Updated: Jul 25, 2020
(Lindley pictured hugging a totem pole in Sitka, Alaska)
I love traveling solo. I've been fortunate in my first job to have the opportunity to travel around the western United States. In those two years I planned multi-week trips by myself to California, Alaska, Wyoming, Utah, Oregon and Colorado.
And now that I live in Europe I'm stretching myself even more. This last year, 2019, I've been to France, Belgium, Denmark, England, The Netherlands, Spain and Czech Republic. And Mexico.
I think everyone can benefit from traveling alone. You learn a lot about yourself and have time to think and focus outside your normal routine. You can plan elaborates trip in hotels, or go the cheap route and crash with family and friends. It is a great time to read a good book or listen to that podcast you haven't had time for.
From one solo traveler to another, here are my prized tips for having an awesome solo trip.
Eat at the bar
I know it can be intimidating to eat by yourself, but this has become my favorite past time. I oftentimes bring a book or some work, but many times I talk to the other bar patrons or bartenders. My favorite bar is in Salt Lake City, Utah it's called The Copper Onion. I love that bar because it looks over the kitchen, so you can watch the yummy food being made (order the lamb chops). Branch out!
Free gym memberships
When you are in a new city, look up local gyms. Many gyms have a free trial class. This is how I discovered SoulCycle, and this is my favorite way to workout on the road. These classes are hot and sweaty and feature a ton of fun music and good company. I've also done free classes at CrossFit, Orange Theory, Hatha Yoga and 24 Hour Fitness gyms. Don't miss out on these FREE classes.
Yelp is your best friend
If YELP isn't your best friend, you aren't doing it right. Travelers like me have already paved the way for you! I am a frequent reviewer on Yelp, Google and TripAdvisor. If you're looking for a coffee house, or something to do, these sites have pictures, ratings and even menu recommendations. Start here always! I oftentimes pick my hotel based around where the good finds are.
Before you travel to Santa Barbara, ask your mom if you have family there! I have been fortunate to see my family in SB each trip out there, and I wouldn't have considered it unless my mom told me I had family in California. Traveling is the perfect excuse to connect with extended family or friends and get a few home cooked meals. There is no shame in bouncing around from city to city and staying with family, in fact, this can be the most cost effective way to explore and get insider information about a city.
Work in public
I am always surprised by the number of eclectic coffee shops filled with professionals in every city I explore. I live to find delicious coffee! My favorite find is in Oceanside, California and is called The Succulent Cafe. This cafe is to die for. There is no reason to coop yourself up in your hotel to work, go get some sunshine and a scone.
Make new friends
Okay, with this one, I must preface with be smart! Don't go home with strangers (I once went on a hike with a guy, alone, for seven miles in the Alaskan wilderness. Little did I know there was a serial killer on the loose! That's a story for another post!). But making friends can really make for an amazing experience in a new city, oftentimes there are other people working or traveling alone as well. Be friendly! Doing local activities is a great way to meet people.
Find your favorite spots
Make the city your own. I love finding little sushi joints that are owned by a local family, hitting wineries or breweries, exploring art, and getting outside. Be active! The busier your stay, the less lonely it is. You might just find you love a city that was once foreign to you. I don't know anyone in Salt Lake City, Utah-- but of everywhere I've been in the US-- this would be my ideal place to settle down. I love everything about it, from the grocery stores to the sides walks and traffic signs. Who would have guessed?
Sign up for travel points
This is one of the best perks of traveling. Flat out, my favorite credit cards are the Chase Sapphire and Platinum American Express! The sapphire is free and provides points for rentals, hotels and restaurants and the amex has lots more amenities including free checked bags on airplanes, Uber dollars, and TSA pre check benefits. I am also a HUGE fan of Enterprise, it's the only rental car company I'll use. They provide incredible customer service and they are at your side if you have any care trouble. The last place you should sign up for points is at hotels, I am a Hilton Diamond member, and receive lots of amenities including VIP parking spots, free meals, and free nights. This little add-ons can really add up!