Meet friends and have the experience of a lifetime — when you’re going solo
Traveling solo is at once easier and more difficult than traveling with someone else. On one hand, you have complete freedom to spend your days however you wish. You have no one to compromise with; you can eat whenever, go wherever, splurge on whatever. Yet it’s easier to make a decision after bouncing ideas off someone, and when you finally settle on a plan, it helps to have another set of hands and eyes to navigate your new surroundings.
The trick to traveling solo is to embrace the unknown. It’s not often that you get to design your days entirely around your own wants and needs — so enjoy it! Read on to learn some ways to maximize the experience.
The last thing you need is to throw your back out hauling a bunch of heavy bags by yourself. To ensure easy movement between your destinations, limit yourself to one carry-on bag and a light backpack or satchel. You won’t have to ask for help carrying anything, and it’ll be easier to keep track of your belongings in bustling airports, hotel lobbies, and public transit.
Learn some of the local language
You don’t need to take a master course, but learning some key words and phrases will make it easy to strike up conversation with locals. Once you have a dialogue going, challenge yourself to ask questions and try out new phrases.
Bring a good book (or two)
Even if you’ve got every second of your trip planned out, there will be pockets of waiting time. For those inevitable stretches of quiet, a page-turner is essential. Bring it in your tote or day bag so you’re never left twiddling your thumbs in a long line.
Befriend the staff
Get to know your temporary home through the people that know it best: the locals. By simply taking a minute to introduce yourself and ask about their day, you’ll feel more connected to the people around you and, by extension, your surroundings. They’re also likely to share restaurant recommendations, travel shortcuts, and hidden gems.
Take a group walking tour
Many cities offer free walking tours, which are perfect opportunities to get the lay of the land in a group setting. Plan your tour at the beginning of your trip, when you’ll need the most guidance navigating the streets. You’ll likely meet other solo travelers and discover parts of the city you want to explore further on your own.
Connect with other travelers
Take advantage of new social networking apps designed expressly for travel. There are multi-purpose ones like Travello, which let you post updates and photos to a feed, discover nearby travelers, and join groups based on common interests; there are also more user-specific apps like Tourlina, which is made just for women and connects travelers with similar destinations and itineraries.
Share your itinerary with friends and family back home
Before you leave, make a document with your flight information, hotel reservations, and a rough outline of your schedule to share with a few close friends and family members. Check in with them every few days and let them know if your plans change.
Before you go anywhere, review your map and familiarize yourself with the major streets and landmarks along your route. Whenever in transit, avoid checking your phone unless you absolutely have to, and leave the headphones off. Staying alert and present isn’t just smart; it’s also easy to miss a great view, unique street vendor, or picture-worthy alleyway when you’re glued to your phone.
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