Imagine a trip unhindered by the plans and expectations of someone else. You can be your own travel guide and decide where you want to go and when you want to explore. Traveling alone can help your mental health or teach you things about yourself you wouldn’t learn otherwise.
But there is plenty to consider before you leave by yourself so you can enjoy your time away, like where to go, for how long, what to bring, and, most importantly, how to keep yourself and your belongings safe.
Do Your Own Research
Research will be your most important step in planning your solo venture, since you’ll need to know where you can stay, what the weather will be like, or what permits, visas, or tickets you’ll need for your destination. Doing the research for yourself can save you money and give you more agency on your trip.
While a travel agent can tell you popular destinations, only you can decide where you want to go for your trip. Planning a trip can be overwhelming, so if you decide to work with a travel professional, doing your own research before you meet with them can give you a better idea of how you’d like your trip to go and the cost of some activities, which will save you time and money and prevent being taken advantage of.
Doing your own research instead of booking a packaged travel plan can help you avoid the single supplement. The supplement is a way for companies to make the money they normally would have made for two travelers, so it could get pricey. Spend a little bit of time browsing the web for travel agencies, cruises, tours, etc. that are known for being solo-friendly, and research other ways you can avoid the supplement so you don’t have to blow your entire savings.
Take Your Dollar Farther
Now that you’ve experienced a little bit of fear at the thought of a single supplement charging you a penalty for traveling solo, don’t get scared off just yet. In addition to the research suggested above, there are still ways to save some cash. When you are picking your destination, keep George Washington in mind. The more your dollar is worth, the more you will be able to save.
Regardless of your destination, you can build up your savings using frequent flier miles to get cheaper discounts and potentially a free flight. Keep in mind that all programs aren’t created equal, and some will give you more bang for your buck than others. Finding the best program will require some research and elimination.
Pack what you think you need and then divide your luggage in half, since you’ll be by yourself and your bags will need to go with you almost everywhere. You also don’t want to over pack and risk not being able to bring back any souvenirs, so consider the bare necessities. You might find it helpful to go ahead and plan an outfit for each day, and pack just that.
Besides the necessities, consider bringing layers so you can switch up your outfits without needing to bring too many clothes and be prepared for different weather conditions. You can also bring less clothes by finding inexpensive places to do your laundry. A backpack will be your best friend, since it’s easiest to carry, easy to keep track of, and it limits how much space you have to pack.
When you leave on your solo expedition, you should be able to enjoy yourself while you explore the world, so set up safety plans for yourself and your house before you leave.
Keeping yourself safe
- Enroll in STEP if you’re leaving the country
STEP, or the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, is a plan for U.S. citizens going abroad that connects you with your destination’s U.S. Embassy. You can also get access to updates on the safety conditions in your area and give family or the Embassy a way to contact you in case of an emergency.
- Join SafeCheckIn
This service is great for travelling alone. Once you join the website for a small fee, you can add your contact information and event information on where you’ll be and when you’re going to be back. The service will only share that information with those you’ve authorized or the authorities and only if you’ve been unresponsive to their three attempts to contact you.
Keeping your house safe
- Make your house look lived in
If your mail or newspapers pile up or your lights stay off or there’s no sign of movement, it can be a sign to burglars that you aren’t home, which makes your house an easy target. While you don’t need to fake a house party with mannequins Home Alone-style, you can put your lights on a timer so they turn on and off at normal intervals to make your house look lived in. Make sure none of your windows or doors are obscured with plants that could provide cover for an intruder, and instead of hiding your spare key, leave it with a neighbor you trust.
- Have someone housesit
If you have pets or plants that need to be taken care of or you don’t want to rig timers and stop your mail, you may want to have someone you trust stay in your house while you are away. Your house will appear lived in, and your daily household chores will be taken care of.
You don’t want to worry about everything while you’re trying to relax on vacation, which is why you’ll want to take care of your research, packing, and safety arrangements before you leave. With careful planning and thinking ahead, you’ll soon be on your way to experiencing a journey of a lifetime with no one in your way.
Guest post by Julie Morris. More information at JulieMorris.org.