Around the World

How Do I Prepare for Solo Travel? 3 Tips from the Experts

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Solo travel is more than picking out postcards alone. Image by Flickr user Dancing Fingers.

Whenever I tell a casual acquaintance about my solo adventures, I receive a look of disbelief and one of several possible responses:

So who do you know there?

Why are you going?

When my own responses are “No one” and “Umm, for fun?”…

Woah. You’ve got some balls!

For me, though, solo travel wasn’t ever an expression of bravery. With my mom housebound and me, for the first time in my life, having more disposable income than my friends and romantic partners (not to mention more free time, as I cycled in and out of temporary employment), I was finally given the chance to explore the world around me . . . solo!

But if you’re new to solo travel and feeling anxious, you’ll appreciate the following advice from some experienced Go Girls. Find out how to take the first steps to adventuring on your own!

Cut Your Thinking Short

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Janice Waugh, Founder, Solo Traveler

“What She Said” interviews Janice.

Follow Janice on Twitter and Facebook.

Some first-time solo travelers just go without too much thought about traveling alone. But that’s not the case for everyone. Many think long and hard before taking that first trip.

Cut some of the thinking short and go some place nice and close and easy and familiar . . . for example, a town within your own state that’s not too big.

Go for a long weekend. You’ll need at least three full days because you’ll likely spend the first day wondering what you were thinking . . . wondering what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it.

But, by taking your time, first-day jitters leave as you observe the city and the people and how everything works. Then you’ll know how you want to spend the next couple of days and have enough time to really enjoy yourself doing so.

Join a Meetup Group

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Stephanie Denzer, volunteer travel organizer, Spark Ventures.

“What She Said” interviews Stephanie.

Follow Stephanie on Twitter and Facebook.

Sign up for a Meetup group in your area. [Might I suggest a Go Girl meetup?] Part of the fun of traveling alone is meeting new friends and learning from others wherever you happen to be. Sign up for a meet-up without roping in your best friend to come along for the ride. Go with the goal of striking up conversation with at least three new people and learning something about them during the course of the event. That way, you’ll be in the swing of it when you’re traveling and itching to learn more about the people you’re meeting along the way.

Eat Alone (Without Your Phone)

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Lillie Marshall, Founder, Around the World “L” and Teaching Traveling

Look forward to the “What She Said” interview with Lillie, premiering this month!

Follow Lillie on Twitter and Facebook.

Tip: Go out to eat in your hometown alone. Instead of being on your smartphone, bring a journal and doodle or note down things you see around you. Take some time to just eat and look around. Read a local newspaper (many of which are free at the doorways of eateries). Notice how, even when you are supposedly alone, you are never really alone; you could talk to anyone you want to, or just listen.

Notice, too, the beauty and calm of being by yourself, without the obligation to converse. Enjoy!

During the 9 months I spent traveling solo around the world, I was actually alone for a fraction of that time, as I kept meeting new friends to travel with and hang out with — often while eating alone! But I also really loved the chance to just be by myself: a luxury that we rarely afford ourselves because of fear or worry that it’s “not cool” to be alone.

Truly, the months I spent in solo, self-directed travel are what helped me really get me in touch with myself in order to truly find love (and now marriage and a baby!) once I returned home.

Stay tuned next month when we discuss solo travel . . . in a group!  If you have any tips for first-timers going solo, share them in the comments.

Ann Santori
Blogger and podcaster
Ann Santori is a B.A. graduate in English Literature and Political Science from Carthage College in Kenosha, WI. She was born and (partially) raised in Chicago, IL before moving to the suburbs and therefore igniting her life-long desire to travel far beyond towns where the only thing open past 9pm is the IHOP.

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