Solo travel is one of the most transformative experiences you can have. Whether you set out to eat, pray and/or love your way around the world, or simply take a weekend trip by yourself to a city you’ve never visited, being by yourself in unfamiliar surroundings forces you to be brave, vulnerable and self reliant in a way that travel with friends, significant others or family members just doesn’t. Unfortunately, many obstacles—or perceived obstacles—prevent people from traveling solo. Here are some of the top reasons people give for not traveling solo, and how to overcome each of them.
Solo Travel is Expensive
When you travel solo you have to shoulder the full cost of everything—accommodations, activities, meals and transport. There are ways around this, however.
Solution: To save on accommodations, seek out shared hostel accommodations. For transportation, take public transport when you can or coordinate with other travelers to share rides. When it comes to meals, consider cooking your own food. Save on activities by seeking out free and cheap activities. Recent data suggests these methods are effective: According to Solo Traveler World, just 24% of solo travelers spent more than $1,500 (excluding airfare) per week on travel per person in 2017, with a majority spending somewhere between $500-$1,500.
The news occasionally highlights stories of trauma befalling solo travelers, and exploring unfamiliar terrain alone might be counterintuitive to everything you’ve ever learned about staying safe.
Solution: While some argue that being alone on the road leaves you vulnerable, there’s an opposite case to be made: Traveling solo heightens your awareness, and forces you to make smarter decisions, whether that’s to stay in more nights than you go out, or to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum.
You’ll Be Bored—Or Worse, Lonely
In theory, a solo trip is a recipe for anxiety, and an invitation to retreat inside yourself. You could arrive in Paris, for example, and find that you prefer to Netflix rather than maraud around Le Marais or ascend the Eiffel Tower. Solo travel also seems, at least on paper, to present minimal opportunities for human connection.
Solution: In fact, traveling by yourself frees you to explore as much (or as little) of a destination as you wish, at your own pace or on your own schedule. Furthermore, you can easily meet other solo travelers, whether in the common rooms of hostels (remember, these will also save you money!) or in passing, as you roam around the city. Signing up for an organized walking tour, day trip or other excursion will also put you among friendly faces.
What About the Language Barrier?
Another factor that could potentially isolate you as you travel solo, at least in foreign countries, is the language barrier. If you travel to Japan, for example, and don’t speak Japanese, you could face a whole host of practical complications to compound your lack of companionship (and your anxiety). But this proverbial glass doesn’t have to be half-empty.
Solution: Technology—from translation apps like Google Translate (which now supports more than 100 languages, and can even translate text from photos you take on your device) to language-learning apps such as Duolingo—can greatly aid you in communication. Moreover, working as you travel to master basic phrases in one or more languages can alleviate other concerns about solo travel, from cost (studying is free) to boredom (a language learner’s work is never done!). If that’s too much work, stick to a country like Belize where English is the first language, or a Scandinavian destination, where every third-grader speaks perfect English.
Planning is Difficult
For some travelers, the main barrier to going it alone is not cost or even the potential for loneliness, but stress at the thought of putting together a trip and navigating an unknown place alone.
Solution: Here again, the solution is within the problem itself. Planning your own trip can help you understand a destination more deeply, from practical aspects such as mastering navigation and sampling unique accommodation types, to research (and then curating) destinations and experiences that are personally significant to you. With every trip, you’ll get better and better at planning and navigating until you’re a total travel pro!
Memories Made Alone are Meaningless
Whether it’s a beautiful sunset at the end of a great day, the stunning panorama you enjoy at the top of a hiking trail or an unforgettable meal of delicious food, there’s an argument to be made that the best experiences are shared ones. Just as many believe a tree falling in the woods does not, in fact, make a sound, it’s tempting to think your experiences only matter if someone else is around to see you have them.
Solution: It’s best to avoid this way of thinking in the first place; however, even if you lack a real-life travel companion on your solo trip, you’ll still bask in potentially limitless validation via your global audience on social media. But more importantly, there’s something incredibly beautiful about an activity or a sight in which only you will ever partake—like you as a person, it’s literally one-of-a-kind.
Book Your Solo Trip Now
No matter the specific reason that’s standing in the way of your solo travel, the surest way to overcome it is to just book your trip. Search Travelocity for flights and hotels, then begin perusing the web for inspiration about specific destinations, potentially up to the point where you start mapping out your itinerary. As you manifest your solo trip into reality, you’ll find yourself less anxious and more excited, the journey more of an adventure than an undertaking. This change in perspective is the beginning of your transformation!
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