Solo travel is a movement that more and more travelers are joining. People from everywhere are beginning their solo adventures to learn from the world, and if you’re reading this may be thinking about it too. Though people in your life may encourage you, discourage you, or question you to death on why you would do such a thing, we are all for it. To help you prepare for that solo trip, from making friends to general travel advice, this post has the best tips for solo travelers.
Yes, I said it. Solo travel is always my first choice, but every now and then it’s nice to have company. After traveling solo for almost 2 years, you learn to choose your company wisely. I am actually very picky on who I travel with and where. And to be honest, I am not a big fan of group travel (sorry not sorry). Recently I have found that I’ve had a great time with people I’ve “meet” on IG from around the world, and planned travel with them. Mind you most of these people I have established a relationship with via DMs and then moved to what’s app and video calls if it’s really real. We technically know each other and sometimes I forget the fact that we haven’t even meet IRL.
It seems awkward at first but hear me out, below are a few reasons why meeting up with my virtual Instagram boos is sometimes better than dealing with a group or even friends (I know don’t kill me) when traveling.
Traveling vs. Being on Vacation
When travel is your life, checking out a new place is a different experience. You are probably going for the culture, connections, local food and the exploration. I am not about going to a resort and drink terrible unlimited mixed drinks with a view. There is a difference between vacationing and travel. Most of my friends, or groups that want to travel together are working corporate jobs and are looking for a moment to just relax, destress, disconnect and do nothing. While that’s cool, I am more so looking to discover new things and check out the country / city or town. If this is you too, you may want to link with some Instagram friends. Usually the people you meet from the gram are on the same page. You find that you have more in common, and similar travel styles. Since Andrea and Kiona (girls I met and love from the gram) are both travelers and running their own businesses, we had similar goals on what we wanted to do when planning a trip to Holbox, Mexico together.
Work Travel Balance
I am not here for just chillin. Being an entrepreneur and full-time traveler requires work. Not just taking pics for the gram but running a whole business. With Instagram friends, they are usually doing something similar. In Holbox Andrea, Kiona and myself set time frames and scheduled our days around getting in at least a few hours of work each morning. It would have been more productive if the wifi wasn’t so terrible, sighs #islandlife. The good thing is, you don’t have to worry about terrible photos, or being annoying asking someone to take photos 100 times, because they do it for the gram too, they will have your back.
A lot of people are locked by certain dates, and can only do weekends or holidays needing a lot of time before hand to request off. For us, we all knew we would be in Playa del Carmen in April so we planned to meet there and then head to Holbox together, just 2-3 weeks before our travel dates. We were able to go during the middle of the week and still have the weekend there for the turn up. Basically what I am saying is, Instagram friends probably have more leeway when it comes to travel dates, and even locations.
Choosing Accommodations and Making Plans is a Breeze
Because my IG friends are pro travelers, speak multiple languages and trying to save coins like me (#goals), booking hotel and transportation is too easy. With these girls we decided on a place in less than 3 days. Often times with other friends, they are looking for luxury, all the accommodations and not willing to sacrifice on certain features. It becomes a little harder to align on plans. You are really winning if your IG friends are open to sharing a bed.
From Playa del Carmen we took ADO bus and then a ferry to Holbox. 4 hours later, we were there. We decided to walk from the ferry to our hotel, in the heat. Most of my friends would have wanted to take a private cab and then hire a baggage guy for carrying the luggage from the ferry to the hotel. We were all down with toughing it for 10-15 min and still ended up at a hotel with a great view and A/C. The hot water was irregular but no one was truly bothered, another thing about insta friends they are used to the struggle.
My favorite thing about like-minded people, in which I usually find on the gram: saving coins. Naturally our budgets seem to be more aligned. When traveling with friends, they are usually on vacation, ready and willing to spend unnecessary money for convenience and a good time. While, that used to be my life, I can’t really afford to do that right now, and honestly I just don’t want to. I find that buying cheap, eating local and walking to save money also promotes discovery and authentic interactions. With Andrea and Kiona, we ate local tacos for less than a dollar each pretty much every night and then treated ourselves to nice cocktails here and there. Mind you Holbox is cash only, and it's an island so once you run out, that's pretty much it, so budgeting and making sure your pesos last is key.
Meeting new people and creating new experiences is something that I love, so naturally linking up with people from IG is a cool concept to me. I know that everyone may not be as down or as open but I encourage you to give it a try. If you do let me know what you think! Still hesitant? Drop a line below as to why so I can help shed some light from my experiences.
Happy blind travel dating.
Traveling to a big city can be overwhelming, especially when you are traveling solo. With over 25 million people, Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the world. That shouldn't stop you from wanting to go. In fact, more people means, more diversity, more culture more options, with endless things to do and see. Not to mention all of the ancient history and sites. Luckily, I was able to see a lot of the gems, through the tours that Urban Adventures CMDX offers.
If you feel like you want a run-down of the culture, cool places and a fun time with other just as curious travelers, UA is the way to go. I know tours, seem cliché and taboo for us “experienced” travelers, but taking a tour is a good way to get introduced into the city, go to places you may not want to explore alone, and meet other people that may even become your new travel buddy (story of my life).
Markets and Food Tour.
One my favorite things to do when visiting a city, especially a culturally rich city, is to visit the markets. It is a good way to get a sense of the local people, how things operate and fun to watch the daily operations of selling, negotiating and buying. Taking a tour is a good solution to immersing yourself into as many markets as possible while having locals lead the way, especially in a city like Mexico City, where you may not feel as comfortable or confident going to some of the super local places alone. With UA I was able to visit 5 local markets (including the witch market), learn about and try a variety of local foods, and take multiple modes of local transportation. It was a great way to get acclimated with the deeper interworking of the city (beyond my hood) and left me confident to navigate on my own for the next time. Not to mention by the end I was super full!
Mexican Night Out aka TEQUILA Tour.
Tequila, Tequila Tequila! And Mezcal of course. This tour was one of my favorites. When traveling solo, it can be challenging to truly find yourself in the night life scene, letting go and living your best life when you are alone. Either you are always being super cautious or going in on the dance floor alone, may not be your thing. With this tour, there is no need to worry! My group was of all ages, and to say the least, we turned up! From bar hopping, mezcal and tequila shots, to mariachi bands, we had an amazing time. Then we finished the night with a Lucha Libra show, a famous Mexican wrestling match – think WWE. At first, not going to lie, I wasn’t into the idea, but with the right group, 4 (or more) shots, and some music the show was actually a blast, truly a local experience.
Teotihuacan Pyramids Tour.
The Pyramids (or temples) is one of the highlights of visiting CDMX. You know I am down for all things pre-colonization! Get outside of the city and spend a half day learning about and climbing these ancient ruins. With this Urban Adventures Tours, I was able to take a comfy bus to the town about an hour outside of the city, seeing the Favelas and landscape along the way. The best part of this tour, that you won’t get by going on your own, is visiting the local families. We were able to get a sneak peak into how the people of the surrounding town live, enjoy a local mean and try some local agave and other treats made from the land there. If you know me, you know that I love supporting local business and giving my money to the people of the town / city. With this tour, I was able to experience both the touristy side of visiting the Pyramids while being able to connect and learn about the pre-colonized culture from locals. Check out Urban Adventures for more tours all over the world.
If you are headed to Mexico City anytime soon let me know! Also check out my travel guide for more details on safety, what to do, see and where to stay.
This post is in collaboration with Urban Adventures Tours CDMX. All opinions are my own.
Travelingfro Photo essay on Dak’art Biennale 2018.