When it comes to world travel, many people feel more comfortable jetting off with a support system of family or friends in tow. However, there are immense benefits to leaving your comfort zone and exploring new places by yourself, and the best way to do that is by taking a tour on your own. We wanted to hear more about the solo tour experience so we caught up with Go Ahead traveler Jessica, who’s learned a lot and enjoyed even more on her international solo trips. Here, she shares her top tips for making the most of going it alone.
Do your research
“Regardless of whether you’re going with a tour group or on your own, you have to do your research. I’m a firm believer in that. Get a good guidebook, read it, know what you’re getting into. If you go to another country, knowing a little more about it than you would normally know helps you to be more prepared and to know what to expect.”
Take the first step
“Don’t wait for others to introduce themselves to you. Go ahead (no pun intended) and take the first step and introduce yourself, even if you only tell people one thing about yourself…Because I made the effort to learn peoples’ names, where they were from or what they do, I can still tell you one fact about everyone in my group from my last trip—it’s just making that effort.”
Look at everyone as friends
“Sometimes people are shy, so of course introducing themselves to people on their tour is going to be out of their comfort zone. But it’s almost like they’re living in the moment. You’re in another country. You may not see these people again, but you know what? Make a friend for the next ten days. You know, they’re not strangers—they’re just new friends you haven’t met yet! That’s the way I look at it.”
Learn the language basics
“I was one of the only people on our trip that actually learned some basic Italian, and when I say basic, I mean just survival skills at that point. So, a lot of people would ask me, ‘Will you translate for us? What do they mean?’… I’m not a shy person by nature, but I do think knowing some of the local language helped with forming new friendships along the way.”
Roll with the punches
“I don’t like things getting out of my control, but I think the last two times I traveled, I got lost. So, I’d just think, ‘Okay, I’ve gotten lost! What can I find on the way back to my hotel?’ If I need to ask for directions, then I’ve made a new friend in that respect.”
Seize the day
“If I don’t have anyone to travel with me, that’s not going to stop me from seeing and doing what I want to do. Life’s too short. There’s too much of this world that I want to see, and I’m not going to let something as small as that hold me back from doing it.”
Have you ever traveled solo? What are your tips for setting off on your own?