A solo traveler seeks experiences, rather than just destinations. They take every moment as an opportunity to discover and view every challenge as a call for innovative solutions.
Now, picture yourself in Japan, a country rich in history, ancient traditions, and cutting-edge technology, on a solo trip. You would need assistance in planning an itinerary that allows you to indulge in futuristic dining experiences with robot servers, while also immersing yourself in the tranquility of a traditional Japanese tea house for a quiet and reflective tea ceremony.
Can an AI trip planner like ChatGPT help?
Certainly. As a solo traveler, I traveled to Japan recently and here is how I used ChatGPT throughout the trip.
Additionally, as a solo traveler, I used these ChatGPT prompts to make my planning more efficient:
Some of the challenges faced by a tourist (in a non-English speaking country) are the language and the local customs.
I used the AI-powered chatbot to help translate phrases, provide cultural tips, and assist with managing budgets in real-time or on-the-go changes to the itinerary. It made my travel seamless and memorable. Also for the sake of accessibility, I had installed the ChatGPT app on my smartphone, while I was on the road.
Read more: 3 Most Effective AI Tools For Your Vacation Planning
There was this one time when I was strolling through the streets of Tokyo and was drawn to the aroma from an Izakaya – a Japanese pub – but the menu was in Japanese.
Here, I used the ChatGPT app as my personal translator to navigate the menu offerings, ensuring I could identify vegetarian/vegan options and understand dishes like Takoyaki (octopus balls) and Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers). This enabled me to order confidently and fully enjoy Japan's authentic flavors.
Here’s how I used ChatGPT during my solo trip:
Japan is known for its elaborate etiquette and customs and, as a traveler, respecting these local traditions is key to an immersive experience. Through ChatGPT, I found details on cultural practices, such as why it’s important to remove shoes before entering a house or the nuances of bowing - whether a slight nod or a deeper 45-degree bow is appropriate. It also explained the etiquette required to be maintained while using public transport - which, I assure you, was quite important. However, exercise caution with ChatGPT's advice, as occasional inaccuracies, known as “hallucinations,” might lead to some unintended, albeit embarrassing, moments.
ChatGPT offered guidance on appropriate greetings, such as using konnichiwa (hello/good day) or konbanwa (good evening); I could also learn the honorific usage of common phrases such as arigatou (Thank you) and sumimasen (Excuse me/I'm sorry). Plus, it even helped me practice basic conversations with it, using ChatGPT's voice feature. It recognized the language instantly, provided translations, facilitated ongoing dialogue, and offered pronunciation assistance.
Hiring a guide for one person is costly. Also, not all tourist attractions and UNESCO sites in Japan, particularly shrines and temples, had audio guides. Rather than scouring the internet for information, I obtained answers by using ChatGPT voice and continued the conversation – transforming the mere scenic spots of, say, Kyoto or the temple gardens into chapters of a living history book.
When I was unsure whether to take a day trip to Nara or explore Osaka's bustling Dotonbori district, I used ChatGPT as my sounding board. By simply sharing my interests, time constraints, and past travel highlights, it evaluated options and modified the itinerary effortlessly. It also provided essential public transportation information, enabling efficient travel planning and a deeper travel experience.
Solo traveling is also about meeting new people or even fellow solo travelers to share a meal or exchange stories. ChatGPT assisted in discovering solo-friendly activities and social spots like language exchange cafes, traveler meetups, and local events for making new connections. It helped enhance my travel experience through meaningful interactions and potential language learning opportunities.
Whether I was in a restaurant trying to read a menu or figuring out instructions on a gacha machine, I used the ChatGPT image option to translate the content. I know Google Lens is often favored for image content translation, however, ChatGPT holds an advantage over Google Translate, Lens, and even Google Search in terms of contextual understanding – it possesses the capability to aggregate and summarize information, providing a more comprehensive and nuanced perspective.
To enjoy the best of both worlds, I combined both these tools: take a screenshot of Google Lens' translation and upload it to ChatGPT (a feature exclusive to ChatGPT Plus accounts) to gain deeper cultural insights.
Additionally, I was able to keep a tab on my expenses with ChatGPT.
While on the road, it is easy to lose track of your expenses and stay within your budget. Even if you save receipts, it's not helpful unless you account for them daily.
ChatGPT streamlined my financial tracking and provided quick calculations. I tracked my expenses by reporting daily expenses in the same ChatGPT conversation by prompting, “I spent 1800 yen on dining and 2000 yen on temple visits today”. ChatGPT could convert these amounts to USD, update my remaining budget, and provide insights into my spending habits.
This interactive approach helped keep track of expenses and I was able to make informed decisions about future spending. You can create your expense tracker using GPT builder, available in the latest update of GPT 4 (for Plus account).
Access the expense tracker that I used here.
Overall, ChatGPT can be more than just a writing tool. It simplifies budget tracking in yen and USD and offers real-time language translations, adapting to your needs and becoming your travel partner. Although, do understand all the data privacy and security policies before downloading the ChatGPT app on your smartphone and allowing it access to your media files.
When planning your next adventure, what would you rather do: watch dozens of YouTube videos, read hundreds of articles via search engines, or embrace the simplicity and efficiency of ChatGPT? In a single prompt, ChatGPT can assist in planning your itinerary and offer comprehensive cultural, local, and historical insights.
With ChatGPT you can not only explore the breathtaking landscapes and the rich cultures but also embrace the future of travel with AI technology.
Would you take ChatGPT on your next solo trip?
Let us know your thoughts.