I encourage people to try solo travel; I’ve had some thrilling adventures in the world alone. I backpacked through Vietnam during the Vietnamese New Year (a fun and coincidental coincidence of timing); I climbed the Great Wall of China alone on a January day so cold I couldn’t feel my feet. I walked through the Australian Outback in the 100-degree Fahrenheit heat; I swam in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Cairns. I sipped instant coffee at a Warsaw hostel and made some German friends. (You’ll notice this, especially as a solo hiker: German travelers are everywhere.) During the pandemic, I traveled alone to Scotland, where I went hiking in Plateau and then visit the grave of Alexander McQueen — among other things — on the epic-see serving the Isle of Skye.
The challenge and excitement of solo travel is — to quote travel expert Rick Steves — one of the ultimate great sources of legit adventure. Here are a few things to know as you’re pursuing high-altitude solo travel during the pandemic.
Do your research and make a plan
Some travel agencies have One stop resource for travel during pandemic, including centers to check the advice on your destination. Also, you must know the answer to this question before you buy a flight: Can you enter the country with your current immunization status? Some countries do not allow unvaccinated visitors to enter.
Know the rules and regulations for your country of exit and country of entry. Most countries have specific regulations for both. For example, let’s say you plan to fly from the US to Spain. You’ll want to consult the US and Spanish government rules for online border crossings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a Useful travel tool on its website, where you can select the country you’re visiting to see country-specific travel information and health-related details, such as Covid-19 vaccination requirements. There are also CDC International Travel Page. You should cross-reference this information with official recommendations from the country you are traveling to. And if you are entering or returning to the United States, please review “Requirements for Non-US Travelers.”
Travel during a pandemic requires even more planning in advance for solo travelers, who will be running their trip and overseeing its execution. No matter where you’re going right now, if you plan to travel internationally, you’ll likely have to provide a negative Covid test, show proof of vaccinations, and wear a mask. Most countries have a specific type of test they want you to take; know what kind of check you need to get on a plane to your destination country. And speaking of boarding — check the best airlines to fly during Covid-19, ranked based on versatility, health and safety measures, and operational reliability.
Know the type of mask required
Know your country of destination policy for face masks before you enter — and type mask you need to wear. If not, you might sound like someone I know who almost got stuck in Chile because they wore a cloth mask instead of a blue surgical mask.
Remember, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) request all tourists in America to wear a mask.
Spend time outside
Michelle Aquino, a native of the Philippines who grew up in Queens, NY, has been to 38 US states and 35 countries. Aquino and her partner were on a year-long adventure around the world when the pandemic hit, and they had to make some quick decisions. She said: “We were in the Philippines, then Vietnam in March 2020. “We landed in Hanoi, and everyone was wearing hazmat suits. Vietnam really takes it seriously,” she said.
When the couple returned to the US, they continued to travel domestically, just in case. Aquino’s advice for travel during the pandemic includes making use of the outdoors. For their travels around Asia, that means going to waterfalls and outdoor markets. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they recently visited, they love to shop at the open-air farmers market. “We went to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum,” she said. They go early in the morning so they can avoid the larger crowds later in the day. “Get up early and try to be mindful of your time,” says Aquino.
Finding accommodation during Covid-19
Most hotels and hostels have pandemic cleaning procedures in place. Look for facilities that implement Covid safety measures. Hostels are ideal for solo travelers who don’t split the cost of their stay with friends or partners. Whether you’re traveling alone or with others, hostels are a great way to make an extremely expensive endeavor — international travel — less.
They are also an ideal place to connect with other travelers. During Covid, many tourist attractions were less crowded, and hostels were often less booked. This means you can have more space than you can do. If you’re a woman traveling alone, connecting with other women traveling alone is a great way to increase safety. You can find a companion to do things with and someone to tell you where you are if you are venturing alone. While studying abroad in Italy, Aquino relied on her friendships with other female solo travelers to increase safety by having a companion during activities.