With remote working becoming more popular, and cheap flights making the world even smaller, lots of us are now traveling solo. Even a weekend city break somewhere different can be a great way to stretch your boundaries, get out of your comfort zone and into a great adventure. But if you’re switching group travel for solo adventures, here are a few things to remember.
There’s nothing worse than lugging heavy luggage about on a holiday – it can make things really stressful and tiring, especially if you’re relying on public transport. Leave things like hairdryers and big bottles of shampoo at home and try to book accommodation that offers such luxuries for free. Airbnb is a great idea, as hosts will usually have this stuff leftover from past guests! Also, pack versatile clothing you can layer and/or wear more than once for different occasions.
Make the most of smartphone apps
Need a driver you can trust? Uber is easy to use and available in lots of cities. Set up your account before you arrive and you’ll be good to go. Likewise, Google Maps is a God-send when you’re walking around an unfamiliar city. It will even tell you where to go for public transport, while WhatsApp will keep you digitally close to those who need to know where you are. Top up your data roaming before you leave, or get a local SIM when you arrive.
And, of course, don’t forget to download the Tiqets app to find the best museums and attractions in your area!
Don’t be afraid to dine alone
It might feel a bit weird at first, sitting down alone in a restaurant, but do you think that mother with her three screaming kids at the next table doesn’t wish she was you? She wants nothing more than some ‘me-time’ and the chance to read her book in peace. The point is, you’re the only one who cares if you’re eating solo, so enjoy it! Use the time to plan your next steps, or even go old-school and write some postcards.
Arrange meetings in safe locations
If you’re traveling for work, check out all meeting locations online before you go, and double-check who you’re meeting (LinkedIn, Facebook etc). If you’re meeting a stranger… like a Tinder date for example… always meet on mutual ground in a busy, populated place. It’s a good idea to tell someone where you’re going, and who with, just in case. Preferably that someone will be at your hotel/hostel/Airbnb, and not a million miles away on WhatsApp.
Talk to strangers
Of course, you have to be careful (see above!) but talking to strangers in new places can open up a whole new world of fun. If you’re staying in a hostel, the communal areas are great for making new friends. You can dine and explore with them too – you’re probably in the same boat. Likewise, joining group tours for sightseeing and other activities can put you in the company of some great people you wouldn’t have met otherwise.
Keep your essentials safe
Hotels and hostels have lockers for a reason, so never go out leaving valuables on display, or in your suitcase. If you can’t lock your passport/money/laptop away, consider taking it with you, or find somewhere else safe to stash it. When you’re out at night, never get your phone out in a dark or quiet place, and keep cash as close to your body as possible – your bra or underpants will work a treat.
Mix with the locals
The best part of traveling solo is expanding your mind and experiencing the world as you’ve never seen it. What better way to do this than to meet the people who live so differently to you? Go to a church service or religious ceremony, wander the museums and historical monuments, chat to people in shops, bars, and restaurants, try new foods where possible, and even couch surf. Find out what it’s like to really live like a local.
The most important thing to remember about traveling solo is that you’re never really alone. There’s a whole world out there, full of people. It’s how you interact that makes or breaks your trip. Pack light, stay safe and enjoy!