8 solo-travel tips

8 solo-travel tips

man taking a photo
Outside NY
Hayley Schultz

Justin Ross* was a recent college graduate who had saved all of his summer job paychecks over the past 4 years so he could travel after graduation before “real life” began. Unfortunately, his friends didn’t do the same and were already well-established in their new careers and unable to take extended time off to travel with him.

Rochelle Mills* spent most of her adult life married with children, working full time and raising her family. Vacations were family affairs spent at the beach or Walt Disney World and she always pushed aside her dream of visiting Italy because she thought it was too expensive to take the kids or the family had to save their money for upcoming college. When the kids were finally grown and on their own, she discovered that while her husband was willing to go to Italy with her, he wasn’t particularly interested or looking forward to it.

There are many reasons why someone might travel solo. Rochelle and Justin’s stories are two examples. People with family and friends who don’t like to or are unable to travel because of work obligations or for financial or health reasons, people who are recently widowed or divorced, someone who moves to a new city and hasn’t met people yet with whom they can travel. The list of reasons is long and complex. If you love to travel but don’t have a travel partner, do you need to accept that you will never get to visit your dream destination?

Not necessarily. Solo travel is becoming more commonplace as an estimated 24% of travelers took a leisure trip overseas on their own in 2015 according to the Visa Global Travel Intentions study.

If you’re considering taking a solo trip, here are 8 tips:

  1. Join the AAA Solo Travelers Club. Meet other travelers who don’t have a travel partner, and travel as part of group. If you’re skittish about literally traveling on your own, traveling with a group offers safety in numbers, a pre-arranged itinerary, built-in dining companions, and a group escort to make sure everything runs smoothly.

  2. Exude confidence. Walk confidently with your head held high. Pore over your maps and tour books in your hotel room before you leave, and if you need to consult a map while walking about, go into a shop or doorway. Standing around looking dazed and confused makes you a target.

  3. Blend in. Don’t wear touristy clothing or flashy jewelry. Don’t flash your expensive camera or electronics.

  4. Learn a few words in the local language. Smile and make an effort to communicate. It’s appreciated by the locals and is a good way to meet people.

  5. Take your restaurant meal at noon. You’ll have the same quality of food but the prices are lower and the crowds are more solo-friendly. If you’re uncomfortable sitting alone at a table, ask to eat at the bar where you’re sure to meet other people.

  6. Confirm the safety of your evening destinations. Ask your concierge or desk clerk if the place you’re going to is fun and safe. Leave a note in your room that says where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Grab the hotel’s business card before you leave so if you get lost you can just hand it to a taxi driver to get back.

  7. Find other solo travelers. One of the best parts of traveling solo is that you're more likely to meet new people! Look up meetups in the city you’re visiting on the internet to find events with other solo travelers. Stay in a B&B or pension where you can chat with the owner who can introduce you to other travelers.

  8. Do all the things YOU want to do! You don’t have to negotiate with someone else, you don’t have to consider anyone else’s time table or energy level. Go where you want to, do what you want to do – even if that means sleeping late or spending the afternoon in a coffee shop. That’s the beauty of traveling alone – relish in it!

There’s no reason you can’t realize all your dream destinations, whether you have a travel partner or not!

Learn more about the AAA Solo Travelers Club by visiting www.AAA.com/solo

*Not their real names