How to hack your next solo travel

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 07:00

People who never have traveled alone are often scared to go on their first solo travel. That is completely understandable since individual solo journeys are way more demanding than pre-planned group travels. Suddenly you are solely responsible for everything, from the preparations to the actual execution. But don’t panic, it is much easier than you might think. Just follow a few simple guidelines. As always, praxis makes the master. The more you do it, the better you get. Here are my learnings from over a decade of highly individual traveling. Whether you are about to go on your first solo travel or you have traveled alone before, these tips will help you prepare your next journey.

Get inspired by tour operators and guides

A good way to start is by getting inspiration about what you would like to experience. This stage is all about getting excited. What are the things that will make your travel unforgettable? In order to discover the answer to that question, it is necessary to reflect and identify your personal interests and discover your favorite style of traveling. You can start by searching online and bookmark websites you find inspiring. Collect leaflets from different tour operators, and maybe even register for newsletters. Dream about your next destination. Where do you picture yourself? Imagine yourself into all the beautiful images you see and discover which destinations feel right.

Keep in mind though that tour operators are selling their travels. Most of the times they are focused on mainstream tourist attractions which are often overrated and overpriced. Make sure you stay open minded. Try to find hidden gems, that look unique and are not yet overrun.

Take your time to collect all the information and let it slowly sink in. This way you will find your style.

sitting alone in a restaurant in Simon's Town, planning my next solo travel

Select and prioritize by trusting your own gut

Our planet offers endless and very diverse destinations. You can travel to beautiful places within your own country or travel to the other side of the earth. The opportunities are countless! However, it is most likely that you do not have enough time or money to travel the whole world. In order to find the destinations, you will like the most it is important to prioritize. I am not talking about pro and cons lists of each possible destination.  Just try to select your travel destination based on your personal MUST-HAVE and NO-GOs. For example, you want to travel to a place which has to have warm weather and nice beaches. But you only have two weeks time and you do not want to travel further than a five hours flight. Although Australia does fulfill your must-have, it does not match with the no-go you set up. A destination like Spain would probably be more suitable for you.

So listen to your gut feeling. What are your dreams? What is a must-have for you, that triggers positive emotions? Listen to your own desires. Be careful though not to be influenced by others too much. Stories from fellow travelers can be really inspiring but beware not to end up following the footprints of others. Go and make your own footprints on what might be an unbeaten path.

Plan some milestones and start the journey

There are many ways to plan a journey, but the essential part is finding the personal mix that is right for you. It is all about finding a balance between the right amount of planning and staying flexible. Some destinations require administrative preparations or health precautions which you have to take care of before you actually go there. These things have to be planned on beforehand. When you are on the road though, a rough outline and idea of the journey will help to stay on track while moving, but too specific plans and bookings tighten your options and flexibility while traveling. It might be a delight to have the opportunity to change your plans while traveling. Have the option to stay a bit longer in one place or travel to that hidden gem you just found out about. On the other hand, having some fixed targets will help you to move on and avoid getting stuck in one place. It is thus important not to overthink things and plan too much, but do not forget to prepare yourself either! Find the right mix and then just go, once you start, things are getting much clearer.

Pursue your dreams, but always adapt

Once you are on the road and you are actually moving, everything will turn out to be fine… or not so much? You have to keep in mind that life is never a consistent line and things do not always happen according to our vision. There are always ups and downs, smaller or larger obstacles or annoyances. Try not to waste time on negative experiences, shit happens. Rather move on and create new positive ones. Assess your options and be flexible enough to adjust your plans regularly.

Lasting memories instead of shiny trophies

Shiny trophies are nice to look at and to present to others, at least superficially. Traveling solo though will provide you with something much more valuable than a shiny trophy. It gives you the chance to grow personally and feel more fulfilled.

Yes, I have passed through many countries. And I can tell inspiring stories about every single one of them.

Yes, I take many pictures, but they are not my trophies. They help me to memorize and recollect memories which are way more precious. I use these pictures and videos to share my experience with others. Not to show off, but to inspire.

Rather than collecting materialistic items on your travel, it is better to create lasting memories. They will be with you forever and won’t break.

Not everybody enjoys solo travel equally

There are people who come back from their first solo travel and describe it as a magical experience, whereas others are less excited about it. But those who really tried it, have gained unique experiences which they are proud of! Having planned and done something on your own feels always very rewarding. It was you, and only you who made this possible. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Get out of your comfort zone and try something new for a change.

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