All about solo travel
Have you been thinking of travelling solo?
If you have but still haven’t quite started your adventure or have put it off for one reason or another, it’s time to get started! I was where you are not too long ago, so I’m here to inspire the solo traveller in you! Find a quiet spot as I give you my tips and advice based on my experiences travelling solo. There’s more to come so keep checking back.
Find out all about solo travel now!
8 reasons why you should choose solo travel
If you’re still unsure about whether to travel solo, here’s a few of my top reasons why I think you should take the challenge and book a solo travel trip!
Discover new cultures and interests
I have to say that this is one of the main motivations for solo travel. Not only do you get to see new places, you’re able to discover new cultures, meet new people and potentially develop new interests. Now, that’s not to say you can’t do that with friends or family by your side, but it’s the experience of absorbing it all at your own pace and having the time to reflect without anyone else around. You’ll find you have more time to try new things that you may not have thought of doing or hadn’t the time to do with other travel companions.
During my first few solo trips, I began to realise how much more I enjoyed architecture. I think it’s because I had time to really take in all my surroundings. There’s less distractions as you’re not having continuous conversations with friends or family, trying to keep anyone entertained or look after anyone else. Your mind will be more focused on your plans so you’ll have a better idea of what you want to get out of your trip.
I’m sure once you start travelling solo, you’ll develop an interest further or maybe find a new passion along the way.
A new challenge
Stating the obvious but solo is what it is – you’ll be completely dependent on yourself. Travelling solo is a nice challenge if you’re up for it; being somewhere unknown, navigating and seeking out places to visit and things to see and do. All on your own. It can be quite daunting if you’re used to travelling with others. You won’t have anyone by your side ready to share an experience or ask their opinion. I mean you can phone home, but it’s not quite the same!
You’ll definitely become more self-aware. Every decision you make becomes of greater importance to you. Solo travel requires a level of organisation and a clear view on all the logistics of your trip, and a backup plan of something goes wrong. You’ll be in complete control of everything and free to explore until your heart’s content!
Get out of your comfort zone
Travelling solo allows you to completely get out of your comfort zone. Even if you’ve been doing it for a while, you’re likely to still find something new to try or experience each time. You can try things you’d never have done if you were with friends or try to do something that usually would make you feel uncomfortable.
Prior to travelling solo, I’d never eaten in a restaurant on my own. I’d always pick somewhere less formal or with more of a casual setting like a café bar. I’ve now attempted restaurants quite a few times now. It wasn’t easy at first but I’m more comfortable doing so and don’t hesitate as much when it comes to dining out alone.
Your holiday, your way
Well, this one speaks for itself – you’re traveling alone so it’s automatically your holiday, your way! You can do what suits you when it suits you. You can plan it in advance or do something last minute. There’s no one to check with or consult on where and when you book or do anything during your trip. You can spend all day on a tour, in a museum, lounge at the beach or stay in your room. Perhaps you want to hike up a mountain or shop all day. It’s entirely up to you and that’s the best part! Without the need to plan around anyone else, solo travel allows you to choose where, when and how you want to do anything and everything!
Time to unwind and catch up on you
I’m sure you can agree there are times in your day-to-day life when you barely get a chance to think let alone to do something really laid back because you’re always on-the-go. Solo travel is a great way to take a bit of time out from everyday life. You can relax and unwind and be as lazy as you want. Chill with a book, draw a masterpiece or watch the world go by! It may sound a little selfish, but everyone deserves a little time to relax and unwind – alone.
Meet other solo travellers… and the locals
I’d say one of the cool things about being a solo traveller is that you tend to make more friends than you would if you were with friends and family. You tend to be more approachable when you’re not in a group. When other people see you’re alone they’re more likely to interact with you. So, despite being a solo traveller you don’t always end up alone all of the time.
“Doesn’t this defeat the object of travelling solo?”
No, it really doesn’t. You can still opt to be on your own the majority of the time or choose when you want to be in the company of others. Meeting with locals or other solo travellers opens you up to other cultures, ideas on travel and gives you the opportunity to share experiences. It’s entirely up to you. I’ve met and made friends with a few people while travelling solo, some of whom I’m still in touch with. Honestly, I doubt I would’ve met them at all if it wasn’t for the fact I was travelling on my own.
Conquer those fears!
Use your time alone to do things you wouldn’t necessarily try back home. Have you always wanted to try out scuba diving? You could incorporate a few lessons while you’re away. If you’re afraid of heights use a solo travel trip to help you conquer that fear without an audience of friends and family. You could walk across the Chain Bridge in Budapest, hike Meteora in Greece or go paragliding in Spain. Whatever it may be, solo travel is the perfect time to attempt something new and challenge yourself away from prying eyes.
A sense of achievement
Even if it’s your first time travelling solo or maybe it’s your second, third or sixth, you’ll always feel a sense of achievement when your trip comes to an end. It’s a great feeling knowing that you’ve done something new and different and experienced it alone. You’ve been alone in an unknown place and did so without the help of others. If you enjoyed travelling solo, I’m sure you’d definitely want to do it again!
So, what are you waiting for? What do you have to lose? Just yourself in a new place with a whole load of new experiences!
It’s time to travel solo!
15 solo travel safety tips and advice
Safety while travelling alone is something everyone should not take for granted. You may feel that you’d know what to do if anything happened, but you just don’t know until you’re in a particularsituation and of course, that’s what you want to avoid. Taking a few steps to make sure you’re as safe as possible during a solo travel trip is important. Have a read of my solo travel safety tips and advice.
These may sound obvious but as a solo traveller, there’s no harm in a little reminder to be on the safe side!
Before you go
Plan your destination and accommodation in advance
It’s best to have an idea of how you’ll get to your accommodation before you arrive. Of course you’ll know the area and name of your hotel, hostel or Airbnb where you’ll be staying, but make sure you’ve got a good idea of exactly how you’ll get there – the route to take after arrival. This should be done, especially when arriving at night and taking public transport.
If you’ve not planned where to stay – if you’re backpacking for example – then at least have a few places in mind prior to leaving which you can check out – ideally not isolated and easy to get to.
Check public transport timetables
Not all countries have the same operating hours for public transport. So if you plan to use this check timetables beforehand. Each transport network will have a designated website with timetables and other useful information on getting around.
Investigate the area around in and around your accommodation
It’s a good idea to check out the area where you will be staying and find out if there are comments on how safe the area is. You can do a quick search on neighbourhoods and I’m sure you’ll find something either in a forum like Tripadvisor or similar, even the local tourist website may cover neighbourhoods to be wary of. By doing this you can make sure you have background knowledge on the area.
Let those at home know your travel plans
Even if it’s your first or one of many solo trips, before you leave let someone back home know where you’re going (and staying). Your parents, another family member, friend or even a neighbour – it’s good to have someone in the know just in case. If you’re planning on visiting multiple places, give the country, date of each stop points and the place where you’ll stay. If you’re backpacking and finding places on the go, make sure you let someone know when you reach your destination.
While you're away
Make yourself known to your hosts whether you’re in a hotel or hostel. The more they’re “aware” of you, the more memorable you’ll be to them in case anything happens. It’s always good to know the name of at least one member of staff if possible.
Make sure you have the number or address of where you’re staying in case you get lost and need to contact your hosts in an emergencyor need to get a taxi. Nearest point of interest is good to keep note of.
Carry a map
It may sound slightly old school what with Google map apps or similar, but it’s worth having a paper map with you. They’re usually pocket size so won’t take up space and can come in handy. For me it was when my phone ‘died’. My portable charger battery had finished too. Luckily, I’d picked up a map to refer to and made sure I was headed in the right direction without having to stop. Usually you’ll find someone to ask, but if you can avoid it, why not.
Watch your drink!
It’s an obvious one but keep an eye on your drink at all times. If you leave it unattended, just buy another one.
If you’re female on your own and someone offers to buy you a drink, make sure you go with them to the bar. Even if you’re watching from a distance while they buy it, it doesn’t mean they couldn’t spike it.
Meeting new people during your trip
If you’ve decided to meet anyone at your destination, whether that’s via an app or you’ve met them during your travels, make sure you tell someone at your accommodation who you’re meeting beforehand. If you’ve met them on your travels, you may already shared contact or social details and have their name and profile…basically something to trace. But if you’ve met someone on an app while away, get as much detail from them as possible and make sure you share a name (if possible, a surname too) with someone else at your hotel or hostel.
If things get awkward or you feel uncomfortable, you need to extricate yourself from the situation/location as soon as possible. Make an excuse like going to the toilet to repair your make up or you don’t feel well.
If you can, try to let people around you know that you’re on a date before going, like staff at your accommodation or once you’ve met up tell bar staff of a waiter – you could drop it causally into conversation. That way if you start to feel uncomfortable or show signs of being distressed, they may put two and two together.
Never give out too much detail
If you meet people on your trip (male or female), at some point you may get asked where you’re staying, what you’ll be doing, where you are going next, or when you’re leaving. Never give specific details about your itinerary – that includes your accommodation. Just keep things vague. Even if you’ve made what you feel is a ‘good friend’ that you plan to meet up with during your trip, think about meeting away from where you’re staying.
Keep some cash on you
We’re in a world of contactless payments but it’s always worth keeping some cash on you. You just never know when you may be in a situation where a card won’t help. It’s rare these days, but there are some countries that still use cash as preferred payments.
Don’t accept a lift alone
If you’re in a situation where you need a lift back to where you’re staying, don’t accept this from someone you don’t know or have just met, even if they seem nice. If you’re with at least one other person, as they say, there’s ‘safety in numbers’ but if not make sure you have enough cash or a card so you can take a taxi – no matter the cost.
Is your taxi legit?
If you decide to take a taxi, make sure you pick a reputable firm or hail one from a clearly marked taxi rank. You should also ask your accommodation hosts or hotel receptionist to provide you with one or two names of companies they recommend and keep the number handy.
Don’t hang around in deserted areas. You may take a turn and find yourself in a quiet part of the city, unlit street or down a country lane you thought would lead somewhere. If you feel uncomfortable, turn back and re-evaluate the situation. It’s best to check where you’re heading from a less isolated area.
Know your limits
Enjoy yourself but know your limits. Not out to spoil your fun, but if you’re going to drink remember you’re not in your hometown where things are familiar. This means you’re more vulnerable at a disadvantage to start with. Too many people (men and women) can and are often found slumped on the ground or in a corner so drunk they’re asleep. Be safe and know your limit!
Meeting a stranger via social media
It’s now become quite common for people to meet up via social media apps. While in some instances it works, it’s not always the case all the time. Meeting someone via an app on holiday can be dangerous. You don’t know who that person is; you are taking them at face value and accepting what they tell you as honest and truthful. Make sure you take some security measures to help protect yourself as much as you can:
- You could let a family member or friend track your phone while you’re away.
- Before you leave let someone where you’re staying know you’re meeting someone for the first time. Get them to make a note of this.
- In advance look up where you’re meeting them or make the suggestion yourself on a meeting point so you can try to avoid isolated venues and areas.
- Take a taxi so the driver knows he is dropping you off as you are meeting someone for the first time
- If you feel uncomfortable while there, make up an excuse to leave the situation; go to the toilet; need to touch up your make up; something’s irritating your eye; or you don’t feel well.
Going on your first solo holiday
It’s time to go on your first solo holiday!
You’ve decided to travel solo and now you need to decide where to go. Before you start throwing ideas around, here are a few things to think about before you make up your mind.
Do your research
With only yourself to rely on it’s really important to do as much research as you can in advance for your first solo break. You may want to be spontaneous and see where things take you but it’s best to be prepared.
Don’t just get wrapped up in arranging daytime activities. Consider things to do later on in the day like going to a jazz bar, going on a night river cruise or maybe a night walking tour. Some of these activities won’t need to be booked that far in advance and can be done online. Try to find one activity to do every other night to start with – depending on the length of your trip.
Think of your safety first
There are so many places you could visit but pick somewhere you’d feel safe on your own. That’s hard to know if you’ve not travelled alone before but think about how you’d feel in different places or situations. For example, despite the fact I had some long-haul trips on my bucket list, I didn’t feel comfortable going to any of them for my first solo trip away. I wanted to be closer to home while I got used it being alone.
Apart from looking at accommodation and things to do at your chosen destination, take a closer look at the area. How busy or quiet does it seem at night? Is it near a main road or town? Is it in a secluded area or is there a metro or bus stop nearby? This may seem like obvious things to check, but sometimes you can forget these details and get caught up in where you’re staying and its surroundings. Use reviews to help with your research – solo travellers are more likely to mention whether they felt safe in a particular area. You could also look at the country’s tourist website. One place I’d recommend taking a look at is Nomad List which features visual bar charts of things such as safety, internet and whether it’s female friendly
Start off small and work up to bigger trip
Since it’s your first time travelling alone, start off small. You can choose to stay close to home and explore more of the country you live in or maybe visit somewhere you’ve been to in the past but want to visit again since you were not alone at that time.
To get used to travelling and being alone, why not start with a weekend break away – you could even be a tourist in your own city! Book a hotel or B&B and a few activities to do. Once you’ve given that a go and feeling confident, pick two more places – this time a little further away. Start to build a solo travel list and then you’ve got a travel goal to work towards.
Make your holiday YOUR holiday
It’s great to hear other people’s experiences and advice but you could end up with a list of all the things they’d want or think you should do. While it’s worth taking some suggestions into consideration, try to stick to what it is you want to do and where you want to go. It’s your holiday and your first solo adventure, so remember to make it your own! Make sure your do what feels comfortable for you.
Why not compile two lists; one with the activities and things you want to do and the other with ideas and suggestions from friends or family. This way you can pick and mix and get a bit of everything covered.
What do you want from your trip?
Whether you suddenly decide to travel solo or it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, think about what you want to get out of your first trip. Perhaps you want time alone to think, take stock or revitalise your batteries. Maybe you want to go somewhere and can’t find anyone to go with at that time. Whatever it may be, don’t rush into it with all the excitement.
Think about any words you’d associate with the reasons for going on your trip, for example, relaxing, fun, adventurous, challenge, people, culture and then take the activities or things you want to do and see and match as many as you can with those words. Doing this will help tie what you’re excited about with activities that will give you that feeling. That way you’ll get an even balance and what you want to achieve.
That’s about it! When you decide to do something new it’s always fresh and exciting. It can be easy to lose focus of why you wanted to do it in the first place.
Remember, you’re the main person on your solo trip so make sure you’ll get the most out of it.
Have a look at some other destinations to inspire you to go on your first solo travel trip!