Why Mom Was Wrong About Solo Travel!

Solo travel can be the best way to visit any foreign country. There are many benefits the over fifty single traveler can experience throughout their journey, compared with couple or group travel. Over the past ten years there has been a steady rise in the number of solo travelers globally with many travel agents and service providers now offering single supplement rates as an option for the independent traveler.

Some may consider traveling alone to be boring,or a scary prospect however with a little consideration planning and forethought over 50's solo travelers have the opportunity to gain so much more from visiting a destination alone than they ever would as a couple or a group.

I have been traveling alone for a number of years now. On occasion friends have wanted to join me on my trips however I have rejected their offers to accompany me opting instead to go it alone. I find the more I travel alone, the more I gain new insights and experiences about myself and the human condition in general when visiting countries solo.

For some it may appear to be a daunting prospect when they first consider the prospect but once experienced, solo travelers gain skills in a number of areas including, self-sufficiency, a greater independence, resilience and a growing sense of real freedom.

When taking the first initial steps in traveling alone I recommend researching the culture and customs of the destination country. In addition learn as many common words and phrases of the native language as you comfortably can in order to better communicate with the locals. You will be pleasantly surprised how well the locals receive your mispronounced words and phrases, so don't take yourself to seriously. Pronunciation errors serve as good ice-breakers when interacting with the locals.


Consider taking a minimalist approach when packing for your trip too. A little research into the expected weather conditions during your stay can greatly assist to keep the clothing count to a minimum. Think about the types of activities will you engage in while on your holiday? Exploring the streets, shopping, attending museums, the beach, the mountains or snow? Pack accordingly and be practical around what you pack into the suitcase for the number of days you will be away. There is a plethora of great packing hacks online to assist with packing a bag or suitcase for your travels.

It can also pay dividends to become part of the crowd by not standing out from others. Do not make yourself an easy target by wearing expensive outfits or flashy jewelry. Fake or real jewelery can draw unwanted attention and single you out as a potential victim. Men and women can easily fall victim to snatch and grab incidents of theft when traveling alone.

To relieve travel stress and anxiety by maintaining a certain level of control during the travel period. Specifically flights, transfers and transiting through terminals by doing your homework before leaving home. When booking flights, leave sufficient time to allow transit through gates and terminal buildings. By researching the airports to be visited including departure arrival and transit periods a little planning ahead will assist greatly to provide peace of mind.

Personally, I always allow a minimum of 4 hours when transiting through any airport. Firstly if there is a delay of up to a couple of hours in the flight arrival time a delay will not impact my next flight. This is usually sufficient to cover most unexpected delays. Secondly I like to take a break stretch out, walk around the terminal refresh and sample some airport cuisine, and check out the duty-free options.

Other types of transportation to arrange prior to your departure may include airport to hotel transfers. Research which options are available and select one that is reliable and cost effective Always confirm the cost with the driver prior to stepping into the vehicle, even if you have previously confirmed the price of the transfer.

When booking a hotel check the reviews on line to ensure your hotel is positioned within walking distance of shops, restaurants and other services you may wish to access with ease. Make sure the hotel security provided in house is sufficient to provide peace of mind. If at all in doubt can purchase travel safety products such as a ‘Doorstopper’ which provide a layer of protection when the room is occupied when sleeping or relaxing.

Once of the best things about traveling alone is the inevitable interaction with the locals. Language barriers aside, it's rare to experience any negativity during an interaction with local people. When dining at a local restaurant for example, the menu will likely be in the native language with no English translation available. Establishing a connection at this time provides a great opportunity to interact on a basic level, by asking for a recommendation directly from the waiter or waitress.

In China, a famous movie titled Lost in Chang Mai has gained a cult following, with many Chinese traveling to the region to visit locations featured in the movie.

When I traveled to Chang Mai, Thailand last year, I literally became lost in Chang Mai after walking for hours admiring the scenery and without realizing it I was actually leaving the town after many hours of walking. I had no idea where I was or how to get back to my hotel. Totally, completely and utterly lost.

I flagged down a passing motor scooter rider(a local)as at this stage the light of day was fading fast. Communication was difficult I used some sign language to indicate I was lost. I named the hotel in which I was staying, the rider nodded her head, then tapped on the seat of her scooter, urging me to hop on. After riding back into town, approximately thirty minutes away by scooter (I failed to realize I had walked so far) she pulled up at the front of the hotel and waved me goodbye.

Overall, solo travelers have a great opportunity to visit locations on their own terms. No distractions or arguing over where to dine, when to rise or go to sleep, and which locations or attractions to visit. By arranging and scheduling personal travel to locations and destinations at the pace and you wish to travel to me, is the true definition of freedom.

Sandra Hawkins

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