Tips for Solo Travelers
Going on vacation alone can feel overwhelming for a lot of people, yet it can be one of the best ways to see the world on your own terms and timelines while enjoying a hassle-free experience every step of your way.
In fact, guided tours offer the rare opportunity to make new friends while enjoying the camaraderie of exploring in a group. Even so, we understand that going on a trip solo can be scary for some. Here are some tips to nip your worries in the bud and help make your solo adventure even more exciting.
Many first-time solo travelers feel anxious about entering the trip without a companion. You may feel stressed about the idea of dining alone or not having someone to talk with on day one. While these stressors resolve themselves, and usually very quickly, 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 an added bonus, will offer an easy way to strike up conversations with others in your group. Having insider information about what to see, where to go, and the history of each destination makes you interesting!
Tip: Pick up a good guidebook at a used bookstore or download on your Kindle to read on the plane. Another great option is to spend time exploring crowdsourced review sites like TripAdvisor. You’ll see what other travelers liked, didn’t like, and would do again in each destination. You’ll also learn from their firsthand experiences, picking up local expertise before you’ve even arrived.
Understand that most people, even those traveling in pairs or small groups within the group, are a bit shy when it comes to meeting new people. If you’re able to step outside of the social anxiety that comes with being the first person to speak up and introduce yourself, you’re likely to make friends more quickly. Don’t be afraid to be the first to say hello and the first to offer information about yourself. Try asking your tour mates open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” 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. At the end of the day, this is a brief trip with people you’re under no obligation to see again if you don’t choose to. There is very little risk in meeting everyone and treating everyone as a new friend!
Tip: Find someone you click with and ask them if they’d like to have lunch with you, grab a coffee, or go for an 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. Being able to ask locals for basic directions, or where the nearest bathroom is, can benefit you and those in your group. At the very least, learn how to say hello, please, and thank you.
Tip: 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. Maybe ask for suggestions on where to eat or must-see highlights to check out during your free time. 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! You could wind up getting a great glimpse into local life and maybe even find a favorite hole-in-the-wall cafe that only locals know about.
Embrace the Solo Experience
Even if you make lifelong friends during your solo travel tour, chances are there will be at least one time that you want to do something that no one else in your tour group does. This is where solo travel has the potential to fall apart or to be life changing for the better. We strongly encourage you to not skip out on an activity, destination, or restaurant that really speaks to you simply because you have no one to go with. Even on a guided tour, solo travel offers true autonomy for those who seek it, and the opportunity to spend your free time however you wish. This is your chance to make your travel dreams a reality.
Tip: Instead of fearing the time when you’ll have to venture out on your own – make it a goal. Before your trip starts, set a goal of experiencing something on your own once, twice, or even three times. You can even do this on one of your group activities by taking some time to explore on your own and admire your surroundings. By doing this, you’ll feel more confident and will come to enjoy the moments you have to yourself.