Solo travel can be a wonderful and liberating experience. You don’t need to wait for your friends and family to be available. You can visit any place you want to visit, spend time and money only on attractions that you want to visit and do everything on your own schedule without having to wait for anyone else. However, without companions, you may feel nervous about traveling alone. This is completely normal. Here are some tips on how to travel alone.
1. Do your research
To calm your nerves, it helps tremendously if you research your destination carefully, so you know exactly where are going. It also helps to plan out more detailed logistics, such as how to get from the airport/train station to your hotel and how to get from Point A to Point B. You will be a lot more confident if you are armed with thorough research.
2. Select a popular location
I think selecting a popular location (like Ottawa) is a great strategy for people who travel alone. This way, even if you are alone away from your family and friends, you are still likely to be surrounded by people in general. It will help you feel safer and less alone than if you go to a lone mountain by yourself. As well, in case of an emergency, people will be able to locate you sooner.
3. Stay at a central location
When I travel alone, I prefer to stay at a central location at the destination. Yes, the hotel is likely more expensive, but you will be much closer to most of the tourist attractions if you stay in a central area. As well, a central location is easily accessible by public transportation, and you may feel safer with more traffic coming and going.
4. Learn some local language
If you are going to a foreign country, you should learn some basic local language. A simple “hello” in the local language can go a long way if you need help.
Of course, if you have never travelled alone before, I highly recommend that you start with a trip within your country first before venturing out.
5. Get travel insurance
Travel insurance is very important when you are traveling, and even more so when you are traveling alone. For a reasonable amount upfront, you will be able to save money in case of emergency (e.g., unexpected hospital stays, COVID quarantines, etc.).
Before you travel, you should check with your employer’s benefits booklet to see if personal travel insurance is covered. Many companies offer this benefit as a work perk, even for personal travel. There is no need to spend extra money if you already have a policy in hand.
6. Have a local emergency contact if possible
It helps if you know someone from the area. If they happen to be an old friend of yours that you want to hang out with, then great. You can schedule the meet-up for your trip.
But you can also simply reach out to them and ask them to be your emergency contact. It can be a co-worker from the city that you have never met (thanks to the virtual world we have been working in due to COVID-19), an old boss, or anyone who is merely an acquaintance of yours. Have their number in your hand as a safety net, just so that in case of emergency, you have someone to reach out to.
If you don’t know anyone from the area, it is completely okay. It is just a nice-to-have. However, you should note down how to contact the local emergency departments (e.g., police, fire, ambulance) while doing your research. Not all countries use 9-1-1.
7. Have a good packing list
Using a good packing list to help pack your items will help tremendously when you are traveling alone. It will give you the peace of mind that you have everything needed for the trip with you, and it will help you avoid unnecessary spending and trips to local stores to pick up essentials (e.g., sunscreen).
If you do not know where to start, you may want to check out my vacation packing list. I have been using this packing list for years, so I think it will serve as a good foundation for your upcoming solo travel plan!
8. Do not bring too many valuables
When you are traveling, especially when you are alone, you want to avoid being a target for theft or robbery. As such, leave your valuables at home, and only bring the most basic items needed. Bring a small amount of cash with you just in case, but never large sums of money, or very expensive jewellery.
9. Stick to your budget
This principle is key to financial discipline and should apply whether you are traveling alone or not. Make a budget before you leave your home country, and stick to it.
It is common to want to spend money on items not thought of before. For example, while you are at your destination, you may discover a museum you want to visit or a certain restaurant you want to try. Do not stress over items like this. After all, when you are traveling, you want to experience the new destination to the best of your abilities. I therefore highly recommend that you add a “Miscellaneous” category to your travel budget to give yourself some flexibility. If you end up not needing the money, then great: You have just added some money to your savings account!
If you want to learn more about budget travel tips, check out my post on how to travel cheap!
10. Do not stay out too late
I am a morning person, so I naturally don’t stay out too late to enjoy the nightlife. However, even for safety purposes, I still recommend that you go back to your hotel at a reasonable time if you are travelling alone.
11. Share your travel plans with family members
It helps if you share your travel plans with family members. This way, in case of an emergency, they at least know roughly where you are.
12. Stay connected to your family and friends, even if they are far away
Traveling alone is liberating, but it can also be lonely at times, especially when you see other groups traveling together. That’s why it helps if you can remain connected with your family and friends back home. The internet has made it much easier to share photos and videos with people who are far away, so make sure you make good use of the resources available.
Staying connected with your family and friends will also help put their minds at ease knowing that you are safe and sound.
I hope the above tips will help you put your mind at ease when you are trying to understand how to travel alone. Traveling alone is not as difficult as it seems. I have been to many places alone, and I have always had a great time. By sticking to the principles above, you will stay safe and will have enjoyed yourself so much on the solo trip that you will want to do it again!