Traveling solo can seem incredibly daunting and down right overwhelming. As humans, we’re inherently dependent on others and that’s often amplified in new environments. However, there are so many benefits to traveling alone; from getting to choose what you want to do, when you want to do it, to moving at your own pace, to meeting new people, and growing and learning along the way.
I’ve experienced these benefits, and many more, firsthand - re booking spontaneous flights, making lifelong friends, etc - from my years of solo travel. They’re part of the reason I started Behere, to make it easier for women to travel to new places, while still maintaining their routines. So I’m sharing my top 10 tips for a solo trip to make it a lot less daunting, and a lot more fun!
1. Download ebooks, podcasts, music etc - for long flights, train rides or an afternoon relaxing - having time to yourself is essential when traveling by yourself. You might feel the need to make new friends and always be social, but the quiet moments alone are underrated while traveling - make time for them.
2. Share your itinerary with family / friends - paying special attention to staying safe while traveling alone is essential, so share where you’ll be and when, with loved ones. That way they know where you are and when to check in - and if you have a few days without your phone because of a retreat, they’ll see it on your itinerary. Don’t forget to send friends and family an update text, or a quick FaceTime but also remember to enjoy the moment and where you are.
3. Explore the city on foot - taking an Uber or cab might be more convenient or faster, but you’ll always see the most of the city, and the way people live there, when exploring by foot. Plus you’ll save money, get some exercise and find unique places that you wouldn’t have found otherwise - happy walking!
4. Be cautious, especially alone at night - as much as I believe people are good and kind, you can never be too careful when in a new place. Do some research on areas/neighborhoods that are safe and always try to arrive to a new place during the day. Also, plan your transportation route ahead of time and get a working sim card, and learn the local emergency number, just in case.
5. Book your accommodation ahead of time - I always try to book apartments vs hotels for a more authentic, and comfortable feel. Firstly, I do research to find the best/safe areas of the city, then I choose the more expat friendly areas vs the touristy one. That way I can find a more local cafe for coffee, and shop at the markets and local stores vs being pushed around in the overpriced tourist markets/cafes. This is the reason I started Behere, to help you feel more comfortable, safe and settled from the get-go in a new city.
6. Keep a routine - I’ve said this time and time again, maintaining a routine while traveling keep me productive, sane and grounded. I always do some research ahead of time to find local fitness studios, yoga, pilates, spin etc. It can also be a great way to meet people in the city, and have a nice community feel. If you prefer running, look up some running routes around the city, it’s also a great way to explore a new place.
7. Work from a coworking space - if you’re bringing work on your trip, working in coworking spaces is a great way to meet new people, attend events, build your network and learn about business in that country. It’s how I’ve met great friends, brainstormed ideas and connecting with brilliant people at masterminds. Also we shared helpful tools to stay connected with your team while you’re traveling (Slack, Skype, Google Docs, Uber Conference, to name a few)
8. Find local communities, meetups etc - attending meetups and events for things your interested in, in a new city is a great way to meet people with similar interests. I love finding and connecting with female focused/founder communities while traveling and always try to cohost meetups and events with them. There’s often meetups in english, so if you don’t speak the local language, don’t be afraid to sign up.
9. Learn a bit of the local language - knowing the basics and common phrases will go a long way in your experience in a new place. Practice a bit beforehand using apps like Duolingo, and Google Translate (this also has a feature where you can point your camera at words/ a menu and it will translate for you). Don’t be afraid to try, people will appreciate the effort and might even help with your pronunciation.
10. Have a meal on your own - this may seem strange, but there is something delightful about dining out by yourself. Taking the time to just enjoy the meal and observe, teaches you about the culture and people of that city. If dining out isn’t your thing, cook for yourself and take it to a park or spot to watch the daily life go by. People watching is a great way to learn about the local culture and take a break while in a new place.