“You’re going by yourself?” This is a question that I receive often when sharing my travel plans. Yes, as a 24-year-old black woman, I travel alone. The world will quickly pass you by if you wait for a friend, family member, or significant other to accompany you. Your friends may never have the same holiday schedule or paid time off as you. Some people’s budgets may never match yours. We are guaranteed no days on this Earth. Why wait? For those of you who have been interested in solo travel and have yet to make that leap, this post is for you. I am providing my list of pros, cons, FAQs, and tips to create a perfect and safe solo trip.
Freedom and Flexibility: You have the complete freedom and flexibility to create an itinerary made just for YOU. You can choose to wake up before 6 am to see a beautiful sunrise over the river. You can choose activities, such as art museums, that your friends/family may not be interested in. It is your trip, and you are on your own time.
Making New Friends: If you are an extrovert, this will be extremely easy for you. You make friends everywhere you go. What if you are in introvert, much like myself, though? Solo travel forces you to break out of that shell. From my experience, I have made tons of friends on my solo travels. I took various tours and stayed in hostels. By doing that, you are guaranteed to meet new people that you may have otherwise overlooked. Friends often provide a comfort zone and safety net. FORCE yourself to step out of it, and you will be amazed.
Self-Reflection: “If you are never alone, you cannot know yourself.” – Paulo Coelho. Solo travel is one of the best spiritual and meditative times in your life. You truly will get to know yourself in the process. You will gain an understanding of what you like, dislike, what brings you joy, what brings you discomfort, etc. You will connect with your inner self. Remember that discomfort breeds growth.
Yes, it can get lonely: Going back to your room at night alone, eating dinner alone, seeing that sight alone. These aren’t exactly fun, but they are a part of the process. You will make friends, I promise!
No Friend Photographers: You have no one to get that amazing photo of you on the 15th try. You may have laughed at this bullet point, but we all want that Instagram photo. You feel more comfortable asking a friend to take it than you would a stranger, and you don’t want to be annoying. It’s okay though, you will make new friends who will get the right angles! You can also practice those foreign language skills.
There aren’t any: The cons listed here are almost like that interview question, “What is one of your weaknesses?” You answer it by transforming that weakness into a strength. There are no cons to solo travel, in my opinion. The very least you can do is TRY!
Is traveling alone unsafe? The simple answer is no. Exercise the same caution that you would at home. Don’t walk around with a ton of valuables, especially in blatant sight. Keep your passport and some cash or cards in a safe in your room. I travelled to Bogota, Colombia alone and never once felt unsafe. Be smart!
What do you do for fun? This answer depends on your personal preferences. I am a huge history nerd, so I love museums. Use TripAdvisor and Viator to find the top attractions/interests in your destination. You can book tours directly in the app. There will generally be other travelers on your tours, which will make finding friends super easy. I personally enjoy walking tours.
What destinations do you recommend? Whatever your heart desires! I have traveled to Spain alone, for a study abroad. I have traveled to Colombia and Costa Rica alone but met up with some friends from my study abroad. I traveled to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam semi-alone. (It was a group tour) I suggest that you just go somewhere that you have always wanted to go or just find a great deal and go.
Prepare: Make an itinerary, even if you don’t follow it verbatim. Have transportation arranged if possible. Learn a little about the public transportation system in advance. This will save some anxiety during the trip. You won’t have to spend too much time on the “what/where/how”.
Use Social Media: You can hashtag your destination to see popular locations and reviews. You can also find other travelers in your area. Social media makes the world a much smaller place. I have used it to connect with friends from high school, college, study abroad, etc. that were visiting the same destination as me. There are even travel group pages on Facebook where you can connect with travelers all over the world. Use technology to your advantage.
Stay in hostels or an Airbnb: Hostels and private rooms in an Airbnb will likely be filled with other friendly travelers. The staff is also accustomed to hosting travelers and will be able to answer questions and provide recommendations.
Be Fearless: You can do anything! Don’t let your fears set you back. Go forth and be great.
Have you traveled alone, and if not, would you? Where would you go? What’s holding you back?
Alycia Attaway is a graduate of the illustrious Clark Atlanta University and currently works in marketing at a Fortune 500 company. Her passion for travel began as a child hearing her grandfather's army stories. Being from the small town of Wetumpka, Alabama, she made it a mission to explore the world and has currently been to 11 countries on 4 different continents. Her goal is to inspire other black millennials to travel. You can find her on Instagram @alyciaadventurista and read her blog at www.alyciaattaway.com