I’ve never travelled anywhere solo outside of the UK. When the opportunity came up to visit Boston with work I jumped at the chance. I was also excited at the thought of being outside of my comfort zone on a solo trip.
Of course, I couldn’t go all of that way without tagging on a couple of days to explore New York City. It was my third visit, but there were still so many things that I hadn’t yet got around to doing – and being on my own meant that I didn’t need to feel guilty about walking for miles to see a Gossip Girl landmark, or spending far too long Instagramming my beautiful Jack’s Wife Freda breakfast!
I knew I would need to sort out my wifi/data situation out, as I wanted to keep people back home updated on my trip via FaceTime and Whatsapp. I’d also be spending a lot of time on my laptop, whether that was working, blogging or passing time people watching in coffee shops and bars. I’d looked up how much my phone provider would charge for data roaming – and at £5.99 per day for one iPhone, I wasn’t keen on racking up a big bill. Instead, iVideo Pocket Wifi Rental kindly sent me one of their devices to try out on my trip – which turned out to be a life saver for map checking, working, uploading and catching up with family and friends.
Spending ten days alone taught me a lot about myself, so I wanted to share some of my tips and tricks for being at ease with solo travel:
1. Plan not only your days out, but your evenings too. I made the mistake of filling up my days with lots of activities, but forgetting that it gets dark and cold quickly in November – so I needed equally as many plans for the evenings too! Luckily, my iVideo Pocket Wifi meant that I was able to research the best bars and restaurants nearby via TripAdvisor and I ended up finding some great new places just by using the ‘near me’ function.
2. Budget for spending a lot more than you think on coffee (and wine!). I’d budgeted for how much I thought I would spend on food in Boston/New York – but travelling solo meant that there were gaps in my day where I didn’t want to sit in my hotel by myself so I sought out a coffee shop or bar to pass some time. This meant that I ended up spending a lot more mulla than I had originally planned, on the odd coffee or glass of wine. Plus, tipping is BIG in the US, so make sure you budget for that too!
3. Avoid looking like a tourist by downloading the Citymapper app. In big cities, I am always very conscious to not look like a rabbit in headlights as tourists can be an easy target for theft and crime. I noticed that the day I had my camera around my neck was also the day that more people tried to help me in the Subway or assist me with directions – but always in return for tips. With the Citymapper app and my iVideo wifi, I was able to pop in my location and destination and was instantly given the options for walking, cycling and details of public transport. I genuinely don’t know how I would have found my way around had it not been for this tech combination!
4. Get chatting to locals – and sit at the bar! One of the things I was most looking forward to on my solo travels was meeting new people. I deliberately asked to sit at the bar when I ate anywhere – and I ended up having some great conversations! A highlight for me was bagging the last free seat at the bar at Marta’s pizza – and chatting to the Irish couple next to me who had moved to NYC over 17 years ago. It turned out that one of them worked at my favourite restaurant in the city ‘The Spotted Pig’, run by British chef April Bloomfield. We had a great evening, talking away and the barman must have taken a liking to us because he kept letting us sample some of his finest liquors on the house. It was really fun – and I might not have met them if I was travelling with other people.
5. Keep your family and friends updated on your whereabouts. Because they will worry – however much you reassure them that you are fine! This was made much easier for me with the iVideo Pocket Wifi. I was able let my Mum know that I had arrived safely in the US whilst my plane was still on the tarmac, I could keep Liam up to date via Whatsapp and my copious food photos on Instagram – and I was even able to FaceTime my Dad and share my spectacular views as I walked over the Manhattan bridge. It felt great to be able to update people at any point, even over 3,000 miles away.
Being a solo traveller was a great experience – and now that I’ve done it, I’d definitely be up for it again!
iVideo Pocket Wifi Rental have kindly given me a discount code to share with my readers for $3.00 USD credit on your first rental.
You can view my USA trip photos on my Instagram Instagram.com/alldolledupuk