Greetings and welcome to my little nook of random. For those of you returning, welcome back! And for those of you visiting for the first time, welcome! Make sure you subscribe so you can follow along on this journey! All photographs on my blog have been taken by me in various places.
My blog usually consists of Travel, Photography, Minimalism, and the occasional post about writing a book. For today, I am going to spend some time answering the number one question I get faced with: “How can you travel so much solo?”
The short answer is, if I didn’t travel solo, I probably wouldn’t travel at all. With my crazy nomadic work life, and my desire to go to places I’ve never been, it suits me fine just to get up and go and go by myself. I have learned much along the way, and far too much to completely share it all in one simple blog post, so I will make a dent in it and cover the top 12 tips for solo travel.
A sidenote. This post will be specifically about long haul flights to destinations far that you probably need a passport for. It is a myth that you have to be loaded to go on trips to faraway lands. My recent Budapest/Prague trip was a total of $1450 (airfare, accommodation, daily breakfast, and four side trips or excursions). My entire month excursion to Thailand next May is under $1800 and that includes a week add-on down south on the islands. You can get a one way flight from San Francisco or Denver to Paris, France of $259…..and no, that is not a typo. You don’t have to be rich. You have to be driven, creative and patient. I can dedicate an entire post or two on travel hacks and cheap travel sometime later if the interest is there. Let me know.
Here we go……..
1. RESEARCH BEFORE YOU GO
Get yourself a travel book. There are plenty out there that are good and cover just about everything you need. Moon. Lonely Planet. Fodor’s. If you are on Facebook there are travel groups that have been amazing! Have learned a ton about travel this way! Groups such as Solo Women Travelers. Solo Travel Society. Nomad Women 40’s and up. Solo Female Traveler Network. To name a few. For me? The best teacher is someone who has already done what I would like to do. So that’s YouTube. Every place, food, experience, is all on YouTube someplace.
2. PREPARE FOR LONG HAUL FLIGHT
The flights are no joke and preparation makes it much easier. (again, this deserves a post of its own but for today, will hit the highlights) One must have a neck pillow, eye mask, and ear plugs. A killer playlist and ear buds. Something to read. A one liter water bottle. Mints, toothbrush, Melatonin, and Advil. You get where I’m going. A flight 8 hours or longer is considered long haul and you are literally going to be sitting in a small seat. My flying time to Europe this past Oct was a little over 13 hours. The trip to Thailand is over 20. So comfort is key. Prepare!!!
3. TRAVEL LIGHT
Less is more when traveling and honestly? You don’t need as much as you think. Downsize everything you can. I went to Vancouver/Victoria BC and went with a backpack only (Osprey 40L). It worked just fine. Carry on only is a recommendation. Makes your trip simpler and you spend so much less time on unnecessary tasks and more for the reason you went to begin with. Take necessities only. Trust me on this one.
4. BE FAMILIAR WITH CURRENCY
Get familiar with exchange rates. The currency. How much each bill translates into your currency. Avoid scammers (YouTube again is a great place to learn about this), using a card is safe as you don’t need to carry around a lot of cash, but cash is necessary so learn how much it translates into.
5. ARRIVE EARLY
If at all possible, arrange a flight or flights that arrive during the morning or afternoon. This is such a nice way to start your adventure. There isn’t a sense of urgency. You have the time to take your time. You will be tired and a little off-balance after long flights and time changes, besides, being a traveler at an airport is pretty obvious so daylight hours helps with safety issues.
6. PHOTOGRAPHS AND JOURNAL
Always carry a little notebook around with you. It’s amazing what you can pick up, what you want to jot down so you can remember. Food suggestions, shoppes you’d like to return to, people you meet, things you see. True, we have smart phones now, but I prefer good ole paper and pen.
7. GET FAMILIAR WITH THE CITY
Get a map, or download google maps before you go to your phone so you can use offline, Get the layout of the city. Find a free walking tour (these are in every major city in Europe, usually free and tip only fees, very helpful and awesome to get to know the city by. local!) Find a hop on hop off bus and ride it for a couple of circuits. Saves you time in the long run and you can find things you want to return to.
8. USE CITY TRANSIT
City buses. Trains. Trams. Trolleys. Subways. Try them all. City transport is usually organized and cheap! Avoid taxi’s. Just avoid them.
9. FIND A BENCH AND PEOPLE WATCH
10. TALK TO THE LOCALS
11. TRY NEW THINGS
Try something for the first time!
Spending a day on a working sheep farm in Scotland. (no sheep was harmed, even though that is a humongous knife)
Eating fresh produce as you walk down the street in Chinatown.
Ride on a water plane……..
Walk amongst the giants and drive through clouds!
12. LEAVE THE FEAR AND HESITATION AT HOME
Get out there and find your adventure! For all of these of mine, I look back and wonder how. The list is long. London and all throughout England. Scotland. Wales. Victoria. Across the US a half a dozen times. Budapest. Prague. I guess I just did it. Figured it out. And went alone. The solace of being with your own self is very mysterious. You find things you never thought you’d find, meet people you never thought you’d meet, see things you never thought you ‘d see, and yet you have. You gain a new confidence within yourself and an amazing sense of accomplishment when you come home. You find and meet people who remain in touch and your friends. And your world view grows and grows. And why? Well……easy. You just decide.
So decide. And go. And if you are one of those like me, who have, then please either share your blog site, or your experiences with me! I thank you in advance.
Lots more to come in the coming weeks and months. Travel hacks and budget travel. My journey towards Minimalism. Blog on Budapest and another on Prague. There are destinations in the US I have never posted about. The list is endless.
For now? I thank you for the moments you spent here with me. You are very appreciated. Please leave a comment, suggestion, experience, share with me your favorite trip or destination, or perhaps a destination you would love to go to someday. My bucket list is very long, and in 2018 I plan to make it shorter.
Until next time……..be kind…….always.