My Top Tips for Traveling Solo
When I travel solo, safety, efficiency, and freedom is the name of the game. I often travel to large cities and while I’ve found good, helpful people everywhere, it’s best to aim to be as self-reliant as possible.
Save your travel routes!
I screenshot everything and keep it in my camera roll. This means email confirmations of flights and buses, public transit directions to places you plan on going, etc! This upcoming trip, I’m staying with a friend in New York, and I plugged the route from my megabus stop to her address into my maps (public transit option) and screenshot the entire thing. This method has been a lifesaver for me on more than one occasion when my phone wasn’t getting signal underground in the subway. Not to mention, it’s easier on your phone’s battery life and data usage to look at a picture on camera roll than keep maps running.
Use public transit.
Cabs and ubers are expensive. When I’m in a new place, I never want to feel restricted to stay in a walking vicinity. If I’m in New York or Boston, the first thing I do is get a Charlie/metro card. Depending on how long I’m there/where I need to go, I decide how to load it. If I’m only there for a few days and plan on only taking a few trips, I load a certain amount on it. If I’m going to be there for a long period of time, I buy a pass for a duration of time such as a week pass. Doing the math in your head on what each trip generally costs is always worth it. While public transit is much more affordable than a cab/uber, it can still add up. When you leave a city, hold on to your transit card, if you’re back before it expires, you can avoid paying for a new one.
Book experiences before arriving.
Of course you can do things spur of the moment, but so often, I’ve arrived in a place and wanted to see a show or do a tour and it’s been booked full. Booking at least one experience gives you something to look forward to, gives your day just enough structure to give you a direction, and gives you one less thing to spend on while you’re physically away. Not to mention, if you plan on shopping all day in a brand new place, I can tell you right now, that you’re not getting what you could out of your trip. Research sight seeing tours, shows, or historical monuments. Airbnb now has a feature where you can book experiences that are created by locals— who knows a place better?! I’ve done the Freedom Trail in Boston, historical tours in Williamsburg, Virginia, and off-Broadway shows in New York City, all solo. I’m not missing out on things I’d normally do with others just because I’m alone. That’s utterly silly.
Become a “regular” at a small business.
There are a lot of places in different cities that I’m considered a regular at— when I’m in town that is. In Williamsburg, Virginia, I’m a regular at a diner and coffee shop (they know me by name at the diner!). When people recognize you at a place, your chance of having amazing service increases. It also makes you feel like there’s something cozy and familiar about a place you do not call home. You know what to order, because you’ve had most of the menu, and you can count on having something good. Furthermore, the staff is a great resource for you! I’ve gotten some of my best recommendations from people working at a small business. Don’t be afraid to ask someone for their favorite place to grab a coffee, shop, or eat dinner. People LOVE giving their opinions. Becoming a regular at a coffee shop, bar, small store isn’t difficult to do, even if you’re only staying for a weekend. Simply go in to to a place two days in a row, and they may start to recognize you if you’re extra friendly.
Make sure you can carry your stuff.
Like for real. If you are going away for a weekend trip and you can’t comfortably carry, maneuver, and keep track of your bags, you are going to be miserable. There are plenty of times I’ve checked out of a place and lugged my carry-on and purse around NYC for hours and hours while I walked around. I recommend fitting your heavy things into a small rolling carry-on and using a shoulder bag that you will never let go of, for things that are irreplaceable, i.e. important work/travel documents (hello audition binder!), jewelry, money, tickets to something, etc.