Without another set of eyes and ear, traveling solo can be somewhat daunting if you are not organized, and thinking clearly. A little feedback goes a long way, as does some advanced planning. I try to use the evening before to plan the next day’s activities. And despite the best plans, things can go wrong, like the weather.
Travel and Leisure had this to say about traveling alone and making mistakes.
Packing and overpacking-I am usually guilty, but I often give or donate clothes at my destination. Layering is the key, particularly when visiting both warm and cold destinations. I am getting better about packing with each trip. And I still give away clothes along the way.
Overscheduling-Fortunately, I rarely do this. I try to reserve time for one activity in the morning and one in the afternoon OR evening. Once in a while, something goes awry and I am busy all day, or all evening. One of the problems with organized group tours is not enough time for myself.
Always have a backup plan-These days, most attractions allow or require reservations with specific entry times. For those places that don’t, like “rush” for show or concert tickets, or standby on a flight, a backup plan is a must.
Travel costs-Though I generally overspend, and do not really budget, I understand some people do. Free days at museums are a big deal, as are free walking tours (tips required). My thought process is very simple. I ask myself if I am ever going to return to a particular city or attraction. If the answer is negative, I will pony up the pesos for the event.
Splurge-I am guilty of doing this often, whether gifts, entry fees, concert or game tickets, upgrades to flights, rail, and hotels. My philosophy is “you only go around once” so why not live with some gusto.
Alone time-Mostly welcome, but I have found that even though I often travel solo, I am rarely alone, or lonely. Of course, this depends so much on where you are, preferable a safe place with interesting people. Just pick and choose your spots carefully.
Make new friends-Well, I do this everywhere. Thinking back on my recent trips, perhaps just one place presented a challenge for making friends. Where was this? Serbia. But one country out of fifty or sixty is not big deal!
Share your plans-Someone should know when and where you will be. My Mom tried to find me back in the 70s when I was in Europe. Why? She wanted to tell me that my Dad had passed away unexpectedly. She enlisted the help of the International Red Cross, obviously before cell phones and internet. Now, I send a daily email, no matter where I am. I think you can find me.
You only live once-I firmly believe that “once in a lifetime” experiences should be done. No question, otherwise, you will live with regret. Once in a while, I get a free pass for a “do-over” but not often.
Second guessing will always happen. But do not overthink it. Go with your best instincts. I think I know myself well enough to do this. And you will too, once you have enough experience.
I will add a few of my own suggestions.
In each city or town, pick one activity or tour that will be your focus. Then plan everything else around it. Often, it is best to go with no plan at all. Either way, you can’t lose unless you choose an event or venue with limited tickets, like the Grammy Awards, or the Wimbledon Finals.
Solo travel also works out well at popular dining venues. I can always find a seat at the bar. But I try to limit my drinks to two, since I may need to navigate my way back to my hotel in a different city or town.
This trip, currently, has a two-fold purpose. One, I am using the bulk of my frequent flyer miles for the pond hopping portion of the trip. And two, I am fairly certain it will be my last trip to Europe. I have too many other places I want to visit.
Whatever you do, keep traveling, and do not be afraid to go solo!
I land in Paris on Wednesday, and head to Athens to see my Greek brothers on Thursday.