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I've traveled solo to seven countries — here’s my biggest advice so you can do it too

Submitted by Tech Insider on April 16, 2018 - 12:40pm

snorkeling

  • After traveling solo to seven countries, I highly recommend everyone travel alone at least once.
  • Taking a solo trip increases self-confidence and can be a life-changing experience.
  • When traveling by yourself, remember to get outside of your comfort zone and treat yourself.

The first time I boarded a plane alone, I was 20 and headed to Paris to study abroad for four months. While standing at security in Boston waving goodbye to my parents, I felt a mixture of nerves, fear, and a whole new level of excitement.

During my time in Europe, I drank hot cocoa in Zurich, explored castles in Prague, and sunbathed on the French Riviera — all while traveling solo. Those four months opened me up a whole new type of travel, one where I could do whatever I want, whenever I wanted. A completely freeing experience.

After college, I went by myself on a trip to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand with Intrepid Travel. There I met my partner of four years and we had a long-distance relationship until I moved to Australia.

During my time Down Under, I went to Bali by myself and truly fell in love with a place like never before. Walking through the rice patties looking for a hidden restaurant and getting a massage just because I felt like it were just a few of the highlights.

Since then, I’ve moved back to New York and my most recent solo trip took me on a relaxing long weekend at the Barcelo Maya Beach in Mexico.

After visiting seven countries by myself, here are a few pieces of advice to make the most out of your solo adventure.

man hiking forest rainforest

Just do it.

For people who identify as women, the idea of traveling alone is frightening, sometimes even taboo. The best advice I could possibly give to anyone who wants to travel, either solo or with someone else, is just do it.

People, especially women feel they need to have a companion while traveling. But from personal experience, traveling by yourself is liberating and often life-changing. You’ll learn things about yourself you didn’t realize, like that you have no trouble relying on yourself to get around or that you love eating alone. As a woman and as a traveler, this adds a new level of confidence that carries over into everyday life.

Have a plan.

This is not only for your own peace of mind but also for your loved ones. Traveling alone can be anxiety-producing, especially for parents and partners. Make sure to have a plan in place so that you know what city you’re arriving in and your accommodations for at least a few days. This way, you can give all the information to your family and friends and it will reduce the level of anxiety that travel can sometimes cause. This will also give you a chance to plan sights, restaurants and other activities so you can make the most out of your trip.

Friends New York City

Try to be outgoing.

For some, the hardest part of traveling alone is the solitude. So instead of booking a pricey hotel, book a cheaper hostel and introduce yourselves to the people in the common areas. This was a difficult one for me because I tend to be more quiet and introverted, but hostels are a great way to meet like-minded people. They are full of solo travelers who also wouldn’t mind a companion for a tour around the city or just someone to share a meal with. Hostels also often host bar crawls or other group activities, another great opportunity to make friends all over the world.

Always travel with a cellphone.

This is another bit of advice that can really help put your anxious mind at ease. Feeling like you have a lifeline in a foreign country is important. So, when you get to the airport buy a local SIM card for your phone. This will give you access to Google Maps so you don’t get lost. You’ll also be able to call the local emergency number (not 911 in other countries), family, your hostel, or embassy if anything were to go wrong. You can also use it to chat with people back home as often or as little as you’d like.

woman texting

Enjoy every second.

For most Americans, two weeks a year is all we get as far as vacation time, so when you’re traveling alone, just soak it all in. It may be your first and only trip traveling solo, so ignore the sometimes uncomfortable feeling of being in a new place, and take advantage by doing everything you want to do. Be selfish and treat yourself to a spa day or an expensive Michelin star restaurant. For travelers, life is all about experiences.

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