Travel Alone for the First Time
How Old Do You Have to Be to Travel Alone?
So, you’re thinking about traveling alone for the first time ever? Fortunately, single travel is one of the best experiences that a person can have at any age. There are no restricted age limits but keep in mind that the minimum age for alone flying is 12 years. Some airlines provide Unaccompanied Minor Service for children 5-17 years with Form of Indemnity required. Concerning old age people, they are bounded only with their state of health. There are a lot of companies offering tours for seniors. They imply measured pace, increased comfort, and medical service in case of need.
Whether you wish to get some alone time or need to go on a business trip, hitting the road alone gives you an opportunity to explore new places from a totally different perspective. This insider’s guide directs you on how to travel alone and offers ten useful tips for solo travel.
The truth is there are many advantages when traveling alone. For example, you are a super fan of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown show and wish to attend a cooking class while vacationing in Italy, but your travel companion is not that much into this. By traveling alone, you definitely won’t have to worry about someone else’s preferences and you will have a chance to go where you want to all the time. Of course, going on a journey alone has its own share of perils including safety concerns and dealing with loneliness. However, the pros of solo travel outweigh the cons and with these useful tips for traveling alone, I am sure that your first single travel adventure will become a memorable experience.
Useful Tips for Travelling Solo
1. Decide on Your Destination
One of the most important things to do when traveling alone for the first time is deciding on your destination. Luckily, you can find plenty of information online about places to go from fellow single travelers. Do you want a beach vacation or wish to go mountain hiking? Do you prefer small coastal towns to big capital cities? Answer these types of questions and you’ll definitely be closer to choosing the destination for your solo travel adventure.
As for the accommodation, it’s always best to check out the ratings of the place you are thinking about staying at. When traveling alone, it’s also recommended to find an apartment, hostel, or a hotel that is close to the attractions or has a good bus/metro connection to the center of the city.
2. Get Travel Insurance
Many people think that travel insurance is just a waste of money, but I would totally have to disagree on this. The thing is that travel insurance can actually save you a bunch of cash in case an accident happens during your solo trip or if you get sick for some reason. It’s even more important to get this insurance while traveling alone, simply because you have no one to rely on at the time and travel insurance can be your best friend.
When obtaining this valuable piece of paper, make sure to check what it actually covers in case of emergency. There are many insurance companies offering a variety of deals, so choose the one that fits you best.
3. Start Your Day Early in the Morning
Instead of sleeping in late and checking your Wi-Fi in the hotel lobby after breakfast for hours, get up early to see the sites and go on adventures. Being an early bird when traveling alone has many advantages and I’ve listed some of them below.
- Start your day early and avoid large crowds of tourists in front of major tourist sites like museums, art galleries, etc.;
- Breakfast at the hotel buffet usually has more variety earlier in the morning;
- If you hit the streets in the morning, you will probably end up bed early in the evening and avoid commuting back to the hotel late at night alone;
- There are tourist attractions that offer good deals on entrance fees in the morning.
4. Find Time to Rest a Bit
First-time solo travelers tend to make the mistake of fitting to many activities in just one day. Instead of visiting 4 museums and going on 2 different day excursions in less than 24 hours, find some time to rest for a bit. You probably don’t want to deal with swollen feet during your first solo travel journey.
Taking a couple of hours of rest doesn’t mean you are missing out anything. After all, these attractions in the city are not going anywhere. With a clear mind and rested body, you will be ready to enjoy the rest of your travels.
5. Learn the Local Language
Communication is key when traveling alone to new places. For getting around and just starting up a light conversation with someone, learn a little of the local language. No one expects you to be flawless and to learn to hold a serious conversation in a different language, but learning how to introduce yourself, order coffee at a bar, or read the signs on the street will make your solo travel adventure easier and definitely more fun. The locals also like to see tourists making an effort and learning their language, especially in European countries like France, Spain, and Italy.
6. Stay in Touch with Family and Friends
It’s always important to remember that safety comes first when traveling alone. Keeping in touch with your friends and family and updating them on your whereabouts is a great safety precaution to take when traveling solo. I always recommend sending a copy of your travel itinerary to the people close to you, so that they know where you are staying at, where are you headed next, and when can they reach you if needed. People traveling alone can also schedule chats on Skype or messaging via emails with friends and family. Staying in touch with people close to you is a great way to stay safe during your solo travels.
7. Book a Free Walking Tour
In many cities around the world, free walking tours led by young locals are trending nowadays. The procedure here is simple. Instead of paying a fee, you can donate how much money you want to the local guide at the end of the tour. This is a great opportunity for solo travelers to connect with fellow adventurers and to get to know more about the destination they are visiting from a local perspective. It’s also a good way to scoop out information about good places to eat and drink in the city.
8. Keep some Cash on Hand
How to travel alone and keep your money safe? Although it’s recommended not to have large amounts of cash on you and rely on credit cards which are widely accepted nowadays, you should have at least some cash on hand while traveling solo. In case you wish to purchase a souvenir at the local market, grab some street food from local vendors, or pay for a bus ticket, it’s definitely much easier to pay with cash. If you are afraid of a quick theft while sightseeing, you can always split the cash in different locations. For instance, keep some cash in a money belt, while storing a few other bills in your jeans.
9. Find Accommodation with Reliable Wi-Fi
You probably won’t go sightseeing alone late at night, so choosing accommodation with a reliable Internet connection is a great way to spend your free time at the place you are staying at. Use this time to talk to family and friends via social media, streams some cool movies to pass the time, or just surf the web for entertainment. Sometimes, it’s even better to pay a bit extra for a room if it has complimentary Wi-Fi included in the price.
10. Have Fun and Try New Things
Traveling alone can be a rewarding experience and having fun is what it’s all about. Use this time to get outside your comfort zone and try new things. This travel adventure might be a great time to cross off some activities off your bucket list of things to do while on vacation. Whether you wish to jump out of an airplane, go salsa dancing, or attend that cooking class in Rome that we talked about, traveling alone offers plenty of options to do things you always wanted but never really the opportunity to try.
To sum it all up, solo travel is a great way to discover new places and meet new people. Yes, it does take some extra planning and comes with various safety concerns, but many fellow solo travelers will tell you that it is totally worth it.