Does the thought of traveling alone seem daunting to you? Are you already stressing over the picturesque Instagrams you’ll have to post to prove to the waiting world that you’re having fun by yourself??
Traveling alone shouldn’t be stressful. In fact, it really is something to look forward to. Sure, we love our girlfriends, and things always seem to be more fun when you share them with people you love. But traveling alone can be an incredibly enriching and fulfilling experience that you have all the right in the world to do without fear of judgement from others. As Thomas Jefferson so nicely put it, “One travels more usefully when alone, because he reflects more.”
We put together this list on helping you make the most of your time abroad. You go, girls–transcend the fear of being alone and jump in to a trip dedicated to just YOU.
- Put down the phone. How is traveling by yourself going to be an enriching and eye-opening experience if your eyes are glued to your Instagram feed? Let go of your responsibilities and relationships at home for a week and embrace the time you have abroad.
- Meet new people. Congratulations! You’ve broken up with Instagram for the trip and are now ready to make eye contact and make friends abroad. In order to battle the feelings of loneliness that may occur while traveling alone, make an active effort to smile and make friends, either with the locals or other tourists. Sign up for bus, walking, or biking tours to meet other tourists. Brush up on your foreign language skills and have a few lines ready for the friendly mother and kids sitting next to you on the train. Also consider meeting people through Meetup, an awesome website that brings together communities of like-minded people anywhere in the world.
- Arrange the right accommodations. It may get lonely if you book a room in a hotel or motel where there aren’t many opportunities to mingle with people. A much cheaper alternative would be to stay at a hostel for the night, and where living spaces are oftentimes communal and more open for mingling. Or, you could even arrange accommodations through Servas or CouchSurfing, where you can temporarily live in a local’s apartment or house for free. How cool is that?! Also, both services arrange hikes, dinners, language exchanges and dance classes for members across the globe.
- Do whatever your little heart desires. Biggest perk of traveling alone? Doing whatever in the world pleases you! And taking bathroom breaks on your own schedule, of course. If you travel with a large group, you may feel obligated to miss out on some of the sights/museums/restaurants you wanted to experience. So go ahead. Take five hours to walk through the creepy doll museum. Sit and enjoy a coffee instead of running to catch a tour. Sleep in. Stay out late. Get drunk with locals in a bar and talk to whoever you want. Watch a broadway show. Or even spend hours wandering through flea markets. It’s your call.
- Take lots of pictures, mental and material. Pictures will document your trip forever, but make sure to put down the camera after you take your snap and take a mental snapshot of your amazing trip. You have the time to do this–you’re alone. Savor that exact moment of your youth and freedom; take in your surroundings, try to remember the smell. These are the little things we’ll remember for a lifetime.
- Ask, plan, and execute. Do your research–find out about where exactly you’re going before you go. When was the city/country established? What’s the history behind it? If you know a little something about where you’re going, you may know the historical significance of that huge arch or plaza you may have otherwise unknowingly walked right by. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with the locals or other tourists to ask about what you should see on your trip. Consult guide books and get a feel for where you are on a map. Do your research so you can make the most of your time.
- Live like a local. Your trip will be so much more fulfilling if you don’t confine yourself to taxi cabs or Starbucks coffee the entire time. Step outside your comfort zone. Take the extra five minutes to figure out that confusing metro system! When you have it down, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something that your friends at home can’t do. Become a local, eat affordable and good food, and open your mind to new experiences, confusing or not; in the end, you’ll return home feeling much more worldly and traveled.