So traveling solo, huh? Big step we must say. You most likely have millions of questions and thoughts going through your head. Where should I go and what should I do? Should I look for solitude and roam through the national parks? Or should I go straight into the touristy hot spots? Are crowded places safer than the ones less traveled to? Will I be endlessly bored? Who will I talk to? And most importantly: how do I stay safe?
Traveling solo means doing things on your own terms. Feeling like gelato at 11pm? No one can stop you. Want to take a surf lessons for a whole week? Yes! You absolutely can. Ordering two kebabs in a suspicious street? No one to judge you. Visiting museums for a whole day, why yes, if that’s your thing. Staying in the hotel for a whole day and ordering nothing but pizza? Guess what, no one to tell you otherwise. Plus, the whole pizza just for you. It’s an absolute win-win.
There are plenty of inspirational solo travelers that will most likely tell you that traveling on your own is nothing but overcoming your biggest fears. While yes, this is an absolute truth, their stories are usually sunshine and rainbows. However, seems like everybody forgot to tell the other side of the story. You want to know the truth? Here it is. Yes, you will be lonely and you will be scared. At times you will feel like a weirdo eating all alone in a romantic restaurant on a warm summer evening. And that’s ok. Solo travel brings so many valuable life lessons; how to deal with the unknown situations, how to stood up for yourself, how to find a solution to a problem that seems impossible to solve and how to enjoy solitude. All these lessons will be just a drop in the ocean. So much more is waiting to be discovered. Both outside and inside.
Solo travel should be adventurous, unforgettable and above all, a life changing experience. It’s in our human nature to overthink and complicate when in reality things are pretty simple. The same goes for traveling alone. Here are some tips on how to do solo travel.
Before you pick your destination, make sure you do thorough research. Choosing the country that is both safe and adventurous is a perfect combo. You want to be spontaneous, yet you want to be safe. After choosing the right destination comes deciding on the place you’ll stay at. Read the latest reviews, make sure its location is in the safe neighborhood and its walking distance is not too far from the center. We mentioned the importance of destinations research in our previous blog post 5 ways to be a more sustainable traveler so make sure to check that too.
BORING IMPORTANT STUFF
Things like writing down local taxi number, finding book guides on how to get around, transportation routes and stops, nearest metro, bus and train stations, nearest hospital (we hope you won’t need that), police, fire and emergency services number (fingers crossed you won’t need that too), making sure to give all the important info to someone you trust; such as your location updates at all times, your hotel/hostel address and so on… We talked a lot about safety in our blog post Travel light, be safe so make sure to read that as well. Your safety is important!
KNOW YOUR STRENGTHS
Are you an introvert or are you an extrovert? Now is the good time to discover that. Though you will get to know yourself even better on your solo trip, being aware of your likes and dislikes could make your travel experience that much easier. The last thing you want is end up in a loud party after whole day of walking when you’d rather just relax in the safety of your hotel room, with a warm tea next to a fire place. On the other hand, if you’re a sociable person, you might want to find out ways to socialize while traveling; join group activities, look for hostels that are solo travel friendly, use all the wonders of social media, ask that person in the train what is that book she’s reading… There’s plenty of ways to meet new people.
WAKE UP EARLY
Early bird catches the worm, right? Imagine early morning solo walk by the beach with the orange pink sunrise dissolving above you. Moments like these make solo travel that more special. In addition to that magical sunset feeling, waking up early gives you a chance to explore when the crowds are still asleep making everything around you so peaceful. Roaming new unexplored places with little to no people is special indeed. Besides, it gives you way more time to explore. Seize the day, they say!
Before you go to bed, make a pretty long ‘’to-do’’ list for the upcoming day, maybe even an unrealistic one. From a sightseeing spots to a small local café to a cultural events to an old trattoria famous for its homemade gnocchi. Your list could be endless. It kinda sucks being in the middle of the central square, looking up and waiting for the instructions to fall from the sky. Well, ok. It’s cool to be spontaneous here and there. But having a solid plan is so much easier to follow and will make you explore far more!
LITTLE THINGS AND ADVICE
Make photography a mission. Capture all the beauty you stumble upon. Capture local people as they feed their flock, a vivid old town on a summer night or a sunset above majestic cathedral.
Eat for two! Have a filling breakfast to prepare you for a long day ahead. It’s no fun being hangry!
Learn a little of the local language. Little hearty ‘’hvala’’ (thank you in Croatian) can go a long way. It’s unbelievably cute and really polite.
Know your budget. Don’t go crazy in the first few days. Organize, estimate and calculate!
If you’ll be backpacking a lot, make sure to pack light! Carrying around that extra weight is absolutely unnecessary and frustrating. Make sure to read our blog post Pack for a hike for all the tips on cutting weight.
Go far off the beaten path. It’s where the beauty resides.
Take a book. For the sleepless hotel nights or for a long train ride; having a good book is a life saver!
Smile! Give a big smile right next to that ’’hvala’’. It’s the simple things.