How many times have you wanted to go on a trip and couldn’t find anyone to go with you? Did you give up your plans for a grand vacation, or did you decide to go by yourself?
How many of you actually prefer more alone time than social time? Do you enjoy being alone with your thoughts?
How many of you are just ready to stop wishing and want to get on with traveling already?
I happen to really enjoy being on my own, and I decided this past year that I was ready to travel instead of living out my wanderlust on Pinterest boards. Does this make me anti-social? Nope. I just prefer to travel on my own. I enjoy the experience much more when I can get totally lost in the moment, and that’s incredibly hard to do when traveling with a companion.
If you are ready to strike out on your own, here are some tips to prepare yourself yet still enjoy yourself fully.
1. Research, research, research.
I can’t stress this enough. My first solo trip was to Spain. I planned out a week of adventures in Andalusia and had the best time jaunting all over the region. I don’t think my experience would have been the same had I not done diligent research. Poring over guidebooks and trolling websites of the cities you are planning to visit helps to increase the anticipation of your big adventure. It also helps you discover some off-the-beaten-path alternatives to the regular tourist traps. I personally like to hit up both types of attractions, so planning ahead is key to my enjoyment. Plus, when you round a corner in a UNESCO World Heritage site and see the picture you’ve been dreaming about live and in technicolor, it literally takes your breath away. My first moment like that occured in the Mezquita in Cordoba. It literally brought tears to my eyes.
My favorite travel books – yes, books printed on paper with pages you can actually turn – are the DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. I purchased their DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Seville & Andalusia before my trip and perused it obsessively. These guides are as beautiful as they are informative. If you are a travel guide kind of traveler, I suggest you check out their full line.
2. Plan to pack light!
If you are traveling on your own, you have the freedom of wearing the same crap over and over again. Who cares if you wore that sweater three days ago? You don’t know any of these people and you’ll probably never see them again, so go for it! I usually only pack three full outfits and change out an accessory such as a scarf. Guess what. No one cares. It’s so freeing! I packed for a week in Spain in one carry-on sized bag. I was very proud of myself.
3. Dream big, but stick with a small number of must-see attractions
I typically only plan on seeing three big attractions per day on my solo trips. This leaves time to wander the streets of the city I’m visiting and getting a more authentic experience. I take my time while eating my meals at little spots favored by locals, visit parks that tourists usually pass up, and get lost on purpose just to see what’s around that next corner. Not having a strict schedule to adhere to leaves room for spontaneity, which is when I usually have my best travel moments.
Those are my top three tips for solo travel. The first solo trip is the hardest, but they only get easier and more rewarding as you add more experiences to your travel catalog. I am a true solo travel convert and plan to have many more solo travel adventures in my lifetime. How about you?
Do you have questions about solo travel that I can answer for you? Leave them in the comments below!