Sometimes, the beauty of traveling with one or more companions lies in having someone to converse with. Having someone to share silly jokes with and laugh at yourselves certainly makes the trip more fun. What happens when you’re forced to travel alone?
There are those of us who have become pros of solo travel. We will pack and go to any corner of the world on our own without second thoughts. Then there is that other category of folks who would never be caught dragging their luggage through an airport on their own.
You won’t always have someone to travel with you, so why not train yourself to enjoy those lone traveler moments? A day will come when you’re surrounded by so much activity every day of the week that you’ll wish you could escape to a faraway land and be by yourself for a day. Traveling solo does require a certain level of confidence for sure, but it is not as bad as it sounds. Here are some ideas to make your solo trip more fun.
- Go where the locals are
Often when we visit new places, especially when with friends and family, we tend to stay in places that are ‘unofficial’ designated tourist zones. We don’t venture outside of the scheduled tour plans much, and except for a few pleasantries exchanged with the few locals we interact with during this time, we may not have any meaningful interactions with the locals.
When you travel alone, try and break out of this habit. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to start conversations and connect with people when you put yourself out there. Some ideas that will work anywhere are:
- Go to the local market. Outdoors are more fun so find out where the farmers’ market is or if the area has a traditional market. In addition to interacting with people, you’ll learn plenty about the locals’ food choices.
- Go to the grocery store. If there are no markets at the place you’re visiting, go to the grocery store. A few minutes of walking up and down the aisles and browsing produce will make you feel as normal as all the families (and single people) doing their weekly shopping.
- Go to coffee shops. These are always great place to connect with people. Not sure whether it’s the easy-going atmosphere in coffee shops or it’s just by coincidence that all the cool people hang out in coffee shops, but it works.
- Don’t forget the parks. This is a classic that works for all generations. You’ll find all kinds of people at the park. Whether you end up striking up a conversation with one of them or not, the lively mood at the park will certainly make you feel better. The kids running around screaming, the dogs joining in or just faithfully walking by their owners’ sides, the old couple sitting in enviable, companionable silence, it’s all beautiful. Soak it all in.
Most people will be delighted to talk to you. The best bit is that they’ll tell you all the best places to visit, where to get the best food, where to get great deals, and they may even offer to accompany you.
- Stay at a local host’s
Find out if there are homestays in the area you’re visiting and opt for these instead of hotel accommodation. They offer an excellent opportunity to be with other people, and you can always retreat to your room when you want to be alone.
Another option you can try is a hostel. You’ll never feel alone in a hostel and you may end up being friends with the people you meet here. If you don’t like the idea of shared sleeping quarters, which is somewhat the standard in hostels, ask for a private room. They have these for people like you. Now you can engage with your hostel mates as much or as little as you want.
- Use public transport
Take the bus. Take whatever means of transport the local people use.Find out if you need special passes to travel and if there are tourist deals. It’s great fun transiting from town to town just for fun. Just hop on a bus, alight at the next major town, take a tour of the new town, wait for the next bus and repeat the process.
Before you know it you’ll have a good knowledge of the local areas. Be sure to ask how the system works before doing this so that you’re not stranded at a strange location, at odd hours, waiting for a connection back to the main city.
- Join tour groups
Find out the timings of tours to different attractions and join in. This is a great way to meet up with fellow tourists and adventurous locals.
- Carry a book
You’ll need to slow down at some point and just relax for a day or evening. Having a book to keep you occupied will make this time enjoyable. You can read by the pool, out in the garden, at the hotel or just in your room.
- Get away from your phone
I know we’re accustomed to looking at the latest feeds on social networks every five minutes. But don’t do it on this trip, not even with the free Wi-Fi you’re itching to use. It’s okay to go online for a certain period, but don’t be on your phone constantly and miss out on the fun waiting outside. Save that for when you get back home.
- Take evening strolls, jog like a local
You can enjoy leisurely strolls at any time of the day really. It’s just that there’s something calming about doing it in the evening.
Enquire about safety in the neighborhood and if given the green light, take up jogging in themorning. You may connect with other morning joggers and earn yourself new friends.
Break the mental barriers that keep you from having fun on your own. Then go and enjoy some solo travel. It may soon become your newest hobby.