How to get started with travel- Get ready and go solo!
Updated: Jan 15, 2019
With so many ways to travel, it is important to take the time to find the right fit for you. Travel styles vary immensely and in the solo travel category alone there are different ways to explore the world. Let's dig in!
Congratulations! You have opened your mind and realized that there is more to life than your 9 to 5 or your other responsibilities. You have taken the first step to exploring different cultures, cuisines, sites and oh so many adventures. The amount of information out there on travel is nothing shy of overwhelming. Having started many years ago, I have collected great relevant information to help you get started.
Start small I have talked to numerous people that are truly wowed by my travels. Not because I am out of the ordinary (there are plenty of people out there traveling way more miles than I am), but simply because they can't gather the courage to get up go. It truly hurts me when I hear someone say "I wish I had traveled more"as they gaze into the distant as if watching a sad movie trailer before their eyes. Life is truly fleeing, the time to do what is clearly possible is NOW. So start small. Take a weekend away at a neighboring city and have an itinerary to follow. Before you do that, drive to the next city and have lunch alone. If you go to an office everyday, have lunch alone during the week too. Learning to appreciate your own company is powerful and will help you flourish in different aspects of your life. It will also boost your confidence. It's important to not put yourself in a situation where you will be traumatized afterwards (don't book a flight to China if you are uncomfortable sitting alone at McDonald's!), but starting small will build the foundation for bigger things. The truth about solo travel Truth is traveling alone can be daunting. It can also be the single best experience of your life. The daunting part simply stems from anxiety, and the "what ifs". Once that fear and anxiety is conquered, you will grow and experience things and emotions that you never knew existed. One huge advantage of travelling alone is that you become a human sponge and learn a lot about yourself. Every time you see something exciting, there's not a person you can share it with. You learn to appreciate the experience in silence and at a much deeper level. You are also more approachable. Sitting at the local bar, wearing a smile will do wonders for meeting people around you. Start with the bartender! Easy right? From walking around the airport with your bag pack to asking for directions when you arrive at your destination, people are genuinely curious about you and a simple smile can be very inviting. Another advantage of travelling solo is of course the independence factor. You can do what you want, when and how you want it. Take a day to stay at the hotel and do nothing or go venturing from the morning until late night. That's a win-win. Finally, my main reason for travelling solo: NO DRAMA!!! Having the wrong person to travel with can cancel out the whole experience. You will end up losing the relationship and spending unnecessary time and money for an experience that you would rather forget. No one wins here! The hardship Having recently traveled to Australia; a 23-hour journey with a 15-hour time difference, the first day was hard. I was tired, alone, jet legged and just generally off. That feeling lasted less than 24 hours. I made my way to a local bar, where I personally always feel comfortable, got myself a beer, sat at the counter and just people watched. Almost inevitably met a few locals shortly after. Find your happy place. Are you a gym brat? Find a gym and go. Yoga, shows, outdoor activities, all great places to be entertained and meet local people and other travelers alike. What about emergencies? No one thinks that something bad will happen, until it does. Travelling abroad may cause some belly issues. Travel prepared- yes I'm talking about Pepto, Imodium, Tylenol, antibiotics, and yes invest in health insurance! Once you have prepared for the worst, you will feel at ease. The American Embassy also has a program called the "Smart Traveler Enrollment Program". You can register here It's another safety net and costs nothing. The program is there to assist you in case of an emergency. Different ways to solo travel (yes there is more than one!) If you are travelling solo, have at least a list of things that you want to do.
Familiarize yourself with the area and how to get around. Having things to do that keep you entertained even though you are alone, is essential to avoiding the lonely panic. The longer the trip, the more important this becomes in avoiding getting homesick. In addition, there are great day tours that will save you a ton of money, and still allow you to travel out of the area and see things that otherwise you wouldn't see. Day tours will place you with like minded people, all the while not giving you enough time to see one's true colors. The risk that it will go bad due to bad vibes is very low. Day tours will usually include pick up and drop off at you hotel, meals, a local guide that you give you priceless information and take you places that are an hour or two outside the city that otherwise you would simply not go. Joining a group tour is a great way to start your solo travel experience. I have had great experiences and also made friends that I have stayed in touch with all over the world. While you are travelling alone from your home country, you are also joining others that are on the same boat as you- having an eager want to travel and no one to go with. Most travelers on tours are friendly and have a sense of teamwork and empathy for fellow travelers. Others are harder to deal with, selfish, competitive and don't care for teamwork. The best way to deal with the latter is simply to stay away. Sometimes its just a cultural difference, inexperience, language barrier or they are simply jerks. Don't let them ruin your time. Alternatively to solo travel is finding the perfect companion. I personally have a lot of friends and unfortunately no one that I would travel with for a bucket list destination. It's simply too risky. I know what I'm getting with me. Well. . .me! Happy traveling folks!