Travel. Solo Travel. Travel Tips.
My First Solo Travel Experience
I had always fancied the idea of going to a random place and exploring it on my own. And when I finally did it, I learned to overcome my own inhibitions that not only concerned travel but so many other things, too.
Before moving to a new place, I always make numerous plans related to my daily schedule, lifestyle, and so many other things, out of which most of them remain unaccomplished.
In Nov ’18, I moved to the US from India as part of an internal team transition. But before I moved, I made big plans in my head like:
“I’ll lead a healthier lifestyle.”
“I’ll involve myself more in the art and creative stuff.”
“I’ll meet people from different nationalities and make new friends.”
I’ll travel more.”
… and a few more that I don’t remember now.
My move to the US coincided with the holiday season when everyone is either planning to visit their families back home or planning a vacation with their families, friends, a group of strangers, or even alone.
The harbinger — planning the trip
Within a few days in the country, I had already started exploring MeetUp groups that interested me. That is when I stumbled upon a travel meetup group that was planning to visit New York for the New Year’s eve celebration. I was excited by the idea of going to New York and watch one of the much-talked Broadway shows. I found the idea of traveling with a group better than traveling alone because of the following two reasons:
- a planned itinerary
- no effort needed to meet new people since the group provides an opportunity to meet lots of new people
The only downside to all of this was that any new person who wanted to join the group had to make some initial payment. This really blew me off. So, I checked other Travel MeetUp groups that I could join, but none of them was fitting my last-minute-plan budget. That’s when I decided that even if I don’t find a group to join, I’m definitely going to welcome New Year in a new city.
I finally did it!
I started my research by looking at the places nearest to Seattle(where I lived), including Portland, Salem, and Eugene (all in Oregon). And I gradually moved to farther ones like Orlando, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. After around three days of pretty good research, I finalized San Francisco.
I booked my tickets immediately after deciding the place to avoid any second thoughts that could affect the whole plan.
Tips for your first solo travel
It was final — I’ll be celebrating New Years’ eve in a new city with a group of people I’d be meeting for the very first time. Since it was my first proper solo trip, I did a lot of research regarding where to stay, what to do, etc.
Here are a few things you can keep in mind to prepare well for your first solo trip.
Go alone for a movie, dinner, or shopping and see if you are comfortable being just in your own company.
Do prior safety-research
Read about the city and the experiences of other travel bloggers. Keep in mind any precautions that you need to take care of when you are in the city.
Stay in a hostel
Hostels are a great place to meet new people and make plans with. You can stay in a hotel towards the end of your trip to relax or once when you get used to traveling alone.
Pre-book any tours
You can join a city-tour group for your initial few trips. Viator is one such site; there are many more that you can check and book a tour from. It is another way of meeting new people and exploring a new place.
Keep it relaxed
Don’t fall into the trap of hurrying around to visit every point of interest. Take a little time off to relax and just absorb in the energy of the new city, its culture, and lifestyle.
Join a Meetup group
It is yet another way to meet locals and other travelers. I went out with a group of 100 random people on New Year’s Eve that I met through an online MeetUp group. Undoubtedly, I met quite a lot of interesting people.
Benefits of Traveling Alone
Traveling alone can be very liberating. It changes you gradually and your outlook towards life. Here are a few ways in which traveling can impact you.
Teaches you to rely on yourself
Traveling solo pushes you out of your comfort zone, and you learn so many things about yourself that you never thought even existed.
I remember missing my tour bus back to the city from Muir woods on the very first day of my first solo trip. There was no scope of crying and being sad about the situation. I had to figure something out really fast, given that there was no phone connectivity in the area and the sun had almost set. That is when I got out of my comfort zone of not asking strangers for help. I looked around and asked for help. That is when a family offered me a ride with them back to the city.
Gives you the flexibility of planning things
With only one person to take care of, that is of your own self, the whole hassle of planning out the itinerary becomes easy. You can plan your trip according to your interests, take rest-stops whenever you want, eat whatever you prefer or maybe not eat at all. You can basically do whatever suits your schedule without worrying about affecting someone else’s plans.
Allows you to make new connections
If you are traveling with someone, it is highly unlikely you’ll stop by to have a conversation with a total stranger. If you are alone, you’ll probably make an effort to initiate a conversation with someone from your hostel, tour group, random person you meet at a cafe, and so on. This, in turn, helps you to open up and make friends with strangers and learn about new cultures, lifestyles, and so much more.
Motivates you to pay more attention to your surroundings
Often when I’m with a group, I’m like a non-stop talking birdie, and I keep walking without looking around. However, when I am traveling alone, I am more aware of my surroundings; I pay attention to smaller details around me.
Traveling alone has helped me get over my fears and discomforts, and I have made many great friends along the way.
Originally published at Penning Silly Thoughts: What Triggered My First Solo Trip
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