There are a lot of benefits to traveling alone. You don’t have to accommodate anyone else so you can tailor the trip to your own preferences. Spending quality time with yourself means getting to know yourself better. By challenging your comfort zone, you can develop a stronger sense of resilience. The list goes on.
In spite of these benefits, solo travel is not without its stresses. The very thing that makes solo travel great—being completely on your own—is also what makes it more challenging than traveling with a companion. You alone are responsible for your safety, sanity, and enjoyment during your trip.
Fortunately, a lot of this stress can be minimized with a few simple strategies. Here’s how to ease the stresses of solo travel so you can focus on the benefits.
Plan in advance.
Preparation is a strong antidote to anxiety, so if you’re traveling solo it’s a good idea not to show up in a new locale without a single plan. Instead, research your destination in advance. Make sure you’re adhering to any visa or passport regulations if you’re traveling abroad, familiarize yourself with the geographic layout of the region, make a list of must-see attractions, and develop a general itinerary before you embark on your trip.
Lugging around a giant suitcase (or several) is stressful for any traveler, but it’s even more stressful when you have no one to help you lift luggage into overhead bins or haul it down subway stairs. Plus, struggling with too much luggage can draw unwanted attention when you’re traveling in a foreign place. For the sake of your back, your mobility, and your dignity, aim to pack light when you’re traveling alone.
Focus on the first night.
The most stressful part of a trip is typically the arrival. You’re tired from traveling and disoriented from being in a new place. That can make finding accommodations very challenging—especially when you don’t have a companion to help navigate. Make it easier on yourself by booking a hotel for your first night before you arrive. Also aim to arrive before sunset if possible. It’ll be much easier to navigate a new city in daylight than after dark.
It can be nerve-wracking to travel alone because you don’t have anyone nearby on whom you can call for help. Nor do you have a companion who can help you navigate unfamiliar places or feel safer on the street. You can relieve these anxieties by designating an emergency contact before you leave for your trip. Ask them to remain responsive while you’re away, and keep their contact info. with you at all times. Every day, text them your general plans for the day so somebody has a sense of your whereabouts in the case of an emergency.
Enlist local help.
When you’re alone in a new city, who better to help you get your bearings than someone who knows the city like the back of their hand? That’s the premise behind the reinvigorated interest in concierge services, which exist at hotels and beyond. For example, City CoPilot in New York City offers a variety of services including luggage storage, airport transportation, and discounts on local tours and attractions. Getting a little help from people in the know can be a godsend when you’re traveling alone.
Keep your phone charged.
When you’re traveling alone, you’re more likely to rely on your phone than when you’re traveling with companions. You’ll need it to touch base with your emergency contact (see above), look up directions, browse Reddit if you feel awkward eating dinner alone, and so on. It’s imperative to make sure you won’t run into any data caps before you leave and that you keep your phone charged during the entirety of your trip.
At first being alone with your thoughts can feel like a sumptuous escape from the daily grind, but the longer a solo trip drags on, the more you risk starting to feel bored. It’s good to be prepared with entertainment in the event that boredom kicks in. Bring along a book or journal, download podcasts or movies to your phone or tablet, or invest in Sudoku books or other brain challengers. These will definitely come in handy on long flights or train rides or during quiet nights in a hotel.
No matter where in the world you’re traveling, these seven strategies will help you minimize the stresses of solo travel. You can focus on having the time of your life!