Tips & Tricks To Make Solo Travel Suck Less
It’s true. Solo travel can get lonely sometimes. I’ve had friends ask me about my goals to be more and more nomadic, always on the road and moving around, experiencing new things and places, and there’s a question that comes off of their lips quite often; “But won’t you be lonely?” Well, the simple answer is yes, but we’re all lonely from time to time whether it’s during travel or at home. I would say that there are plenty of days when I’m at home and feeling lonely because there’s nothing to do or nobody around.
Holidays on the Lam can add to the suck
So yeah, I’m writing this on Thanksgiving morning while on a three-week solo apartment sit in Seattle WA, USA, and this place is like a ghost town. I pretty much know nobody in this town, so I’ve spent my morning figuring out what my day will look like. Sad trombone, right?
Seriously though, I’m enjoying the solitude, since this trip was actually all about GSD (getting sh*t done). Mission accomplished, and now I can get back to work on other things, like writing about being bored, haha! (Here’s a review of the Green Tortoise Hostel I stayed at for a couple of nights in case you want to check it out!)
Tips and Tricks to making Solo Travel Suck Less
My answer to my friends about being lonely during solo travel is usually something along the lines of “Well, only if I’m failing!” The reason I say that is because, in this day and age, there are so many ways to connect and stay involved and busy when traveling that it would really be my fault if I was overwhelmed with more than fleeting moments of loneliness while in a new place. Here are a few ways to make sure you’re not getting bit by that bug if you set out on the solo tip.
Keep in mind that these are outside of the normal “just go out and explore!” Options that usually fill up the days pretty well!
Meetup.com (or the app) is a great resource for travelers, whether you travel solo or with friends. There are literally meetups for some of the most obscure interests, so there are obviously plenty for normal stuff! I’ve been in Seattle for two weeks and I’ve worked most of the time, but I have attended three evening nerd game nights and met a dozen or so people in the process. That’s my bag, but there are hiking groups, tech groups, real estate, even online marketing, etc.
Try Couchsurfing Hangouts
So Couchsurfing has evolved in recent years to encompass much more than just a community of couch crashers. It’s now connecting folks on a much more social level, so you can easily reach out to folks in new cities “just for coffee.” Set up an event and get joiners to come together, or simply turn on the “hangouts” option in the app and see who else is nearby and wants to explore or grab a beer together.
It can be a fun game of cat and mouse, actually coordinating to meet up with folks, but the app makes it pretty easy to do that. Here are some couchsurfing alternatives to boot!
This can also be a great way to break into the Couchsurfing network and get your toes wet if you’ve never used Couchsurfing before!
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities all of the time if you just do a little digging. The bonus is that the folks usually volunteering are inherently good people! I find that the easiest place to find options is actually on Meetup.com, since there are always volunteering events listed. But beyond that, most cities have organizations these days with the sole mission of organizing and bringing people together to fill volunteer needs. So a simple phone call to one of them would likely get you going.
Go Speed Dating?
OK. You would obviously need to travel solo and single to do this one (or just a really terrible person if you’re not single…), and actually interested in meeting someone. Honestly, I’ve always thought that the idea of being forced to meet 10+ people in a short amount of time is a pretty good time saver, haha.
Yes, likely awkward and all that goes along with that. But if your goal is to simply meet a couple of folks that may be cool to hang out within a new city, it’s a pretty decent place to start. And it’s curated, so you really just need to show up and drop a little coin.
Solo Travel Tip: Take A Free City or Brewery Tour!
Most larger cities have walking tours that are either free or for tips, but if you’re a beer drinker, I find that almost every city or town with a decent beer scene has many brewers that will give free or cheap tours of their digs. Either of these is great opportunities for solo travelers to meet folks, since the city tours likely consist of other travelers like yourself. And the brewery tours obviously bring together folks interested in one of the most awesome things ever created: BEER.
I met two new friends during a free 3-hour city tour while on a trip to Mexico City then ended up spending the rest of the day kicking around with them and exploring all the cool sights!
The Dreaded “Dating” Apps
OK, this one goes along with the dating theme, but in my opinion, it’s really about how you use it. If your real goal is simply to meet new people (of the opposite sex in this case) in a new city simply to make a friend in a new place, then simply make that clear upfront.
If I use Tinder or Bumble, or any other, I literally lead with something like “just exploring XYZ city for a few weeks and looking to meet cool folks and check out the city a bit…” I feel like with that transparency it’s fairly easy to find like minds and just connect.
If you decide to use the apps for more, well, that’s your business!
Solo Travel No. 1 Tip: Stay Someplace Social!
This is A-No.1 my best tip for making sure you’re plugged in to others when traveling solo. If you read much of my babbling, you know that I love staying at hostels. I won’t deep dive it here (I do that here…), but the bottom line is that really good hostels coordinate events and opportunities, often daily, for getting travelers mixed and mingled together. Things like city tours, ghost tours, wine tastings, free beer, community dinners, and so much more can really have you plugged in quickly.
Alright. Good luck, and don’t let the idea of traveling solo slow you down. Solo time is good for the soul, and there are plenty ways to make friends if you do a little work!
Travel Planning Tips
Figure out where you are going & how are you getting there…
I suggest using at least 2 to 3 different travel search sites. Start with Skyscanner or Orbitz or Booking …or whatever aggregator site you prefer. Then when you see what airlines to use, check their respective sites for better deals or rewards flights.
Figure out where you’re going to stay…
If you’re interested in hostels, search Hostelworld or Hostelling International. For longer-term or more private digs, look at Airbnb, VRBO, or you can look for hotel rooms in the links from the search engines listed above.
Get comprehensive travel insurance, or in the least, travel medical insurance if internationally…
Especially with Covid not going anywhere, get covered. Start with an insurance aggregator like Insure My Trip, or with SafetyWing, World Nomads, or another. Then decide what is important to you; trip cancellation, baggage coverage, medical, or all of the above. And get a yearly evacuation plan, since you’ll have to get home after your emergency!
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