“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – St Augustine
Our world is a rich tapestry of architecture, cuisine, fashion, cultures and landscapes, whose origins date back millions of years. All of these things deserve to be visited, appreciated and savoured (so long as this is done sustainably, of course). When you travel alone, you read the book and you learn to understand its notes and nuances in a way that would be impossible through any other means.
Solo travel is no longer seen as a tendency of the very eccentric among us. Instead, more and more people are traveling alone and indeed finding that it is their preferred way to travel. At 58 percent, women, both young and old, have been the demographic likeliest to travel solo according to The Gutsy Traveler. Below are some tips for a great vacation that will leave life-long memories.
- Choose your destination carefully. Certain destinations are more amenable to solo travelers while others tend to attract couples and families. Cosmopolitan cities like Paris, Copenhagen, Tokyo, and Toronto are always a good bet!
- Research it well. Tourist boards, TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet Guides, and Traveltalkonline are all wonderful resources to do your homework beforehand and discover more about the places you want to visit. Online forums make it easy to ask questions and suss out which places are friendlier to solo travelers and which you’d rather avoid.
- Be adventurous. After all, that’s the whole point of taking the vacation by yourself! Go snorkeling; take museum tours; try wine-tasting events; have karaoke outings. Just say yes whenever it’s possible and safe and go, go, go.
- Take pictures. Why not make the most of this fascinating pastime? Enjoy your time alone to capture that perfect shot of an amazing sunrise or those perfect colors at a butterfly farm? These cherished souvenirs will last you a lifetime.
- Make friends. Just because you are traveling alone does not mean you have to be lonely! There are ways to meet people during your trip including posting ads on travel-buddies, meetups, joining group activities, and expat community events.
- Be aware of safety! Walk with confidence, make brief eye contact, keep your head up. Don’t wear valuables. Use a money belt. Keep to well-lit roads. Use common sense at all times.
- Make use of the sharing Economy. Airbnb and Couchsurfing are excellent options to meet new people locally who might turn out to be excellent friends and guides to show you around. Hostels are of course a mainstay but you might end up meeting more travelers than locals!
- Don’t be afraid to eat out! Just because you are alone doesn’t mean you are relegated to eating hamburgers every night! You can eat out in fancy establishments too. The secret is to bring reading material with you, a book or newspaper, or even a journal to jot notes in. Befriend the wait-staff, and if you are really embarrassed to dine alone, why not eat at off-hours?
- Explore expat haunts. If you get lonely, consider exploring the expat hubs in the host country: from pubs and clubs to community centres, religious meetings, bookstores, meetups, and expat groups like InterNations.
- Use social media to meet locals. Use social media to ask for the info of friends of friends who live in the place you want to visit.
Nezha Boutamine | The Edge Blog