Julia Roberts (AKA, Elizabeth Gilbert) made it look easy. After her life fell to pieces, she simply packed a bag and skipped town, and the process found the perfect slice of pizza, a renewed spirituality, and two super hot boyfriends.
But in reality, the idea of traveling along can feel a little daunting. Is it safe? Will you get bored? Does it mean you have to eat alone all the time? These fears (among others) are legit. But they’re also good reason that you should try traveling alone at least once in your life.
If the idea of Eat, Pray, Love-ing your way through a foreign country, or even just hopping in the car ands driving up the 101, has ever popped into your day dreams, we’ve got a few tips to help make it a reality.
Pack a little lighter
Packing just enough to fit into an overhead bin is actually a liberating practice, regardless of your mode of transport. And since you’re the only one who’s really going to be paying attention to what you’ve been wearing on a day-to-day basis, it’s a little easier to get away with repeating an outfit or two. Pack pieces that can easily be mixed and matched so it looks and feels like you’ve got multiple outfits (for pictures, if nothing else). If you’re doing an extensive trip, consider packing a small bottle of multipurpose soap for the occasional dip in the sink.
Plan a (loose) itinerary
The beauty of traveling solo is that you only have to answer to yourself. If you want to pack in every day of your trip with activities, you can. If you just want to hole up in a nice coffee shop for an afternoon, no sweat. We’ve always found success in having at least 1-2 ideas of what to do each day for a location. Then playing everything by ear once you reach your destination.
If you’ve never traveled alone, and the thought of doing so gives a mild panic attack, start small. Heading an hour up the 101 for the night can still be considered traveling. Santa Barabra? San Luis Obispo? Any of the San cities? Plan a little overnight for yourself that’s not to far away and dip your toes into the solo travel waters. This way, if you start to feel a little uncomfortable, you can always just head home.
At first blush, it may feel a little lame that all your trip photos are going to be selfie shots of your forehead rather than you and a BFF. But use this solo trip as an opportunity to expand your Instagram feed beyond just pics of you lookin’ cute. Pick a theme to mark your travels like architecture, landscapes, or adorable foreign puppies. Anything other than poke bowls and lattes, tbh. Or, get extra lofi and only take photos with a Fuji Instax 9 camera for the instant gratification that your inner tween would giggle over.
Traveling alone does require a little extra thought when it comes to planning places to stay, modes of transportation, etc. When picking your lodging, read reviews and only stay at places that have a general positive rating. Once you have your itinerary, be sure to share it with multiple people back home so that someone knows where you are, or where you should be. And keep a list of emergency contact numbers on you just in case you need them, or someone needs to access them for you.
Do something out of the ordinary
Traveling on your own is the perfect opportunity to try something you normally wouldn’t do, free of judgment! Sign up for classes or tours or experiences that you normally can’t find a friend to try with you. Not only is this a great way to find out new things about yourself, it could also be a chance to meet other solo travelers along way.