There was a time when I only had a strong urge to travel, but I couldn’t get anyone to go with me. I’ve made so many plans with friends and relatives, but they always cancel at the last minute There was a beautiful cruise a group of us at work planned, but as the trip approached, they dropped out like flies. So what’s a girl to do with all these dreams to travel the world? Do I wait for other people? Heck no, I’d be waiting years!
One day, I lost my mind. Well, my family thought I did. I decided to book a European tour, and there was nothing anyone could do about it! So that’s what I did, and it was the best thing I’ve ever done. Then went to Houston, Texas that same year alone. There are a few things I’ve learned that will hopefully help you gain the courage to finally take a chance and make that down payment for your next solo trip!
Book a Tour
Tours are an excellent idea for solo travelers. I didn’t want to be alone in an unknown place or get lost and kidnapped. So with a little help from Google, I found out that a lot of solo travelers who are in the same boat book tours. These tours consist of travelers from across the world, mostly solo. How exciting! The top tour companies out there for solo travelers, are GAdventures and Intrepid Travel.
I booked my first tour through Gadventures and had a fantastic time. Booking a tour offers a few benefits:
- Tour guide. The tour guide is knowledgeable and will help “guide” you through each destination. They will help you become familiar with the area. They tell you the best places to go or not go. They will help you get around, such as learning the transits. They are your go-to people if you have any questions about an attraction as well. Some also set you up on once in lifetime activities. My tour guide in Paris set us up with a local wine tasting that was the most gratifying wine tasting I’ve ever been.
- Gain new friends. You will meet other fellow enthusiastic travelers from across the world. If you like them enough, you may want to book other tours together. There more than likely will be people in your group from different countries, and you get the chance to learn about their cultures. You also get to hear about their travels, and they also may give you tips on your next destination.
- Itinerary. These tours have an itinerary already planned, so you don’t have to figure it out all on your own. They also give you time to do your own thing. Like my tour, we’d have a preliminary walk at a few places, and then we’d go out and do our own thing together.
- Transportation included. Getting lost is probably the worst fear for any solo traveler. You don’t ever want to get lost in an unknown place, let alone, another country. In tours, the transportation is already set up for you. The train rides, the bus rides, etc. There were times we had to take a cab and even booked a hop on hop off bus tour on our own. But we were together.
Research, research, research!
If you don’t want to book a tour, make sure you research beforehand. Here are the things you should do to get prepared:
Download the map of the city. Study the map, check out the bus routes, train routes, make marks on the map, and bring it with you as a guide. Find out where the safe areas are and where the dangerous areas are, and make sure you do not book your hotel or go near the bad areas. You are solo, don’t take a chance spending money on a cheaper hotel in a bad area. Also, know where each attraction is, and if there is a pickup location, make sure you check out where it is. Sometimes use the terrain view in Google Earth, so I can get a picture of how the area looks to know when I am there.
- Find out costs. Find out how much it will cost you for everything that you can think. You don’t want to bring too little money, and not have enough to eat let alone get home. Tip: best to bring more than you think you’d need with a balance of cash and a credit card.
- Learn about locals. You’d want to blend in with locals as much as you can if you are traveling solo. Find out how they dress and try to blend in as much as you can to not become a target. I remember speaking with a guy who was from Seattle, and he told me he knows when people aren’t local because they walk with umbrellas. It rains so much in Seattle, a lot of locals don’t walk with umbrellas. So when I visit Seattle one day, and I so happen to be alone, I will not have an umbrella.
- Check out reviews. Either if it’s the tour company, the hotel, or attraction; make sure you check out the reviews. They will let you know if the place is legit or not. Please read my previous article, How to Spot Fake Hotel Reviews. You can apply these strategies for any other travel related accommodation.
Be friendly with the hotel receptionist
I remember reading another blog about solo travel, and the writer recommended leaving a note at the front desk to let them know your whereabouts. Sounds nice, but I disagree. You don’t know who those people are. But letting them know where you are going, they can easily set you up to be robbed. You’d want to be friendly with the hotel receptionist so they can be friendly back. It’s called mirroring. They can give you tips on cool things to do, and even help you with costs or coupons if they like you. If you already pissed them off, they aren’t going to want to help you.
Get friends and family involved
Make sure to include your relatives or friends on your trip by providing printouts of your tour itinerary, flight itinerary, and hotel accommodation. Let them know where you are going before you leave the hotel, and let them know when you are back. If anything happens, you get lost, etc., they have means to find you.
Cell phone plan
For my European tour, I took my cell phone with me and only communicated via WiFi. Seemed fine and dandy, but not all public places had access to WiFi. I remember we were at a train station (in either Switzerland or Milan), and it didn’t have public WiFi. Therefore I hopped on a 5-8 hour train ride without any way of notifying my family, and they got a bit worried. There was no WiFi on the train. Therefore, contact your cell phone company to discuss your options. Maybe changing plans is the better option for where you are going, or unlocking your phone for the use of another SIM card. You can also purchase a prepaid phone at your destination. Depending on where you go, you can wing it with just WiFi. But I do not recommend if you are traveling solo.
There you have it. Hopefully, this article will help you alleviate any fear or hesitation about going solo on your next vacation. Solo traveling is possible. If you are female or not, you can travel solo. Don’t let anyone stop you from achieving your travel dreams! Safe travels!