Having fun Kayaking ALONE in the Piedras Blancas National Park
Having fun Kayaking ALONE in the Piedras Blancas National Park

“Are you traveling alone?” Well yes, yes I am! “Seating for a party of...one?” Yes, it’s just me! Good for you! You are very excited or very scared but either way you’re feeling all the feelings and you’re doing research about your solo trip to help yourself get ready. Don’t worry; you’re going to be great! Or...you might fail a lot, but you’ll probably learn a lot in those situations. Probably.

It might make you feel better to know that the winds are shifting, in your favor. Solo travel used to be so hard to get through, since most travel companies and tour operators would cater to parties of two or more – sometimes even make singles pay for things at the couple or double-occupancy rate. I mean – solo travel is all about self-discovery. Why are you punishing us for that?!?! OK, off my soap box, since as I said, it is easier to travel solo these days. If you already booked your solo trip, skip this part and just scroll down to the next section. If you’re reading this because you are on the fence about whether or not to book a solo trip, STOP scrolling and read this section. Solo travel gets all votes: “yes,” “ay,” “si,” “oui” and however else you want to say “for all that is mighty, just go for it!” As a party of one, you’ll own all the failures and all the successes as your own; you’ll learn and grow; and most importantly, you’ll be able to do what you want and rest whenever you darn well please. It is absolutely something that you should do. Ok, now that we’ve established that everyone that has gotten to this section is definitely, 100%, for certain taking a solo trip – here’s what you should know before you go it alone:

Posing while on a Canopy Tour in Manuel Antonio
Posing while on a Canopy Tour in Manuel Antonio

1. You WON’T Be Lonely

I admit that this isn’t a universal thing. You MIGHT get lonely if you are, say, hiking the PCT a la Cheryl Strayed, but you’re more likely to be taking a trip to occupied areas. You may not know anyone when you start, but look around you! There are other people on the trains, planes and boats that you are taking. There are locals out and about and – especially in places like Costa Rica – they are friendly and will be more than happy to engage in a conversation. Of course, you will be your own constant companion, so whether you are on good terms or fighting with yourself, there is always someone to talk to.

2. When Possible, Go With the Light

There are plenty of things worse than stumbling around an unfamiliar area in the dark, but it still ranks pretty high on the list of things that bring out your cranky face. Try to plan your trip so that you are arriving and departing from places in the daytime. This is just a precaution that is good to take.

Daypack Equipment
Daypack Equipment

3. Keep Identifying Documents with You

Don’t worry – there are many other options for this then the not-so-fashion-friendly fanny pack. Since you are traveling alone no one is around to identify you in the event of an emergency. Bring your ID, passport, emergency contacts, list of medical conditions and notes on known allergies with you everywhere you go, all together in one place. Have someone interpret your medical conditions and allergies into the local language, and keep a copy in both English and in the translated language.

4. You Don’t Need to Bring Everything

Packing light is a skill that not everyone has mastered, but it is an essential skill for a solo traveler. When you travel with someone else, you can split the load, but you can also have them look after your things if you need to run inside a store or bathroom quickly. When you travel as a party of one, everything you have has to go with you everywhere you go. Having too much luggage will slow you down also. If you are in Costa Rica and you are planning on hiking and then heading on to your next stop, you would have to bring your luggage with you. Picture how much luggage you were thinking about brining, and now imagine dragging it all along on a hike.

Hiker sitting on rock in river at Corcovado National Park
Hiker sitting on rock in river at Corcovado National Park

5. You Don’t Have to Plan Everything

There are people that will do that for you! Get yourself booked on an organized tour and you’ll find yourself having an easy, but still exciting day. You can see some great local spots, meet some fellow travelers, and most importantly, let someone else do all the work.

6. Drinking is OK

Of course, I mean that only if you are drinking in moderation. Enjoying a glass of wine with dinner is encouraged. Hitting a night spot with your new besties (that you meet on that day’s organized tour) for a drink or two is a good idea. Taking shots all night long and forgetting how to get back to your hotel...not so good. Getting sloshed while you are traveling alone is terrible for so, so many reasons; mainly because it is just flat out dangerous. You could become an easy target for robbery, or get extremely lost. So, enjoy a few drinks and a good buzz, and then cut yourself off so that you can actually remember how great of a time you had.

7. No Does Not Mean No Everywhere

You will undoubtedly have an amazing time on your solo trip without too many bumps. But sometimes, there are bumps...or awkward situations. You should learn how to say at least some key phrases in the local language, such as “no, thank you.” Often overlooked though, is learning the body language of the locals. Sometimes, body language can be even more powerful than a verbal response.

Now that you know everything you need to know about traveling for one, get out there and conquer the world!

Riding an ATV near La Fortuna
Riding an ATV near La Fortuna