Making travel plans with friends has never been an interest of mine.
The plans seem to always fall through, they usually want to do something different, and the pace is never the same as mine. I prefer traveling solo for many reasons that I've mentioned here: 3 Reasons Why I Prefer Solo Travel.
I love meeting random strangers on the road that I probably wouldn't have met if I were paired up with a bunch of friends.
Most of all, traveling solo changes you as a person in one way or another.
Learning how to overcome challenges all by yourself allows you to become more independent as a person, self-reliant, as well as many more benefits.
Below are some of the tips that I feel are the most beneficial for a solo traveler.
1. Figure out where you're going before you even leave.
This is especially important in certain countries where it's more important to NOT stand out. Download and take snapshots of routes you have to take in case you get to an area where there is no internet/wifi.
I'm personally not a fan of maps as they are bulky and create added attention when you need to find out where you're going.
2. Learn the basics of the language.
Yeah, most people know English, but I find it to be more polite to at least attempt to speak in the native language instead of assuming they'll speak English to you.
Write down directions (turn left, right, straight, here, there) and emergency words (help, fire, etc) in the native language of the country you're traveling in.
I do this no matter how confident I am in the native language.
Learn from the man who can speak 6 languages himself. Read his book on how to learn to speak a language fluently.
3. Get used to catcalling and ignore it or smile.
Most forms of catcalls are pretty much harmless. Take the compliment and continue on with the rest of your day.
If someone starts following you (which has happened to me more than once) all you have to do is yell out, “NO, THANK YOU” – learn it in the native language in the country you are traveling in.
Most of the time the follower doesn't like the extra attention and will leave you alone.
This also goes for the people trying to sell you touristic goods. “NO GRAZIE!” (Italian) – I say it on a regular basis when people don't leave me alone.
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4. If you're socially awkward or afraid of meeting new people, get ready to (most likely) become an entirely different person.
I would go ahead and say I'm not overly social and I can admit that I am socially awkward, but while traveling, I become an entirely different person. There's something about traveling and meeting people from all over the world.
I obtain this strong desire to learn about different cultures and lifestyles and making friends is something I crave while on the road.
Hostels make it incredibly easy to meet friends, as well as Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing is not only for hosts, you can also find people like you who just want to meet up.
5. Get ready to feel times of loneliness.
Traveling solo for long lengths of time can put a damper on your trip at times.
You'll miss home, family, friends, and just the feeling of a “normal” life.
For me, it's usually short-lived, and then I continue on planning my next trip to somewhere awesome. Ha. Just remember to Skype regularly, email as much as you can, and keep in touch back home.
6. You don't have to say yes to everything.
People are going to ask you if you want to go here, here, and there.
Traveling has really helped with my “pushover” personality and I've learned to say no to various things. I used to feel bad for not buying a touristic item to help a mother in need or not donating to a certain charity while traveling.
You'll learn to say no over and over again and no longer feel bad about it.
7. Dress modestly and don't wear flashy jewelry.
I see older folk do this often and they eventually become a victim of a robbery. Older folk are already a target enough as it is, and the added sparkling jewelry doesn't help one bit.
I never wear jewelry in public (I'm not a fan of jewelry and I also don't want to have extra attention).
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8. Take advantage of the supermarkets.
Did you know that Zurich, Switzerland is the 6th (now it may even be higher) most expensive city in the world? This came as quite of a surprise to me when I was trying to order a coffee and croissant at the local Starbucks.
It came to a whopping 18 francs, which is equivalent to about $19 US dollars.
Zurich is the home of the $12 Big Mac, which means I had to learn how to eat cheaply and get the most for my dollar.
Most hostels also have kitchens so you can save a ton of money cooking your own food.
Related: Healthiest Foods For A Tight Budget
9. Learn about the culture of the country.
In Peru, I rarely went out wearing shorts or a dress simply because it was respectful to have your body somewhat covered.
One time I wore a dress on a sunny day at a festival and ended up being 1/5 girls wearing a dress!
I immediately went home because I didn't like how I felt standing out and possibly disrespecting the Peruvian culture. Make sure to have the majority of your legs as well as shoulders covered when walking into churches.
There' have been too many times when I've seen girls try to go into a church wearing a tiny tight dress or a crop top.
This even happens in the Vatican City! They WILL deny you entry.
Packing cubes are essential for traveling. Stay organized and only take out 1 cube at a time when needing an item, instead of having to dig through your suitcase. You can buy a set here.
10. Get ready to go home feeling like a completely different person.
I've found solo traveling to be MUCH different than traveling with a friend. You become self-reliant, independent, and a problem solver all on your own.
The amount of confidence I've obtained since my first solo trip is astronomical. I'm a TOTAL different person than I was when I departed for Peru.
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Do you enjoy traveling solo? What other tips would you recommend for a solo traveler?
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