Person 1: “Wow, I would love to go there!”
Person 2: “Me too! We should definitely go together someday.”
Person 1: “Alright, that would be so awesome! I have vacation time coming up.”
Person 2: “Me too, let me know.”
3 weeks later…
Person 1: “Hey, so I found a great deal to go to that place we talked about! Their prices are good and even their days are flexible.”
Then, the excuses roll in…
Person 2: “Gee, yeah I don’t know if I can afford that. I am not sure it is a good time. My mom / boyfriend / husband / wife / pretty much anyone… blah blah blah.”
Sound familiar? You see, talking about travel is easy and cool. It is one of those things you are expected to enjoy. I like to compare travel to music. No one asks you “do you like music?” They just ask “what kind of music do you listen to?” The reality is, not everyone likes to travel. In fact, I would go as far as to say that most people do not enjoy it at all. These days, when I ask someone to go with me on a trip, I can sniff out who is really interested and who will flake within seconds of asking. I never really understood this until I read this article.
My advice would be to get comfortable traveling alone. Don’t make the mistake I made in my younger years of waiting around for someone to go with you.
There is a secret I’d like to share with you though. Something I learned a mere two years ago. Traveling alone is amazing! Here are some tips to get you started as a would-be solo traveler.
1 Set your own Dates. If you really want to go somewhere, don’t make compromises with someone who has ‘flake’ written all over them. Book your flight, make your itinerary, and then invite someone to join you. TRUST ME, someone who REALLY wants to go will bend over backwards to make that work for them. Someone who doesn’t will bend over backwards to make excuses no matter how hard you try to accommodate them.
2 Stay in Hostels, not Hotels. For starters, it is much cheaper as a solo traveler to get a hostel rather than a hotel. Even in so called “expensive cities” like Tokyo, you can get a very clean bed for about $20 a night. Those horror stories you saw in the movie ‘Hostel’ are complete Hollywood baloney. The benefits of hostels are more than economic and safety though. They are designed as communal for people to meet. On a recent trip to Tokyo, I met an anthropologist from Kyushu who took me out to the best (and cheapest) sushi I’ve ever had. If I wasn’t alone, he might not have approached me at all.
3 Wander Around. While I am a huge fan of having some kind of plan, it is a great idea to wander around when you’re alone. You can end up finding an amazing hole in the wall kind of place, or meet people you might not otherwise. One of my greatest solo travel experiences came about when I was wandering around the ancient city of Nara, Japan and a 70 year old woman approached me and gave me a personal tour.
4 Smile… A Lot. You might skip over this one and think it is silly, but it really does work. In conjunction with #2 and #3, not only does smiling make you even more approachable, it also makes you look like a fun person to talk to. I know some people aren’t naturally smiley, but give it a try, it might stick to your face!
5 Start with Your Own Country. Being abroad and alone is frightening at first. If something were to happen to you, who would help? Get that fear mindset out of your brain by traveling in your own country first. It is a safe environment where you speak the language, have some background, and understand the laws. If you are American, nothing beats a solo American road trip.
Julio Moreno is a Mexican-American who lived abroad in South Korea for four years. In his time abroad, he grew an intense desire to visit every place in Korea and its neighboring countries. He is mostly fascinated with visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites and evaluating on his personal travel blog.