Solo Travel – The Ultimate Guide for Planning and Enjoying Your Trip

  • By: Michael Haralson
  • Date: January 12, 2022
  • Time to read: 18 min.

Are you planning a solo trip for the first time? Have you always wanted to travel on your own but have been hesitant or worried that you might lose touch with friends and face culture shock? Well, this article will teach you everything you want to know about a solo trip. 

Solo travel is when you go somewhere all by yourself. It’s one of the best ways to truly understand the culture you’re in. If you choose a location carefully, you’ll find that solo travel has many benefits.

There are many things to consider when planning solo travel. As with other travel, for instance, together with friends or your family, you can break things down into a pre-planning phase where you decide where to go and how long to stay. A planning phase in which you make reservations and pay for services, and then finally the actual travel phase when you are traveling. 

Solo travel also forces you to ask key questions about yourself and your preferences. It may challenge you to grow, too. (Source) If you have never had a solo trip, you will need to evaluate whether you like the experience to know your likes and dislikes when you are on the trip. 

If you always rely on other people when traveling, a solo trip will challenge you to do things yourself. We’ll cover all this in the article and more, so keep reading!

Why Do You Want to Travel Alone? Pros and Cons Plus

You might want to experience new things, or maybe you, just like the thought of having the freedom to go where you please. Whatever it is, there are many benefits of traveling alone.

Let’s discuss the attractions of solo travel along with some questions you may want to ask yourself before deciding to travel solo.

Solo-travel-to-Asia-can-be-great

1) Experience New Things Solo

When traveling alone, you can go to places no one has ever been before. If you meet people who have the same interests as you, you could travel together and experience new things together.

2) Freedom to Do What You Please

When traveling with someone else, it’s hard to do what you want. Others will have conflicting plans and interests. By traveling solo, you don’t have to worry about offending others.

You can go where you please without having someone else complain that it’s not what they wanted to do.

3) Meet New People

When you travel alone, there are no restrictions on who you meet and how you interact with them. You could meet people from the same country or maybe even make friends with others who are alone like you.

4) Less Expensive (most of the time)

When traveling in a group, you usually split up the cost of your lodging and other amenities. When you’re traveling by yourself, chances are everything is cheaper because there’s only one person to pay for it.

5) Avoiding Lonely Times

If you’re traveling with others, chances are there will be times when the group splits. Other people in your party probably won’t want what you want all of the time. Why? 

Well, people have different interests. You could desire to do something no one else wants, leading to lonely travel times.

6) Explore and Relax

You don’t have to worry about any restrictions when you’re on your own. You can:

  • Relax without worrying if other people want to or not
  • Explore at your leisure
  • See new places
  • Pick up a hobby or two
  • Do the things you would never do when in a group with others.

7) An Easier Way to Meet New People

If you meet someone alone, it might be easier for both of you to introduce each other to new places or people from your group.

This way, there’s less pressure on the both of you, and it’s easier to make new friends.

8) A More Rewarding Experience

Many successful people have traveled alone at some point in their lives. Travel alone has many benefits, including a more rewarding experience than traveling with others.

Some questions you may want to ask yourself before deciding whether or not to travel alone 

1. Are you afraid of being alone? Being alone can exhaust some people, but it also energizes the lone wolf? You’re not cut out for solo travel if you’re afraid of being alone. You can face the prospect of being alone by becoming more self-sufficient.

2. Do you have a sense of direction?

When traveling solo, the need to know how to get around is crucial. You can’t just rely on someone else to tell you where to go and where not to go. For example, if there’s a place that’s off-limits just because it’s dangerous, you should be able to find a way around it.

Solo-travel-takes-some-time-to-get-used-to

3. Are you a social butterfly?

Traveling alone may be a good idea if you have the personality of a social butterfly. If you’re someone who loves going out and being with people during your free time, going on an adventure by yourself should be no problem for you.

4. Do you have lots of time to spare?

If you have a lot of time to spare, traveling alone is for you. When two or more people travel together, they simultaneously go through the same itinerary. If you have a limited amount of days in a certain destination, you’ll have less free time to explore.

5. Do you like to be the center of attention?

Traveling with people may not be for you if you like being the center of attention. People may not be as likely to pay attention to you when others are around.

It can make your experiences less memorable if no one is interested in what you have to say.

6. Do you have a reliable budget?

If you don’t have a money management plan, going on your own is not for you. You need to know how much money you have and how it will be spent to avoid unnecessary stress.

7. Is your health in tip-top shape?

When traveling alone, you have to take care of your safety. If you’re not physically fit enough to keep up with yourself or there’s a security risk involved in the place you’ll be going to, chances are traveling alone is not for you.

8. Would it be better if there were someone else along?

In some cases, another person may want to go along with you, but it may not be the best idea. It might be better to leave behind anyone who’s not ready for what’s in store, especially those who can’t handle their responsibilities. 

9. Do you have confidence in your own decisions?

If you’re always looking for someone else to point out what you are doing wrong or are unsure of your decision-making skills, traveling solo is not for you. You need to carry some weight without someone else’s help to make it a success.

All in all, if you have the qualities of an independent person, traveling alone can be very rewarding and beneficial for you. If not, it might be better if you travel with other people.

It may be rewarding to travel with:

  • The reluctant partner of a friend or significant other who doesn’t want to go
  • The person who isn’t afraid of being alone
  • People with strong decision-making abilities
  • People with money management skills
  • Someone who likes being the center of attention while on vacation, but not all the times

Planning a Solo Travel Trip – Ideas Where to Go, What Decisions, and How Much Money

Starting a vacation is exciting, but planning for it can be stressful. For some people, going by themselves is the last resort. They only travel alone when no one else is available to go with them. 

In this case, the costs of booking the entire trip solo will add up quickly compared to just splitting it with someone else.

Traveling to a foreign country can be daunting if you haven’t done it before, and if you’re an introvert, it can also be isolating. Several solo travel destinations may be good for you if this happens to you, including Europe, Asia, and Australia.

The travel plans don’t need to be set in stone; rather, focus on setting an intention for where you would like to go and what you’d like to do. Be sure to research the area before you go. Familiarizing yourself with what’s available will be important to get the most out of your travels. (Source)

The cost of travel when traveling by yourself can be higher, but it’s more about what you want to do than how much money you have to spend. For example, many hostels will discount you if you stay for a week or longer. 

Another great way to explore the area is by renting a car. Many car-sharing services can help you find inexpensive options that suit your travel schedule.

One option is to get a travel credit card which can be used just for travel over a few months. The credit card can be used for various purchases, including flights, hotels, and food. This dedicated money for travel is great for emergencies as well.

Solo-travel-can-lead-to-growth

However, traveling alone does not have to be more expensive. Some tips can help you plan for this type of trip while ensuring you:

  • Are safe
  • Have fun
  • Meet Work obligations
  • Don’t spend too much money traveling solo

1. Decide on what type of solo travel trip you want to go on first.

You can take a walking tour around the city, stay in an Airbnb in another country, visit each of the theme parks in Orlando in one day, or go on a relaxing beach vacation.

You could plan for a day trip, a long weekend, or an entire week. To fully experience a place, though, you’ll want to plan for a longer stay – perhaps a week or more.

When you travel solo, you’re more likely to meet people who are also traveling by themselves. To meet new people and connect with the local culture, sign up for a walking tour or a cooking class.

Whatever you choose will help you determine what to pack and research where to go ahead of time.

If this is your first time doing something like this by yourself, pick something within driving distance close to where you live so that if something goes wrong, you can drive or call a friend to get you.

Travel destinations abroad are too many to list. However, a few involve hiking or bicycling, which you can do by yourself. Just a few in Europe are Barcelona, Spain; Cannes, France; Florence, Italy; Lisbon, Portugal; and Lyon, France.

2. Decide on what you need to bring with you.

It includes deciding whether or not to bring any valuables and thinking of what food and drink might spoil while traveling, as well as figuring out how much you can pack in your luggage.

If you’re going somewhere hot, plan to know what the weather will be like for that time of year and consider packing sunscreen or anti-itch cream if necessary.

3. Plan your transportation options ahead of time.

Planning allows you to choose which mediums might work best for where you will be going.

For example, if you’re going to a city with great public transportation, it might make sense to look into the cheapest way of getting around town. Consider buying a bus pass or hopping on the subway.

If you’re driving yourself there and plan to leave your car in a parking garage while you are away, be sure to consider the cost of parking your car.

A road trip when traveling solo gives you a chance to experience the country or area you’re going to without leaving your comfort zone. Most likely, you’ll find yourself driving alongside dozens of amazing sights sites or stopping off to visit towns or cities you’ve never heard of.

You can stop into small shops throughout the day, take photographs of local art or architecture, or explore historic landmarks. The challenges only build when you’re alone in an unfamiliar place, like asking directions or asking for a restaurant recommendation.

Solo-travel-road-trip

4. Determine how much money you will need for things like transportation, food, and drinks when traveling solo.

If you are deciding on an Airbnb location near a grocery store or in a place where public transportation is readily available, you’ll be able to save some money by cooking your meals. 

In larger cities, these types of accommodations are easier to find.

However, another option is to look for places that offer breakfast, so you don’t have to worry about buying food for the morning if you decide to stay out late.

Solo travel is also fine for budget travelers. For the price of eating out every night or buying more expensive drinks, you can buy your food and cook it yourself as mentioned. 

Your solo travel budget is entirely up to you, but it is usually a good idea to keep a few things in mind. Most solo travelers have small budgets, but you could easily blow through twice as much as you think. 

Traveling solo can be a great way to experience places you might not otherwise get a chance to go to. But you don’t want to forget money while you’re away. The most important thing is recognizing that you’ll have to pay your way. That means either finding cheap places to stay or budgeting carefully.

5. Now, review your plans and make sure everything suits your safety and fun.

Check the event calendars for places you want to visit, plan out your trip with maps, figure out how long it takes to travel between destinations, and check for any events or festivals going on while you are there.

It’s important to check the travel advisory for your destination country before booking your trip. A comprehensive online source can provide this information. However, you can also check with your government’s travel site.

If anything catches your eye, make sure to add it to your list.

6. Discuss your itinerary with a family member or friend to see what they think about it.

There may be some things that fall through the cracks while you’re planning everything. You only notice after hitting the road.

Having someone else double-check your plans can help prevent possible problems from ever coming up.

7. Get ready to enjoy yourself!

Once you’re done planning, start packing for your trip and pick out the outfit you want to wear on the first day of exploring.

Nothing will get in the way of a great solo travel experience once you have all of your essentials packed and are ready to go.

So, which are the best destinations for solo travel, especially if you plan to work while traveling? Major cities provide the obvious attractions, but they often have crowded streets and cheaper entertainment options, too. 

Opt instead for rural areas that have fewer crowds, where you’ll be able to enjoy the landscape and learn more about the country’s culture and history. 

People tend to associate solo travel with staying in hotels and hostels, but it’s now possible to do exactly what you’ve always wanted to try. From glamping to staying in a houseboat, there are plenty of options that allow you to travel alone. There are even educational opportunities for solo volunteering with travel. (Source)

  • In hot countries, such as Mexico or Thailand, you can get cheap massages and other treatments while having a fun time. Many digital nomads I know thoroughly recommend these destinations. 
  • Theme parks, such as Disneyland, offer tons of different things to do for anyone who wants to do something other than relaxing.
  • Scenic spots like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite National Park are another great option that gives you something to do while enjoying nature.
  • Other popular travel destinations include London, Paris, and other European cities where people can walk around and see historical sites without planning.
  • It’s also suggested that if you will be working while traveling, it’s best to look for places where the internet connection is reliable and the weather is warm. So, you can work without too many distractions.

Ideas to Make Your Solo Travel Journey Better – Activities, Meeting People, or Seeking to Avoid the Crowds

Most solo travelers will agree on one thing; it’s hard to make friends when traveling alone. On the other hand, it can be enjoyable to do things by yourself and explore new places without having someone constantly looking over your shoulder asking questions like “Are we there yet?” or “How much longer?”

Sometimes, people want to meet others, get out of their comfort zone, and show off what they have learned. Here are some tips on how to be social with others when traveling alone:

Solo-travel-makes-demands-on-you

Making Friends – Activities

One way to easily make friends is by doing the same activity as someone else in your hostel or hotel.

For example, if you are diving or snorkeling, try to join up with other people doing the same activity. You will have something in common straight away, and you might end up having one of the best days of your life.

Another way to meet others is by joining organized tours that visit places out of town. You can also chat with others staying in the hostel at the end of the tour.

Asking hosts if they have any friends or roommates planning to go out is another great way to meet people. By knowing beforehand, you can plan to share a ride or show up at the same place at the same time.

You can set up a meeting place and save on gas money as well. If there is a good vibe between you, you might even want to stay in touch after your trip.

Making Friends – Meeting People

One of the best ways to meet people is to avoid looking for others like you. When you look for others like you, you might find someone traveling alone to discover that they are an absolute risk or bad omen.

Instead of looking for people, why not be the one that others seek? More people will want to know you if you are open, friendly, and fun-loving.

Breaking the ice with others is more than just saying “hello” to people. You can do things like playing some light-hearted pranks on people or start an impromptu game of frisbee.

You might even try setting up a meeting place, especially if you’d like to meet someone later that day or the following day. It will give you a chance to find out if the other person is serious or just wasting your time.

Making Friends – Seeking to Avoid the Crowds

Solo travelers can avoid large crowds by going during off-peak seasons, swimming, hiking, diving, etc. If possible, try going on weekdays when traffic is much lighter, and there’ll be fewer people at the destination.

So, do you want to explore a place in its full glory? Going during the low season would mean a lower rate for a hotel room and no crowds. Thus, you can enjoy your trip regardless of when other people travel to that location.

There is nothing wrong with doing things alone, but sometimes it can also be quite rewarding to meet new people and make friends. Try using these tips the next time you go on a solo travel adventure.

Questions to Ask Yourself after a Solo Travel Your Journey

  1.  Did I feel comfortable on my own?

This question is quite pertinent right after a solo travel journey. It is easy to feel like you want company at the end of your solo journey, and maybe even more than that (a company with benefits.)

The best thing and most crucial habit that you can cultivate as a solo traveler is not to expect anything from anyone:

  • No welcome back parties
  • No flowers
  • Nothing!
  • You do not expect anything, so you are never disappointed.

I’ll be the first to admit; it was hard for me to resist feeling like I wanted something more than just myself after concluding my solo travel adventure. After all, I had done everything alone:

  • Traveling by plane
  • Checking into hotels or hostels
  • Talking to the waiter in the restaurant
  • Navigating my way to where I wanted to go

The more comfortable you are with yourself, the more confident you will feel with people around you. Therefore, it is essential that when you travel for an extended period by yourself, try your best not to panic when things get tough.

1. Did you hurt or thrive financially?

I know, this might sound like an odd question. I would not recommend you travel by yourself if it is too expensive for you. Most likely, you are on your own because you don’t want to spend more money on travel companions who’ll require food and lodging.

Most solo travelers tend to save a good amount of money. If you are on a tight budget, you should travel during the off-peak season to spend less money.

But if your savings are not enough to take care of you for more than two weeks, I don’t think traveling by yourself would be worth it. Remember, solo travelers have to eat too, even if it means eating at expensive restaurants.

2. How much did you enjoy your trip?

Did you get homesick? Did you get bored? How much did you like your journey by yourself? These are some of the questions to ask yourself after solo travel.

As I said before, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with emotions right after coming back from a solo trip.

Try and reconnect with your family and friends. Don’t forget; you can always go on another trip by yourself in the future to break that initial awkwardness of not having anyone around you.

Also, don’t forget that it’s also important to share some of your fabulous experiences (and maybe even some not-so-fabulous experiences) with your other friends and family.

3. What was the most challenging part of traveling alone for a long time?

Sometimes, it’s fun to do crazy things by yourself. But sometimes, it can get stressful too. And the most important question is; when will you know?

I would recommend that if your solo travel is going well and you are comfortable with not having anyone around you for more than two weeks, then go ahead.

If not, then it might be better to book a hotel or hostel room for the night and meet up with other travelers in the morning.

This way, you will not put yourself at risk of getting sick by all that stress.

4. How often did you feel lonely?

Even when I was surrounded by people when I traveled solo, there were times when I felt very alone.

It might happen to you too, and that’s perfectly fine. It would help to take a break from traveling solo or go on another trip with other people or your family members for some company.

5. Did you enjoy the freedom of going at your own pace?

If yes, how did it compare with what you expected?

If you are used to traveling with other people, traveling solo is different. It’s slower, more relaxed. After all, there are no additional costs of having others tag along with you on your trip.

You can go at your own pace and not have to worry about making someone else happy.

But the truth is, this freedom can also be stressful. If you don’t know where you are going, chances are, you’ll get lost, possibly causing unnecessary stress to your journey.

Conclusion

Over the years, I’ve taken many solo travel trips in Europe, Asia, and the US. The length varied, but I was never bored or ran out of things to do no matter where I went. It challenged me to think for myself, get motivated to go somewhere by myself and be open to meeting people. The “mechanics” of traveling solo was the same as traveling with a friend, but the experience and challenges differed. 

Many things can be added to the points this article listed, but here is a short recap of points that I think are important:

* A capital city is a starting point. Whether you choose a destination that’s nearby or hundreds of miles away, you’ll have a small window of time to see everything it has to offer. Be sure to take a look at the outskirts.

* Deals on flights are possible through search websites such as Google Flights, Kayak, and Expedia. Sites like these are particularly useful for finding good deals for international trips. It allows you to find spots that you are not likely to find on your own, which might be ideal for solo travel. 

* If you feel lonely one day, treat yourself to a day tour offered in the area where you’re staying. 

* And finally, don’t always choose the popular destination. You can choose something that is unique or that you have an interest in, and as you are by yourself, you can explore it just the way you want

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