’m not hiking or walking the street too late at night.
- Be sensible. Most people are just making conversation to be nice, but I’m careful about how I answer strangers when they make small talk. “How long are you here?” and, “are you traveling alone?” Can be harmless questions, but I’m careful. I won’t tell you how to handle each situation, but use your best judgment.
- Don’t be scared! Traveling alone can be so much fun and you discover so much about yourself when it’s all up to you. You don’t have to vote on what to do next, because you’re in charge. You don’t have to delay booking a ticket to your next destination because you aren’t waiting on friends. You get to explore any restaurant that you want and wake up when you please! Solo travel will make you even more independent and also more street wise.
***Bonus tips: (1)try to fit everything into a carry-on and if you can’t– put at least one entire outfit and your personal items in a carry-on. Luggage gets lost from time to time and it’s awful when you’re traveling alone. (2) notify your credit card company that you’ll be traveling– if you don’t, you risk your card being flagged for fraud.