“He travels the fastest who travels alone,” said Rudyard Kipling in his poem “The Winners.”
According to Webster’s, one of the definitions of the word fit is to be “sound physically and mentally.” It certainly helps to be on the top of your game mentally and physically when it comes to traveling, but what does FIT stand for in travel today?
The FIT Traveler
FIT is often used as an acronym for “free independent traveler.” Trekkers who fall under this category have a strong sense of knowing exactly what they want when it comes to travel. They prefer to go it alone and take to the open road on their own terms. The song “Go Your Own Way,” by Fleetwood Mac comes to mind as a theme song when it comes to independent voyagers. They often exhibit great curiosity in their surroundings, don’t mind their own company and often travel to satisfy special interests, wanderlust and a sense of adventure.
In the past, the FIT acronym most suited students taking a year off after school to find themselves and see the world. That was then and this is now. The modern, solo adventurer crosses all demographics. An independent traveler no longer stays in hostels. FITs select the own hotels (quite often good ones), create their own schedules, select their own destinations, shop transportation options and stick to their own interests. Solo travel is also a growing trend according to Lonely Planet. To date, it shows no sign of going away. And you can bet travel agents and hotels are taking notice and providing services for those who “travel fastest and alone.”
Why Travel as a FIT?
Why not? Like lots of businesses, the travel industry has seen a lot of change with the rise in online commerce. In particular the use of online travel sites that offer a variety of options for discounts in airline fares and places to stay for the tourist and the business traveler have demystified the work of the professional travel agent. The hospitality and travel industries have responded in kind by offering guides for traveling solo. At many hotels solo travelers are no longer charged extra fees just for booking a single room.
Reasons to Go It Alone
There are many benefits to solo travel that include:
• Lower costs. Solo travel is less expensive.
• Opportunities to follow a special interest. A single traveler may want to pursue a destination to fulfill a desire to learn more about a subject or to pursue a hobby. Such travel might include destinations that specialize in subjects as varied as yoga, hiking, theater, cooking, wine making as well as trips to expand general education.
• Time for reflection. As a FIT you give yourself time to learn more about yourself.
• Freedom. Travel on your own terms. Choose where and when you travel.
• Exposure to new cultures. As a fully independent traveler you can meet new people from different cultures (not surrounded by tourists of your ilk).
• Opportunities to see places off the beaten path. Single travel is great for going to unusual destinations. Antarctica anyone?
• Value. Solo travel is a chance to create unforgettable experiences.
• Chances to cross destinations off your must-see list.
Packing as an Independent Voyager or the Nuts and Bolts of Solo Travel Paraphernalia
Those who travel on their own often don’t want to have to be weighed down by a lot of baggage. The adventurous voyager usually wants gear that can be carried on a plane without having to wait on long lines to claim baggage. Light weight and portability count. After all, if you want to avoid the hassles of travel and explore on your own terms why create extra work for yourself?
Baggage for the single voyager often falls down to two selections: backpacks or luggage. Lifehacker offers tips to make your selection easier. Choice usually boils down to your destination, the time you’ll be away and your clothing choices.
Some Sensible Things to Keep in Mind
It’s always best to do your homework before going it alone. This doesn’t just apply to checking out the best deals for air and ground fares or shopping hotels. You should also be aware of any hotspots or travel danger zones before you make your plans.
A good resource to check is the U.S. State Department website before you make your travel arrangements to make sure there are no travel warnings.
It goes without saying that if you are venturing abroad you have your passport handy and the phone numbers and addresses of the U.S. embassies at your destination(s).
So let’s again ask the question we started with: What does FIT stand for in travel? The answers are lots of fun, lasting memories, a sense of accomplishment and renewed self-esteem. You did it. You traveled on your own terms.