08 Mar FAVORITE SOLO TRAVEL TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS
Last month, I spoke on a solo travel panel at the Chicago Travel & Adventure Show panel about solo Travel. This was my first time speaking on a stage at an event like this. I was nervous, but I had the best experience. So I compiled the questions and answers here.
Moderator – Natasha Nicholes, Houseful of Nicholes Family Travel
Nikki Vargas – Travel Editor, Journalist, Author & Producer at Unearth Women
Sally Bunnell – CEO and founder of video travel app NaviSavi
Bisa Myles – Freelance Writer and Adventure & Lifestyle blogger at Myles to Travel
QUESTION: What are the myths you hear about solo travel?
Nikki – One of the first questions that I get is, is it dangerous? Are you crazy? Why are you doing this as a woman alone? What are you thinking? There is also this expectation that you are shrugging off responsibilities back home as a woman.
And so those are the things that are the barrier to entry, and times that I’ve spoken to other women about someone traveling could be hard to get past those questions and be hard to feel the need to justify why you chose to travel as a woman on your own.
Sally – I think the first question I was asked about traveling alone was, are you crazy? That usually comes to my mother, and then the next two are, Why don’t you travel with someone? I grew up in a small town in Nebraska with 700 people. As you travel to these destinations and help those similarities.
But you know, I also think the most challenging part is just getting out the front door. Yeah. What’s in your mind is sometimes the scariest versus when you get there, you can see it yourself. I think that’s probably the most significant thing people like. So why don’t you do that? I say, why not? And the other thing for that, I don’t need a man who travels with a friend or me to do it. I can put my friends. So then I have my own money.
Bisa – One of the biggest myths I hear from people is that I will be lonely. The first time I traveled, I stayed in a hostel and met people there. I have traveled with groups and signed up for activities like hiking, photography, and walking tours. I agree you can travel alone even if you have a family. I traveled by myself, raising three teenagers.
Natasha – As a married woman with four children, one of the biggest myths is women with children do not travel alone. I’m here to tell you that you can. And that our spouses are completely capable of handling things without you.
And many folks ask because I travel by myself a lot, will your children remember you. I carried them in my body for nine months; if they don’t Remember Me after that, I’m doing something wrong. My kids travel so much with me that they want to be away from me. If you are married and have children, it is possible to travel solo, don’t let anyone tell you differently.
QUESTION: What mistake did you all make that you want to keep other people from making?
Bisa – One mistake I made when I traveled was overplanning. You want to make sure you share your itinerary with your family in friends back home, and I booked all of my activities beforehand. By doing that, I didn’t leave room for anything else. I also didn’t expect to get sick, so I canceled and lost money on activities.
Sally – I was robbed in Barcelona. Always carry a photocopy of your passport and the front and back of your credit cards and health insurance. Make sure you put all of them in two or three different locations. One in your handbag and another copy in a separate bag tucked away with crisp US dollar bills. Otherwise, they will not exchange them. Just have a little money tucked away with varying areas because you never know when one thing gets pickpocketed, and you have to go to get to train group yourself and, you know, prove who you are.
Nikki – One of the things on my first solo travel trend is pushing myself out of my comfort zone is scary, and there are alone in a new destination. It can be daunting, and you can very much find yourself, especially if you’re introverted. But, like he’s hearing, he’s scared to leave the immediate radius in which your end.
So there’s this friend of mine who recommended this to me, and it was the second yourself, daily goals and challenges, which I loved the concept. And it means anything if you’re solo traveling in Paris today. So I am going to go. Today, I will challenge myself to go to a cafe in Lourve and order something French. The challenges that push you out of your comfort zone.
You enjoy the trip and help you connect to the destination, and also help you meet other travelers. And important to remember that you’re there for the experience, not. Just be afraid. Step out of your comfort zone. Scary to go somewhere by yourself and not have anyone in the country that knows who you want. And so, these little challenges help you do that and connect with the locals.
How to pack as a solo traveler if you will be gone for a month or more?
You can find a lot of packing tips in my book, Wanderess. My favorite advice is to roll your clothes to save space. Maximize your clothing options by choosing shirts that you can dress up or down and practical shoes. Also, pants that you can dress up or down. Clothes that you can wear for multiple occasions are suitable for solo traveling. The same goes for toiletries, such as 2 in 1 shampoo and cutout items you don’t need.
Sally – I packed my color. I like to look at two different color options, black and a splash of color. She also suggests layering. I also back two types of shoes, one for walking and one for comfortable dress shoes. Pack according to what you are going to do. If I am traveling long-term, I only pack two to three days of toiletries and buy them at my destination or order from Amazon. She is also a thrift store shopper and buys shoes and clothes. If she doesn’t have room to pack, she leaves it behind.
Bisa – In Asia, having your clothes laundered is very inexpensive. You can get a load of clothes washed for $4. Also, carry detergent and wash them in your hotel room.
How do you afford to go so often and as a solo traveler for so long?
Natasha – I work, and she puts “fun money” aside for traveling.
Nikki – I’m a travel writer, and I am often on the road for work. I also skip expensive meals and do not buy coffee from Starbucks and expensive cocktails. Make the small changes and afford a more excellent hotel in countries like Vietnam. In my twenties, I started making travel a priority long before becoming a travel writer and editor.
Sally – In the beginning, I would rent out my apartment while I was traveling so I wouldn’t have that expense. Then I became a digital nomad, and I could work from anywhere. Prioritize experiences over travel credit cards and reward programs to earn miles.
Bisa – Travel in the off-season, stay in an Airbnb, and you can make your meals and save money.
How do you make that person when you travel alone? When dealing with a single supplement?
Bisa – Yes, but I have to say I like my space.
Sally – My tip is if you book a group trip last minute and pay the discounted price to share a room, I get the room by myself.
Nikki – I also like my own space and staying solo.
How do you pick the next trip?
Nikki – What are your intentions? Do you want to be alone or
Sally – I’ve been to 96 countries, so it’s now deciding where I have not been. I like to travel by culture and have new experiences.
Bisa – Travel doesn’t have to be international. There are a lot of places to visit in the Midwest. Places like Wabash, Indiana, have surprised.
Where do you go to make sure you are respectful of the culture of the country you are visiting?
Bisa – I read a lot of travel blogs, and I read suggestions from people who have been there if you check the countries website to see the dress code.
Sally – Do your research before you get there and respect their cultures. And remember that
Nikki – Connect with locals and groups like Wanderful; Everyday Experiences has walking tours.
Where do you recommend a solo traveler to visit for the first time?
Nikki – Cartenga Columbia
Sally – Go to someplace where you speak the language. Start small and build up your confidence. Once you do that
Bisa – I agree with starting small. I had already traveled to English-speaking countries such as London with friends. I traveled to Turkey, but
Nikki – Travel around your city. We are all guilty of living in a town and never visiting any areas. Instead of going to downtown Chicago and visiting popular tourist destinations, explore some neighborhoods, such as Pilsen, Little Italy.
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