“Riding Solo” is not just a song by Jason DeRulo (though it is an audio masterpiece, to be sure). As a frequent traveler, I’ve accepted that not all of my friends have the interest or ability to travel as often as I do.
This means that I often take a leg or two of a trip alone. For example, I went to Iceland in March (I will eventually opine on this) and when my friends returned to the U.S., I flew to London to spend a few days with friends there. I wasn’t technically alone, but I did spend a lot of time by myself. The same can be said about my upcoming trip to London and Paris in November. I’ll stay with friends in London, and then I’ll head to Paris for four days alone.
For many people, this seems a bit intimidating. For me, not so much. I enjoy the quiet time (although too much of it can definitely be unnerving), so traveling alone for at least part of a trip is a good way to move on your own schedule, do what you want to do and enjoy what’s around you.
My friend from college, Holly Phillips, has a blog called The Bitter Lemon. While she mainly focuses on relationship advice (and telling some entertaining stories of the frogs she’s kissed in search of her prince), she just published a post with her tips for traveling alone. Here’s what she says:
- Research. Blech, I know, that doesn’t sound like fun. If you’re not a planner, then maybe skip this step. But before I go anywhere, I like to find out where I’m going, what kinds of things I need to pack, and what to expect. Maybe you’re looking for a certain hotel, or if you’re going to a foreign country, get the right exchange rate, etc.
- Inform. To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to inform at least one person of where you’re going, leave them a copy of your schedule (if you want), just in case. Assuming you’ll have a cell phone, let them know that’s where they can reach you, or leave the number to your hotel/where you’re staying.
- Do you. This is YOUR trip, so plan to do things that you’ve always wanted to do! Go to that restaurant you’ve dreamed of, get a massage — treat yourself!
- Make friends. But only if you want. Check into taking an organized day tour to meet people, while seeing some great sights (I did this while visiting Los Angeles on my own and it was a blast). If you’ve still got time to plan your trip, pick a place to stay that’s got a buzz around it — you can meet people right in the hotel!
- Keep an open mind. Plan, but be spontaneous. Be open to discovering new things — including yourself — while traveling on your own. That’s the best part (aside from those single discounts)
I can’t post this without making a note that, of course, traveling on your own, especially if you’re a woman, comes with risks. Use common sense. Don’t go places that look shady, or make you feel uncomfortable. Keep tabs on your finances. Let someone know where you are. Be smart… and have fun!