Around the World

How Do I Prepare for Solo Travel? 2 Tips from the Experts (Part Two)

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Go it alone! Image from Pixabay.

Last month, we discussed the first steps towards solo travel.

Janice Waugh of Solo Traveler encouraged you to cut your thinking short and start small by taking a long weekend solo.

Stephanie Denzer from Spark Ventures suggested you join a meetup group and start a conversation with at least three new people.

Lillie Marshall, founder of Around the World “L” and Teaching Traveling, challenged you to enjoy a meal alone.

To top off our chat with the experts about solo travel, check out two more great tips!

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and Into a New Community

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Kathryn Pisco, Co-Founder, Unearth the World.

“What She Said” interviews Kathryn.

Follow Kathryn on Twitter and Facebook.

The decision to travel solo is an exciting and, oftentimes, nerve-wracking one. Whenever someone asks me about how they should get ready to take this leap, I always focus on the mental and emotional preparation.

Travelers tend to worry about being alone for extended periods of time or feeling lonely. They also wonder how they will react to different cultures and experiences when they have to be reliant on only themselves.

Pre-trip experiences:

  • Engage in “comfort zone” exercises at home.

The idea behind this is to simulate getting out of your comfort zone before you even leave on your trip! I always suggest that a solo traveler visit with a group in their local area that they have not yet interacted with because it feels uncomfortable. This visit can be an event, organization or social venue and can include everything from a political group that you disagree with, to a nonprofit that serves a population new to you, to a self-help group like AA or a church that you are unfamiliar with.

While visiting, it is important that the traveler have a meaningful interaction with people there (beyond just a “hello”). Practice makes perfect!

By putting yourself outside your comfort zone before you leave on your trip, you will be more equipped for your time on the road.

  • Connect with other people who have already traveled solo.

Sometimes traveling solo can seem so daunting. But talking to other people who have already done it can help you realize just how feasible it is. By connecting with like-minded solo travelers, you can begin to feel more prepared to do it yourself.

Pre-trip preparation:

  • Study the language and history of your host culture and follow local news.
  • Plan ahead to engage in sharing economy: Airbnb, Meal Sharing, etc.
  • Plan to volunteer.

I have found that first-time solo travelers are often worried about being lonely.  Yet, once people begin to travel, they soon realize that opportunities for connection and social interaction are everywhere. Just knowing that you have planned social opportunities prior to your trip can put your mind at ease. Volunteering abroad can also be a great way to automatically connect with a community upon your arrival. If you choose the right volunteer experience, you can have a unique cultural exchange while being a part of something that is bigger than you.

Consider Traveling Solo…Together!

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Allison Fleece, Co-Founder, WHOA Travel.

“What She Said” interviews Allison.

Follow Allison on Twitter and Facebook.

When WHOA travel was founded, we quickly realized there is a large group of solo female travelers out there looking for adventures to share with others, and this became a big demographic for us. Our first annual Kilimanjaro adventure drew together 28 unique women from 9 different nationalities. Of the 28, a majority were solo travelers, meaning they didn’t know anyone else on the trip, but they wanted to be a part of something that was bigger than themselves, and to share that with the like-mindedness of powerful women. And that is exactly what happened.

When you are a solo traveler, you can still benefit from the energy and excitement of  group, especially when it comes to overcoming a physical challenge, like Kilimanjaro, together. So for all you solo-ers out there, sometimes, given the type of travel, the experience is best when shared, and the combination of your energy coming together makes some powerful things happen.

NOTE: On the WHOA travel first annual Kilimanjaro adventure, all 28 women reached the summit of Kilimanjaro on International Women’s Day, defying all odds with a 100% success rate! You go girls!

Join the 2015 Kilimanjaro adventure from March 2-10, and summit on International Women’s Day!

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Plan a tour so esoteric that none of your traveling companions want to join you! At the New York Public Library. Image courtesy of Ann Santori.

My tip? Don’t feel guilty when life throws you some curveballs and all of a sudden, you have the opportunity to travel with others. You’ll still be the independent woman top 10 Country songs are written about. Enjoy showing off these newfound parts of yourself with others.

And, if you start to feel claustrophobic, politely suggest (perhaps even ahead of time, during the trip planning stages) that you’d like to go for a run, sit by the lake and read the bestseller you packed, pop out for a cup of coffee . . . anything that gives you a bit of solo respite.

Any great tips we’ve missed, Go Girls? Where did you go the first time you traveled solo?

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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