Going somewhere just by yourself is what many people dream of but also something that most people never did before. There are many reasons for this, but safety, planning and the fear of getting lost are some of the most prevalent ones. In fact, there are a lot of things to consider when you go somewhere by yourself compared to traveling with a group but the higher flexibility and individual time on a solo trip really outweigh any drawbacks. We thought about the most important tips for traveling alone and hope you can soon start your own journey!
1. Do Your Research
The first of our tips for traveling alone is a proper preparation of your trip. It can be nice to just go somewhere, wander around and discover some unexpected places – but if that doesn’t work it is good to have a backup and know the most interesting places beforehand. Nothing is worse than flying back home and having regrets about wasting time when you only do your research after you arrived. A proper planning not only saves you time on site, but also it is necessary for countries where visa specifications or vaccination recommendations differ from your home country. With just some hours of time investment you can make your trip much more enjoyable and relaxed.
2. Think About What You Really Need
When you are going somewhere just by yourself, you have a huge advantage: you know what kind of person you are. If you go with friends, you might be going to bars, clubs or art exhibitions and people pack their luggage for all kinds of possible scenarios. Being alone means you can dress as you want and probably know whether you need to suit up during your trip or not. Depending on your destination and itinerary it is also very smart to check whether you need a suitcase or whether a backpack is enough. Taking less with you could mean that you have to do your laundry sometimes but in general it is much more convenient.
3. Learn Basic Words and Phrases
Don’t expect the whole world to speak English. In the West it might work, but the world is much bigger than that! Of course it is not practical to take a 1 year language class for a 2 week trip to Thailand, but knowing some basic words like ‘Hello’, ‘How much’, ‘How to get to …’ and ‘Thanks’ will be both helpful and give you some bonus points with the locals. You can either learn them by heart, get a book with the most important phrases to carry with you or just write them down – either way, this is one of the most important tips for traveling alone.
4. Make a Financial Plan
Before you go anywhere you should get a feeling for the costs you will face. Often people only think of flights and accommodation cost, but over the day there are a lot of cost drivers for every traveler such as local transport, sightseeing or food and fun. Before I went to Japan in 2019, I did cost estimations and even though I did not track my actual spendings daily, the final costs were just 30€ higher than the estimated ones – so calculating a bit in advance is a good thing to not have bad surprises.
5. Get Cash On Site
Another thing to consider when it comes to money is how much you should bring or whether you should get it after you arrived – and this is probably one of the most important tips for traveling alone. In some countries you don’t know how easy it is to get cash or whether cash is actually used frequently. From our own experiences, it works best to bring some emergency money in your own currency, e.g. 200€, that you could exchange on site if you are not able to withdraw any cash in the destination country. However, it is often a bad idea to get the currency of your destination country already in your home country. Many people go to their home banks before their flight and ask for a ton of foreign currency at a bad exchange rate and additional fees. Instead, just get a credit card and withdraw money in your destination country – any airport should have an ATM. Usually the card issuing banks charge some fee or give you a slightly worse exchange rate than the actual one, but still you save a lot of money compared to getting currency at home.
6. Organize Your Belongings
At home you can move freely and most people were never asked for their ID – but when you are an obvious traveler it might happen that police will stop you and ask for your identification. Also in other scenarios, for instance in bars, clubs or hotels, the staff might require your documents. Before you fly to your destination country, think about which documents you will need and how you can always have them together – a belly bag could be a comfortable solution.
7. Pick Your Kind Of Accommodation
Depending on what kind of experience you are seeking, it can be a good idea to book a hostel where you can meet new people if you want, but also it is a place where you don’t want to spend as much time as in a 5 star resort – so more time to explore the surroundings! In some countries you also get really good hotel deals for little money though, so just make up your mind whether it is more of a relaxing and individual time you are seeking or whether you want to socialize and go out all the time. Either way, one of the most important tips for traveling alone is to save the address of your accommodation in the local language in case you get lost or can not get home by yourself anymore. Taxi drivers might not know the English name of the place, and if your phone battery is down, the good old handwritten paper or business card of the property are the most reliable saviors in this situation.
8. Try All the Good Food
If you are totally new to a place and all alone, you might miss the food from home and maybe you really want to try that American restaurant in Bangkok that you saw on TripAdvisor. Good news is that your home food will probably not even taste good in your holiday destination because the ingredients and cooking styles are so different. Use the local food opportunities you have for that limited period because every country has some secret delicacies that you can not try anywhere else. With some dishes it could be a good idea to read about it first, in case you don’t want to end up with food poisoning or in the hospital, but being somewhere by yourself first of all means that you can just taste anything you’d like – so make use of that and explore new horizons of flavor!
9. Be Open-Minded
Going somewhere without prejudices but rather full of curiosity is probably one of the most important tips for traveling alone. During your trip you will have many opportunities to interact with other cultures and see that societies and systems work differently in other places. You will have a lot of time to reflect on your own values and discover a lot of interesting spots on your own schedule – so embrace all the chances that you find on your path.