Are you heading south to Costa Rica by yourself?
Good for you, as I firmly believe that’s the best way to travel. But, there will be challenges, loneliness, and unfamiliarity along the way, so here are some tips to help you acclimate to traveling alone, whether to Costa Rica or anywhere else in the world.
1. Understand that it’s a process
Traveling by yourself can be challenging; you’ll feel lonely and lost at times, but that’s just part of the process. Don’t expect it all to be perfect or fight the various feelings, just enjoy the opportunity to slow down and decompress. You’ll also find strength, resolve, and insight that you’ve never had. Consider the whole country or place you’re visiting as your playmate and your best friend! And I’m betting you do end up meeting some nice people along the way who become lifelong friends.
2. Reach out to family and friends
Once you know where you’re traveling and you start planning your trip, reach out to friends and coworkers to see if anyone knows someone in that country. You’d be surprised how many people have a friend, acquaintance, or family member who lives there or traveled there. They can either give you great tips and recommendations, or you’ll have the chance to meet locals. One thing I’ve learned is that hospitality is amazing in other countries. When you’re someone’s guest, they’ll invite you into their home, take you to meals and attractions, and spend so much time with you that you’ll wish you had some alone time!
A super way to meet nice people and build friendships is to volunteer. Do a little research ahead of time to find out what organizations, schools, and orphanages exist in that area, and reach out to them with an email. They might have meetings, social events, or of course opportunities to volunteer. You’ll meet plenty of amazing local people and other big-hearted travelers and volunteers.
4. Find the expat hangout
Every international city or town has a few bars, cafes, or restaurants that are favorites for expats. It’s easy to find them just by asking around, and you’ll have plenty of U.S. and English speaking people to talk to. In fact, they’ll probably talk your ear off with their life stories and woes, and you’ll be ready to get out of there and be solo again!
5. Practice the language
A big part of the feeling of the isolation when traveling solo comes from the language barrier. So learn a few important phrases like “hello, what’s your name, where are you from, etc.” and practice it with locals. Carry a phrasebook and practice with locals at your hotel, on the bus, and at restaurants. They’ll love it, and probably offer their friendship since you’re making an effort.
Almost everywhere in the world has a yoga studio or at least yoga classes. Even if you’re a beginner, you can jump in a class and get a good stretch. You’ll find that cool women and men from all over the world are doing yoga, and happy to get a bite to eat together or hangout after class.
7. Take a class
Likewise, take a language class, a cooking class, or a martial arts class to meet other travelers. Most tours of popular attractions jam a mini-bus full of tourists, which is good if you want to meet people.
8. Solo tours
There are plenty of cruises, resorts, and tour packages that cater to solo travelers. To keep the cost down, they’ll even match you with a roommate. Just ask about any solo travel supplements because they often charge individual travelers extra.
9. Explore the solo traveling websites. Here are just a few:
Singles Travel International is a roommate matching service for travelers.
AllSinglesTravel.com offers tours and cruises for singles and will find you a roommate.
Solo Travel Network features tales and tips from solo travelers as well as opportunities to network.
CouchSurfers.com also helps connect backpackers, travelers, and hosts.
AirBnb has special trips, deals, and events for travelers to connect.
10. Contact me! I'd be happy to say hi or connect you with friends and amigos in Costa Rica!
For more great tips on moving to Costa Rica, check out the Official Expat's Moving to Costa Rica Handbook.
Safe travels - even if you're going solo!
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