Traveling alone can be a little intimidating, and let's be honest, a little scary if you're a woman. But don't let your fears hold you back from seeing the world! I've had the opportunity to travel solo to a few countries and states within the US and I'm so glad I pushed past my fears. Here are a few tips:
1. Plan Ahead - some people will disagree with me and suggest you go with the flow and not have any set plans, but if you're visiting some place new, you want to have an idea of your surroundings. I'm an over-planner when it comes to travel. I like everything set to the minute. I'm definitely not suggesting that because I'm fully aware I'm crazy. I am, however, suggesting you have a loose idea of what you want to do and see ahead of time. You don't want to waste your time figuring it out while you could be exploring. Familiarize yourself with train locations and schedules, look up hours of operation, and so forth. If you want to do x, y, and z and they're located near each other you can save time and money by hitting them together.
2. Look for Ways to Save - Use TripAdvisor, Priceline, etc. to book the hotel. Never pay full price. Likewise, Groupon and Living Social are your friends. In Boston, I took a hop-on-and-off tour that that was selling for $40. But I only paid $15 via Groupon (plus used ebates for extra cash back). This also cut transportation fees because I could ride the bus to different neighborhoods cheaper than messing with Uber. And speaking of transportation, ask your hotel about shuttles. They don't always advertise but sometimes have cheaper, or free!, services to help you get around. Lastly, if you're a blogger check with local companies to see if they'll comp you in exchange for a review. Every little bit you can save helps!
3. Take Tours - I'm a huge fan of tours! Some think they're cheesy, and they kind of are, but it's the best way to see the maximum amount with little time. I always do a bus, hop on and off, or ghost tour. Bus tours are a great way to see places outside the city at a reasonable price and many companies pick up and drop off at your hotel. The shorter tours are great for learning about local history and getting a feel for the layout of the city. As I mentioned in point two, hop-on tours allow you to be escorted to all of the main attractions. I like to ride these around an entire loop, then decide which stops I'd like to visit. Purchase tickets ahead to ensure they don't sell out.
4. Stay Safe - this ties into point one a bit. If you know where you're going and what's around you, you reduce the risk of ending up somewhere sketchy. Don't wander aimlessness without taking note of your location. Also, taking advantage of point two, use the money you've saved elsewhere to opt for a cab if it's late at night. Don't be a hero - you can still be an explorer if you're not on foot the entire time. In your hotel, request to be near the elevator so you're not tucked back in some dark hallway. And carry pepper spray. For my last trip, SABRE sent me pepper sprays, gels, and a personal alarm. Having those on you gives you some comfort. Runner pepper spray bottles come with straps that wrap perfectly around your hand so you can discreetly have a grip on it while in your purse of pocket.
5. Be Prepared - assume inconveniences are going to happen. It's always better to be over than under prepared. Your luggage may get lost. It happened to me last week. You don't want to be stranded without a change of undies! Pack an extra outfit and toiletries in your carry on. And if you can fit them, extra shoes as well. Have cash, especially tipping money for taxis and tours. I was in Mexico once and they charged to use a restroom. You never know when you'll need physical money. Wondering if you should pack that jacket even though it's supposed to be hot? Bring it anyway because if you don't you'll need it.
When traveling alone it can be tough getting used to being alone. For me, eating at a restaurant solo is a bit awkward. But do it anyway! You never know if you'll get to visit that location again and you don't want to miss out on anything. As you do more solo travel you'll get more used to being alone and out of your comfort zone. The first time I went on a trip by myself I was so nervous and felt dumb doing things alone. As soon as that trip was over, though, I was so proud of myself for not needing to rely on anyone but myself.
If you're on the fence about vacationing alone, start small. Pick a town you're familiar with where you know people. You can meet up for meals and get insider tips. You'll still feel accomplished at the end of your journey.
These tips can also be applied to any travel, they're not restricted to solo trips only. Anything I missed? I'd love to hear your tips in the comments below!