“Alone doesn’t have to equal lonely” –that saying applies to many things in life, including traveling abroad solo. There are many reasons as to why you would want to travel alone. Could be an Eat, Pray, Love type of situation, could be that you’ll meet up with a few international friends at some point or it could be that you just love your own company. As someone who has traveled domestically and abroad as a party of one, I can appreciate all of those reasons.
You already know that you should understand the language and customs to any place you travel, but here are here are seven more tips to help make your next (or first) solo international adventure, a good one.
Avoid ‘Scary’ Places
When I say avoid scary places, I don’t mean dark alleys, I mean scary in terms of stability. Have travelers (especially American ones) been kidnapped there in recent memory? Have there been riots, regime changes or rigged elections as of late? Yes to any of that means “no” for that trip.
It’s a bad idea to go somewhere like that regardless of the size of your travel party, but it is especially bad as a solo journey. You’ll need to consult more than just Black Atlas or Trip Advisor for this kind of intel. For any international trip, look up your destination on the CIA World Factbook. You’ll get lots of useful demographic and historical information as well as travel warnings.
Take Erykah Badu’s instructions and pack light. Since you are alone, you won’t have anyone at the airport with you to toss in your “overage” as you try to avoid that fee for having a bag over 50 pounds. This way you’ll also have room in your bag for all the goodies you bring back from your trip.
Link Up With Ex-Pats
If you find yourself feeling a bit out of sorts and in need of someone to engage with in American banter, find the local community of ex-patriates. A simple Google search (done well before you leave for your adventure) will likely yield options. If you do decide to meet up with a group, be sure it’s in a safe, public area.
Arrive During the Day
The night can make a place seem much more ominous than it is. Arrive at your hotel during the day, so that you get a sense of what your immediate surroundings are like and to get a jump on exploring.
Become Besties With Hotel Staff
Be kind because it’s the right thing to do, but be especially kind to your hotel staffers because they can make or break your experience. Chat them up and pick their brains about non-touristy destinations, local customs and food recommendations.
Keep It Old School
Technology is great and you should definitely take advantage of travel tech tools that make vacationing easier, but don’t completely rely on it. Some of the more off-of-the beaten path destinations have spotty internet connections, so be sure to keep print outs of your itineraries, confirmations and also copies of your passport, birth certificate and other identification.
Map It Out
Are you not a “map person”? Become one. Maps are your best friends, especially if you aren’t fluent in a language. Maybe you can’t pronounce the name of that street, but you can read it on a map and on a street sign and as long as you can see, you can match up your geography/topography with what your map tells you.
Have you ever traveled alone abroad? Where did you go and what were the highlights of your trip?