I got an email today from someone who said he found my blog buy googling ‘going on vacation by myself’ or something like that. I’m planning on getting places alone, so I can visit friends, which is probably what I meant at the time. Well, I ended up writing him quite a lengthy email with tips, which are pretty useful. I thought I’d share with a broader audience.
Here’s the bulk of it:
[Note: this is for people who haven't traveled a lot and are traveling alone.]
1) Try couchsurfing. Basically, it’s a site where you open your couch for strangers and vice versa. Their profiles are up, and at any given location, there are official couchsurfing people to guarantee safety, etc. It’s a great option to not going through the double occupancy route.
2) Try hostels. They’re much better than hotels because most people staying at a hostel are there alone or on a short budget. There’s lots of advice traded among tourists about where to go, how to get there, how to not be cheated, etc. It’s also a great place to generally meet people to go out with because it can get lonely. You meet people, but mostly on a superficial basis. Hostels allow people to bond.
3) Even if you stay at a hotel, try a bed & breakfast. More locals, more intimate, etc. Heard enough about where to stay yet? ;oP
4) Location’s important. Bora bora is beautiful, but it’s also lots and lots of couple and group vacationers. If you want somewhere tropical, try Bangkok, Singapore, Malaysia. There are more singles traveling there. Also, there’s more to do and also less lonely. Not sure how comfortable you are about being by yourself, but just to make sure you don’t have a bad vacation experience. Major cities are always a great idea. Resorts… not so much. If you’re worried about safety, stick with Singapore and then take day trips to Thailand and Malaysia. Singapore’s a lot safer. And if you need to stay overnight in Bangkok or something, you can always find a cheap hotel, so it’s not wasting money.
5) Always budget 2X at least for travel. Always budget $1-2K more than you need. Always carry your money in 3-4 diff places. Don’t try more, or you’ll forget. Don’t try less, or you’re screwed. Don’t depend on credit cards. Money should go: in your luggage, in your pocket, in your wallet, in a hostel/hotel safe. Use credit cards where you can b/c the exchange rate is always the best. Exchange money at large banks vs. small shops. Skip the airport exchange unless you run out (exchange money at a major bank before you leave).
6) Back to locations: going off bora bora, you want somewhere warm. Skip latin america unless you’re well traveled or speak spanish or are really good at driving bargains and sweet talking people. Instead, try the caribbean- again large cities. I love santo domingo (not the resorts, but the actual city), although try not to get swindled in boca chica b/c there are lots of “tigres” there to releave you of your money. Also, the exchange rate is favorable. I’d stay away from resort places and trinidad/tobago and haiti. Southern Europe is a bit frisky now, but it’s down season and might be a good time to visit. Croatia is supposed to be AMAZING.
7) Bargaining: always bargain for basically everything, especially street vendors stuff, if you’re anywhere except North America (excluding Mexico) or Europe. Saying prices are ridiculous and refusing to pay or walking out of the store and have the store owners chase you works better in Asia. In Asia Minor, North Africa, Latin America, being cordial and building rapport works better.
8) As much as possible, find out prices, culture, transportation before you go. I.E. Europe, stuff runs on time. Latin America, hahahahaha…. no, really… ahahahahaha. Sorry that’s a huge stereotype, but DO budget more time when traveling there. For prices in Asia, just assume everything costs about 15-20% of what they quote you. Start bargaining but cutting 50%. If they refuse to talk, leave. They’ll either deal or it’s not worth it anyway.