How To Prepare For Solo Travel
(When You’ve Never Spent Time Alone)
It’s human nature to crave the company of others. For some people, the thought of spending time alone is incomprehensible and something to be avoided at all costs.
I believe that learning to love spending time in your own company is an incredibly powerful skill that will enable you to plan and carry out your travels more confidently.
I don’t want to tell you that you will spend a lot of time by yourself when you travel solo, as that would put you off immediately (which would be a great shame!). It would also mean I wasn’t being entirely truthful to you. Even if you set off travelling alone, the chances are you will quickly meet people on the road.
I promise you will be able to make friends as you travel.
Realistically, the time you spend by yourself is therefore less than you may first fear. But, there will definitely be a portion of your trip when you are travelling under your own steam, so it’s crucial that you feel ok with that prospect.
How can you prepare yourself mentally for your solo trip if you don’t feel comfortable by yourself? For those of you who doubt their ability to travel independently, then the following tips will help you get in the kick-ass mindset.
How To Prepare For Solo Travel (When You’ve Never Spent Time Alone)
1. Arrange To Meet Your Friends…
… and turn up 30 minutes early.
If you’ve arranged dinner, drinks or a fun day trip out somewhere, take the opportunity to get there with plenty of time to spare. You can use this time as a mini-practice run to get yourself used to spending time by yourself in public places.
If that means buying a drink and grabbing a table whilst you wait for your friends, do it. Don’t lurk apologetically outside the venue until your shield arrives. Push open the door, past your comfort barrier and get stuck in.
Wander the museum by yourself for ten minutes, browse through the shops, stake a claim on the best seats in the bar; whatever it takes to spend precious moments becoming comfortable in your own company.
Prepare for solo travel: When’s the next occasion you’re doing something with your friends? Wow them with your punctuality and be there before they arrive.
2. Arrange A Day-Time Activity
Take yourself out for a day trip.
Put a date in the diary. Head off to a local landmark you’ve fancied checking out: a museum, a gallery, the cinema, a new neighbourhood in your town or city.
Bonus points if you can combine this with a physical activity. Go for a walk by yourself; pack a picnic and spend the whole day taking in the views and being alone with your own thoughts.
Scheduling a few hours to carry out an activity gives you a structure and timescale. Having a planned out activity will be reassuring.
Prepare for solo travel: Time to get dreaming! Where is a place that you’ve always wanted to travel to locally that you’ve not yet visited?
3. Use Public Transport By Yourself
I’m sure many of you will use some form of public transport for your daily commute. However, getting familiar with public transport for longer trips can be invaluable preparation for the first time you travel alone abroad.
It’s highly likely that you will be using public transport to get around in another country as it’s the cheapest way to travel and a great way to experience the country and people.
Bonus points for you if you can combine your day trip above with taking public transport.
Where would you like to visit and how can you get there by bus, train, tram or other local mode of transport? Taking yourself a further step out of your comfort zone of familiar routines will boost your confidence in being able to do so in another country.
When travelling, don’t forget to enjoy the journey! Tear your eyes away from your phone screen and take in the views outside your window.
Prepare for solo travel: Where would you like to go and how are you going to travel there?
4. Eat Alone
For many people, the thought of eating alone is simply unbearable. I can understand why. Eating by oneself seems to bring with it a social stigma. A table for one implies that you do not have the family or friends to fill it; prompting thoughts of “what is wrong with him/her?”
The person dining alone does so under a magnifying glass of their own placement. If they feel undertones of pity or curiosity from other eaters in the vicinity, it’s a feeling they are heightening on their own. The truth is, most people are too wrapped up in their own actions to notice or give much thought to the lone diner.
Whilst I think you’ll find that you don’t spend many mealtimes in your own company when you travel, there may be the odd occasion.
Dining alone is the ultimate test of your own comfort levels. But embracing a happy and contented mealtime by yourself is a massive step forward to rocking your upcoming solo travels.
Start small: head to a little café you know or have always liked the look of. Head in there alone and order yourself a cup of tea and a bite to eat. Pluck up the courage to ask the staff a couple of questions, or comment on the décor / weather / something in the café – anything to break the ice and make a connection.
Enjoy your snack when it arrives. Take time to look around, gaze out the window, people watch and dream.
Was that so bad?
Your next step is to progress to dining alone. This time I’m talking a full meal at dinnertime.
Again, treat yourself to somewhere you’ve always fancied. If you’re going to do this, may as well push the boat out.
Smile and make eye contact with the wait staff. Take the opportunity to talk to them and ask questions about the menu. Don’t feel apologetic or that you don’t deserve to be treated the same as any other customer simply because you are by yourself.
Linger over your meal. Try to fight the urge to bolt down your food and leg it out of there. Sip your drink, savour the tastes. Order that damn dessert and enjoy every bite.
Bring a book, your journal or a magazine if you want to. These are all useful emotional support crutches and a good distraction. But do yourself a favour and raise your head up from the pages long enough to take in your surroundings. The longer you spend with your nose pressed to your phone, the more you miss of real life happening all around you.
Close the book, head up and revel in your alone time. You have the right to be there.
No one will be thinking you look sad, uncool or lonely just because you’re eating alone. In fact, I guarantee there will be plenty of diners around you that wish they had the opportunity to enjoy their meal in peaceful solitude.
Prepare for solo travel: Where will you go for your date-for-one?
5. Spend Down-Time In Your Own Company
Whenever you have a quiet moment, remember that it’s not always necessary to fill it. Take some time just to chill out in your own company, whether it’s around the house or carrying out daily tasks such as the food shopping.
Pick a movie and snuggle on the couch, read, write, draw, dream; whatever you end up doing, choose a relaxing activity that you can enjoy alone.
The point here is not to highlight your loneliness.
Embrace your own space.
Learn to appreciate every aspect of who you are and realise that you are enough. You are everything you need in terms of love and support.
Don’t fear the time you spend in your own company. Appreciate the chance it gives you to explore and get to know every corner of who you are.
When you are truly comfortable in your own skin, you will feel much more confident to travel alone. You become a lot less reliant on other people because you know you have the strength within to continue as you are.
Prepare for solo travel: When will you next spend some quality time by yourself? What are you going to do?
Further Reading On How To Prepare For Solo Travel
Take a look at some of my other posts on solo travel. What do you need to know before planning your trip? Start here to get inspired:
- What does it feel like embarking on your first solo trip?
- The five stages of first time solo travel – how will it feel?
- What you can do if your friends don’t want to travel with you
- A guide to making friends whilst you travel
- How to book your first time trip.
How would you suggest you prepare for solo travel? Do you have any tips or tricks you have found help you feel confident spending time by yourself and travelling alone? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share your experiences with us!
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