Ok, you’ll need to step out of your comfort zone slightly, but once you’ve traveled solo, you won’t want to go back. How do you make sure it doesn’t turn into a nightmare but becomes one of the best experiences of your life? Here are some handy tips.
1. Enjoy being alone
Don’t worry. When you travel on your own you won’t be alone often (unless you want to be, of course). There are more people like you. Really! But before you embark on this adventure, make sure you’re not afraid of being alone. It’s those moments when you’re on your own in a restaurant or roaming around a city that you can really be at one with yourself. You are able to soak up your surroundings and do some uninhibited people watching. Enjoy it! Still feeling slightly uncomfortable? Make sure you’re carrying a book, travel guide, or perhaps a diary in your bag. That way you’ll always have something to do when you’re sitting at a table on your own.
2. Sleep in dorms
Dorms have a bad reputation. Dirty. Noisy. Unfortunately, some hostels live up to their reputation. But there are many wonderful hostels with a good travel vibe and clean rooms. The advantage of sleeping in these shared rooms is that it’s easy to meet other travelers. Most people sleeping in a dorm are open to meeting others, and you’ll find many fellow solo travelers. Therefore, you’ll never have to feel lonely. Tip: bring an eye mask and earplugs for a good night’s sleep. Need even more privacy? Hang a shawl or large towel around your bed. This way you create your own space. Another advantage is that sleeping in dorms is often cheaper!
3. Sit at the bar
Going for a drink? Choose a seat at the bar rather than at a table. Sitting at the bar makes it easier for others to approach you and start a conversation. People waiting for their order are also easy to connect with, because they are away from their party briefly. There’s a good chance they’ll ask you to join them! Of course you can always have a chat with the bar staff too.
4. Dare to ask
Sometimes you need to put your reservations aside to connect with a group of people. But did you know that most groups are made up of solo travelers? They know exactly what it’s like to be alone for a while. At the start you may feel awkward, but after a few positive experiences (and you will definitely have those) it becomes much easier. For your first attempt try approaching a group that is, for example, playing a game. Ask what game they’re playing and if maybe you can join (you’ll probably be asked to join after the first question). It’s likely you’ll be able to pull up a chair straight away and enjoy a great evening as a result! Besides, travel plans for the next day are usually made during these evenings. Before you know it you won’t be traveling alone anymore.
5. Book group tours
Travel tours are offered all over the world. From multi-day hikes to snorkeling tours, free walking tours and cooking classes. There’s a tour to be booked for pretty much anything you can think of. Visit a few different tour operators and ask about their group tours. This type of activity is not only a lot of fun, it’s also the perfect way to meet other travelers and exchange travel stories.
6. Ask other travelers for tips
Do you have a certain activity in mind or want to do some city sightseeing? Ask other travelers for tips. There isn’t a travel guide that can live up to the experiences of others. You’ll also end up chatting to people and chances are you’ll be able to hang out together.
7. Share your experiences with people at home
Traveling is about collecting memories. But what do you do with those memories if you can’t share them with someone? Keeping a travel blog is a good solution. We love the app Polarsteps! It’s easy to post your photos and write short updates. Even when on a short trip it’s fun. Not only will people at home enjoy reading your stories, it will enable you to keep reliving your experiences. As an added benefit, you won’t have to retell everything after you return home. You can also share your experiences by keeping in contact with people at home through Whatsapp or Skype, for example. Another tip: add travelers you meet as a friend on Facebook. This enables you to stay in touch with people who have seen and done similar things to you. You can always remove them from your friend list after a while if you don’t remember a certain person, for example.