Travel is becoming easier than ever, thanks to the explosion of technology that makes it much easier to find your way around a new destination, communicate with locals and keep yourself safe.
This means that increasing numbers of people are deciding to travel solo.
It’s not just for adventurous gap year students or 20-somethings without responsibilities or a sensible job either. You’ll find solo travelers who range in age from 18-90 who are ready to explore this beautiful planet we live on and experience as much as they can.
However, if you’ve not yet traveled alone, the thought can be somewhat scary and overwhelming.
Where is best to go? What if you get lost? Won’t you feel lonely?
To help reassure you, here’s a list of everything you need to know to start traveling solo in 2020 (and beyond!)
Where can I go?
Anywhere! The world is your oyster when it comes to travel. Provided that your budget allows (and the destination is considered safe), nowhere is off the menu.
Having said that, it’s better to stick to somewhere closer to home if it’s your first time. Explore some of the great cities and countryside in the UK in places like York, London, and Lincoln so you can get more of a feel for solo travel. Our country is beautiful and there’s always so much more to be discovered that we realize.
Taking an organized group trip can also be a sensible idea when you’re getting started. As coach-tour provider JustGo Holidays states, groups are perfect ‘if you’re traveling alone yet prefer to go on holiday with fellow single travelers.’ This will provide the guidance, reassurance, and company that you crave and help you discover destinations slightly further afield such as Paris, Prague, Vienna, Rome, and Berlin.
Don’t be scared to venture out of Europe though. The world is a beautiful place and if you’re friendly, you’ll receive a warm welcome wherever you go.
Should I do a city break, a beach holiday or an adventure trip?
Although traveling solo should never be a reason to stop you from doing what you love, there are certain types of holidays that tend to work better for the solo traveler. This is especially true if you’re a new solo traveler or you prefer plenty of company.
City breaks and adventure trips are always a pretty safe bet because it’s very ‘normal’ and widely accepted for people to be traveling alone. Organized group trips of this type tend to have provision for single travelers and also avoid things like single room supplements which can make your trip significantly more expensive.
Beach holidays are always wonderful when you need to enjoy a spot of rest and rejuvenation. However, be aware that these types of holidays do tend to be dominated by families and couples so it can be harder (but not impossible) to make friends.
How do I find accommodation?
Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to find comfortable accommodation throughout the world that meets your tastes and budget.
If you’re keen to experience local culture and community and perhaps learn some of the local language, homestays are a good option. To keep costs down, you could also choose a hostel, B&B or a small inn that caters towards solo travelers.
Hotels are great if you’re looking for comfort, relaxation and you don’t mind paying slightly more. However, do ask if you’ll be charged a single supplement before you make the booking to avoid any nasty surprises.
If you’re opting for a group tour that caters to solo travelers, then you should have accommodation included in the package so you won’t have to worry about organizing this yourself.
How do I stay safe?
It’s no riskier to travel alone than with friends, especially if you’re on a group tour.
Simply take the same precautions as you do at home, avoid taking risks, don’t get drunk and don’t wander the streets of a strange place late at night. If you’re out in a bar or nightclub, keep an eye on your drink at all times and never accept lifts from strangers.
In the wise words of travel blog Smarter Travel, “If you are not in control of your facilities, you become a mark for thieves and other bad people, and with no wingperson to help you out, you could get in trouble.”
Additionally, if you’re going it alone, you should leave security information with someone at home. Include information such as your flight times, hotel reservations and even a rough idea of what you plan to be doing each day.
Also, make a list of emergency contact information to keep with you at all times. Include your own personal contact information, the name of an emergency contact at home and any numbers you might need such as the number of your credit card company in case your card is stolen.
Isn’t it lonely?
Not at all, especially if you’re on an organized holiday. Remember that a smile goes a long way, learn a few words in a foreign language, and be willing to open up and make small talk.
You’ll find that you make a ton of new friends along the way, get a great insight into the local culture and often find yourself experiencing unexpected adventures too.
These days it’s incredibly easy to stay in touch with home thanks to online platforms such as Skype, WhatsApp and instant messaging. And if you want to go ‘old school’, you can always pop a postcard in the post!
What to do at mealtimes when you’re alone is a sticking point for many. But there are many things you can do. For example, sit at communal tables wherever possible, sit at the bar to eat or even pop your map on the table so people can see you’re a tourist and be more inclined to take you under their wing.
There’s never been a better time than now to spread your wings and explore the world. It’s easier than you think and is sure to be an eye-opening and highly rewarding experience. Make 2020 your best year yet. Start traveling solo.