A lot of people out there will never know the joys of solo travel — because of fear, finances, or any number of other reasons, real or perceived. But traveling without a companion is a thrilling experience — one entirely different from traveling with a companion — and traveling alone tends to lend itself to a truly special journey. However, before you start making plans to take a trip with just you, your passport, and a bag, there are a few things you should do and know about solo travel to keep you safe and happy on the road.
1. Stay connected.
Yes, you should actually keep some people updated. Remember 127 Hours? Yeah. You don’t want that to be you. Check in with a family member or friends regularly so at least someone out there knows where you are and that you’re safe. Better yet? Give someone back home your physical itinerary and update them when it changes. Little precautions like these literally do save lives. And for the love of god, if you’re going to go on a Tinder date abroad, let someone know.
2. Loneliness is real.
You might get lonely. It’s true. Traveling solo isn’t all exciting, confident escapades and joyous, self-finding scenes. There will be moments of loneliness and you might even cry and wonder why you’re in an unfamiliar place so far from home by yourself. But you will feel those things and then, most likely, you’ll move onto feeling other things and be on your way to discover something new. It's OK to feel your feelings.
3. Create backups.
Make copies of your most important documents. This is something you should do whether you’re traveling with people or alone, but since you have no immediate backup person when you’re flying solo, this is even more crucial than usual.
4. Expand your circle.
Put out a call on your favorite social media platforms for friends to connect you with their friends in the places you’ll be traveling to. Sure, you won’t like everyone you meet along the way, but a recommendation from a person you like and trust goes a long way toward helping you create new friends — and experiences.
5. Study hard.
Obsess over your plans before you go. This can be useful when you’re traveling with people too, but the confidence it lends you as a solo traveler to know as much as possible about your destination beforehand is priceless. Study Google Maps. Study street view. Pore over blogs. Read the latest news from the region. Learn some of the language. Confusion and anxiety tend to lead to vulnerability when traveling alone and you’ll want to avoid being vulnerable whenever you can help it. Make learning your destination inside and out your hobby for the weeks leading up to your trip. You’ll be glad you did.
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