A wise French dude once proclaimed, “Hell is other people” — we can only guess he said this after spending two weeks traveling with a buddy. Sure, shared experiences are great, but nothing stresses a friendship quite like being forced to share hotel rooms, café tables, and the occasional train seat with another person.
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The solution? Solo vacations, of course. In the interest of helping you maintain your relationships at home, while possibly making new ones on the road, we talked to expert solo travelers to glean their tips on making the most of vacationing alone.
1. Get off social media
You’re not going to see the world when your face is stuck in your phone showing everybody what you had for lunch at the Waikiki Cheesecake Factory. And, oh yeah, NOBODY CARES.
2. Hit up friends of friends
Your friends back home know cool people, like you, so whoever they know at your destination will at the very least provide you with an hour’s worth of jokes at your mutual friend’s expense.
3. Realize the first person you meet doesn’t know everything
Even if your airport cab driver is the most entertaining, charismatic dude you’ve met since your zany high school chemistry teacher, it doesn’t mean that he’s right when he tells you the best restaurant in Seattle is at the Space Needle. Because it’s not.
4. Open up Tinder
Yes, it CAN be used for things other than shopping-mall bathroom rendezvous, so see if you can find some locals to show you around, or at least give you some pointers. Just make sure your picture looks good.
5. Lie a little
We’re not saying make yourself an astronaut who used to play professional badminton and started Instagram in his basement. But you’re alone and you’re never going to see these people again, so feel free to embellish a little on your 8-6 job in the compliance department.
6. Find restaurants with communal tables
This is a great way to strike up conversations with locals who can steer you towards some interesting sights you might not otherwise see. In New York, it’s also a great way to ensure you get the entire table to yourself.
7. Keep your schedule flexible
Remember that time you were at a bar and met some crazy-rich Italian dude who flew you to Ibiza to watch the sun rise at Café del Mar, and then let you party on his yacht for the rest of the day? Of course you don’t, because you had an 8:30am appointment to tour the French fry museum. Good call.
8. Find local activities that suit your interests
The Holiday Inn may have a phenomenal fitness center, but you’re more likely to meet interesting people if you buy a guest pass to a local gym, take a yoga class, play basketball in the park, sign up for flamenco dancing, ANYTHING really other than spending an hour on a seven-year-old elliptical machine watching the World Series of Poker on ESPN2 because you don’t know how to change the channel.
9. Utilize your overabundance of Facebook “friends“
Before you leave (remember number one, above?). You never know when that girl you went to middle school with might be running a dive shop in Phuket, and will totally hook you up.
10. Don’t take your new DSLR Nikon camera
Can you be spontaneous with a big camera like that? No, no you cannot. It’s like having a pet that people might mug you for. Buy a pocket camera or use your phone instead. Or crazier still, capture the memories in your mind.
11. Ask bartenders what’s up with nightlife
To avoid getting dressed up and taking a $30 cab ride across town only to find that “hot new club” you researched on the Internet is now a hot new Jimmy John’s, find a bar that looks like the kind of place you’d hang out at home and ask the bartender, in the least-creepy way possible, where he likes to drink. If the bartender is a hot female, this is twice as useful.
12. Don’t give away too much info about yourself
Say you’re in Uzbekistan, or any of these countries, and those really friendly people at the local watering hole are all of a sudden super interested in where you’re staying once they learn you’re American. What do you do? You lie. Like you’ve never lied before.