Traveling alone can be an awesome experience. As an introvert, I am particularly drawn to solo adventures. Nothing beats escaping from the “real world” and experiencing new people, places, and things with the person I like being with best.
However, traveling alone can be an intimidating feat, and potentially dangerous if you’re not careful. Here are some things I’ve learned during my own adventures that might help if you’re planning your first (or next) solo journey.
Always be aware of your surroundings.
As introverts, we often get lost in our thoughts and sometimes neglect to pay attention to what is happening around us. There’s nothing wrong with daydreaming, but doing so on a crowded subway or on the streets of a foreign city isn’t the best idea. Remember that as a solo traveler, you are more vulnerable to criminals and scam artists, so make sure that you’re alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. As another safety precaution, make sure at least one person is aware of the details of your itinerary and has a way to reach you at all times, just in case.
Stay in hostels.
I may be a bit biased since I spent the past summer working at one, but I personally think hostels are ideal for solo travelers. Not only will you save a ton of money on accommodations, but you also get to meet people from around the world, many of whom are also traveling alone. If you’re looking to have a little more “me time” on your trip (shared dorm rooms aren’t for everyone) you can get a private room at many hostels often for less than nearby hotels. Bigger hostels sometimes host activities and events, so if you find yourself getting lonely, these are great, non-intimidating ways to make friends. And don’t let the myths fool you — hostels aren’t just for young people or super extroverted partiers. You’re not going to get murdered by an Eastern European serial killer either.
Use social media to make friends.
You’re an introvert — going to a crowded bar alone or randomly approaching strangers on the street probably isn’t your idea of a good time. But even for introverts, solo travel can get lonely, and one of the best places to find people is one that we know very well — the internet. Sites like Meetup, Couchsurfing, and HelpX are all tools you can use to talk with locals in the area you’re visiting beforehand. Meetup allows you to connect with people who share similar lifestyles and interests, like fellow introverts or people who love kayaking. CouchSurfing and HelpX connect you with locals who are happy to open their homes to travelers. HelpX is specifically focused on work for accommodation, so it’s a great way to gain unique work experience while traveling. Of course, if you already have internet friends (whom you trust and feel comfortable with because safety is important, kids) then definitely plan meetups with them as well!
You don’t need to have an extremely detailed itinerary, but if you’re traveling alone it’s good to have some advanced knowledge about the places you’re visiting — especially if you’re traveling in a foreign country. Knowing the details of where you’re going and how to get there will help you to not stick out as a single tourist, aka target for criminals and scammers.
Embrace every moment.
Traveling alone can incite several feelings — excitement, freedom, curiosity… but also anxiety, self-doubt, and loneliness. It’s okay to have the latter emotions occasionally. It doesn’t mean you suck at traveling alone, it just means you’re doing something that a lot of other people are too scared to do. Embrace each of these feelings, as well as all the unique people, places, and experiences you encounter. Write about them, reflect on them, but most importantly live them. You’re exploring the world on your own, and that’s a pretty awesome thing. Enjoy it!
To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world. Freya Stark
Image Credit: Deviant Art