Traveling Alone - Tips & Tricks
1) When booking flights, don’t just look at price.
Look at travel time, layover lengths/location and most importantly I would say, arrival time!You do not want to be getting to a completely new place, wandering around trying to figure it out late at night. Get to your destination as early in the day as possible in order to give yourself as much time/safety for whatever mishaps may occur.
2) Stay in an Airbnb, but not just any Airbnb!
I personally love the Airbnb experience because I love the safety/comfort of a home. Hostels just aren’t my thing… but I know plenty of people who have had great experiences, and hotels are often much more expensive/not as unique of an experience. When traveling alone, I looked at private room options (you rent out a room in someone’s house/apartment, often sharing a bathroom and entrance). I love the personal touch that comes with getting to know a local; they are often so kind and accommodating (and it’s always good to have someone to know). Additionally, I specifically look to stay only with “Super Hosts,” which means they have a lot experience and are consistently rated very highly (always read the ratings/comments!) Also for more safety reasons, I chose to only stay with female hosts as I knew that would make me feel a little more comfortable while staying alone in their home.
3) Pack light, or as light as you can.
Definitely be able to carry all of your luggage on your own comfortably. You never know how far you’ll have to walk with it/how many stairs you may need to haul it up. I try to stick with one suitcase and a shoulder bag.
4) Speaking of public transport… utilize it!!
Seriously so cheap, so fun, such a great way to get a feel for a city. In New York, I rode subways, buses, Ubers, ferries, and walked, and in Copenhagen, I took the metro a few times, but spent most of my time on a bike that I rented! Public transport might be a little intimidating at first (especially if you’re not used to it), but don’t be afraid to take your time mapping it out, and never be too prideful or insecure to ask for help!
Google Maps is a game changer, download the city you are in and you will be able to search any place/see it in comparison to your location, even without Wi-Fi!
(Also, you probably will mess it up at some point – don’t freak out – just get off at the next stop, regroup, and turn around :) Show yourself grace in those moments! That is what traveling and life is all about.)
5) Be out when the sun is out!
Every city has a nightlife and I know for a lot of people, that is a huge part of their travel experiences (especially in Europe), but if you’re completely by yourself, I just wouldn’t risk it. My neighborhood in New York wasn’t the safest, so I made the commitment to getting back home before it was super late/dark every night. Copenhagen was a lot safer, so I didn’t worry as much about just wandering about, but I did avoid the nightlife scene. If you do choose to go out, I’d recommend knowing some people or not drinking, but if you do drink – PLEASE, keep your cup with you at all times. There are unfortunately a lot of horror stories about international students/young adults getting into some very dangerous experiences while partying abroad. Have a plan and make wise, legal decisions!
6) Make the most of your time, but also give yourself time to rest!
For some reason, I thought that since I was alone, I wouldn’t get worn out and would just be able to go, go, go. That was not the case. I usually ended up spending a few hours in a café just to rest, charge my phone and use WiFi (and I didn’t feel bad about it!). It was not sustainable for me to go all day without a break. Obviously, everyone is different, but do whatever you need to take care of yourself!
7) Bring a phone charger and country-specific converter with you, EVERYWHERE.
If you forget it, go home and get it (or go buy a new one). Your phone, even without service is still absolutely necessary for any communication/directions/pictures/music. You need it to be charged and on you at all times.
8) Bring a book!
I loved being able to pull out a book when sitting on the metro, in a café, or at a beautiful park outside! I also think it was healthy for me to use it as a way to get out of my head after spending so much time alone/constantly thinking.
9) Carry some cash.
Depending on where you go, you maybe be able to use credit for everything. But I would still say it’s helpful to carry a little of the local currency with you for whenever you might need it! (bring your currency with you and exchange at the airport to avoid ATM fees).
10) Be a friend, make some friends!
Take advantage of any opportunity to engage in conversation – either with your Airbnb host, a local shop owner, a fellow tourist, or whoever else! I am always pleasantly surprised by the kindness of others, and when traveling alone, you need all the social interaction you can get!