I remember the first time I boarded a plane on my own – it was to Shanghai to celebrate New Year’s Eve – I felt incredibly lonely and melancholic. It would be due to the long layover for that flight, or the rainy weather on that day… I wasn’t sure why I felt a little sad.
Fast forward many years later, I have taken multiple flights on my own and traveled solo a few times. I am no solo travel expert but here are some thoughts to share with ladies who are tempted to travel on your own.
#1: You no longer need to accommodate others’ preferences or interests.
Did you visit certain places that you had no interest in, because your travel partner insisted on going? Did you had to scale down on your itinerary because your friends did not have enough leave days or were tight on travel budget?
Solo travel allows you to plan according to your interests without a care for others. It is self-indulgent but think about this: you do not have to wait around just to figure out the travel dates or to get your flights and hotels booked.
If you feel like going on a vacay, you could just pay, pack and fly! Now, doesn’t that sound liberating?
#2: Know yourself well and make sure you plan according to your strengths and weaknesses.
Make provisions according to your strengths and weaknesses while traveling alone. If you are bad with directions, get a data SIM card so that you could rely on Google Maps and voice navigation on the go! Or if you tend to get car sick, plan your itinerary such that you would only go for short drives, or you are able to take public transport and walk to your destinations.
#3: Plan ahead but not too ahead.
If you are a girl traveling alone, it is best to book the accommodation for your first night before you land. I would arrange with the hotel for pick-up from the airport, especially if I am headed to a developing country that I am not familiar with. If you land at night, it’s best to have your transfer arranged as it may not be safe hunting for public transport at that time.
However, allow some flexibility in your schedule for changes. After all, you might meet other tourists during your trip whom you would like to travel with, so keep your itinerary open and go with the flow when you feel like it.
#4: It’s perfectly fine if you do not enjoy being alone. Join a group tour!
Traveling alone could be stressful and some people might not enjoy having no one to talk to for a prolong period of time. Such sentiments are perfectly normal and you could make adjustments accordingly.
You could consider joining international group tours such as G Adventures, Topdeck or Intrepid Travel where all you need to do is fly to the destination and arrive at the landing hotel. You will then be joined by several tourists from around the world on a planned group tour!
#5: Sometimes because you are on your own, you need to let it go.
Shopping or bargaining gets a bit difficult at times when you are a lone traveler. For instance, some rogue stall owner may quote you a higher price with no room for negotiation. At such situations, we should not lose sight of the bigger picture – our own safety. I would avoid attracting unnecessary attention or getting into quarrels or fights with people. If I were quoted a higher price for something that is a necessity and there is no other alternatives in sight, I would choose to just pay and walk away without arguing.
In conclusion, it’s YOUR trip. You have the freedom to customise your vacation according to your personality and preferences. Ultimately, it is liberating and rewarding to be doing good to yourself, with your own effort!