For many would-be travelers, the concept of solo travel is one they are wary of. Solo travelers have to be confident and outgoing and savvy about the ins and outs of travel. They have to be super-travelers.… Right?
Well, actually, just as there are multiple ways to get to or experience a destination, there are also many different ways to travel solo. And some of them might just surprise you.
Do it 100% alone
The typical understanding of “solo travel” is a traveler going it alone – booking flights and accommodation, figuring out public transport, facing language barriers, and wandering/exploring entirely on their own. And this definitely is one way to travel solo. It gives you complete freedom to go where you want, see things when you want, and not have to compromise on anything. It also requires a certain amount of confidence and responsibility, since you only have yourself to rely on.
For many solo travelers, this is the best way to travel. But if this sounds too daunting for your own travel style, don't worry – there are ways to travel “solo” without being entirely alone.
Stay with other people
If you still want all the freedom of planning your own travels but also want to ensure that you'll meet people along the way, consider booking accommodation that makes this easier. It might mean booking a room in a hostel in order to meet other travelers, or it might mean trying Couchsurfing (staying with a local for free) or renting out a room in someone's home or apartment through a site like Airbnb. You may meet other travelers to sightsee or grab dinner with, or may get some insider tips on the destination you're visiting from your host.
Like the idea of solo travel, but dread figuring out the small details like where to stay or how to get from Point A to Point B? It's understandable, as those are the details that can sometimes be the most stressful to navigate. Luckily, there are some options to make this easier.
In Europe, a company called Busabout offers a solution for young travelers – “hop on, hop-off”-style bus routes that make it easy to travel around Western Europe. Not only do they provide the transport, but they also recommend good hostels to stay at in each city. In Southeast Asia, a company called Stray operates a similar service. These are great if you want to visit multiple cities in a specific region of the world and meet other travelers along the way.
Go on a themed adventure
Traveling solo doesn't always have to mean going somewhere completely alone. And, in fact, there are some adventures that you might not want to tackle alone. Thankfully, there are themed adventures to be found all over the world, whether you'd like to go on a yoga retreat in Costa Rica, sign up for a surf camp in Bali, or do a cycling trip through California.
Take a guided tour
The same goes for guided tours – you can absolutely sign up for one as a solo traveler. This is a great option for people who want to see the world but don't want to do it completely alone. Solo travelers are a growing subsection of travelers, and that means that many tour companies now make it easier than ever to book a tour slot on your own.
Companies like Exodus and Tauck offer special savings and departures for solo travelers, and Overseas Adventure Travel doesn't charge a single supplement if you want to join a tour and have a room to yourself. There are even companies like Solos Vacations that cater specifically to people traveling alone.
Go on a cruise
Lastly, don't count out traditionally “family” or “couple” travel options like a cruise as a solo traveler. Cruise lines, too, are recognizing solo travelers as an important demographic, and are therefore starting to cater to them. Norwegian Cruise Lines, for example, now has ships that offer single cabins for solo travelers, and many river cruise lines also offer deals for people traveling sans partner.