There are a couple reasons you might choose to travel alone. Maybe you want to explore your independence, get out of your comfort zone and experience an adventure. Or, you may have already traveled solo and want to take more trips. Whatever your reason, we've got the guide for you. While solo travel is often an exciting and liberating experience, it does come with special considerations, such as taking additional safety precautions and choosing your trips wisely. Let's take a look.
Planning to travel alone: Where to start
If you're going to a destination, you've never been to before, working with a travel agent can be a good way to make sure you're seeing all the sights while staying in well-populated areas with access to public transportation and other resources or book with travel companies that offer group tours. This way, you can have others to sightsee with (though you'll still have some time to venture off on your own).
Another option is to book your travel alone but sign up for some group tours when you arrive. You may also wish to consider staying at a hostel, where you're likely to meet other people traveling alone.
These are all personal choices, but they do give you options for meeting others if you're at all wary about getting lonely on your solo adventures.
Picking places to travel alone
If you opt out of tour options, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind when booking your trip. Not all destinations are created equal when it comes to solo travel, so here are some considerations when choosing where to visit.
Visiting major cities like London, Hong Kong, Sydney or New York means you'll rarely get bored when traveling alone. Make sure you choose a place with ample public transportation — and do a little research on navigation tips beforehand — so you can get around safely and efficiently. Big cities offer a variety of sightseeing, restaurants and neighborhoods to explore, as well as lots of shopping.
If work has been running you ragged or you have a lot going on in your personal life, you might consider a relaxing beach vacation to get away from it all. While an island in the sun might not offer all the excitement of a bigger city, it can be a great way to unwind, unplug and catch up on some reading. Beach resorts often have multiple restaurants on site, making mealtimes a breeze. If you're not a fan of sitting beachside, there's plenty to do at beach destinations and resorts. Outside of visiting the beach at night, there are typically bonfires, events, parties and even dancing.
Solo travel havens
Some places have big backpacking scenes and a plethora of hostels, both of which tend to attract more solo travelers than other destinations. If you're looking to meet other like-minded travelers, consider going that route. Not keen on sharing a room with strangers? Don't fret. Many hostels offer private rooms while still giving you access to shared common areas like kitchens and lounges so you can meet other travelers.
Safety precautions for your solo trip
When you travel alone it would be smart to consider certain precautions to help ensure your safety.
Share your travel plans
Even though you're traveling alone, you can still take some proactive steps to make sure people know where you are. Share your itinerary and accommodation reservations with a family member or friend back home and check in with a quick email or text at the end of each day. You may wish to get to know the employees at the front desk of your hotel or hostel and let them know when you're heading out for an excursion and when you plan to be back.
Plan for emergencies
While nobody wants to think of an emergency happening while on a solo trip, the reality is that it's always a possibility. Before your trip, do some research on local hospitals, police stations and other emergency facilities. If something does happen and you need help, you'll already know exactly where to go.
Lock up your luggage
When you're out and about for the day, only take what you need with you, such as your preferred payment methods, your ID, a copy of your passport and your phone. Keep these in a zipped bag close to your body. Anything you leave behind in your hotel or hostel should be locked up, with important items in the provided safe if you're staying in a hotel. Hostels almost always provide storage areas for you to lock up your luggage, but you may need to bring your own lock, so don't forget to pack one.
Use common sense
If you're worried about how to travel alone safely, the most important thing is to use common sense. Don't go anywhere alone with a stranger, keep an eye on your drinks, pay close attention to the people around you and always listen to your gut. Your senses will pick up on important nuances, so try and keep them on point. For example, keep one headphone out to listen while going for a run. If you ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe in a situation, remove yourself as quickly as possible.
Potential benefits of solo travel
There are many benefits of solo travel. When you travel alone, you need only to consider your own wants and whims. You can change your plans by the hour, depending on how you're feeling. If you decide you want to order room service and lay in bed until noon, you can. There are no compromises on solo trips.
Traveling alone can be empowering. It allows you to see what you're capable of all on your own — from planning the trip to executing it, there's a certain amount of pride that comes from accomplishing it by yourself. You'll likely be pushed outside of your comfort zone. Even if you're someone who enjoys your own company and is comfortable doing things alone, you'll likely find yourself in new situations and conquering them on your own.
Potential challenges of solo travel
Of course, there are some potential challenges of solo travel, too. Loneliness is a possibility when you're adventuring by yourself, especially at mealtime. However, after you get a couple meals under your belt, enjoying a book or simply enjoying the scenery as you dine at a restaurant alone will likely get much easier.
You may find that making every decision on your own exhausting. If that's the case, check out a local food tour to take the pressure off deciding what's for dinner one night. Special experiences may feel a little less special if you have nobody to share them with but try to practice enjoying the moment that you're in, even if you're on a solo trip.
Solo travel can be an exhilarating and fulfilling experience. Remember to put plenty of thought into your planning and keep safety considerations in mind. But most importantly, make sure to enjoy it.