Traveling alone will make it easier for you to enter a new culture because, believe it or not, the world is full of welcoming people.
There is no reason to call yourself crazy because there is nothing wrong with traveling alone, quite the contrary… In fact everyone should, at one time or another in their life, travel least once alone, because the perception of travel is totally different from that which one has of it when one travels accompanied. In many senses, traveling alone is even much more rewarding.
You have the world in front of you and a million new experiences to enjoy. Do you want to share them or do you want to keep them all to yourself? Solo travel means being alone when you want and having the whole world at your fingertips when you want.
You will see that the planet is filled with people who travel alone. Many want to share their experience and many others don’t. If you want to try the adventure one day, these few tips for travelers who buy a solo ticket will not be too much.
1. Hostels are the center of everything
If you want some company to break your loneliness, all you need to do is find a good hostel to spend the night. Not only will you be sharing a room with other travellers, but the common areas will be filled with people eager to get to know you and share their travel experiences with you. In addition, in hostels, a thousand and one group activities are organized if you want to spend time with other people.
Hotels as such are always the worst option if you want to meet other people. If you choose an Airbnb, it is always more interesting to rent a room in a shared house and, if you want to have real contact with the local population, the first thing to do is to look at sites like Couchsurfing or BeWelcome.
2. Use networks
Speaking of networks, we are not only referring to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, which will allow you to meet other travelers in the surroundings, but also other specific networks which can make your trip more productive. For example, on Couchsurfing, there are advertisements of travelers looking for good plans to discover new places. Tripadvisor also offers a forum dedicated to those who travel alone. And regularly look at the groups that are formed on MeetUp, maybe there will be one that will interest you and can be useful to you.
3. Take public transport
Public transport is always cheaper. Probably slower too but it’s obviously a good way to meet people and travel without spending too much. Great friendships between travelers are often formed in this type of transport, which are also a great source of useful advice for your trip.
4. Share your table
If you want to eat alone, do it, we all have times when we prefer to be quiet, but if you want to meet people, one of the best things to do is to look for bars and restaurants with communal tables. A “Hello, excuse me, I travel and I’ve never been here, what do you recommend?” is a good way to start an interesting gastronomic discussion. And then… isn’t food one of the best ways to get to know a country?
5. Sign up for “free walking tours”
The “free walking tours” are guided tours that you only pay for if you consider that the guide deserves it. They’re very popular in cities all over the world, and since guides only get paid if they do a good job, they’re quite interesting and fun. These groups are full of travelers to bond with, so seize the opportunity.
6. Cooking classes
As we said, there is no better way to discover a country than through its gastronomy. In many tourist destinations, you will find cooking classes for travelers during which you can learn how to prepare local dishes but also meet other people with the same interests as you.
7. Expand your horizons
One of the advantages of traveling alone is that it is much easier to establish contact with the locals. Let yourself be surprised by the hospitality you will encounter on your way; you may find yourself eating at a family’s house, traveling for free with someone going in the same direction, and so on.
8. Fearless, but with both feet on the ground
If you decide to travel solo, leave the fear and embarrassment at home before you go. You’ll find that the world is full of kind people who want to help others, and you’re much more likely to have good experiences than bad ones. Of course, just as you would at home, don’t look for trouble and learn about places to avoid.
9. Say who you are with
Family, friends… someone has to know where you are. If something happens, they’ll know where to look for you. Today, it’s very easy, just take your phone out of your pocket and call, send a message or share a location.
10. If you go out at night… leave a note
If you are traveling alone, it is likely that no one will be waiting for you, which has both positive and negative sides. If you go out, leave a note on your bed saying where you are going and with whom, and when you expect to return.
11. Never arrive at your destination when it gets dark
This advice is valid whether you are traveling alone or accompanied, but if you are traveling alone, it is even more important that you take it into account. Arriving in an unfamiliar place at night can often be a source of trouble. Full hotels, closed receptions, dark streets that give you a bad impression: it is getting later and later and it is becoming urgent that you find something. It is likely that all the streets will seem gloomy to you at night, while in broad daylight they will seem perfectly normal to you. If you arrive in the morning, the rooms may not be ready yet and you may have to wait. The best is therefore to arrive in the afternoon but never at night.
12. Always have emergency numbers with you
Since no one is with you, it’s best to have a few important numbers on hand if you ever need them. Police, emergencies, embassy, travel insurance…
13. Be careful not to party too much
Hanging out with your friends in your city is not at all comparable to hanging out in a place where nobody knows you, especially if there is alcohol. Sounds like a parent’s tip but it’s totally true: you wouldn’t be the first one not to remember the name of the hotel where you wake up until the hangover subsides.
14. Always have a good book
You will spend hours and hours wanting and that is probably what you are looking for. An e-book can be a good solution to not have to carry too much weight, but you can also share books. You will see that many hostels allow the “book-exchange”: if you leave a book, you can take one and thus travel by reading from hostel to hostel. But don’t forget to look up from time to time. Nothing like eye contact to start a new relationship.