For those prone to wanderlust, the loss of the option to freely travel has been one of the hardest parts of living through the pandemic. But even amid shutdowns and border closures, there was a spike in solo travel, as travel companies began to cater to people who found the socially-distanced lifestyle appealing (and had the flexibility to take advantage of deals).
Even as the world reopens and people begin to book flights and plan trips again, solo travel still offers many benefits to those who aren’t deterred by the idea of setting out alone. If that sounds like you, consider the following advice for solo travellers, gleaned from the wisdom of experienced globetrotters on Reddit.
Travel off the beaten path
Travelling alone has its perks, including more flexibility and ease of mobility, which opens you up to exploring lesser-known locales and attractions. When considering solo travel to Spain, Taman182 suggests you “slightly prioritise less common places and experiences, because you can always come back to Madrid or Barcelona.”
This is especially true when travelling around Europe, where getting to nearby countries is fairly easy. “Keep an eye out for cheap flight tickets from your closest airports, because fares … can be super cheap, and you can end up in a lot of random places,” they advise. “I for one ended up on a 10 euro return flight to Vilnius.”
Book your activities well in advance
When travelling solo, it may seem like picking up and doing what you like will be easy because you’ll only need to worry about yourself, but experienced Redditors report that winging it can be tricky because you’ll need to find activities you want to (or feel safe) doing alone, from eating to adventuring.
“Honestly, I think the most difficult part of tackling the national parks is nailing down all your reservations,” Shocktopus89 says. “Some of the heavier hitters book out months in advance, so getting somewhere you feel safe and comfortable can be tricky.”
On my own trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands, I discovered getting dinner out required a reservation at almost every restaurant. I hadn’t planned well in advance, and ended up eating a lot of pizza. Especially amid a travel boom, it will be important to book your must-do explorations ahead of time.
Consider renting a car instead of using rideshares
Sometimes taking cabs or public transportation while travelling can be an easier option than driving in an unknown place. Locals know the roads better, so why not trust them to get you where you need to go? Unfortunately, in some locations, cabs present their own headaches. In Puerto Rico, for example, Reddit user QACman21 “definitely recommend[s] renting a car, as Ubers can be extremely unreliable anywhere outside of a metro area. You can find a ride from San Juan to Ceiba but might have a little more difficulty doing the reverse.”
Sometimes you’ll need to have on-the-ground knowledge of a reliable cab company or even a specific cab driver, and rideshare may not an option at all — all safety factors to consider when travelling without the benefit of strength in numbers. The downside to renting a car is the cost, which you’ll need to shoulder yourself. Car rentals can range from $30 a day to $100 a day, depending on the location and timing, so once again, it’s best to book ahead.
Prepare to be self-reliant in emergencies
When travelling solo, particularly internationally, anything can happen, from losing your passport to getting your cash stolen. More than usual, you must make a plan of action before you leave. Leave photocopies of your passport and travel information with friends at home. Take note of your the locations of consulates and embassies in your destination countries, then make a possible plan of action to reach them in an emergency.
Should your belongings get swiped, Taido_Inukai says, “Get to an embassy ASAP. Call for family help from there. If you’re in a village far away from a major city, file a police report and ask them to help you get to the nearest embassy.”
Thunderroad45 echoes that advice, noting, “the embassy might require a copy of the report to replace your passport.” While you might think you are doomed, you have options, and your country’s consulate or embassy will be able to help verify your identity and help you get a replacement passport. In general, try to keep passports directly on your person rather than in a purse or handbag.
Keep up on changing travel restrictions
As travel opens up worldwide, there are still regulations and restrictions in place that you’ll need to be aware of. For example, in Puerto Rico, as sassylildame mentions, “there’s a curfew, so nightlife shuts down at [10 p.m.].” Those restrictions have changed since sassylildame’s trip, illustrating the importance of checking before you make your plans — you don’t want to find yourself ready for a night out on the town only to realise everything is closed.
Some locations require COVID-19 testing prior to entry, while others offer fewer restrictions for vaccinated individuals. Right now, Central American and the Caribbean have lessened their COVID-19 restrictions and travel regulations for U.S. Citizens. Wherever you go, make sure you are up to date on travel restrictions, because we’re not completely out of the woods yet.