How to Safely Plan a Solo Vacation this Fall

After more than a year and a half of canceled travel plans, we’re wondering how to unleash all this pent-up wanderlust in a way safe and responsible (but still fun!) during these COVID times. Can you relate? Are you dreaming of a trip this fall to rejuvenate from the most intense summer heat wave on record? Do you need of a crisp breeze, scenic mountain views, and colorful autumn foliage… complete with morning coffee on the patio of your AirBnB?

While the surge in Delta variant cases led to a sharp decline in many summer vacations, about 55% of surveyed Americans are optimistic about traveling in this season. But if you plan to stretch those atrophied wanderlust muscles over the next few months, the main question you’ll want to consider is: “How can I maximize my trip, but minimize the safety risks to both myself and others?”  

This is where a solo getaway comes in. For starters, it’s so much easier to maintain a six-foot distance when you’re just a crew of one. Not to mention, on a solo trip, you have the freedom to create your own schedule, move at your own pace, indulge your own interests, and follow your own bliss. The unforgettable misadventures I once had as a solo traveler in New York City for three months still rank as some of my favorite memories 10 years later. 

There’s so much awareness and perspective to gain about the earth and your place in it when you are free to explore with no distractions. But you don’t have to peace out on a 12-week sabbatical to immerse yourself in the full experience. Even a brief solo weekend is sure to leave you feeling refreshed. So if you plan to head off the beaten path this season, here are four tips for an enjoyable, memorable and COVID-safe solo getaway. 

Be Strategic About Your Destination Choice.

Sure, you can do the whole shut those eyes and point to a location on the map routine, but if this is your first experience traveling alone, you’ll want to choose the destination strategically. The main perk of a solo trip is you don’t have to factor in anyone else’s preferences, but it’s also not the smartest course of action in these pandemic times to cross off the most remote nation on your bucket list. Domestic travel is the safest option right now, and be sure to check the COVID case trends in whichever state or region you plan to visit. Once this step is done, here are some other questions to think about before choosing a destination:   

  • What is your budget? Can you afford a cross-country plane ticket, or would it be more feasible to visit a location closer to home that you can drive to in a few hours?
  • How much time do you have? Does the location need to be accessible enough for a weekend trip, or is there room in your schedule to travel further and stay longer? 
  • What are you interested in? Do you love the outdoors? Choose a place near the water or mountains that’s known for nature activities. Are cities more your vibe? Choose a metropolitan area with farmer’s markets, coffee shops and art museums. Is the local cuisine top on your list? Choose a foodie location that speaks to your stomach.   
  • How will the logistics work? Do you plan to use your own vehicle to get around, or will you need reliable access to public transit or ride shares at your destination?    

Take COVID Precautions Before You Travel.

Once you narrow down a location for this solo trip, the next step is to take the right health and safety measures to protect yourself (and others who might cross paths with you). Start with research on the local government ordinances in your destination of choice, as some areas require out of state travelers to quarantine for 7–14 days upon arrival. This isn’t necessarily an issue if you’re renting an isolated cabin off-the-grid, but you’ll want to think ahead—or even create a Plan B—for a more high-volume tourist location such as New York or California. Beyond that, be sure to consider the following safety precautions as well:

  • Pack hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to clean high-touch surfaces at any airports, hotels, restaurants and other establishments you visit during the trip. 
  • Wear a mask in public areas and practice social distancing measures when possible. 
  • Consume a daily multivitamin or supplement with nutrients such as zinc, iron, probiotics, and Vitamins B, C and D which can help to boost your immune function
  • If you feel sick, please do not travel—it isn’t worth the risk. You also might want to pay extra for pandemic travel insurance which will reimburse you for a COVID-related trip cancellation or cover medical expenses if you contract the illness on vacation. 

Download All the Mobile Apps You’ll Need.

When you travel alone, all the logistical details rest on your shoulders…no pressure or anything! But for real, you’ll want to feel organized, comfortable and aware of your surroundings—not confused or anxious because you made a wrong turn and can’t seem to retrace your footsteps. And while you could ask a local for directions, consulting your smartphone sounds much more convenient (at least in my humble opinion). A solo trip can be stressful, but it also doesn’t have to be with the right mobile apps to eliminate the guesswork. So before you head off on any adventures, grab these resources from the App Store or Google Play: 

Make Sure to Give Someone Your Itinerary. 

It’s always a smart idea to ensure that friends or family members at home know where you’ll be and how to contact you just in case an extenuating circumstance takes place. So carve out a few minutes to write down a basic itinerary of the trip and give it to someone you trust, so they’re able to touch base if necessary. Likewise, in the event that something happens to you, this person will have critical information to help track down your whereabouts. As a solo traveler, you need to plan for these possible eventualities on the frontend—life is unpredictable, so cover your bases in advance. Here’s what to include on this travel itinerary:

  • Dates that you will be traveling
  • Location/contact details of your accommodations 
  • Flight information
  • Outline of driving route
  • Your phone number and email address
  • Local emergency hotline number in your destination

Are you planning a solo trip this season, or have you taken one in the past? What was your experience like, and what memories stand out? What’s your favorite travel destination or the next place you dream of visiting? Tell us about it in the comment section below, and let’s indulge our wanderlust fantasies together!

About Author

Mary-Elizabeth Meagher is a freelance writer, social media marketer, travel enthusiast, musical theatre nerd and self-described bohemian. She lives and seeks adventure in the Arizona desert, and she also blogs over at Health Be a Hippie—her personal contribution to making the internet a more authentic, vulnerable and empowering place.

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