For most people the idea of a vacation means trekking somewhere with a couple of travel buddies, family members or a “significant other” to share in the experience. But sometimes all three scenarios are a fail.
Friends aren’t always reliable, family can be a bit demanding and lovers can be… well, both. The go-to fix is a travel group but there are people who hate that dynamic, too— always having to compromise, waiting for others, etc… If all of the aforementioned feel real to you solo travel is the best solve, especially if you just need some time to yourself to clear your head.
Whether self-care is on deck, or friends flopped on your big travel plans, solo travel can be a beautiful thing if you do it the right way. Here’s how.
Decide what kind of trip you want
If you’re trying to relax, kick back and take in views that you don’t see every day, then book a decked out resort with all the amenities. At an all-inclusive resort on an exotic Caribbean island like Barbados or Grenada, or a wintery retreat in Colorado or the countryside of Iceland, you can lounge around and do the least but still feel like you’re having an experience. On the other hand, if your goal is to immerse yourself in a culture and get your adrenaline pumping, your accommodations are less of a priority. Choose a destination that gives you loads of culture and city life for ease of access to meeting new people— places like Johannesburg, South Africa, Bangkok, Thailand or Paris, France.
2. Pick the right kind of place to stay
Regardless of the reason you’re traveling solo, always stay somewhere moderately busy. Even if you’re vacationing for rest and relaxation, at some point your need to connect with people is going to kick in. You can retreat to your room for complete solitude, but leave yourself the option of meeting some new friends hanging poolside or having a drink at the lobby. And don’t count out hostels—a cost efficient lodging option where many solo travelers connect while abroad. Whatever you decide, as a safety precaution, share your final travel plans with someone you trust.
Create a loose itinerary
Once your destination and lodging are confirmed, create a rough outline highlighting key daily points for your vacation. You don’t necessarily want to create a jam-packed schedule that has you running low on fuel, but it’s helpful to plan at least one activity each day as a way to anchor your trip and ensure that you don’t drive yourself off a ledge with boredom. Activities don’t need to be “active” per se, but choose some restaurants, maybe a massage, and at least one excursion to get out and see what the destination is all about.
4. BYO entertainment
The goal is to be so enamored by a city or your accommodations that you don’t need to depend on your own devices, but only you know what keeps you truly entertained. Stock up on some new books and magazines, bookmark some websites, download music and movies. Be prepared so that even if all else fails, you have your stash to dig into.
Rondel Holder writes and lives the travel life. He’s the founder of Soul Society 101, a premiere travel group targeting African-Americans. Follow him @soulsociety.