Solo travel is a skill. While knowing how to score a good flight, stay safe, and work your way around a country are all important, your state of mind matters even more in having fulfilling your travel dreams. Here are some tips on how to maximize your solo travels that go beyond logistics.
Breathe it all in. You are finally there! Soak up that sunset. Inhale the spices in the air. Feel the waves crash at your feet. Listen to the chatter of locals around you (especially if don’t understand it). Marvel at everything. Anyone can buy a plane ticket and go on tours/eat at restaurants/stay in hotels, but a solo traveler takes the time to just be there. The more moments you stop to just breathe and be in the moment, the better.
If you are on a Meetup Tour with us, there is almost always solo time built into the itinerary. Take it! If you are traveling alone and a meet slew of awesome people who want to tag along with you, that’s great. Still opt to do some sightseeing solo. Don’t forget there is a reason you set off by yourself. As easy as it is to get caught up with a group (because the people you meet are one of the best parts!), stay true to yourself and your travels. Your travel friends won’t take it personally; they get you and will probably appreciate the time to themselves, too.
We know we just told you to be alone, but the people you meet are an important part of your travel experience. Whether it’s with your fellow participants on a Meetup Tour or the locals and fellow travelers you meet along the way, always stay open to new people (until they give you a reason not to of course). People are rarely what they appear to be, so give them a chance while keeping yourself safe. All travelers and locals have a story to tell that you have never heard, so if you withhold judgement, you will make friends with people you would have other written off on first glance.
Travel will never go totally according to plan. It doesn’t matter how you do it, even if you pay someone else to plan it for you. Some of the best moments in our travels have been when a bus breaks down in Cuba and we chat to the locals on the side of the road, when a day trip in Australia is cancelled so we find ourselves on a secluded beach with dolphins in the water, when we get super sick and the sweetest hostel owner brings you soup. Sometimes the bad things that happen simply give the people around us to show us how amazing they are. Often times a better adventure is around the corner. When things don’t go according to plan, trust that something spectacular is around the corner because it usually is.
It’s so easy to complain, especially as a way to bond with fellow travelers. It’s tempting to complain as a conversation starter or a way to connect. And whether you are in a group or alone, it is even easier to complain when you feel out of control. Focusing on the negative is the quickest way to ruin your whole trip. Negativity is like the plague. It spreads fast and can ruin an experience for you and everyone around you. Look for the positive. Your food may be cold, but it is delicious. It’s crazy hot outside, but at least your hotel room has AC. If your thoughts are positive, then everything else will follow suit.
There are countries with beliefs or customs that we don’t agree with personally. As our values will tell you, we believe in things like human rights, animal welfare, and equality. Unfortunately, other parts of the world don’t have the same priorities or simply can’t hold the same values. While we feed as many stray dogs as we can, we don’t judge the locals for allowing them to go hungry. They are probably struggling to find food for themselves. This is trickier to remember when it comes to sweatshops, how women are treated in society, and issues that feel really personal. The best we can do for our own travels is to just accept that we can’t change it and move on. We can help those we come across and we can choose to spend our money on ethical experiences, but we won’t change the world by ourselves on one trip. We would be in a constant state of despair if we internalized it. What we can do is leave a path of fed dogs, donate to worthy charities, and practice random acts of kindness.