Traveling Alone-Can you Do it?

“I don’t want to go by myself!” I’ve heard this phrase hundreds of times from friends who want to travel, have the means to do so, but just can’t seem to get on a plane and get started. The most common obstacles that prevent many from achieving the destinations on their bucket lists is fear of not having enough money,concerns about safety, language barriers and a distrust in airline safety. If you’ve made it over these hurdles, now what? You’ve got to pick a destination and find someone to go with you. That’s not always easy.

Travel is the ultimate test of a relationship. You can’t just go with anyone. Being on a trip together, sharing hotel rooms, cars, trains, and airline emergency exits can temper any friendship. If you get annoyed with your travel companion, too bad, so sad.Perhaps you like to get up early and sight see but they like to sleep until noon . You might want to try exciting new foods but your partner wants to stick with American fast food chains because they’re afraid of what they don’t know. Maybe you love history and museums, but your traveling companion wants to lie around on the beach all day. You’ve got money to burn and they don’t.  Traveling with someone who doesn’t enjoy the same things you do can ruin your entire vacation. This is a more realistic fear than any of the others I’ve listed. What if you don’t know anyone that fits your travel criteria? Travel alone.

Being alone tops many lists in the fear department. It’s bad enough being in a country where you don’t know anyone or your way around, but doing it solo? No one really wants to feel like the Tom Hanks’ character in Cast Away where your only friend is a volleyball. You might be someone who won’t even go to the movies or eat lunch alone. Take heart. With today’s technology, you’re never really alone. Here’s a few tips for traveling sans ami.

Facebook and Social Media– I’m not recommending that you are on your phone all day instead of observing the things around you, but wherever you go, you’re certainly going to take your list of Facebook yes-men along for the ride. If you’re excited about a place that you’re visiting, you can post it on your wall so that your friends can enjoy the experience with you.People who don’t travel often live vicariously through other’s travels.You might be doing your homebody friends a favor by posting your daily adventures It doesn’t need to be a one-way street, however. Your friends can help you with a wealth of information. I was traveling in Greece a few years ago and since it was off season, the regular ferries were’t running. I was trying to get to Turkey from Santorini and the only way possible involved taking a ferry all the way back to Athens and starting over. I posted my dilemma on Facebook and within moments Kostas, one of my friends from Greece, sent me a message detailing how I could use the local ferries to island hop and go straight to where I was going. His advice saved me time, money and allowed to visit a few places I would have never chosen. There have been many times where my friends have chimed in while I was overseas to recommend a great restaurant, weird market or other travel tidbit that has improved my trip.

Hostels– Hostels have been on many people’s no-no list since the horror movies by the same name came out. I’ve stayed at many hostels throughout the years and so far no one has tried to harvest my kidneys or slash me in the middle of the night. Hostels often provide a cheaper alternative to hotels for solo travelers since one is essentially renting a bed in a dormitory or a basic private room. There’s usually not a lot of frills, but you’ll usually find a kitchen for those who want to prepare their own meals plus  solo travelers just like you who are happy to meet someone new.When you’re traveling with someone, a travel bubble is often created and you might be likely to ignore others around you in favor of talking to your travel partner. If you’re alone, you’re more receptive to meeting new people. A hostel brings a group of like-minded souls together who might be more fun than anyone you know at home.If you find someone you get along with and you’re going the same direction, you can pair up with them, travel with them and share expenses. If it doesn’t work, you can move on. You never have to see them again.  Hostels also have up-to-date information about the sites you want to visit since they cater to travelers and not convention goers or vacation package tourists. They usually have great advice about how to get around and you’ll often get more up to date information than you can find anywhere else.

Dating Sites and Couch Surfing-Couch surfing is a website that allows it’s members to post their travel plans on a website and hosts that live in the area have an option to let them stay at their place for free.The accommodation might just be an actual couch or maybe  a 3 story mansion with a private butler.It’s a social networking site that isn’t just about getting a place, but also joining up with others for drinks or sightseeing. There’s security in reading others reviews about the hosts and the travelers so you can be fairly sure that you’re not staying with a psycho killer. Hosts are often fellow travelers who either use the service themselves or those who are entertained by the thought of having random world travelers stay with them. Maybe you can’t really afford a hotel or you don’t want to be alone. A person in the town you’re visiting has a house with extra room,wants company or just likes to pay it forward. Put the two together and you have magic. Dating sites like Zoosk and POF are available in many other countries and can be a great way of meeting someone for coffee  or drinks that you would never meet any other way.

Making Videos- I started making travel videos a little over 3 years ago. It started when I was traveling alone, filming myself with my IPhone and posting my footage to permit my viewers get a glimpse of what I was seeing and experiencing. I started noticing a shift in my travel habits. I wasn’t just on vacation anymore. I was documenting my experiences for others to watch.My focus switched from being about me, to being a reporter. I felt that I needed to try new things so I could tell others about what there was to do.  I had to take my viewers to the top of the tallest building, ride the fastest roller coaster and eat the weirdest stuff.  Not only did I get some great experiences and some great video to remember my adventures, but I was no longer alone. I had something important to do and I enlisted others to hold my camera, help me with a funny bit or talk to my camera like it was Wilson the volleyball. I see solo travelers doing this all the time now and there’s probably a million YouTube channels with wannabe travel show hosts. There’s always room for one more though: you.

Don’t wait for the right time to start traveling or the right person to do it with. You might be waiting forever. Go where you want to go and take the person you get along with the best: yourself. Trust me, you’ll find others who want to come along for the ride.

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