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Experiences

Live Your Life: Solo Travel Tips

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Recently, I’ve been trying to get out of my comfort zone and spend more time doing things that bring me joy (even if all my friends are busy). I’ve experienced the good (going to my fave artist’s concert!!), the bad (sleeping in an airport to save money on a hotel), and the ugly (projectile vomiting in the middle of an airport). But through all this, I’ve continued to try new things by myself, and have picked up some tips along the way!

general tips

  • Safety devices– I would recommend at least owning a personal safety alarm (I use the brand Birdie). You can also buy options like tasers, cat ear keychains, or pepper sprays, but be aware that these might be restricted in certain settings. Whichever option you buy, learn how to use it in advance.
  • Transportation– Easily accessible ridesharing apps (such as Uber/Lyft) are extremely helpful. I recommend checking if either of these options are available where you’re traveling. If you’re like me and are under 25, rental car options are available, but might require research in advance (I have used Turo by myself and Hertz as a secondary driver). Be prepared for added fees, such as young-driver/insurance fees, and requirements for mileage and gas usage.
  • Overnight stays– Make sure that your hotel/rental location is confirmed and know what is required for renters (such as a credit check or added fees). You can also search for student discounts on Expedia/StudentUniverse (I have also used Airbnb and definitely recommend it).
  • Expect the unexpected– Make backup plans for things that could go wrong/tickets that could be canceled. I would advise budgeting with a cushion for emergencies. Finally, bring a portable phone charger!

Overnight trips

Safety:

Know what the requirements are for each booking that you have during the trip (airline/hotel/rental car). These can include check-in/out times, fees, or cleaning obligations. If you’re renting a car or hotel room with any existing damage, I highly recommend taking photos when you first check in. If you’re renting a car or room from an individual, I recommend communicating with the owner when any problems arise. If anything happens, you will have evidence that you didn’t cause any previous damage. If you’re planning on going out late, check into your rental room in advance, so you have some idea of the location and how to enter.

Fun:

Regardless of your planning style, I recommend researching a few activity ideas before you arrive. For a fully planned trip, add extra activities to your list, as some online listings aren’t accurate (opening/closing times or locations may be wrong). For a more spontaneous trip, find a nearby starting location (shopping center, park, restaurant, etc.) and explore the area. This can help you find less touristy locations. (Note: these are tips for U.S. cities, but I would definitely recommend searching for more location-specific advice for longer trips or international travel).

Casual activities

This can include shopping, museums, or eating in a restaurant!

Safety:

Preparing in advance for your budget, parking, or time availability is always a good idea. However, be sure to give yourself a break if things go wrong or the unexpected occurs. If this happens (and you’re physically safe), take a quick mental break from the situation. This can give you the chance to distract yourself, brainstorm solutions, or call others for advice, so that you are better prepared to handle your situation.

Fun:

It can be nerve-wracking to do typical group activities by yourself, but it’s important to remember that other people usually aren’t paying attention to those outside of their own group. If you feel uncomfortable in this setting, it can be helpful to use any distraction you have to calm yourself: listen to music, call someone, read/journal, or wear sunglasses when you’re outside. Although these are small distractions, they can allow you to lower anxiety and fully enjoy your time. Although being alone can be an opportunity to meet people, you should feel safe and comfortable first. Finally, if you still feel uncomfortable, it can be helpful to frame the situation in a new light. Even if you decide to leave or change plans, you can view this as positive, since you tried something new.

nightlife

This can include movies, concerts, or going to bars!

Safety:

These settings can be more stressful because they are typically at night or in crowded locations, but there are ways to stay safe. (Note: personally, I usually avoid drinking when I’m alone, but if you plan to: stay aware, text a friend, get an Uber/Lyft, and remember to eat and drink water). I highly recommend sharing your location and texting updates to someone who you know responds quickly. I also recommend bringing safety items, although ones that can be used as weapons are sometimes prohibited. In this situation, I would at least bring keys or a personal safety alarm. Before you arrive, have a transportation plan. (Recently, I’ve been parking at grocery stores, banks, or anywhere with a parking lot close to the venue. This way, Uber/Lyft prices are lower than longer trips or nearby but expensive parking options). Whether you get a rideshare, park at the venue, or get picked up by a friend, stay alert. If you’re at a timed event like a concert, exit with the crowd, as you can walk to your parking spot with a group. Finally, remember that your safety is always more important than having to spend extra money or seeming unphased when something scary happens.

Fun:

Movies, concerts, and bars are usually dark, making them a perfect opportunity to express yourself. No one is paying attention to you, so this is your chance to sing or dance by yourself (honestly, crying can also be cathartic when no one knows you there). You can also try out a new fashion or makeup look if you want to get out of your style comfort zone. If you want to make new friends, this is the perfect opportunity to give and receive compliments.

To sum up, you can avoid my past mistakes and get out of your comfort zone with just a little bit of planning! It definitely takes practice to push yourself and try new things, so don’t worry about moving too fast/slow. Just remember that no matter what happens, at least you’ll end up with a good story for later. Stay safe and have fun!

Anna is attending the University of North Texas, where she majors in Integrative Studies with a concentration in Technical Communication. She is passionate about mental health awareness and intersectional feminism. In her free time, she can be found watching movies, sewing, or maniacally laughing. After graduation, she plans on working in a career field with the goal of helping others.
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