August 3, 2017 - Beckah Ripley
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch
For many, traveling alone is an exhilarating experience. Peaceful moments allow you to get to know yourself and enjoy nature in solitude. You have the freedom to choose when and where you want to go. You get to be selfish in what you do with each day–a rarity in travel. And along the way you’ll meet incredible people and see beautiful sights. It might seem daunting being a solo traveler, but it’s worth it.
We’ve done our fair share of solo travel, and now we want to help you feel comfortable doing it too. So we put our heads together and came up with a list of mistakes we’ve made in the past, with lessons you can learn from them when you make the choice to go on your first solo trip:
Here’s an easy rule of thumb to remember: If you’re traveling solo, it’s best to blend in. You can do this by doing your research before you go about things like the typical dress and behavior of the people in your destination. It also never hurts to memorize a few words and turns of phrase in the local language ahead of time. By steeping yourself in the country’s culture, you can be a respectful and curious solo traveler, and ensure that you don’t offend anyone.
One great option to consider is participating in an immersion program like Voulez Vous Diner, which connects travelers with local hosts and brings them together over dinner. If you want to take it a step further, websites like Warm Showers have listings of people across the world who are willing to host globetrotters for free. These are great options for those traveling solo! The more you understand and immerse yourself in a regional culture, the more fun you’ll have, so stay out of the chain restaurant scene, and dig into the unique cuisine.
When you’re out gallivanting across the world alone, your family and friends back home will likely want to know where you. And you’ll benefit from keeping them in the loop too – if anything goes wrong, from a missed flight to a lost passport, you’ll be glad to have them on deck.
You can avoid anxious emails from your parents or partner by sharing your travel itinerary with them ahead of time. Then, let family members know when you’ve arrived at your destination, and update them as you move along the way. Setting up a check-in system will ensure that both you and your team back home have peace of mind. Many travelers enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Plan as another layer of safety. Once enrolled for free, travelers have access to nearby embassies and updates on current events in their destination countries in case of an emergency or political uprising.
When it comes to solo adventure, travel insurance is absolutely necessary. Travel insurance offers solo travelers the comfort of knowing you’ll be taken care of, no matter where you are in the world. Every travel insurance plan includes access to a 24/7 travel and medical assistance number that’s there for you no matter what time it is or where you are. From basic questions about re-booking new flights to arranging your emergency medical evacuation back home, it’s imperative to purchase a travel insurance policy before you leave on your solo trip for extra peace of mind.
Just like how every person travels different, every travel insurance policy is unique. If you’re planning on bungee jumping, cliff diving or partaking in adrenaline-pumping activities of any kind, you’ll want to invest in a Adventure plan that incorporates Hazardous Sports coverage. We’ve broken out the different types of insurance by travel style here.
Being a solo traveler doesn’t have to mean being alone all the time. In fact, one of the best things about traveling solo is the opportunity to meet new people. If you’re interested in connecting with locals or other travelers while on your trip, look for tours and accommodations that cater to solo travelers. That way, you’ll be surrounded by other people just like you. Once you meet with other travelers that are on the same page as you, you can forge your own path together. Doing so could cut down your accommodation and transit costs and allow you to build friendships that will last a lifetime.
Transportation: This will be your biggest expense. Use apps like Hopper to keep track of flights to your destination of choice. As frequent solo travelers, we know how important it is to make a budget. Without one, you’ll overspend—it’s a simple as that. You’ll get excited to be abroad and every adventure, meal and souvenir will feel like something you have to do or have. We get it…we’ve been there. But, most of the time, overspending isn’t worth it in the long run, and it’s easily avoidable.
Save and budget up front, and you can rest easy knowing that the awesome trip you just took isn’t going to put you in debt. You can plan a trip on almost any budget as long as you take into consideration the following spending categories:
Accommodation: This is your second largest expense. There are lots of ways to approach building out a budget for this section. The best advice we can give you is to be honest about your preferences. If you ask us, you can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep, so save responsibly and budget with your comfort in mind.
Entertainment: Pro tip: Book tickets and reservations for your adventures ahead of time and stick to them. It’s always cheaper to book something in advance, and having a list of pre-paid activities will help you avoid impulsive purchases.
Food: However much you’re thinking about budgeting for food, double it. We always underestimate how much we’ll spend on meals, and you’ll want to be able to eat whenever your hungry.
Walking around: This is your money for souvenirs, gifts and whatever else catches your eye while you’re touring the streets. If you need extra money, consider downsizing the funds allocated to this category. In our experience, it’s a lot easier to avoid buying magnets and postcards than extra food.
Travel insurance: Prices fluctuate depending on the amount of coverage you want. To get a sense of what you might pay, use our instant quote tool.
Spontaneous Expenses: Consider this category your emergency funds. In this category, the more you put in, the more wiggle room you’ll have to stray from your budget, so we recommend putting any extra funds you can pull together for your solo trip here.
Your first solo travel experience will undoubtedly
be a huge adventure and we want to hear about it!
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