Solo travel can be the ultimate in self-indulgence; you can rest when you want and pour it on when you’re feeling ambitious. Another benefit is that your mistakes are your own, and your triumphs all the more exciting. There’s no worrying that your insistence on trekking all the way across town to a museum that was closed ruined your partner’s day; it’s your own day to salvage or chalk up to a learning experience.
Do your research. The more you know about where you’re going the more confident you’ll feel. Study maps of cities so that you have an idea of how they are laid out. Find out about local transit and the cost of taxis so that you know how you’ll get around. Understand the currency and exchange rate so that you’ll be able to quickly do the math in your head to know what something costs in your own currency. Get a few phrases down.
Plan for communication. Whether you like email, text, phone or Facebook, if you can find Wi-Fi you can get in touch with home for pennies if not free with a smartphone. Skype allows you to call directly to a landline for just a few cents a minute.
Be patient with yourself. Take things slowly. Sit, watch, let the rhythm of your destination catch you and then go with it.
Of course, single travel has its perils too — such as safety concerns, loneliness and the dreaded single supplement. But a little preparation and common sense can save you money and get you through the rough spots.
Tips for Solo Dining
Eating alone isn’t so bad. Many solo travelers (and frequent business travelers) hate dining by themselves, worried that they appear like some worn-out Willy Loman of the road. There’s even a name for it: solomangarephobia. The following tips can help you overcome what for many travelers is the most unpleasant aspect of going it alone.
Chat with the service people. Waiters and waitresses are some of the best local color you’ll find.
Café and outdoor dining is often attractive to single travelers; sitting alone with a book in a café isn’t as unusual as a table for one at a fancy restaurant.
Choose a counter seat or a seat at the bar.
Go to a restaurant that has booths, which offer more privacy.
Bring reading materials. If you start to feel uneasy sitting alone and staring down at your food, you can crack open a book, whip out your phone or read a magazine. One hint: The more high-minded your pursuit appears, the more likely folks are either to ignore you, or to become intrigued and maybe say hello.
If you don’t want to endure yet another public meal alone, use room service or order carry-out from a restaurant nearby.
Eat well. Just because you’re alone and on the run doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time for sit-down meals, a leisurely cup of coffee or a decadent dessert.