Solo Travel Planning – Create YOUR Remarkable Solo Journey
Do solo travel planning differently. Be purposeful with your travel planning, focus on your passions and you will create YOUR best solo trip ever! There are as many ways to travel solo as there are solo travellers. That’s kind of cliché but that’s the whole idea behind travelling on your own. Here’s your chance to design your own adventure.
I think when someone hears the words “solo travel” the immediate response is something negative involving the feelings of being lonely, afraid and maybe even boring. Honestly, solo travel could be all of those things but I’m here to tell you that solo travel is none of those things when you take the time to discover your ideal solo travel journey. Here we go!
What is Solo Travel? Solo Travel is an opportunity to focus on you, it means that you are taking time out for you, away from family, work and friends. A reset button or a discovery button, if you will.
Solo travel is anything that you want it to be. Does solo travel mean that you don’t talk to anyone? That you can’t you join in any group activities? Do you want to spend all of your time with others or always busy doing something? You can be as social or as quiet as you like and then it’s okay to change your plan as you discover something new or different that catches your interest.
My #1 Recommendation Regarding Solo Travel Planning
Know why you are travelling on your own. There’s no right or wrong answer but it needs to be your answer so at the end of the trip when you return home you have experienced and accomplished at the very least your expectations and at the greatest you have fulfilled a dream and have even more dreams to pursue.
As you are creating your solo travel plan, it is imperative that you determine what your travel purpose/passion is for travelling solo?
Key Questions to ask Yourself
As part of your solo travel planning, start with some of the overall decisions around your solo travel adventure before you proceed with the detailed options. Here some general decisions that should be fairly quick to make:
- When? Spring, summer, fall or winter?
- How long? A weekend, a week, 10 days, 2 weeks or a month?
- Type of location? City, beach, mountains or on a ship?
- Travel style? Luxury, backpacking, road trip, staying in one place and take day trips from there or a new place every night?
- Distance? Close to home or far far away?
- Where? Which country or countries/city or cities? Start with 1, 2 or maybe 3 at the most.
Here are a few more questions that are a bit more challenging to answer but they are key to creating your solo travel experience.
- How do you want to feel once you return home? Rested, energized or inspired?
- What type of traveller are you? Explorer, observer or learner?
- What is on your bucket list and why?
- What are you interested in? The options are endless but here are my interests, history, culture, food, flowers/gardens, photography and festivals.
Create a Travel Dream Statement
Solo travel is different than any other kind of travel which involves a partner, family or friends. It is unique because you are responsible for both the incredible experiences and the challenges too. There will be times when you feel lonely or out of place but this is when you recognize the feelings and remember your purpose for travelling on your own.
Create a clear and concise “Travel Dream Statement” and keep it in mind as you are creating your solo travel plan and when you are making any kind of decision about your trip.
Here are a few of my current/past Travel Dream Statements:
“I want to follow in the footsteps of Monet and feel the world that influenced his life and art.”
“I want to see and feel the expanse of the North just like Amundsen and Nansen”
“I want to discover my family history and walk on my great grandparent’s homeland”
“I want to visit all the filming locations for Game of Thrones (insert any other TV show/movie)”
“I’ve been learning French at home and now I want to be in France and practice speaking French as much as possible”
“I want to eat and drink my way through France and take a French cooking class”
“If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it”
– William Arthur Ward
Travel Planning – Making your Solo Trip a Reality
Travel planning is the next step. Make an initial plan using the answers to the general questions and your Travel Dream Statement from above. Make changes as you research, discover or learn more about the experiences available for your destination(s) and as you become comfortable with travelling solo.
Any type of travel requires a lot of decision making. It may seem like it will be easier if you are travelling on your own because you don’t have to coordinate with any travel partners but it’s not. There are so many options to choose from and you are the only one who will make the decisions and final choices rather than letting a partner or friend make the decisions. Honestly, any choices that you make will be the perfect choices for your journey.
Be flexible and give yourself permission to change your mind as you go through the planning process and while you are travelling. This is the time to listen to your heart and your gut.
Three Categories of Solo Travel
Do it yourself (DIY) – Create your own solo travel experience
When do you choose a DIY travel adventure?
A great time to choose a DIY adventure is when you’re looking for freedom to focus on yourself. Travel at your own pace with the freedom to explore and discover, and especially be ready to enjoy spontaneity and make changes your plans. This is a great option when you have a strong desire to learn about yourself and build confidence by making your own travel choices.
I’ve had many DIY solo adventures including 2 weeks in France, 5 days in Croatia, a week in Italy, 9 weeks in London, a weekend in Venice or New York City and 24 hours with the Trevi Fountain. These are adventures that have empowered me to continue to discover what’s important to me. Solo travel has been an opportunity to develop my photography skills, identify my passion for impressionist art and to discover that slow travel is my favourite travel style.
The greatest part of solo travel is that the experience is unique, no one else will ever have the same journey as you. You can choose to spend all day exactly the way you want to. How about spending hours at the top of the Eiffel Tower or skipping the Louvre if museums don’t interest you and you can eat dessert any time of day or have breakfast for dinner. There’s greater opportunity to meet the locals and/or other travellers and have these memorable moments of connection as you travel. My favourite moments with locals is when we have the challenge of communicating in each other’s language.
Don’t Let Challenges Get You Down
The most challenging part of travelling solo with a DIY plan is that you are responsible to deal with any of the issues that come up as you are travelling. If something goes wrong, a missed train or less than ideal place of accommodation or if the weather is bad then it’s up to you to figure out the next step. There is no tour guide to take care of you. No worries there is always help available from your hotel or even from a distance your family can always assist. From a safety point of view, I like to have a few strategies in mind for emergencies or have a plan to change my itinerary if the situation requires a change.
100% Organized and Planned for You
When to choose a 100% organized and planned for you solo experience?
Organized tours are great when you just want to enjoy the ride or the destination is completely foreign or there is a language barrier and your language is not commonly used or when safety is an issue or you want to travel to places that are remote or have restricted access.
There are many options but when I think of a trip that is completely organized, I think of a bus tour across Europe, an expedition to Antarctica, a cruise through the Caribbean or an all-inclusive vacation package in Mexico.
I would always recommend an organized trip for a solo traveller when your language is not commonplace and especially if the alphabet is different like Russia or China. If your adventure involves a destination that is not easily accessible and is remote or maybe safety is a potential issue. I know there are lots of solo travellers that will go anywhere in the world on their own, I am not one of them.
Know Your Limitations
I took a cruise along the coast of Norway on the Hurtigruten, this experience was a bucket list adventure for me. There was no other way to have this experience of going in and out of all the fjords and stopping in villages and towns along the way from Bergen in the south all the way to Kirkenes in the north. Transportation and food was included and I carefully chose a couple of excursions organized on the ship but otherwise I did my own thing each time we docked for more than an hour.
I travelled to St. Petersburg solo but I had a Russian friend who really took care of me by choosing my accommodation, hiring a guide for a walking tour, buying tickets to the ballet and so much more. I’m sure I could make some of those arrangements but there is a limit to how much challenge I really want to experience. The times that I was on my own and thinking I could take a bus, I couldn’t even read or understand the letters on the front of the bus. I would like to return to Russia one day to visit Moscow and take the Trans-Siberian Railway but I would definitely need assistance.
Know your limitations of how comfortable you are with foreign destinations and make your decisions based on that comfort level.
Somewhere in Between DIY and 100% Organized
When should you choose an itinerary that consists of both DIY and organized travel?
The answer is rather cliché but the real answer is when you want a bit of both. There are many times when I’ll combine an organized element to my travel itinerary.
The organized element can include day tours, overnight excursions, walking tours, along with classes of any kind. Some classes that I’ve taken along the way include photography in London with a mentor, learning Spanish in Veracruz, pasta making in Bologna, a day trip to visit WWI memorials and cemeteries in France and lots more.
There are so many ways to create a unique travel experience and that’s where I go back to the “Travel Dream Statement” in order to make the decisions that work for me.
Find Your Inspiration and Create your Solo Adventure
Now you have made some personal choices based on defining your “Travel Dream Statement” and have answered many relevant questions to narrow the scope of your trip. Now it’s time to identify the specifics of your experience by finding inspiration and making your solo trip happen.
Inspiration and ideas can be found everywhere in magazines, books, newspapers, Instagram, Pinterest and travel blogs. No need to re-invent the wheel. This is the perfect time of year to start planning for 2019 travel goals.
Here’s where you can find inspiration through my social media platforms:
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Buy a guidebook, I have almost all of Rick Steve’s guidebooks for Europe on my Marketplace.
Check out my Pinterest for unique and interesting ideas with curated pins to help the solo traveller.
Check out my Instagram for more visual inspiration.