Two years ago, I would not even go to a movie by myself. So it still surprises me that last November, I spent some time in Boston and New York, solo. And I loved (almost) every minute of it. Not going to lie, there was a point that I got a little lonely, but I pushed through it and will forever cherish that time.
Traveling solo is something I am quite comfortable doing now, as my job requires it. I work as an admission representative for a University and our events happen all over the country. This past year, I traveled to Boston, New York, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and coming up next month, DC. While my sole purpose of the trip is for work, I typically have a solid amount of time to explore. Here are some helpful tips for planning your next solo adventure:
Look up things to do, places to see, where to eat/drink. Yelp, Trip Advisor, personal travel blogs, and city websites are a great place to start. The New York Times also has a series of articles titled “36 Hours in —” which describes potential things to do in cities all over the county. These itineraries are designed for the short and sweet trips. While I don’t recommend following these itineraries exactly, it can give you some ideas, and help you get a better feel for the city.
2. Create your “must-see” list
While doing your research, make a list of the things you hope to do. Include plenty of things on your list, but also be realistic in regards to the length of your trip. Put the things you are especially stoked about at the top.
3. Look at a map
We live in a time where we rely on Google Maps and Uber. While they are great, actually taking the time to look at a map will help you really get a grasp of the city. It can also be helpful in figuring out how far the things you want to do are from each other. I recommend trying to organize your “must-see” list by location. Being able to visually picture the city also comes in handy if you are taking public transportation. I THRIVED riding the subway in New York just because I could picture where I wanted to go in relation to the rest of the city.
4. Think about safety
Traveling alone does require more caution. Talk to people you know and think about what you are comfortable with. You want to enjoy yourself so if you feel better using Uber than testing out public transit, Uber. Don’t let traveling alone hold you back from doing everything you want to; just be aware of your surroundings.
5. Decide on your method of transportation
There are so many options for you to get where you would like to go. Those under 25 and those balling on a budget (or both!) renting a car may not be an option. A lot of cities have great public transportation that can be relatively easy to navigate. Some cities are very walk-able and others have bike stations set up throughout the city that allow you to rent a bike for several hours at a time, and return it to the station you rented from, or one closer to your destination. I always have a tight budget when traveling so I try to walk and use public transportation during the day, and reserve Ubering and cabs for getting around at night.
6. Decide lodging last
Unless you are staying with family or friends, I recommend looking into lodging once you have a better idea of the city and what you hope to accomplish. You will also be able to select somewhere more central. I am a HUGE advocate for AirBnB. If you have not used it, DO IT.
7. Pack light
Try to fit everything you need in one bag so you have less things to keep track of. I try to pack items of clothing that I can mix and match to save space.
8. Be flexible
The best part of traveling alone is that you get to do what you want, when you want. If you score last-minute tickets to a Celtics game, go! Don’t be so married to your must-see list, that you miss out on other opportunities. While in New York, I found out one of my sorority sisters was also visiting (thank you Instagram). Getting brunch with her prevented a walk through Central Park but allowed for an opportunity to explore an awesome neighborhood in Brooklyn. Most important, I got to spend quality time with a dear friend I had not seen in 2 years.
Traveling solo is empowering. There is nothing like coming back from a trip and getting to say “I did it!” There may be lonely moments but you make up for it in experiences. You also never know who or what you may run into!
Featured Image Via The Blonde Abroad