Some people are scared to travel alone, needing the comfort of a friend or a partner to experience new things with, I am not one of those people. I prefer to travel alone because it leaves you wide open to new experiences, and you don’t ever have to turn down an invite just because your travel partner doesn’t want to go somewhere. I’ve also learned that the world opens the most secretive doors to those that travel solo. It’s easy for a gatekeeper to let one person in, but a group is always harder.
I recently found myself in Italy as a solo traveler, but never felt alone.
Before you go, make your list. Grab your journal and start jotting things down. Make a list of the things that you want to accomplish where you are going. Divide it up by your “must do’s” (the things you don’t want to leave without doing) and the “would like to do’s” (the things you wouldn’t be heartbroken if you missed out on). Keep this list front and center, so you can stay on track of your goals for your trip. This list could include actual things you want to do or experiences you want to have.
Enjoy the view. It’s perfectly okay to sit and stare. Soak in the beauty of your surroundings. When you travel solo you don’t have to worry about whether someone is “ready to go”. You can sit for a few moments, or dwell for a few hours, it doesn’t matter.
I found myself not wanting to leave the sweeping view of the grand canal that came with my room. I gave myself permission to hang out on the balcony for as long as I wanted to, which gave me a great spot to watch the happenings on Venice’s main drag.
Take yourself (and a book) to a nice dinner. The last thing anyone wants to do is find themselves in a restaurant at dinner time. Rather than take your phone, take a book that you’ve been dying to read, or even your journal and use the time to retreat.
Make New Friends. Find a private tour guide to hit the hot spots with. While trekking through Europe I saw large groups exploring the cities. There would be a leader with 15–20 tourists following along, not even hearing or listening to the guide. Fortunately I found some amazing tour guides when I got to Europe and had the opportunity to visit “off the beaten path” locations as well as well as have a more personal experience with a knowledgeable “friend” to tour the main attractions with.
Go Somewhere Quiet. When you travel alone you sometimes have a lot of unintended quiet time, however it’s important to seek out intended quiet time. My quiet was the Guggenheim Museum. I wandered for quite some time in the garden looking at the installations and taking in my surroundings before venturing inside to look at the art installation.
Relax. Just outside the hustle and bustle of Rome, was an beckoning oasis. Spending a few hours soaking in thermal salt pools, dissolved any travel woes out of my head. Decompressing and relaxing got me ready for the next leg of my trip and was the perfect splurge. When you are on your own it doesn’t matter how long you soak up the indulgences.
Drink like a local. When in Rome, do as the Romans. Seriously. Take it all in. Grappa, Limoncello, Red Wine, Espresso. Go for it. You only live once. Seriously though..find an off the beaten path winery like Cantina MaGiRo in Bellinzona, Switzerland and drink like the locals.
Eat with others. While traveling alone lends plenty of opportunity to eat alone, don’t miss out on the opportunity to eat with others. While in Brienno, a small village that sits on the shore of Lake Como, I found myself at an epiphany dinner at the church, with the locals sharing a traditional meal and a game of cards.
Lastly, make sure to enjoy it. Embrace the struggles and the joys of being a solo traveler.
Originally published at medium.com