Hello Groovy People!
Welcome to The Loner’s Guide. In this post I will give you tips about planning the best trip ever! No matter where you go or want to do, you will have everything you need to get things prepared. Keep in mind that these tips are based on my personal experiences and may not apply to everyone. Find what works for you and explore! *This post is also available as a podcast!*
Where do you want to go? When traveling alone, I try to go to places that are relatively safe. Regardless of where you go, you must always be mindful that dangers lurk in every country. For example, I love going to Japan. Despite the safety of the country and most people keeping to themselves, there are places that aren’t so safe that I do avoid going to at night or even alone. So it is safe to say that you must also keep this mindset when you pick your destination.
Start with a place you like and do your research! Are there locations that the locals will find problematic? Are there other travelers who have certain experiences? Yes, their views could be fueled by prejudice and stereotypes, but when traveling by oneself, you must keep in mind your safety. Therefore, doing your research and getting a variety of perspectives is key. If you know someone from said country, that is even better! They can give you an upfront unfiltered idea of what things are really like and what to avoid.
What will you do? Like in step one, you must research this as well. Now if you are a carefree traveler, then that’s great. However, having this mindset will purge your wallet of funds rather quickly unless you have very inexpensive tastes. I love traveling because I can experience something different than what I can do at home. So I like to find activities that are unique and give me an idea of what the culture is like. Some things are free, like walking on a waterfront or even a museum. However, other activities, like a tour, cost money. So with that, you must think about what types of activities you like to do and see what costs money and how you can do all the things you like without going broke during your trip.
Where will you stay? Now this really depends on a few factors. Are you an extrovert who likes meeting strangers and being around people all the time? Do you like personal space? Are you a mixture of both? I personally like having my own space and meeting people sparingly. If you want to save money on a hotel, you can always get a hostel. It comes with a bed, but all the common places, including your bedroom will be shared by people you don’t know. The only pro I can think of is that a week or two week stay will only cost you $300 or less! Of course, this depends on how long you stay and where you go. Now if that sounds grand, then do it! But if you want to have your personal time to yourself and not be around others when unwinding after a long day of exploring, then here is a tip I think you will like.
Look for hotel apartments from booking.com. The great thing is that more and more companies are trying to appeal to the idea of a home away from home. With a hotel apartment, you get a living space, a full kitchen that includes a refrigerator, sink and stove, a full bathroom, and separate bedroom. Many of these apartments come with a washer. In rare cases, a washer/dryer combo! When I went to New Zealand and Tokyo, I had all of these amenities courteous of booking.com. A 12 day stay was also about $1,200. This was roughly the same for New Zealand and Tokyo! Surprisingly, the location of these apartments were close to the areas I like to explore and supermarkets! Now that may sound like a lot of money, but let me tell ya, $1,200 for 12 days is about $100 a day. That is not only reasonable but think of all the things you get for that money! A kitchen, a living room, a separate bedroom, bathroom, and washer/dryer combo!!!! That is a steal! The best perk is that after a long day I can relax in what is essentially a home away from home. The plus side is that these hotel apartments are from companies and not privately owned. Which means you don’t have to worry about some stranger and all their baggage!
How will you get there? This applies to getting to the country and getting to the hotel. Now to save money you may want to get an economy seat. However, when planning a great trip within budget, it’s okay to splurge just a bit. Now if your trip takes less than 5 hours, get economy. Most short trips like that will have only certain planes available anyway and a business seat is not that different than an economy seat. Maybe an inch wider, but it really isn’t worth the extra money. Now if you are going international and the flight is over 9 hours, you may want to invest a few hundred dollars more. When going to Japan for the first time I wanted to save money and spent $1,100. There were eight planes involved, and it was a long flight; just terrible! With travelers wanting more comfort, but not wanting to destroy their funds, airlines have made a new seating option called premium economy or premium seats.
I flew United and at times All Nippon Airways. Both companies have premium seats. These seats are between economy and business class. There are about 12-20 seats, so very few. The good thing is that you get more space, which means you don’t have to fight over arm rests or brush legs with your seat mate. You also get more room in front and leg rests! Not just foot rests, leg rests!! There are also some extra food perks such as business class desserts that you may not get in economy!
Premium seats can be more expensive than economy, but are loads cheaper than business and a fraction of the cost of first class. When your flight is frightfully long, you deserve comfort and with my experience, comfort costs money. Just invest, and thank me later!
Now let’s change gears and discuss how you will get from the airport to your hotel once you’re there. I suggest you research trains and buses and even shuttles depending on the hotel. Nowadays I keep it simple and find taxis’ from booking.com. I booked a taxi for the first time when I went to Tokyo in 2020, before the pandemic. Setting it up on the website was easy, just plug in your hotel’s address, your flight number and date, then browse the type of taxi you need. There’s even an option for the sign the driver holds up so you know exactly who your person will be. This is key when traveling alone! I personally think a taxi is best when you want to keep it simple, safe, and easy. The average flight for when I travel is always 12 plus hours. So I am just exhausted when I arrive and no longer want to do trains. Find out what’s best for you!
Bring less, take back more! Now if you are a fashionista or just into going all out with your personal style, you may bring an extra large suitcase. However, large cases weight more and if you want to buy things during your trip, you will have to foot the bill of all that weight! So take my advise and take a medium sized bag, plus a separate carry on with little to nothing in it! That way you can fill it with all the things you buy without spending extra on weight fees. From my experience, taking an international flight means you get two free checked bags. Even if you can only take one checked bag, you can still have a carry on with a personal bag such as a backpack or purse. With that in mind, you can have two suitcases, a backpack or purse and still be within your limits going to and from your country of choice! This is why I stress having a washer/dryer combo because you can take clothes that you can wash so that you have room for other things.
I am not sure how others travel, but I take clothes that match each other so that I can change things up even though there is very little. I wash them when I wear certain items too much and that way I can keep things clean and reasonable. I travel to explore, not to impress. This step may be the most interesting as this really depends on your personal style and how you pack bags.
Conclusion and Safety Tips for the Loners:
Regardless of what you decide to do, remember, this is your trip. Think about what you want, what you want to do, and research! When going it alone, definitely keep your safety in mind always! Know your options and if possible, get a cheap international phone. If you can, order it online and have it with you before getting there. When you get to your destination, turn it on in the airport and try a local number. That way if it doesn’t work, airports always have phones available. The staff are usually helpful too! Know of all important numbers such as that country’s emergency numbers. Also, have the embassy of your country in mind when traveling. You never know if you need to contact them for anything, even in emergencies! This may seem like a lot, but these are quick google searches that can mean the difference between having the time of your life, and being stuck in a really crap situation.
I hope you enjoyed the podcast. Please share and remember, you only live once, so explore!