by Lilit Marcus, Condé Nast Traveler
If you've booked a trip by yourself, keep these tips in mind before and during your journey--they'll help you have a safer, happier solo trip.
Solo travel used to be an anomaly, but now it's so common that some hotels even have special packages just for men and women holidaying alone. Whether you're treating yourself to a quiet weekend getaway at the spa or heading off for a solo hike on the Appalachian Trail, it's possible to have an incredible experience while also making sure the people back home don't spent all their time worrying about you. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Make sure someone back home has your contact info, names of places you'll be staying, and other important details.
Even if you're doing something more casual like backpacking around Europe and will be deciding your itinerary as you go, give a close friend or family member all relevant information about your flight reservations, hotels you'll be staying in, and any other relevant information ahead of time. In addition to giving your loved ones some peace of mind, it also means that you have a backup if something goes wrong.
Occasionally "check in" from the road.
Even if you're going on a road trip through parts of the country that don't have cell phone service, "check in" on Facebook or another social media platform periodically. You can brag about your trip (hey, guess where I am now!) while also letting your network know where you are. A social media update, even if it's private and only viewable to your friends, will ease a lot of minds and keep you from having to send multiple emails and texts.
Make copies of your passport, social security card, and other important paperwork.
If you lose your ID or get robbed, it will be much easier to get a replacement passport or new train ticket if you already have necessary proof of identity on hand. Before you leave, make copies of all necessary documents (passport, driver's license, airline ticket, visa, etc) and scan them to your laptop, tablet, or other electronic device, then email the set to a pal for safekeeping.
Work your network.
In our increasingly connected world, you never know where a potential contact could come from. Once you've booked your trip, reach out to friends to tell them where you're going and ask if they know anyone there--you never know whose college roommate's sister might have moved to Portugal and is willing to show you around or take you out for dinner. Expanding your network of travelers also means you might get interesting new visitors of your own someday.
Bring a book.
Long solo train rides and bus trips lend themselves perfectly to reading. Since you aren't going to be chitchatting with a friend or challenging each other to a game of cards, now's the opportunity to finally read that book everybody's been talking about. Need some recommendations? Try one of these books that Condé Nast Traveler editors loved on their recent trips.
Learn to celebrate and enjoy the solitude.
When you're traveling by yourself, it's easy to think of food as fuel instead of an indulgence. Instead of eating a quick takeout meal in your room, go to a proper restaurant and enjoy the meal as much as you would with someone else there. And since you're a party of one, it might be easier to get in at high-end restaurants with insane wait times.
When traveling with a friend or partner, it often means making compromises. But an upside of traveling alone is that you only have to go to, say, a museum about burnt food if you really, really want to. Want to get up at 5 a.m. for a grueling hike? Sounds great! Want to sleep until noon and hang out in your pajamas all day? That's fine too. It's your time, and you can spend it any way you want.
More from Condé Nast Traveler:
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Top 25 Cities in the World: Readers' Choice Awards 2014
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The Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities in the U.S.
The 10 Best Small Cities in the U.S.
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