Everybody needs to get away from their surroundings once in a while. It’s cathartic. It’s necessary. It’s human. Everyone would lose their minds if they didn’t get a break once in a while – you can get cabin fever while stuck in an office cubicle just as much as you can get cabin fever stuck in an actual cabin during the snow season. You should put the wheels into motion and start planning your vacation, especially if you’ve been thinking about it already. You deserve that break – and it can take you to the most incredible places you’ve ever seen. Here’s how to turn single trips into the best vacation you’ve ever had.
Advantages to traveling solo
Many people decide to see the world in groups, like the local book club choosing to travel to Italy for a week to go and experience the local foods, flavors, and art. But solo traveling is totally worth it, too. Traveling alone means that you have absolute freedom in where you would like to go and what you would like to see: There’s no strict schedule to adhere to, but your own and you get to have fun on your own terms. But that’s not all: You’ll also get to take advantage of cheaper accommodation and travel deals, especially if you have a flexible work schedule that allows you to book your solo trip during off-peak times. See? Traveling alone can give you far more freedom in the way you travel. Isn’t it about time you took a break and saw the world?
There are more accommodation options open to you if you travel by yourself – and don’t mind being a little creative with where you stay. Sometimes a single person can stay over at hotels and motels for much cheaper, and in other cases it’s much easier (and lighter) to simply take your bags to an overnight backpacker and stay over for the night – something that will often times allow you to see parts of the local scenery you could only have dreamed about otherwise. As a single person, you can also stop by a bed and breakfast and not have to worry about sharing a room, which many times works out cheaper. These days you can even swop your house with another for a vacation swop through the internet – and we say why the heck not! This is a safe, verified option and one that’s gaining more popularity online by the day.
Planning your vacation stops
The worst vacations in the world are the ones that lacked any planning and preparation. The best solo vacations are planned to a T: You should plan your vacation properly, including knowing what you should pack (and remembering what you have packed), knowing more or less what your stops will be, phoning ahead for accommodation and knowing where your local embassy can be found. It also helps if you already have friends or contacts in the area should you get stuck while traveling by yourself – in emergencies (which nobody can predict and are always bound to happen at some or other point!) it helps to have a friend to get on the other line. Your vacation should have a basic itinerary, but you should also remember that there is room to improvise should you wake up and feel like an entirely different travel schedule to round up your day.
Traveling like a local
The best way to get around in a foreign country (or sometimes even in your own) is to make use of the most popular travel methods for locals – sometimes this means you’ve got to hop on a rickshaw or get on a camel for the first time in your life, other times this means that you’ve got to know how to flag a taxi in the middle of Africa; whichever you’ve got to deal with, take note of how (and where) the locals are travelling. This puts you right in touch with the people who know the area best, and you’ll discover far more by asking a local where you need to go than browsing through information booklets and phone books for hours. It helps to learn a few local phrases, but know that many might incorrectly assume your fluency, and you might have to explain that you don’t speak their language just yet…
Getting to meet people
Traveling alone doesn’t mean that you have to be alone for the remainder of your trip. In fact, we’d say that it means the exact opposite instead. Take note of the busy spots on the local traveling routes, and if that doesn’t work then ask the locals where they all go to gather: This includes restaurants, clubs, bars, and markets – all which are places where you can meet new people and often get a taste of their local culture. This is where the real fun of traveling is, and new people can always be the ones to introduce you to new things. Again, always use caution when meeting up with people you don’t know, and the same safety rules that would apply when meeting someone in your home state will apply when meeting up with someone in another country, just with a few more safety precautions added to the mix.
Most major cities have areas which can be considered the food hubs – sometimes major cities have several, and these will usually consist of both your favorite usual franchising options that you would find back home (for anyone who doesn’t have the nerve to try local cuisine) and more local options. When experiencing food in a foreign country, your search engine will come in handy to identify any menu items that are in a language that you can’t understand – yes, we can confirm that it’s much better to check this or ask someone before you end up eating something that surprises you in an unpleasant way. (No, that might not have been chicken – ask before you order!) Remember that local delicacies in many parts of the world horrify in others, and sometimes it takes a strong stomach to eat like a local – but if you’re going for the experience, bite your tongue and go ahead!
Tips to find the best spots
When you’re traveling, you naturally want to pick out the absolute best spots for your travel experience. Start off by checking out your destination on the internet before you even have your bags packed – see what the internet community is saying about the best local restaurants and the food they offer and find out if there are any do’s and don’ts regarding the local culture or any restaurants or dishes that you might want to avoid at all costs. (Here, recommendations are often the best indicator – from locals, too.) Ask locals where their local hang-out spots are rather than going to places that are advertised as touristy – when traveling you are, after all, going there for the full experience of travel and you want to experience the best. The locals can usually tell you about the best (and worst) foods, restaurants and party spots in the area – they can also warn you if you’re about to enter territory unsafe for tourists.
Emergencies when alone
When traveling alone, you need to be especially conscious of emergencies that might take place during your travels. First, you want to make sure that you always have a phone that is fully charged (along with a backup battery and power-bank or charger). If anything happens while you’re far from home and you need to get in touch with someone, this will count as your lifeline. You will also want to make a basic first-aid kit part of your traveling kit, especially if you intend to walk or hike to any destinations – in this, include things like ointments, bandages, burn gels, painkillers, fire blankets. You never know when you might need any of these items in a pinch. Always make sure that someone knows where you will be going if you will be away for long periods of time, for example, while hiking. For safety, you might also find it useful to employ a local guide.
Lone traveling means that you’ve got to spare an extra thought or two about your safety as a whole. Never travel in the dark or at night, and when you do it is still better to travel with a group of people rather than alone; don’t walk around at night, especially when someone else in the dark might know the area better than you do. Keep your money close-by – body wallets are used for this – and try not to carry too much cash on you at any point in time just in case something happens. Never be drawn into situations that can be potentially dangerous, and make sure that you don’t find yourself in a situation where you are isolated with nobody else around – this, especially when traveling alone, has potential to put you in a very sticky spot and could lead to muggings or worse. Basic, logical safety should always apply!
Also published on Medium.