Ease Into Solo Travel With a Hybrid Trip
Updated: Dec 23, 2019
I can't emphasize this enough:
📣 There's more than one way to travel solo. 📣
The whole concept of solo travel is: you taking a trip that's right/fun/rewarding for YOU and you only. So if a hybrid solo trip suits your style or fits your schedule better—by all means, try it! It's 100% still a valid way to experience the rewards of traveling alone.
Solo travel is a big trial-and-error game anyway. It takes some "practice" to figure out your favorite style, what works best for you. Experimenting with hybrid solo travel is a great place to start. So...
Hybrid solo travel is a term I made up to describe any trip that's at least partially solo, and partially spent with a travel companion(s).
🌟 It's a great way to ease into solo travel if you're nervous about going 100% alone.
🌟 It can be the best of both worlds if you want to experience the joys of solo travel, but also experience a new place with a friend, partner, or family member.
🌟 If there's something in a new place that you're dying to do but your travel companion isn't interested in, you'll have free time to pursue it yourself!
If hybrid solo travel sounds interesting to you, here are a few ways you can try it out.
#1. Stay longer.
Have a trip planned with a friend/partner/family member? If your schedule allows, add an extra day, or two, or more to the end of the trip, after they return home or move on to the next place. Reserve this time to continue exploring the area—but this time on your own.
This is a great type of hybrid experience because you'll already have some familiarity with the place. You'll have had a few days at least to get to know your surroundings with your travel partner, so you can feel more comfortable breaking away on your own.
I'm doing this at the end of the month. I booked a solo trip to Seattle and Portland, and then a friend ended up being able to join me. So I added a couple of extra days to the end of the trip that I'll have to myself. So I get to have the best of both worlds: time with a great gal pal I don't get to see too often, but a dose of exploring alone too to give me my solo-travel fix. 😍
#2. Visit on weekdays.
This idea inspired by Marissa of @guillenm! Next time you go visit a friend in another city (even if it's in your own country, or a city you've been to before), include a weekday or two on your visit if possible. They'll be at work 💼 and you'll have an entire morning and afternoon to explore solo. Don't give in to the temptation to hang around their house all day until they come home! Take the opportunity to have some solo experiences.
Plan a day for yourself. Figure out your own transport. Find a nice place to have lunch, and enjoy the pleasures of solo dining. If it's a city you've been to before, find something new to do or see. Talk to people, find things you never noticed before, and enjoy the quiet time to yourself + the complete freedom to go wherever the wind takes you. (Then, hang out with the friend you're there to visit in the evenings/on the weekend.)
#3. Take the afternoon off.
Even if you're already signed up for a trip with someone else, you can still get elements of the solo-travel experience within it! Designate one day of the trip, or a few afternoons, where you and your travel partner both do your own thing. Go your separate ways after breakfast, and meet up again for dinner.
That gives you HOURS to wander around a new place and see what strikes you, without worrying about what the other person wants to do, when/where they want to eat, or what their desired bathroom-break schedule is. (Major pet peeve of mine when traveling with another person. 🙃)
I did this when my mom and I met up in Paris last year for her birthday. I was craving an afternoon to myself in the city, so we split up for a few hours. She was nervous to wander around by herself, since that was something she'd never done. But when we met up later, she was full of stories of the things she saw, conversations she had with shopkeepers, souvenirs she bought, and cute stray dogs she noticed. 😌
It was her first type of solo experience abroad, and she ended up loving it! It helps that this type experience doesn't involve getting on a plane all by yourself, which makes it a more approachable, low-pressure undertaking.
#4. Try a tour.
I personally think I missed the window for solo-traveler tour groups. I'm so used to controlling every detail of my trips myself, I think I'd find it hard to go with someone else's itinerary now.
BUT if you're brand new or newer to solo travel, this can be a great option! There are lots of tour companies that cater to people who want to take an awesome trip, but would rather go with a group than totally solo. 👯♀️
You'll still be responsible for traveling there on your own, and you won't know anyone in the group. So in that sense, you're going it alone. But once you arrive, you'll meet up with a group of like-minded solo travelers (instead of groups or couples like you might find on other tours). Everyone there is in your same boat: just looking to explore a new place and make some new friends.
(P.S. Jenny of @englandandbeyond has experience in all forms of solo travel, and she tells me that these tours can also be a great way to visit exotic places where travel and communication are difficult for travelers without a group! 🏝)
And from there...
Once you try one of these hybrid experiences, you might find that you love the freedom of exploring alone. Follow your curiosity! Spend more time by yourself on your next trip, or take a day trip, a weekend getaway, or longer adventure solo. ✈️
Or, you might find that just these smaller doses of solo travel is enough for you. And that's great too! I encourage you to push outside of your comfort zone, but it's also important to do what feels right for you. If a hybrid option is the way you best enjoy solo travel, do it—and do it often!