I’ve been lucky in that sometimes Scott’s work trips overlap with a time when we have kid coverage so that I can tag along. His work trips vary and for some he’s pretty free to explore with me, but for others he’s working solidly for the entire day. Timing lined up perfectly for me to go to San Francisco with him and we thought it was going to be one of the pretty free trips, but it turned out that he was working nonstop, including mandatory evening activities. This left me in a new to me city completely on my own. That wasn’t a bad thing, but it wasn’t what we had planned so I needed to adjust. I’m sharing my Impromptu Solo Travel Tips and how I adjusted to the change of plans. This uses my time in San Francisco so many of them are specific to that city, but most of them can be adjusted to other places.
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There’s no shame in using a hop on hop off tour to get acquainted with a new city. I used to snicker over just how touristy they are, and while they are, there’s nothing wrong with them and it was silly to think so. I got my ticket and stayed on the bus for the entire route around the city. I got to see landmarks and neighborhoods and the guide was fantastic with information about the city. I doubt I would have gone on the tour if I hadn’t been on my own and I’m really glad to have done it.
I constantly gave Scott information about the city, like the fact that many buildings featured parts of old ships. I wouldn’t have known or probably even noticed if not for the bus tour.
Go to a sports game. I love baseball and haven’t gone to many games in recent years. I’m also one of those people who actually loves paying attention to the game, so it doesn’t overly matter if I’m on my own or not. So, I bought myself a ticket in the cheap seats and wandered down to AT&T Park. That in itself was fun–I followed the route on my phone and it didn’t seem like I was going in the right direction at all (city, city, city, cross a street and boom! stadium). I got myself food and a drink and sat down to a fun game with a great view.
Check out the popular places. Is there something this place is known for? I decided to take one of the famous cable cars and head to Fisherman’s Wharf. The cable cars have different routes, so I asked which one was the most scenic (and it happened to be the longest, too). It was fun to experience something that is iconic San Francisco and end up in another spot with plenty to do.
A big perk of being on your own is that you get to make all the decisions. If you pass something that looks fun, you can just go ahead and do it without worrying about anything else. I saw boat tours leaving Pier 39 and decided to try one out. It seemed a shame to let an opportunity to go out on the water pass me by, so I didn’t let it.
Just walk around, take in the sights, and eat. Eating is such a big part of my travel whether I’m alone, with Scott, or in a big group. I love food and I love trying as much as I can. I figured out how to get to specific places and got food at regular intervals. You never know what you’ll stumble on when you wander around–you may just end up enjoying a meal at a Michelin Star restaurant that you wouldn’t have otherwise gone into.
I like to think that I’m pretty easy to please when I travel. After the initial disappointment that Scott wouldn’t be able to join me in exploring the city, just a little bit of research got me through three incredibly fun days and each thing I did led to another. I ended my time alone with a trip out to the beach (because if a place has a beach, I’m pretty sure it’s a rule that you have to see it!).
When Scott first realized he was going to be busier than we initially planned, my immediate reaction was that the trip was ruined. We had planned on doing things together and it took a little bit to get my mind to switch to solo travel. It’s one thing to have planned the trip as a solo traveler, but another to have it become that at the last minute. Using tourist starting points helped to turn my time in San Francisco into a fun trip. Going on tours both introduces you to a new place and gives you a boatload of information. Having done that, I was able to decide what interested me the most to go and explore further. I wandered neighborhoods and ate all the things. Using these Impromptu Solo Travel Tips helped to turn a disappointment into a memorable trip and they can be adjusted to many places around the world.