So many people think that travelling solo is not for them, that they will be lonely or worse, bored! Let me tell you, that so doesn’t need to be the case and this post is full of tips for travelling solo that will have you booking your next trip in no time!
Travel has to be one of the greatest things us, as humans can do for our own sanity, with our time and hard-earned money. I realised this as a young kid, packing all my favourite toys into the back of my dads BMW estate car and heading off on the 3-day journey to France for our summer holiday. I was blessed with countless family holidays, from caravaning in France, to Villas in Italy and even the beaches of The Bahamas, but it wasn’t until I was 24 that I really learnt the utter joy of travelling alone.
I remember the slight hesitation when I first booked my own solo trip, it was just after selling my business and would be the biggest trip I had made to date, 3 months travelling around America and Canada, alone. Those 3 months were just the start, since then I have pottered down to London for several short jaunts. The trip that I really felt ‘alone’ on was Barcelona, no staying with friends and family, no speaking the language, just me, myself and I.
Travelling Solo Tip 1: Research, research, research!
I’d love to think this is an obvious one, but I know as well as anyone, that sometimes there simply doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get all the usual work malarkey sorted as well as spending some quality time researching your next trip. Let me tell you, failing to prepare is preparing to fail, especially when it comes to travelling alone. That may be the most ‘grown-up’ advice I give out and actually live by!
It isn’t just a case of researching your flights and accommodation, branch out, read some city guides, become acquainted with a handful of the wonderful travel bloggers out there, my favourites include The Travelista, Pack Your Passport, As The Sparrow Flies and The Travel Hack. You could always shout out on social media for tips, I got a heap of amazing bar and foodie recommendations from twitter, including Milk the best breakfast I have ever eaten!
Travelling Solo Tip 2: Think outside the hotel box!
I know this sounds odd, but the thing with hotels is simple, you’re alone, and alone whilst travelling solo isn’t always a great idea, certainly not for long periods of time. Sure if you are backpacking around for 3 months then treating yourself to a night in a hotel is a great idea. But put simply, if you stay in hotels all the time you are missing out on one the best parts of travelling solo, meeting new people!
I stayed in the Generator Hostel in Barcelona, and despite being there for all of 50 hours I met and spoke with more people than I ever would in 10 times that amount of time at home or a hotel. Remember, the people in the hostel are doing exactly the same as you, exploring a new place, they feel the same as you, no matter how seasoned a traveller we all get a wobble now and then.
The other great thing about hostels is they are usually run by fabulous locals, have deals on excursions and are a go-to source of local info, whether it’s a bus time-table, a doctor or simply a coffee shop recommendation.
Travelling Solo Tip 3: Think smart
This doesn’t mean no speaking to strangers or only staying in the tourist spots, it does however mean that although you will be having a lot of fun, you need to remember that as a solo traveller, whether male or female, you are somewhat more vulnerable that if you travelled in a group. These few things are worth remembering;
- Take a paper copy of your passport with you and keep it at the place you are staying, that way if your passport is stolen you have a copy with you
- Split your money, I tend to leave 50% back at the hostel, 20% in my bag and 20% in my bra, this I call my ‘ mugger money’ it’s my just in case money, if I am stopped and they want my money I can hand over the amount in my bag, knowing I have more safe and sound
- That being said, if someone tries to steal your bag, let them! Just as at home, you never know how people will behave, it’s much better to have your bag stolen that to be hurt trying to protect material objects
- Don’t drink too much, again this goes for everyone, I don’t mean don’t have fun, but be aware that you are in a new unknown place and there is nothing worst than getting lost at 2am in a strange city, believe me, I’ve done it!
Travelling Solo Tip 4: Make public transport your bitch
Unless you are planning to drive whilst you are away, get to know the public transport asap, although the majority of mainland Europe puts the UK to shame with its super efficient transport network, not all places can boast that.
When you arrive, get a bus and train time-table, find out when they stop running, check the best route back to your hostel or apartment and always keep the right amount of change for the trip. It’s also worth keeping a note of the address you are staying at if you are struggling with a language barrier you can simply show them the address and go from there.
I’m also mastering a small number of phrases in various languages including “where is the train/bus station” – super handy to know to save you wandering around aimlessly!
Travelling Solo Tip 5: Lean into the loneliness
One of the best life skills I learnt whilst I was away, and I am sure most if not all solo travellers would agree, is the ability to not only be ok on my own, but actively enjoy it. I love travelling alone as it means I get to dictate the pace at which I do things, if I want to get up at 7am each morning to make the most of the day I have no one else to disagree with me.
However, there are of course slight downsides, if you want a picture of yourself that isn’t just your face and little culture behind it, or a lot of culture and little snippet of your face then you are going to have to get comfortable asking strangers to take pictures of you. The same can be sad for eating alone, my advice is simple, take a book or magazine, go somewhere busy or if you feel very uncomfortable sit at the bar of a restaurant and eat there, who is anyone else to know you aren’t simply waiting for someone.
Travelling Solo Tip 6: Say yes…
It can be tough to be brave if you’re feeling a little timid, but think of it like this, the more you say yes to things like experiences the more you will have to share with others, the more practice you will get at doing things alone and believe me it’s the biggest confidence booster.
Say yes to excursions you aren’t 100% about, say yes to the girls asking you to go for a coffee in your hostel, say yes to the walking tour of the new city. Say yes, and enjoy the results!
Travelling Solo Tip 7: Write it down
I cannot tell you what joy I get reading through my travel journals, they span cities, countries and continents and a few minutes reading transports me right back in time. It’s easy to believe whilst you are away travelling that you will remember all the places you saw and people you met, and sure photos will remind you, but a journal can be filled with the way those things made you feel, and that is priceless.
So there you have it a few tips to help you ace travelling solo, if you have any of your own please leave them down below!
Ps…if you’re struggling to pack light, I have just the post for you!