If you travel solo, as I do, there are certainly ups and downs. Sometimes things get awkward, lonely and difficult. There are long bus rides, travel illnesses, lost bookings and plenty of mishaps. But there are a lot of things that are better as a solo traveler. These are the things you have a hard time explaining to friends and family back home. Don’t believe me? Here are a few I have learned firsthand.
Restaurants and Bars
The wait for a table on a Friday night may be over an hour, but for you it probably isn’t. Jut grab a seat at a bar or look for a community table for a seat. I’ve employed this tactic many times when traveling solo. Community tables are best, as most people keep to themselves anyways. At bars, you can talk to people by rocking up at the bar. The bartenders are more likely to talk to you if you’re by yourself than they are with big groups. A tip from my friend Kate that I like is to drink champagne as a solo traveler, which makes you seem fabulous and confident.
After a recent visit to Disney World, I learned the importance of traveling in small groups. The wait for many rides was an hour minimum, but the bigger the group, the longer the wait. If you’re traveling solo, many times you can go in the fast lane for roller coasters to make sure there are two per ride. You can also follow a group of people with an odd number so that they can ride mostly together.
This one could go either way, but I like staying in hotel rooms as a solo traveler. I get to spread out in my king sized bed, stay up late watching trashy TV, drink wine in the bathtub and, most importantly, I don’t have to share a bathroom. I grew up in a family of five, so this is a big one! I also like setting out all of my belongings and creating my own temporary office.
Traveling solo means you don’t have to follow anyone else’s schedule. You can spend the whole day reading every single placard at the Louvre or just hit the “highlights” like the Mona Lisa before hitting up the hostel bar. No one can tell you to do any differently and you won’t feel chained to other people’s interests. For example, on my most recent trip to New York City, I had one day off before going home. Rather than go to one of the many tourist attractions I’ve never been to (Ellis Island, The Cloisters), I went to a Saturday Night Live exhibit because that’s what was interesting to me.
Meeting Other Solo Travelers
If you’re a solo traveler, it’s hard to get into groups of other travelers. But as I’ve learned in hostel dorms, solo travelers meet other solo travelers much easier. Your fellow solo travelers are, mostly, just itching to talk to another person, especially another person traveling on their own. It’s called “solo travel,” but you’ll meet people whether you want to or not. I found it harder to meet other travelers when traveling with my sister last year than when I have traveled solo previously (although I was happy to travel with her!).