Your Guide On Solo Traveling 2022
Solo travel can be a rather daunting pursuit, especially if you’ve never done so before. Those who do take the leap and board that plane alone, however, almost always find solo travel to be a life changing experience. Finding yourself in a new city, discovering an unfamiliar culture, and meeting new people alone gives you the chance to explore yourself completely. There are some obvious concerns though. Safety and loneliness tend to dissuade people from booking their ticket in the first place. In that spirit, we’ve curated a guide on solo travel to help plan your next solo trip or your very first.
Solo Traveling Tips
Is it safe to travel alone?
As a solo female traveller, one of the main questions I get is, “How did you stay safe?” or “Weren’t you scared?” There’s a common misconception that there is strength in numbers. I’m of the opinion, however, that nothing makes a tourist stand out more than traveling in a group. As a solo traveller, it’s significantly easier to blend in to the crowd. By standing out, you become a much clearer target for pickpocketing and petty crime.
So do your research ahead of time. Know the routes you need to take from the airport to your hotel/hostel, familiarize yourself with the neighborhood you’re staying in, and stick to open and public spaces. If you need directions when walking around a new place, I like to keep one headphone in to listen to the directions instead of constantly staring at my phone: a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist.
Likewise, I also highly recommend downloading an offline map of your destination onto Google Maps. On the occasion that you happen to lose internet connection, you still have access to directions. To do so, type in your location, then click ‘more,’ and select ‘download offline map.’ So the next time you open the Google Maps app, you will have access to directions in your city regardless of your internet connection or lack thereof.
Another one of the main deterrents from traveling solo is the daunting prospect of eating in a restaurant alone. In anticipation of my first solo trip, the thought of sitting alone frightened me, but I can confidently say now that I’ve acquired a deep love for it. It’s a great opportunity to build confidence and get to know your waiter/waitress.
For first timers, I suggest eating at a restaurant that’s good for people watching; it’s incredibly entertaining. Think something outside where you can watch passersby. If that’s not an option, bring a book or a newspaper so you don’t drain your phone’s battery.
Do not overplan
One of the great joys of solo travel is the leisure to do exactly as you please. Think about all the times when you had to compromise on vacation before. No longer do you need to keep pace with someone in a museum you find rather boring. Now you don’t need to pretend to enjoy that dreaded hike your friend wanted to take you on. One of the best advantages of traveling alone is the freedom it allows you. Creating too strict of an itinerary leaves little room for spontaneity or any suggestions you may get from locals.
Why you should consider staying in a hostel
Another tip for solo travel is to stay in a hostel. It’s a great way to make connections with fellow solo travelers and combat loneliness. Hostels tend to have a bad reputation, but it isn’t the ’80s any more. Gone are the days when hostels were dingy grounds for stealing and filled with seedy characters. And while, yes, hostels like that still exist, the majority of hostels are incredibly modern and safe.
Whether you’re in search of a good party or a quaint boutique style place, there is a hostel for everyone these days. Like anything else though, do your research. Hostelworld is the best site to compare and contrast different stays, and you’re likely to get the best prices.
Upon arrival, be sure to come prepared with shower shoes, a padlock, ear plugs if you’re like me and can’t stand snoring, and maybe even a towel; sometimes they’re not provided. Knock on wood, but I’ve never had anything stolen from me in a hostel, nor have I felt like I might. If anything, hostels introduced me to the most incredible people ever.
Solo Travel Communities
Like I said, staying in hostels is a great way to meet likeminded solo travelers. In the wake of the pandemic, more people are embracing the digital nomad lifestyle. With many work positions online, travel is now easier and more accessible than ever.
The Nomad Club here at ITH Hostels is a new feature that allows you to pay a cheaper flat rate for a 30, 60, and 90 day pass to stay at any ITH location in San Diego, Big Bear, Joshua Tree, or San Francisco. Not only do you get to stay in some of the best places in SoCal, but the Nomad Club grants you access to coworking spaces at a discount as well.
Solo Traveling Destinations
A wonderful eco-destination in its own right, explore La Fortuna de San Carlos if you’d feel more comfortable around English speakers, Santa Teresa west of San Jose, or Playa Carmen in the South if you’re looking to meet fellow Americans. Costa Rica is the safest and friendliest country in Central America, although it certainly helps to speak a little Spanish. As one of the greenest countries in the world, Costa Rica is the perfect spot for those interested in hiking volcanoes, surfing, seeing endemic birds, and colorful tree frogs.
Like Costa Rica, Hawaii is an obvious haven for wildlife and outdoors enthusiasts. As a hub for friendly hostels and surf spots, Hawaii is the perfect spot to take advantage of co-living spaces. Most people will start with Honolulu. As the capital city, its rich history, beautiful beaches, and delicious Poke will leave you wanting more. If golf is more your thing, head over to Maui for some of the best spots. With 14 luxurious courses, you’ll feel like one of the pros when teeing off at The Plantation Course.
If you’re into exploring the desert, climbing, and camping under the clear sky at night, Joshua Tree is a must see destination. I can’t think of a better spot to do a social detox and unplug for a weekend. Our Coyote Ranch Hostel in Joshua Tree is the perfect stay for those in search of a peaceful atmosphere in the desert. While you’re there, Skull Rock and Arch Rock are must sees.
In search of the perfect SoCal getaway? San Diego is bound to be a hit. Ditch the tourists and traffic in LA, and head south for the surfer filled beaches of Pacific Beach or La Jolla. Balboa Park’s shops and greenery create the perfect atmosphere for an afternoon stroll. Nowhere else in the U.S. do you get to end each and every day with a perfect sunset that makes you rethink your entire life–hence why you should go it alone. We’re biased, but the Beach Bungalow Hostel on Pacific Beach or the Adventure Hostel in Little Italy are always great spots to crash.
Is Solo Travel Lonely?
The biggest fear that plagues the solo traveler is loneliness and isolation. It’s a very real prospect, especially around families and friends who get to share their vacation with each other. One way to overcome your travel blues is to join a walking tour. In most cities, there are almost always free walking tours. These tours are chock full of solo travelers eager to meet one another. While you’re waiting for the tour to begin try introducing yourself to others, who knows? Maybe you’ll get a lunch buddy out of it. I also find that spending some money on yourself, going out on a solo date, getting active, and embracing nature help me combat solitude’s blues.
At the end of the day, it’s important to be kind to yourself when loneliness rears its ugly head. It’s easy to think you’re bad at solo travel when feelings of isolation set in. Maybe you’re just staying at the wrong hostel or simply not in the right place at the right time. The main point is that loneliness is somewhat inevitable when traveling alone. It’s how you handle it that makes the difference.
What Solo Travel Teaches You
One of the best aspects of solo travel is the freedom from friends’ and family’s opinions. No longer do you need to rely on the input of others to make decisions. As a solo traveler, you have no choice but to solely depend on yourself. Before my bouts abroad, I used to joke that I had no intuition–no gut feeling. That wasn’t true. I merely didn’t know how to listen to it.
Solo travel teaches you to stay true to the voice within. It’s the best way to reconnect with yourself and learn how to march to the beat of you own drum, especially if you’re like me and had never done so before. Not only is solo travel a masterclass in the world beyond your front door, but it’s also an education on identity, values, acceptance, and gratitude. After all, solo travel teaches you that you don’t need someone else to make you feel whole again.