10 Mistakes to Avoid When Traveling Alone

How to travel alone — and love every minute.

Woman walking alone with suitcase in Barcelona, Spain

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Seeing the world as a solo traveler can be a thrilling experience. After all, you get to choose the destination, stay in whichever hotel you want, see your top wishlist attractions, dine in all your favorite restaurants, and generally do whatever you wish. Sounds like a dream, right? It is, but there are a few pitfalls everyone should avoid when booking a flight, hotel, and table for one. Here are tips for how to travel alone, and 10 common mistakes to avoid so you can have a solo getaway you'll always remember.

Don't overpack.

It's important to remember you'll be alone through most of your journey, without an airline crew member or a hotel staffer to help you with your bags every step of the way. That's why it's critical to only pack what you need as a solo traveler. Your luggage should be large enough to fit all your essentials without being so large that you can't carry it yourself for long periods of time. A great way to ensure you don't overpack is to check out Travel + Leisure's packing checklist, then edit down to only the things you need for the length of your trip. 

Don't overschedule every minute.

Because you're calling the shots, it can be tempting to fill your entire day with every single thing you want to see, do, eat, and experience. However, it's best to make sure you leave yourself a little breathing room throughout your travels. That's because delays can happen, journeys can take longer than expected, and you may find you want to spend a little extra time at a cafe, a museum, or in the spa. Just as you edited your luggage, make sure to edit your schedule before departure, too. 

Don't forget to have a plan B. 

You've got your luggage and your schedule laid out. Now, it's time to make another plan, or at the very least, part of another one. Having a plan B for your trip is a good idea to help you avoid any pitfalls (like canceled reservations or disappointing destinations), so you can enjoy every moment. Don't feel like you need to plan an entirely separate trip, but do have an idea of other hotels and attractions nearby, just in case.

Don't underestimate your travel costs.

With all this planning, you should have a pretty good idea of how much your travels will cost. But it's a good idea to bring a little extra cash just in case. Prices for admission to local attractions could have increased, cab fares can add up, and tipping is always a wild variable. Make your budget, then build in a buffer so you're never surprised on your travels. 

Don't be afraid to splurge a little. 

Remember that budget above? Make sure to include something special just for you. A solo journey should be one filled with self-discovery and a little self-indulgence. Go ahead and book a night at the nicer hotel, book a spa treatment, reserve a spot at the restaurant you've been dreaming of, or go on that opulent VIP tour. Make it memorable. You deserve it. 

Don't feel obligated to fill the silence.

Traveling alone can be daunting for some. After all, we aren't used to being alone. Between work or school, family and friends, and all our obligations in between, finding a little silence is a gift. That's why it's key to remember you don't have to interact with people if you don't want to on solo trips. You don't have to go on a group tour. You can book a one-on-one experience or take a self-guided tour instead. You don't have to sit at the bar just because you're dining solo. You can book a whole table just for yourself. Spend time quietly getting to know yourself better on this journey. You'll come away richer for it.  

And don't be afraid to make new friends.

On the flip side, if you're craving a little company, that's okay. The new friends you meet during your travels can easily turn into lifelong ones. The easiest way to meet others is through group tours, staying at hostels, or taking advantage of hotel happy hours. Use technology to connect with other travelers by checking out travel groups on Facebook or downloading apps like Bumble, which have "just friends" filters that allow you to connect with people looking to form new bonds all over the world, just like you. 

Don't forget to tell people where you're going. 

Traveling alone is great, but just in case something goes awry, it's a good idea to have someone who can assist. That's why it's critical to share your plans with a trusted family member or friend. Make an itinerary for them so they have the names and phone numbers of your hotels. Give them updates when you move from one location to the next, and share any changes along your route. Though we like to believe the world is a generally safe place, it's always a good idea to put your personal security first. 

Don't forgo those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. 

Some things can feel like they're meant for couples or groups, but don't let the marketing fool you. If you've been dreaming about booking an overwater bungalow in the Maldives, go ahead and do it. You don't have to be on a honeymoon to enjoy turquoise waters and ocean breezes. Want to see the latest residency in Vegas? Snag your ticket and go, no bachelor or bachelorette party needed. Fun day at Disney? You don't need to wait for your family's permission. Life is short. Spend at least a little time doing exactly what you want all by yourself. 

And don't second guess yourself.

If there's one thing you can trust, it's your gut, especially on your travels. If something feels too good to be true or if it feels unsafe, it probably is. But also follow your intuition for the good things — if a restaurant looks amazing to you but doesn't have a million five-star reviews, it's okay. You could discover a hidden gem that you tell everyone about when you get back home. Trust your instincts. We bet they're usually right. 

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