For every person who likes to travel alone, there are at least 20 others who would rather walk on hot coals. For them, the idea of a solo trip is full of uncertainty. However, if you are interested in going on your own, keep this in mind: traveling alone is not as scary, difficult, or impossible as you think. Indeed, with a little planning, it can become the best choice you’ve ever made.
WHERE AND WHEN TO GO
Plan: Instead of rushing and buying the first plane ticket you find, sit back, and think about the kind of trip you would like to take. Imagine yourself in the middle of your ideal journey. Where are you? Maybe in a seaside city, in a cosmopolitan metropolis like London or Sydney, hiking in Canada, tasting typical food in Japan, studying abroad or on a bicycle trip to Italy. Another idea is to write down all the countries you want to visit in life and highlight those that make your heart beat faster and that seems like a good idea to visit alone.
Decide when | Then, consider what season or period of the year you can travel. If there are limits on when you can leave for your trip (for example because of your studies or work), look on the bright side. What if you can only travel in winter? Take advantage of the low season and travel for less.
MEET OTHER PEOPLE
Traveling socially: For most solo travelers, the biggest fear is being alone on the way. Sure, you will spend some parts of your trip alone, but the truth is that few solo travelers find themselves alone 100% of the time; and those who are, usually actively seek solitude. If, on the other hand, you’d like to meet people along the way, don’t worry – there are tons of ways to do it. Start by evaluating more “social” accommodation options, such as Couchsurfing (ie locals who host you in their city) or by renting a room through Airbnb.
Studying abroad: If meeting people is on your wish list, another idea is to study or take a short course abroad. Do you want to learn a language, dive, cook, dance, or take up photography? English is taught all over the world (imagine yourself with your new classmates in Australia, England, USA, New Zealand, Malta or South Africa!) And taking a course is a surefire way to make friends with other students, usually of the same age and with common interests. Other activities, such as salsa classes in Colombia, a cooking class in Australia, or taekwondo in South Korea, may appeal to you more. In addition to the benefit of making friends with like-minded people, you will stay longer in a place and learn about it more thoroughly.
The most important criterion when preparing your suitcase for a long-term trip is that it is light. When you are preparing to be out for a month or more, it may seem like an impossible thing, but changing a few small things is absolutely achievable.
Select | From toiletries, to clothes to electronic devices, be selective when packing your suitcase. Don’t bring more clothes than for a week, just make sure you have a good assortment of clothes that you can match and swap. For the bathroom, bring only travel samples: you will still need something once you reach your destination, especially if you are staying for longer (and the same goes for clothes). Finally, don’t fill your backpack with unnecessary electronic devices. The world is super-connected now and with internet cafes and Wi-Fi in hostels and bars, you don’t need to carry them all. If you go to study abroad, consider bringing your laptop with you. After all, solo travelers who move from one place to another know how to get by with a smartphone or a small tablet. For Tourist Visa for any country, you can consult here.
One of the advantages of traveling alone is being able to change the destination on the spot, without consulting with travel companions. But how to get around? Trains, buses, and airplanes will be the main means you will use to travel. To choose one, consider the flexibility and comfort you need.
Jumping on a train: Trains, especially in Europe, offer comfortable short and long-distance travel across borders and within the Eurozone countries. However, since adding single trips becomes expensive very easily, it is better to buy a ticket valid throughout a national territory or by time, such as Eurail or Interrail (non-Europeans travel using Eurail). Traveling by train is also possible in Asia, Australia, and other countries: for information on rail routes around the world, go to Seat 61, a great one-stop-shop with all the information you need.
Take the bus: Getting on and off buses in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand is another option for travelers who want to travel across different countries or regions. The advantage of using these services is that you decide how long you stay at each destination before continuing your journey to the next destination. The disadvantage is that the route only goes through a certain number of stops, which implies that it is not possible to have complete flexibility, in case a place you would like to visit is not included. (Many companies offer these services, so Google will be your friend! Just search for “hop on off bus + country name” to check.)
Fly: Another option is to fly. In Europe, cheap flights can be found easily using low-cost airlines such as Easyjet, Ryanair, and Vueling and comparing flight prices online (try Skyscanner, Momondo, and Kayak). Volare offers the shortest travel times, although after reaching the airport, checking in and going through customs, it may take as long as going by train. A big disadvantage of flying, especially with a low-cost airline, is that trips are often non-refundable and non-changeable, so be sure of your dates and destinations before booking. Also, unlike bus and train travel, you have to keep below the weight limits for your luggage: eliminate this problem by packing a few things in your suitcase and traveling only with hand luggage (our tips on how to prepare hand luggage like a pro can be found here).