You’re not alone, I find that many people think it is intimidating or dangerous to travel solo, but I am here to tell you that it is not. I still like and recommend a combination of trip planning that involves solo, traveling with friends, or a significant other (though I don’t have an SO) and I think it just depends on the destination and what you want out of your trip. But for me, there’s no bigger confidence builder than doing something completely by myself. How to make it seem like no big deal lies all in your attitude and planning. Read on for some ideas on how to just do it and make it less scary.
Plan ahead or go last minute - This sounds contradictory, of course, but what I mean is to either plan your details way in advance or jump on a last minute deal that you see. I think if you’re detail oriented, like me, or very nervous about the trip, then start well in advance. Pick your destination, come up with a loose idea of dates and then start tracking flights, trains, etc. Having the main details planned (transporation, accommodations, dates, etc) far in advance makes me save for the trip so that I have enough money and allows me to get excited for it. For someone who is very nervous about the trip, it can help to assuage the fears of “what if I forget this or that!?” because the careful planning months in advance will allow that person to think of every last detail and to plan for it. If you’re more of a spur of the moment type of person who has the flexibility and the financial means to join a group trip or buy a flight or vacation deal last minute, then that is another way to jump on the solo travel bandwagon. I’ve never taken a group trip, but I know people who have and have really enjoyed them. Find a tour company, sign up for their emails (Intrepid Travel is one I subscribe to) and be willing and able to book a trip through them. Or, subscribe to emails from your favorite airline and sign up for the last minute deals. I fly American Airlines and I receive their last minute deals and vacation emails. Jumping into solo travel via a vacation deal or group tour is a good way to get one’s feet wet and make some new friends along the way. But another stellar way is to just buy a last minute cheap flight to a place you’ve never been to or even somewhere you’ve been a lot of times but never alone. Buy that flight, book the hotel or Airbnb, and then start searching Yelp for the see, eat, and do parts of your solo adventure.
Take a short, solo weekend road trip to a smaller or mid-sized city - I highly recommend this as a way to get started. A few years ago, my sister went to Omaha for the weekend (we both live in Chicago). She packed up the car, her dog, and just left for a 7-8 hour drive. She stayed in a dog-friendly hotel right across the state line in Council Bluffs, Iowa but she made Omaha her main focus. She bought an opera ticket, took herself out for a steak dinner that was way cheaper than one in Chicago, explored the small downtown, and did some vintage shopping. She had fun and had a great weekend trip away that brought her back refreshed and feeling like she’d had a mini-vacation.
Book a solo long weekend trip to a city where you know people and don’t spend all of your time with them - This suggestion might seem a little weird, but stay with me here. Do you have an acquaintance, former colleague, or distant relative in an international city or on the opposite coast? Plan on visiting that city and let them know that you’re coming, but that you’re staying on your own, you have mostly your own agenda, etc. And then stick to that. Sure, you’ll want to meet up with this person for either a museum trip, coffee, dinner, etc, probably on the first or second day, (what I recommend.) You’ll likely get a lot of good suggestions out of the person, they’ll get to show off the city, and then you’re on your own and they’re free for the weekend and not stuck playing tour guide. After all, most of us like to play tourist in our own city but not for an entire weekend unless it is a good friend since it can be expensive and exhausting.
In all seriousness though, I guarantee you that taking a trip on your own is not scary or intimidating. Behave yourself, read up on the local culture and laws, be respectful, and be mindful of your surroundings and you will have an unforgettable experience.