How to Journey alone, safely and in style
Traveling with friends, family or a partner can be great. But there are benefits to heading out on the road alone. For starters, there’s nobody to negotiate with about the attractions, restaurants or sights to see. Ready to try it? Here are some tips for successful solo travel.
Just Do It
Whether by necessity or choice, solo travel puts you in charge of your adventures and gives you the freedom to go places and do things that you may have put off because they weren’t of interest to your travel companions. If going solo seems scary or intimidating, do some practice runs. Plot out a tourist day in your city or spend some time touring on your own when on a trip with someone else.
Solo, But Not Alone
Meandering through neighborhoods and museums on your own and at your own pace — and having a hotel room all to yourself — are some of the perks of solo travel. But you don’t have to spend all your time alone. Museum docent tours, bus or walking tours, workshops and many programs offer easy, safe and entertaining ways to experience a city and spend some time with others. Bonus: It’s often easier for solo travelers to score single last-minute tickets to popular concerts and performances.
Keep in Touch
It is a good idea to keep your close friends and family informed of your whereabouts while traveling alone. Share your itinerary and check in with them regularly during your travels via phone, text or email. In addition, let someone know when you make changes to your plans. Friends can follow your travels on social media, but be mindful about how much personal information you post while traveling solo. Use the “Share Trip” feature when using Uber. And sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) when voyaging out of the country so that the local embassy can send safety alerts or help in an emergency.
Avoid Travel Penalties
Many cruises and tours set prices based on the expectation of double occupancy and charge extra fees known as “single supplements” for solo travelers. But not all. Some cruise lines have ships with single-occupancy cabins, and some tour companies make a point of not charging single supplements. If you’re game, some tours will match up solo travelers of the same sex to share hotel rooms. And single supplements are sometimes waived if you sign up for a trip early, travel during an off-season or fill an unsold slot at the last minute. A travel adviser may be helpful in finding these deals.
Use Tools and Technology
Low and high-tech tools can be a solo traveler’s best companions. Pack a rubber door stopper wedge (or one with a built-in alarm) for added safety in hotel rooms. Bring a clothespin to keep curtains completely closed. Phone chargers are a must. And be sure to download (and learn how to use) phone apps to help with everything from directions, currency exchange and translation to health concerns and reservation
–Written by Harriet Baskas
–Top photo by Kaspars Grinvalds/AdobeStock
–This article appears in the spring 2022 edition of AAA Washington member magazine, Journey.