5 Steps to Stretch Your Solo Travel Muscles
There were a couple of occasions this past weekend when, for different reasons, I referred to Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem”.
There are two lines in this song that I have held onto over the years.
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
You see, when change is desired but seems impossible, I think of these lines. I remind myself that a small, even a tiny step, can be the beginning of great things. And once that small step is taken, the momentum to change has begun.
Of course, Mr. Cohen was talking about large issues of global importance. But I don’t think he’d mind me applying his words to the much smaller details of my life. And as I was thinking about my post for today and wanting to deliver encouragement for whose who worry about going solo – whether because they’ve not done so before or because they are stretching their boundaries – I thought about these lines again and the small steps one can take to change.
Five steps towards better solo travel.
The unknown is what makes taking your first solo trip or traveling to more adventurous destinations alone a challenge. To allay these fears, I suggest a few trip planning steps. 1. Spend a little time with yourself. Take an inventory of your strengths, weaknesses and desires. What do you want out of your trip? What do you need as a person? Knowing yourself well is fundamental to having a great time and being safe as you travel solo. 2. Plan and pack appropriately. Plan your travel time so that you arrive during daylight – night is not a good time to arrive in a new location. Book accommodation that is social such as a hostel or B&B. Look for restaurants with communal tables and local coffee shops. Do this before you go so that you time away is spent experiencing rather than organizing. Pack as lightly as you can for your destination. 3. Network and talk to people with experience. These conversations will be quite different depending on whether you’re a newbie or an experienced solo traveler stretching your wings, but they will all be helpful. When I went to Chile, I was trying to figure out how to go to Patagonia. It was really hard to figure out and I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t figure it out. I scoured my network and found a couple of people to get first hand information from. I also learned that they had found it a difficult trip to plan for as well. (After that trip I wrote How to Travel Solo to Patagonia: Top 10 Tips which has been featured on the Chilean Tourism site for over a year.) 4. Plan the technical aspects of your travels. Currency, documents, language, communications… there are many aspects of your trip that you’ll want to have a handle on before you leave. Know how you’ll manage your money, how you’ll communicate with home and more. The more you have these issues under control the easier it will be to relax and go. 5. Read fiction and non-fiction from your destination. I love reading works by the top authors of the country I’m visiting but there is also a practical purpose to such reading. Doing so introduces me to some of the unique characteristics of the culture and makes it more familiar to me. This makes the destination easier but there’s more. When there, I enjoy testing what I’ve read against what I see and experience. For some, just the idea of traveling solo is a stretch. For others, traveling solo to a certain destination is a stretch. I hope the tips above will make doing so easier because stretching is good. It is good for the mind and the soul. Enjoy!