I’m a big traveler. Traveling is in my blood. Not only am I the fourth generation in my family to have visited all the states in the US, but my (many) passports have been stamped by countries across South America, Europe, Australia and more. Generally, I travel with my family or friends but as of recently I’ve been traveling a lot for work and been making solo trips around the US and the world.
Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way to carpe diem every moment of travel– even if I’m flying (literally) solo.
- Find an #Instagramboyfriend. Not the kind you make out with on camera (unless that’s what you’re into) but the kind of person who you know is going to not crop off your head or take an unsalvageable blurry pic of you in front of the famous monument. My general rule of thumb is to look for someone in the crowd that probably has an Instagram. Likely suspects include teenage girls, hipster millennial, Asian tourists. Anyone with a big fancy camera is also a good bet.
- Be bold and specific with what kind of pictures you want. Tell the person if you want a full body shot, not to cut off the top of the cathedral, not to capture the dumpster in the background. I’ve even gone so far as to show the photographer pictures on Instagram to ensure they understand what I’m talking about. I also offer to take their picture too to get good photo karma.
- Pack lightly. You need less than you think. I went to Russia for two weeks in the middle of the winter in just a backpack and had enough outfits to not only hike through Siberia but go to nice dinners and the ballet in St. Petersburg. Unless you’re going to Paris fashion week or a star studded wedding you probably can afford to wear the same pair of jeans twice in a trip. When you’re traveling alone you don’t have anyone to help lift that 49.5lb carry on into the overhead bin. So pack wisely.
- Join a tour group. If you have the time, sign up for a walking tour of the city. You’ll learn some history about the town and inevitably strike up some conversations with interesting folks. Use this as an opportunity to find people to adventure with later. Once while I was in St. Petersburg, a woman heard me speaking English, struck up a conversation and ended up getting brunch with us the following day.
- Dare to eat out solo. Fight the inertia to stay in your hotel and order room service. I’ve been traveling solo for 6 months now and I’ll admit it’s still occasionally daunting for me to go to a sit down restaurant and order a meal, but every time I rally and go out I’ve never regret it. I like to nab tables in the corner or out on the street so I can people watch. Sometimes I’ve even shared tables with people! In Munich, I sat at a two seater table and stuck up pleasant conversations with two fellow travelers who rotated through that seat in front of me throughout the meal.
- Stay in a hostel. Loads of lone travelers stay in hostels. If you’re looking for companionship this is a great place to start. You often have the option to share rooms with people and there is generally a communal space (or even a bar!) in the hostel where people gather and chat. Hostel staff usually also have great recommendations on where to explore plus you might even get the chance to go out with them! For a comparison between hostels, hotels and airbnb click here!
- Stay connected with home. If you’re like me and on the road for months at a time, don’t let the time change get in your way with staying in touch. Without distrusting my adventure schedule, I like to set aside sometime a few times a week to call home. Once you’re connected to wifi, it’s super easy to contact home without tapping into an expensive data plan. WhatsApp, FaceTime audio, and Facebook messenger are all good apps to phone home.
- Travel smart. Tell someone where you are staying, where you are flying and text/call them when you make it to your end destination. Also have an emergency stash of cash with you. You never know when a train station won’t take cards…or cash…only coins, or if you want to spontaneously barter with a street vendor in Peru for llama key chains.