Top tips for solo travel

Top tips for solo travel | The Travel Hack Travel Blog

Since I’ve been writing these blog posts about how to travel more, I’ve noticed a common theme in the comments. Lots of people want to travel more but they have no one to travel with and they don’t want to travel alone.

This is a problem and something all travel lovers face at some point. Maybe your friends can’t afford to travel or they don’t have the same passion to see the world. Maybe you can’t book annual leave from work at the same time or you can’t agree on a destination. Or maybe you know you’d end up murdering each other if you spent that much time together! Whatever the reason, don’t let it stop you from travelling.

I was exactly the same a few years ago and wouldn’t have dreamt of travelling alone. I worried about so many stupid things.

  • I thought people would feel sorry for me, especially if they saw me eating alone
  • I thought people would laugh and would think I had no friends
  • I was worried about my safety
  • I thought I’d get lonely
  • I thought I wouldn’t have fun on my own

Over the years I’ve had to get over my fear of travelling alone because I’ve had to do it for work, for this blog or because I quite simply didn’t have anyone to come with me.

Don’t get me wrong, if I can persuade my boyfriend or a friend to come with me, I will. But a lot of the time they can’t so I either go alone or stay at home. And let’s face it, staying at home was never an option…

Tips for travelling solo

Don’t worry what anyone else thinks

If you’re like me and you feel self-conscious about travelling solo, don’t! It’s better to travel alone then not travel at all and who cares what anyone else thinks!?

I need to have this little pep talk with myself a lot.

Tips for solo travel

Book day tours and trips

When I’m travelling solo I nearly always book myself onto a day tour. I know a lot of people don’t like them because they’re too ‘touristy’ but a tour is often the best way to see a lot in a short space of time. Not only do you see more than you ever would without a guide but you also meet lots of people. I often find that the group will stay together after a day tour and go out for dinner and drinks together.

 

Stay in hostels

It’s so difficult to meet people if you stay in hotels but hostels have communal areas and dorm rooms where it’s virtually impossible to not meet people. You’ll always find lots of other solo travellers who want to meet people. I can’t guarantee you’ll meet your soul mate but you will meet someone to hang out with for the day.

Tips to travel solo

Be friendly to make friends

Travelling solo is the easiest way to make friends. It’s way easier then when you’re travelling with someone else or as a couple because people will make more of an effort when they notice you’re alone.

But to make friends, you need to be friendly!

You’re never going to meet anyone if you’re hidden away behind the screen of your laptop or you’re giving off a cold and unwelcoming glare. It can be easy to get your guard up when you’re feeling anxious or uncomfortable but if you drop your guard you’re more likely to make friends.

Make small talk and ask people questions to get them talking. You never know where a friendly ‘hello’ will lead.

If you’re struggling to make friends, don’t be afraid to approach people – especially if you see people in your hostel speaking your language. If you’re thinking, ‘No way, I could never do that. That’s weird and creepy and no one does that’, then I’m guessing you’re probably British and you’ve never travelled with an American! Americans are the best examples of friendly travellers and will approach anyone for a chat. Watch them for examples.

And if you do stumble upon a group of unfriendly travellers who aren’t keen on welcoming you into their conversation then you haven’t lost anything. These people don’t know you and you’ll never see them again so move on to the next group and try not to let one bad experience put you off.

Note to groups of travellers: If you’re travelling with a group and you see someone who is obviously alone and wants to say hello, welcome them into your group with open arms. It’s much easier to be the one to start a conversation when you have a group of friends behind you.

 

Take plenty of things to keep yourself entertained

There may be times when you spend long spells alone. Make sure you don’t get too bored with plenty of entertainment like films, books and games. It’ll make the long journeys much more bearable.

Travelling solo

If not now, when?

This has become my moto in life. “If you don’t do it now, when will you do it?”

I ask myself this question whenever I’m unsure about doing anything and it usually gives me the kick up the arse I need to do it.

Don’t wait for someone to come along and be your perfect travel buddy because you’re going to be waiting a long, long time. Just get out there and travel. You regret the things you don’t do more than the things you do.

If you’re ever having a moment where you wish you were surrounded by your BFF’s, have a little word with yourself and remind yourself how lucky you are. You’re travelling! You’re able to do exactly what you want, when you want. You don’t need to compromise on anything. You don’t need to eat in a particular restaurant just because your travel buddy wants to and you don’t need to go anywhere you don’t want to. This is flipping awesome, enjoy it!

If you don't do it now, when will you do it? | The Travel Hack

Remember, loads of people left home solo

It can sometimes feel like you’re the only solo traveller out there but once you get speaking to people, you realise that a lot of them left home as solo travellers. (I don’t know what the actual stats would be but from chatting to people I’d say it’s about 50/50). It really doesn’t take long to make friends and suddenly you’re not a solo traveller any more. You’re quickly part of that group of people who, to the outside world, seem to have known each other for years. But in reality, they probably only meet a few days ago!

 

Consider a fully organised tour

Still feeling nervous about travelling solo? Why not book a fully organised tour where you’re guaranteed to be with a group of like-minded travellers. Companies like Gap and Intrepid often have online forums where you can chat to the people in your group before you leave and possibly make arrangements to travel together afterwards.

Do you have any more tips for solo travel?

You can find more travel tips to help you travel more here.

TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel. Monica has recently had a baby and is now determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

SHOWHIDE Comments (30)
  1. I have yet to plan my first (true) solo trip, but am working on it! It is hard to figure out exactly where I want to go and the best place. I am debating between London & somewhere in Poland because I have easy flights to each of those. I can’t wait to take my first solo trip!

  2. These are great tips! I love traveling solo but I admit every once in awhile I need to give myself a little pep talk. Then I remember how crazy lucky I am and how much I love what I’m doing! Bringing something to keep you entertained is a great tip that’s easy and often overlooked. Feel awkward somewhere alone? Put a book or magazine in your hands and suddenly you don’t! Also, it’s okay to feel awkward sometimes, this will probably be the moment that you meet someone new. Although you’re right, being an American gives me a leg up as I’m happy chatting up pretty much any person I don’t know. 😉

  3. Agreed – I lived in Germany for a year as part of my degree course, in a very small town with very few people my age and not a lot to do. So I made the most of being able to travel around the country, because if I waited for a companion, I’d spent my whole time inside alone. I had some great days out, and it forced me to get over the fear of eating alone etc. This was almost 20 (!) years ago and I think it’s far far more common to travel alone now too, so it’s even easier. It’s incredibly confidence boosting and liberating once you start too.

  4. I completely agree! The travel that I have done by myself can be the scariest at first, but also the most rewarding. I don’t know why but I still get self conscious about eating by myself…I now bring a book with me but I’m also worried that people will feel sorry for me! Funny thing is – when I go to a restaurant with friends or anyone else, I never even notice that anyone there is eating alone. Goes to show you!
    Jessica
    http://www.thebellevoyage.com

  5. Solo travel can be really intimidating…at least it was for me. In the past, I’ve always traveled with my boyfriend and I would have NEVER considering traveling on my own. But when I first moved to Indonesia last year, I had to do a visa run to Penang on my own. I was really nervous about that trip. I thought I’d be bored and that I wouldn’t enjoy myself. I was also really self-conscious about eating alone! But after taking that trip I enjoyed myself so much that I recently took a solo trip to Bali just for the fun of it. I’ve found that even though I have a travel partner I really love certain aspects of traveling all by myself. These are wonderful tips for anyone who’s thinking of dabbling in solo travel 🙂

  6. I think I was born for solo travel. I’ve always been really independent, and did a 5-month trip around the globe by myself. But as you travel, you realise that actually, you’re not often alone. Be it fellow travellers or locals, there’s always someone to chat to, share an experience with, and make a story with.

    It might come as a surprise, but on that 5 month trip, there were far more girls travelling by themselves than men. Not just in New Zealand and Australia either – South America especially had a lot more. I guess it depends on confidence, experience and planning 🙂

    Anyhow, here’s my tips! http://simonsjamjar.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/tips-for-travelling-solo-around-world-travel.html

    1. That is a surprise! But it really shouldn’t be so I don’t know why. People always seem surprised when I tell them I often travel solo so I sometimes assume it isn’t that common but it really is!

  7. Solo traveling might have been the best thing I have ever done, you learn so much about yourself and the world… I didn’t struggle being solo but not having anyone to share my memories with, so my tips would actually be having friends and family come visit you during your trip… It makes it easier and when you get back, you have something to talk about that they can connect to!

    1. That’s a great idea. I actually think it’s a good idea if you’re travelling long term in a group or couple too. My boyfriend’s brother travelled with us for a little while in Australia and it was so much fun.

  8. I agree (and have heard from people who travel in pairs) that meeting people is so much easier when you’re solo. I always just grab a beer and ask any old group if I can pull up a chair…the likelihood that they all know each other is slim anyway and hopefully if they do all know each other, they didn’t go traveling just to keep to themselves (though that has been known to happen as well and it’s irritating as all hell!).

    1. It’s actually really hard to meet people when you’re travelling as a couple because people never feel the need to make an effort with a couple. But when you’re travelling together for a long time you seriously need to talk to someone new!

  9. Im really interested when i started reading this blog. I think its amazing and good job missy. Am just sharing my experience on this topic. I did my euro trip last summer with my brother. Just the two of us. So we travelled most of the cities in europe, till we arrived vienna. Staying in hostels, people are really friendly etc…Met this guy ..a solo traveller from korea. Cool chap. long story short..after vienna all we travelled in a pack of 3. My advise is just to be warmth and be friendly:) if not now…? When will i do it. 😉

    Ps:if you plan to come to malaysia again…make sure to buzz me;)

    Take care

  10. Two tips I can offer from my own solo travel piece (linked above) are to ease into it if it overwhelms you – to start by visiting places where you have vague connection or seeing a familiar face even if they’re not somebody to stay or travel with. Secondly, to opt for alternative travel options like a work exchange or language learning, things that will keep you distracted!

  11. Great tips! I agree with all of them. Thinking to much about other peoples opinions is probably one of the main reasons that people don’t go solo, while it is so fun to do!

  12. I totally agree with you! I had my first backpacking solo trip and it changes me a lot.
    I found a new point of view in everything, especially when I got back to my country. I see new perspective in life.

    When you travel alone, you truly are never alone. There’s always people who would come, surround you, and accompany you. You just need to open your heart and mind when someone is knocking on your door.

    I think its essentials for women to try solo traveling at least once in their lives 🙂

    Great writing! I can totally relate to this!

  13. Thank you Monica, for this timely reminder of how enjoyable it is to travel solo! When I lived in Europe, I spent a lot of time traveling on my own to various places, leaving my then husband with the kids – he did not enjoy traveling as much. I found many new places through my exploring, and have some wonderful friends all over the world – people I met because I traveled alone!

    Over the last 2 years, I have wanted to travel, but not alone. I was too scared. I did not want to appear to be THAT person. Now I am looking forward to my planned solo Easter road trip! Thank You!

  14. I went to Prague for the marathon last year and booked into a girls-only dorm room of four beds. The other three women were all solo travellers! And only one other people was actually there for the marathon. I did hang out with one of them, we didn’t stay in touch, but it was good to get a friendly conversation.

    My top tips would be, do everything you want to do, but be sensible about it. For example, I’ve been out in bars late when I’ve travelled alone, but I never get too drunk and I ALWAYS take a taxi home, no matter the cost.

    1. I definitely second that about taxis. When I went to university the only advice my mum gave me was, ‘No matter how poor you are, always get a taxi home!’ That’s always stuck with me and I sometimes get taxis for 4-5 minute car journeys. Th taxi drivers are never impressed but I’m sure my mum is proud.

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The Travel Hack

The Travel Hack is a blog about stylish adventure travel and affordable luxury.

We believe luxurious travel can be affordable and isn't just for the rich. Follow along with our worldwide adventures as we share our trips and tips for incredible travel experiences on a modest budget.