8 Tips for Lone Travelers

8 Tips for Lone Travelers

Are you ready to explore the world on your own?
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Have you traveled alone in unfamiliar territories? Have you suffered from a lack of traveling experience? Are you tired of family trips and group hangouts? Based on personal experience as a lone traveler, I have compiled several valuable tips for those of you who wish to embark upon your own journey.

1. Prep, Prep and then re-prep.

I cannot stress enough just how important it is to do tons of research and preparation before you get going. For the sake of safety and convenience, I always print a load of papers and stuff them in folder before I go. These should include the address of your hotel, map of the surrounding area, transportation info and embassy location in case you are abroad. Also check luggage and bags three times after packing, after each time add a few more potentially useful items to the list, remove what you probably don't need, and check again!


2. Blend into the environment by changing your camouflage.

There is no one type of clothes you should wear as a lone traveler, just as there is no one type of universal environment. Depending on where you are going, be sure to observe what the locals wear and imitate their style as much as possible. I found myself bolder and dressing flashier when I was in Paris and NYC where people tend to wear all kinds of weird stuff, however I would go for something simple and plain in more rural areas to avoid drawing unnecessary attention. Also, I found it helpful to look rough in public transport hubs(train stations) by not washing my face and keep my hair messy(So I look like a hobo who has contracted rabies) to appear tougher than I actually am.This does not work for everyone, so please find your own way of blending into the locals' habitat.


3. Pick the right time to roam, try not be nocturnal.

It is vital for any traveler to know how the locals' schedule work. In some countries, shops and restaurants don't open on Sundays (Germany, central Europe; I learned it the hard way) So don't even considering shopping on those days. In some places people have noon-nap schedules and then they party all night, like in Barcelona, so get used to sleeping for an hour after lunch so you don't miss the dances and the fine Sangria. Also, avoid activities at night as much as possible if you are on your own since you are not familiar with the surroundings and can be easily taken advantage of by unethical locals.


4. Don't hesitate trying new cuisine and experiment with your taste buds.

Keeping a diet while traveling is one of the greatest loss in one's life. I mean there really is no point in doing so, why would you want to miss the opportunity to taste some authentic local delicacy while you are at it? You will return home at some point and all the weight you gained will go away after your life returns to its regular pace. It is even more likely that you will lose a few pounds through traveling because trust me it is physically demanding and mentally intensive, you will need the energy that mouth-watering roasted Rindebraten provides. So don't restrict yourself and try all manners of cuisines the world has to offer!


5. Trust everyone! and... trust no one.

One of the most reliable criterion in judging if someone travels a lot is his ability to interact with strangers. I bet you will meet all kinds of weirdos on the path, some of them need your help while some want to take stuff from you. I was deceived and mugged quite a bit when I started out, I lost my phone in Verona while my wallet was grabbed by a group of unemployed young Greeks in Athens (And yes these two happened on the same trip). You need to be wary of people acting like fake policemen, luggage carriers, beggars, fortune-tellers, and sometimes even hotel receptionists. However, you shouldn't be discourage from talking to other people and making new friends if possible. Just don't reveal too much about your economic status, and you will be fine.


6. Respect, immersion and hang out with friendly locals.

The last thing you want to happen when traveling alone is to act like a clueless tourists, someone who buries his/her head in a phrase book or a map. You should try to experience the local culture instead of watching it from an outsider's perspective. Engage in some festivities, find some friendly locals to talk to, learn the stories of the places you have been to. I always find elderly people very helpful ("useful") in terms of immersing myself, because some of them are genuinely interested in where I came from and have so much to share. Meanwhile you should always at least have respect for locals because tourists are guests after all, and guests should always be appreciative of hosts' hospitality. No one wants to be treated as one of those loud, obnoxious stereotype who gets to see all the cheap crap designed to fool tourists. Become the locals' friends and you will see the authentic, the real and the most amazing parts of their lives.


7. Where you live and how do you choose?

Lodging is one of, if not the greatest difficulty in terms of budget for lone travelers. I have always found decent hotels too expensive and kind of wasteful for just one person, especially during touristy seasons. Websites like Booking.com and Airbnb should be your friends if you want to crash at a nice spot with a reasonable price. I personally book my flights and lodging at least 2 months in advance to make sure the price is good and there is no availability issue. Student apartments are usually okay if you travel alone, although they usually lack even the most basic amenities. I also prefer locations with good reputation and reviews, this is especially important because you want to live in a safe neighborhood after all and the extra price is definitely worth paying.

8. Stay connected...to family and friends.

Traveling alone doesn't mean you are to become a hermit during that time. It is generally beneficial to let your friends and family know where you are when you are traveling alone, in case of emergency they can know your situation and help you. Staying safe should always be your top priority when traveling alone even if that means you may have to call your mom every night as she told you to do so.


In the end, quite a few people told me that their first time traveling alone was like a pilgrimage, a spiritual journey in which they found the essence of being human.You won't feel the freedom until you are there by yourself in a brisk morning basked in sunlight on the train platform of an unknown city. You are not chained to your parents, traveling companions and really not to anyone. That was the moment when you are there in the world, just you as an individual, free to explore however you wish.

I have been a hardcore nomad who travels too much to call any one place home, I don't expect people to live like myself but I am certain that everyone can find something by hitting the road with just the bags on their back.

Cover Image Credit: Peter Yang

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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5 Vital And Helpful Tips I Live By When Packing For A Trip

Try and pack smarter, not harder.

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If you are anything like me, you tend to overpack thinking you are being a great packer and being ready for any scenario that life may throw at you. Well, that is, unfortunately untrue, and I have learned that you are only doing more harm than good. Over the years, I have come up with five tips I always use when traveling and have been proven to work. You've heard of the five golden rules of life, and, well, these are the five golden rules/tips of packing.


1. Start with a packing list.

This is the best tip I could give to anyone else who is getting ready to travel. Making a list is very useful, especially when stressed about your travel. You will not forget anything because you have it all written down. A packing list is a great way to keep organized when packing.

2. Use space bags.

Now, this is a tip my dad lives by. Space bags are great when you are packing because it protects your clothes and makes room to put a lot in your suitcase. The crazy story of a time when my dad was traveling, and his friend's bag was soaked with the shampoo he brought on the plane. All his clothes and everything inside the suitcase was ruined. So always use space bags because you never know what could happen on the flight. You can buy a space bag here.

3. Pack the essentials first.

I will be honest and say that I do over-pack a lot. I use the line "just in case" as an excuse to pack my entire house. But I have learned that packing for "just in case" is a waste of time. When you first sit down to pack, lay out all your essentials. For example, clothes that you will wear during the trip. You will be surprised to see how effective it is.

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons Chicago Is The Best City In The World

4. ALWAYS pack an extra outfit in your carry on.

This tip is one that I have been very grateful that I used. A while ago during my trip to Canada, my check-in bag was missing and delayed for multiple hours. Luckily I had an extra outfit to keep me fresh and not feel gross. It is always crucial to this in your carry on In case of emergencies such as your bag getting lost.

5. Put identification on your suitcase.

Everyone in the airport somehow tends to have the same black or red suitcase that you have, which only means confusing when you're trying to find your check-in bag. To quickly identify your suitcase, put a sticker, or tie a ribbon on the handle. You can easily pick up your suitcase and leave. This will prevent any sneaky people trying to steal or claim that your suitcase is theirs.

P.S.: Use a bright color ribbon or a different sticker. Also, tie the ribbon properly to make sure it's secured.


I live by these five packing tips every time I travel so I hope you can use them the next time you take a trip!

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