Leave your friends at home
A witty guide to traveling solo for those who always wanted to but…
We all have those friend who are always going somewhere but end up staying at home.
“I really want to go to that festival, but…”
“We almost bought the tickets, but she canceled at the last moment, so..”
One of my friends even told me that she won’t go to Walmart alone, leave alone another country/state. Those people are everywhere, and I personally know a bunch of them, and I also know their reaction when I tell them how often and far I travel. Just for fun and pleasure. Not because I have more money, freedom, or time ( honestly, I don’t have anything from this exciting list), but because I don’t wait for anyone or anything. I travel alone.
Every time I announce that I bought tickets to California/Las Vegas/Firefly Music Fest/Miami/whatnot, there is this one person who will be like wait, so who is going with you? Surprise – it’s just me! And no, I’m not scared anymore.
What started as a desperate attempt to see the world around me when I didn’t have friends or family to come with me became my lifestyle, but how it all works? How I survived the solo trip to South Beach during the huge festival or my 23rd birthday in Grand Canyon totally by myself? With each trip, I developed rules – dos and don’ts that always helped to make the most of the trip while staying safe. As a person who moved to the US by myself when I was 19, I wouldn’t survive without those rules. Later on, they helped me to navigate enormous music festivals by myself or do drugs with strangers and be perfectly fine. Some would say it’s pure luck, but I would say it’s a mix of common sense, some planning, basic rules, and a dash of courage.
1. Why going solo (hint: because it will be the best time in your life, duh)
Among the things that motivate me the most is the simple question – if not now then when? When you find a partner? But he might be a homebody or so broke that he prefers not to leave his apartment often. When you meet some cool easy going friends? Well, they might have other destinations in mind – and they will – or they may never meet you. A lot of people wait, and then in a few years they realize that they have two kids and a job they can’t leave. The end. Maybe when the kids grow up they will go to Disneyland together but, believe me, there are better things out there (even though Disneyland is unbelievably cool). If you need more motivation, watch movies like XOXO, American Honey, or You Instead. My favs!
2. What to pack
Since you won’t have anyone to carry your stuff or keep an eye on it while you are in a bathroom, take one backpack with you. Period. I also have a fanny pack for documents and an ID but that’s it. Believe me, you can fit everything you need in there. A few T-shirts, swimwear, underwear, maybe one dress… that’s it! I usually wear the heavier items like jeans, sneakers, and take a jacket with me to make some space for my laptop and other stuff. A power pack is also a must-have!
3. Where to stay
Hostels were my favorite places to stay for years until my trip to Las Vegas. As always, I checked reviews and chose a nice place called Hostel Cat, but it was a huge disappointment. Luckily, I met a cool guy and was hanging out with him most of the time (but it’s a different story), but since then I started to choose different types of accommodations. Try airbnb or find a good last minute deal on booking.com! I wanted to try couch surfing too but the guy who was supposed to be my host in New Orleans canceled last minute so…I wouldn’t recommend it. But maybe you’ll be luckier than me!
4. Always have Plan B
A lot of services allow you to cancel a few days before and pay on a property so if you are not so sure that this friend will let you stay or you use couch surfing, book a cheap room in a hostel and cancel before they charge you! The same applies to transportation and tours. Write down the address of your place just in case (phones die and get stolen) and keep one ID like a passport at the place you stay.
5. Ditch the Guided tours
I made this mistake once – booked a Grand Canyon tour and wasted a day of my trip. Most tours are for old people or those without an imagination. Rent a car on Expedia or use Uber/public transport instead!
6. Plan your stay
I love making lists of places I should visit! I usually plan visiting a city during a festival or some cool event to have as much fun as possible!
7. Keep your documents with you
Fanny pack is one love! Also, keep some extra cash and an extra credit card at the place you stay (you’ll need a good lock if you stay at the hostel!)
8. Don’t get too high/wasted
I know, it sounds sad and I broke this rule a few times myself but you need to be extremely careful! Know your limits and don’t exceed them. You can get wasted in your home town anytime – enjoy your trip at least half sober and never, never buy drugs from strangers, ok?
9. Pretend that you live there
The best part of traveling alone is that you can do whatever. My favorite part is to pretend being local and go to local places only. Bye Walmart, hello local markets and small family restaurants! Learn what locals love to do here and do the same.
10. Be careful with strangers
Well, I’m the person who often use Tinder to meet locals and have fun (platonic fun most of the time), but don’t trust people too much. Be a responsible adult, ok?
I’m glad that more and more people start to realize that dragging someone with you won’t make it a fun trip. On a contrary, those trips are more likely to disappoint you. Nothing is easier than booking a flight and a hostel for yourself (there are some other options too, don’t worry. And no, they won’t rape you there!). A few clicks and you have everything you need. Chances are you haven’t spent more than 500$ for a week of fun (even though I prefer to spend 5 days in each city. Idk why, but it’s my lucky number). Chances also are that it’s going to be the best time in your life!
***This article will be updated regularly, so wait for more tips and recommendations!***