The idea of traveling alone can seem daunting–but exploring new places on your own can be a life-changing, growing experience. Learning how to plan trips for yourself, discovering restaurants and other attractions spontaneously, and learning how to navigate a new city on your own can all help to build your independence and self-sufficiency. Taking a trip on your own can be a great way to rebuild your confidence after a breakup, or simply to form a better relationship with yourself.
If you do choose to travel alone, there are some simple steps you can take to make the most of your journey.
1. Create an itinerary–then break it: Building an itinerary ahead of time can help you to organize your thoughts about your upcoming trip. If you have specific goals and attractions in mind, a day-to-day schedule can help you to keep track of all these moving parts. A good itinerary should include travel details such as departure times and flight or train numbers; the check-in times and addresses of your accommodations; and the names and addresses of any spots you’d like to visit during your trip.
Once you’re on your trip, though, don’t be afraid to stray away from your schedule. The experience of wandering around in an unfamiliar place can be both fascinating and liberating. Above all, remember that your solo journey is all about what you want to experience–and not about checking off boxes that other people have deemed “must-sees.”
2. Share your itinerary with friends and family: Especially if you’re traveling to a different country, we recommend sharing your full itinerary with friends and family ahead of time. Not only will this allow your loved ones to get excited for you–it’ll ensure that they’ll know your rough location in the event of an emergency.
3. Bring a portable phone charger: Allowing yourself to get lost in a new city is all well and good, but nobody wants to become stranded in an unfamiliar place without GPS or messaging capabilities. Make sure to pack a portable phone charger, so that you’ll never be stuck without your phone.
4. Let your interests be your guide: Whether you’re interested in cooking, a sport, a musical genre, or a historical era, let your interests guide you to pursue specific activities at your chosen destination. Consider taking a cooking class, finding a live music venue, or going on a hike. The best journeys are often the ones that help us to develop our interests and skills.
5. Keep a diary: While many travelers prefer to document their experience with digital photos, we recommend taking the time to jot down a few sentences at the end of each day. Maybe you’ll want to take note of a funny conversation you had with a local, a dish you tried for the first time, or a song that you want to remember. A diary can help you to remember the most important details of your trip: Not how you looked, but how you felt and what you learned.