What’s your name and where are you from?
Amanda Frankel from Chicago, IL
1. What made you first decide to take a solo trip?
Aside from being tired of waiting around for others, I was ready for the personal challenge that I had heard solo travelling brought. I was in a place in life where I was exploring who I was and thought solo travel would contribute to the journey. I also wanted to continue to educate myself on other cultures and places in the world and figured there was no better way than experiencing them first hand.
2. What’s the most essential factor to consider when choosing a solo travel destination?
Eh, I don’t think I have one. I guess most people would say safety but once you start to travel, the word safety takes on a different meaning. Yes, there are some places that maybe you should steer clear of, but for the most part I think you can make anywhere a solo travel destination. It’s more about what kind of experience are you looking for.
3 Traveling solo how much do you plan in advance and how much do you leave up to spontaneity?
I think its important to have a good balance. I like to plan for things I know I for sure want to do/see but leave full days open in between. When you leave time open for the unexpected, it will undoubtedly lead to the best experiences.
4 Do you ever worry that it’ll be hard to get great photos (with yourself in them) while traveling solo?
I don’t! I think as a society we are so caught up in getting a “great photo” that we forget that wherever and whatever you are doing in that moment makes a great photo! Traveling solo has also forced me to get out of my comfort zone and talk to people. Therefore, stopping someone to ask to them take a picture for you is almost second nature. You’d also be surprised at how many people will offer to take your picture when they see you are solo. I’ve gotten some of my most memorable pictures on solo trips.
5 What would you say are the benefits of solo traveling vs traveling with others?
You get to do what you want, how you want and when you want to do it. Not just that, you are forced to learn how to be comfortable with hanging out with yourself and hopefully you will discover how awesome you really are. It’s not until I get home and am back in my everyday routine that I realize what solo travel has taught me. I am more aware of what I want, what I like, what I don’t want, and what I don’t like. You are pushed to do things you might not do when traveling with others (ie, striking up a convo with a stranger, hoping on the back of a motorbike with a local you met at the market or being completely comfortable going to a restaurant/bar by yourself) crazy concept, I know!
6 What advice would you give solo travelers about dealing with fear and loneliness?
For me personally, my fear and loneliness came from my lack of confidence. I was fearful to be alone with myself, I constantly thought I needed someone there to experience things with or have a good time. I thought I would get lonely if I was solo and would miss out on a trip’s full potential because I wouldn’t want to do anything alone. Finding the courage to ‘just go solo’ finally allowed me to find my inner confidence and realize that, well, I’m pretty freaking awesome and I want to hang out with myself. If you continue to wait on other people to experience life, it will pass you by, and quickly. Just go! When traveling solo, if you need to feel connected, keep in contact with friends/family throughout the trip, but while you are there, remember you are not alone, you have yourself – the best company you can have.
7. Anything you would advise women not to do when traveling alone?
Just be smart. If I meet people out (or even where I am staying) depending on the vibe, I may tell them I am “going to meet friends in a little,” or that “my friends are back in the room.” Take every opportunity to have new experiences, just don’t be naive. Walk around like you know where you are going (even if you don’t). Try not to post exact locations to lead people to you. And utilize travel sites/blogs to connect with people who have been before to get recommendations.
8. How do you get around tour companies or accommodations that try to charge you extra if you’re a solo traveler?
If it’s something I know I want to do, I’ll pay for it. But, most of the time you will meet other travelers so it’s super easy to hop on with them to cut cost.
9 What’s the best country you’ve visited thus far that’s great for solo travelers?
THAILAND! One of the most friendly, accommodating, easy to get around and cultured countries I have been to. This was my first solo trip and I am so thankful it’s where I started. It’s super travel friendly in terms of budget, transportation and experiences. It’s sort of a “traveler’s world” in that you are 100% guaranteed to meet other solo travelers. This is for sure a place to leave room for the unexpected. You can easily hop over to Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos so don’t plan too much ahead.