Solo travel has definitely been a hot topic lately with more and more people taking the leap! As a result, I’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about solo travel and I’m so excited that more and more of my friends are considering it as a way to travel and get out of their comfort zone!! Last year I made it a point to travel solo more often, as one of my 2018 travel goals, and I totally did! 5 out of 6 solo trips in total occurred just this past year; here’s the complete list of countries I’ve traveled to, solo:
My introduction to solo travel
These 6 unique solo experiences have further solidified why I love traveling by myself. Maybe it’s the introvert in me but then again, it’s most likely the fact that I get to decide how I spend my time on each trip. Through these adventures and personal revelations I have become a serious advocate for solo travel, especially for women/women of color.
It all started with Paris just over 4 years ago. At the time I wasn’t necessarily looking to travel solo, it just came out of necessity. I was traveling throughout Europe and was in London visiting family when I decided to take the train to Paris but had no one to go with. With the help of my cousin and a little pre-planning, I didn’t even think twice and hopped on the train to Paris!
One thing my cousin gave me was peace of mind; since she has visited Paris numerous times, she was able to answer all my questions before I left. In this case, I personally did very little research as I luckily had friends who shared their itinerary and an amazingly detailed cousin who shared all of her tips and places to see. Without hesitation, I embarked on my first solo adventure and it was life changing. Check out my full Paris guide and itinerary on how it went: “48 Hours in Paris, A Solo Adventure.”
As a result of this pivotal trip, and consequent solo trips, it’s not even a thought anymore, if I have a desire to go somewhere, I just go. When I come across someone who has yet to try it, I unapologetically go into convince and encourage mode. Hoping that they too will feel my excitement and have the courage to take the leap because it’s so worth it!
Why you should travel solo
So why travel solo in the first place? To summarize some of the benefits of solo travel I’m sharing a few perspectives, beyond my own, and what they got out of it. Don’t just take it from me, hear what others have to say and check out their Solo Travel Spotlights on the blog, or click their names below for their full interview.
- Lisa says, “It gives you confidence to do other things that you may have felt timid about doing once you accomplish this goal. Little by little I believe you will become more confident.”
- Lauren says, “I think it’s the best decision you can make for yourself. You learn so much about yourself and you’re not on anyone’s time but your own.”
- Liz says, “There was a sense of power [when traveling solo] that I haven’t felt when traveling with friends.”
And yet if you’re on the other side of solo travel it can seem daunting, uncomfortable and out of reach. So the natural response tends to be “But…[insert excuse as to why you can’t travel solo].” But Fidel… is it safe? Will I be bored? Will I be lonely? etc. And I have a very simple response to any excuse that I’ve heard. In spite of your valid concerns, just do it anyway!
I realize people are coming from different backgrounds and have varied levels of comfort with traveling in general, let alone traveling solo. But I promise, it’s easier than you think and a little support goes a long way. And I hope to be that support to some of you who are going back and forth with the idea.
Find your inspo and go!
Let’s walk through some practical ways to increase your level of comfort with solo travel.
First off, I personally follow tons of travel influencers like Travel Noire and The Discoverers who provide useful guides on the subject and locations of interest, often at no cost! Additionally, Travel Noire publishes top solo travel destinations each year and guess which destination ranked number 1 in 2019? Of course, it’s Paris, France! Check out their 15 Best Solo Travel Destinations for 2019; it’s an easy way to get a head start on your planning.
Based off of their list last year, I outlined some key destinations I wanted to visit and was able to check off Reykjavik, Iceland from my list. So if you’re a planner like me, I encourage you to utilize these lists to compile your own shortlist of travel destinations. Up next are the following countries I personally want to experience solo in the near future (compiled from various resources):
Additionally, the more you are exposed to the idea –seeing others traveling the globe completely solo and having a blast– it expands your perspective and comfort level. So I challenge you (if you aren’t already) to start following your favorite travel influencers and get inspired! Beyond that, I would identify what’s holding you back from traveling solo in the first place.
Practical next steps
If you’re super social and feel you’ll get lonely, book a tour! Freetour.com has a number of great tours in cities across the globe, completely free! I recently booked my first walking tour with them in Barcelona and absolutely loved it!
If you’re concerned about getting lost, make sure you have data on your phone to access google maps and be sure to visit a destination where language isn’t a barrier so you can easily navigate by foot or train. Also, consider T-Mobile, they have phone plans that include unlimited international texting and data in over 200 countries at no additional cost. I personally have T-Mobile and this benefit has given me so much flexibility and the freedom to travel unbothered.
If safety is a concern, ask your network for safe options and their personal experience with a specific location. While no place is 100% safe, you’ll want to feel as comfortable as possible in order to explore solo for the first time. Additionally, if you’re coming from the U.S. you could also check out the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories but I would approach this with a grain of salt.
Comfort is overrated, or is it?
The list of excuses are endless and vary from person to person but for every concern, I promise there’s a solution to ease your anxiety. You just have to identify what’s holding you back and look for practical solutions that works for you. Ultimately, you need to do what will make YOU feel most comfortable as you consider stepping completely out of your comfort zone.
I know it’s a little counterintuitive but in order for some to take the leap into the unknown there has to be some level of perceived comfort, at least in the beginning. That could look like doing tons of research to make sure you know exactly what you’ll be doing or sending your location and updates to family and friends to keep your nerves at ease. Whatever it takes to get you there, I’m for it!
Here are just a few ways to keep your nerves at ease when planning your first solo adventure:
- Ask your network for tips and personal recommendations if you don’t know where to start.
- Do your research and plan out your hotel and activities beforehand.
- Go to countries that are deemed “safe” according to the U.S. State Department.
- Identify people you may know in the country or ask friends to connect you! (I do this all the time for myself and my friends).
- Start with a country where you know the language; if you speak English you’ll find this to be fairly easy.
- Utilize a sample itinerary from someone who has already done the research 😉
I’m so grateful for my solo travel experiences and now feel empowered to do anything! Seriously, I’ve gained so much confidence in my abilities to explore, problem solve, and navigate in a foreign land that I’m no longer afraid to travel solo. I actually want to do it more often; there’s something about completely relying on yourself, while utilizing the right resources to stay safe but also have the time of your life.
I hope that in sharing my solo travel story and advice that some of you will challenge yourself to explore and take a trip, completely solo. You won’t regret it!