Traveling alone is a great opportunity for personal growth and discovery. But for many, especially first-time travelers, hitting the road solo can seem overwhelming. That’s why a guided tour can be a great compromise; it provides some of the freedom of independent travel with the inherent advantages of traveling with a group. Here are some tips for solo travel, and from solo travelers, to help you enjoy your journey with peace of mind.
Do Your Research
You can help keep your anxiety in check by doing a little extra research on your destinations. This will allow you to feel at ease with the new location, focus on the highlights of your destination, and, as a bonus, will offer an easy way to strike up conversations with others in your group.
Tip From a Solo Traveler: Pick up a good guidebook at a used bookstore or download it on your Kindle to read on the plane. Another great option is to spend time exploring crowdsourced review sites like TripAdvisor. You’ll also learn from their firsthand experiences, picking up local expertise before you’ve even arrived.
Don’t Be Scared to Be Social
Understand that most people, even those traveling in pairs or small groups, are a bit shy when it comes to meeting new people. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy your own company. It’s also fine to be the first person to speak up and introduce yourself. Don’t be afraid to say hello. Try asking your travel companions open-ended questions to help get the conversation going. True, you may not hit it off with everyone in the group, but odds are that you will find a handful of other guests that you truly enjoy. When you’re traveling in a group setting, you’re probably going to find a buddy with similar interests. However, there is very little risk in meeting everyone and treating everyone as a new friend!
Tip From a Solo Traveler: Find someone you click with and ask them if they’d like to have lunch with you, grab a coffee, or go for ice cream after a day of sightseeing. If you’re feeling uncomfortable or shy, look for an activity that involves walking so you can talk about your surroundings and don’t feel pressured to keep the conversation flowing every second.
Learn the Language & Strike Up Conversations
We’re not suggesting that you become fluent in French or hold full conversations in Spanish (though if you want to take that on, we say go for it!). Instead, learn some basic phrases in the local language, and at the very least, learn how to say hello, please, and thank you.
Tip From a solo traveler: Talk to the locals even if you don’t need anything, and even if you don’t know much – or any – of the local language. Simply ask “do you speak English?” and start your conversations that way. Many Americans assume that people might be put off by this type of thing, but the fact is that people love meeting Americans and practicing their English!