For many travelers, going on vacation alone may sound like a bad idea. Some view it as being too unsafe, too anti-social or just more expensive than traveling in a group. Yet often times, the opposite is true. When you travel alone, you may have more of an opportunity to meet new people and a better chance at saving money if you’re smart about planning your trip. And as for the safety issue, protecting yourself depends at least as much on how you compose yourself as it does on the number of people you’re flanked by.
So we spoke with dozens of experts and travelers who have decided to go solo on vacation to find out their tips for minimizing the risks and having a good time.
Meeting People is Easy If You Let It Happen
The solo traveler is really never alone. Many of the travelers we spoke with told us that they often spent time with more people when traveling alone than when they travel in groups. “I find that if I am traveling alone, it is much easier to meet the locals,” said Betty Thesky, author of Betty in the Sky With A Suitcase, a travelogue. “You are more approachable when you are by yourself, and people assume that if you're alone, you would appreciate company. Conversely, people assume couples or groups want to be left alone.”
Thesky told us that some of the best places to meet locals and other travelers are at airport and bus terminals. She often strikes up conversation by taking out her travel guide and asking people questions about where to go and general tips about the area. “This usually leads to a conversation where they ask where I'm from and where I'm going, and that often leads to coffee or dinner,” she said.
If you’re not the kind of person who likes to approach strangers this way, there are other options you can take advantage of online. According to Matthew Kepnes, a frequent traveler and founder of the popular travel blog NomadicMatt.com, sites like MeetUp.com and CouchSurfing.org make it easy to find locals who want to hang out and cool activities in whatever part of the world you’re visiting. But like Thesky, Kepnes urges the solo traveler to get comfortable “striking up conversations everywhere.”