Tackling language barriers, unique customs and completely different ways of life can be quite scary without a travel buddy by your side. However, with a little helpful advice, it’s easy to turn what would be a daunting trip, especially when travelling by yourself for the first time, into an unforgettable experience.
We reached out to some of our favourite bloggers to find out their top tips for travelling alone. If you’re thinking about seeing the world solo, check out their great travel tips before you set off!
Stephanie from Big World Small Pockets
My top tip for travelling alone is to enjoy the company of others, but to also not forget to embrace the solo journey as well. There’s so much to be learned from travelling by yourself that, while it is nice to crew up with others from time to time, it’s also important to be brave and go it alone occasionally too. An adventure into the unknown is what solo travel is all about, so relish the freedom and enjoy not having to commit to anything or anyone.
Remember to soak up the whole experience of solo travel, even the fear and the loneliness, and stay mindful of the fact that this may well turn out to be the valuable travel experience you have. Oh and don’t forget to take a journal too, that way, if you do need to vent to someone or something, you can!
Madelin from Le Monde Entier
I guess my top trip for travelling alone is fairly simple – to really be a more open, honest, adventurous version of yourself. I’ve been known to befriend people in airports, on planes, at bars – all simply by introducing myself. It’s led to not only some amazing adventures but some seriously lifelong friends. An American I met for one night in a hostel when I was travelling in 2008 has already come to Australia and stayed with me last year, and back in 2010 we travelled coast to coast America together – I even spent Christmas with his family!
For women especially, it’s always sensible to be cautious and although we shouldn’t have to, avoiding walking alone in dark areas at night is sadly advisable – better to be safe than sorry!
Ben from Disarm Doors and Crosscheck
Flying solo is one of the great travel experiences. I have fond memories of a solo trip to Berlin many years ago, long before Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. I’m pretty sure I was still using film in my camera. Yep, it was a while ago.
There’s a freedom when you travel solo. There’s no negotiating with companions. It’s just you and your whims. Spot a gemütlich cafe with a pork knuckle special? Get in there and Instagram the sh!t out of it, right?
Now, Instagram and the like are terrific for capturing a moment in time. But let’s face it, that’s really just a this-is-happening-right-now brag. Down the track, you might casually scroll through your photo feed to check likes and comments from followers envious of your pork knuckle wonderment, but does it actually take you back? Does it make you feel the way you did on that day? Unlike when you’re travelling with a buddy, you haven’t got anyone to share that experience with. There’s no “Remember that time when…” conversation in your future, is there?
But there’s an old school, analogue way to “Remember that time”.
Send yourself a postcard. A proper one. Choose a card, write a short message to yourself, lick the stamp and send it on its way.
With luck, it’ll arrive long after you return home. Imagine your grin when you pick it up, flip it over and read the words you wrote that day. There might even be an oily, pork knuckle smudge in the corner that rips you right back to that gemütlich cafe counter.
The rest is simple. Wander inside, read the card again, flip it over and pop it with all the others in your postcard jar.
My other tip? Get a postcard jar.
Jean from Holy Smithereens
I always prepare for the worst case scenario when travelling solo. Before I leave, I make sure to photocopy or scan all my passport and credit card details (and all other relevant id’s), email them to myself and to my husband or friend who I know I can easily reach out to should the worst case scenario happen.
I also give a couple of people my exact and full itinerary, down to the date and time of when and where I should be arriving, and check in on them when I’ve arrived.
Also, now is not the time to do ‘live’ social media updates. I delay it as much as I can by 1 or 2
days. You will be surprised by how easily you can be tracked.
There are many other tips I have but lastly, as tempting as it may be to listen to music because you are alone, do not wear headphones in public areas. You always want to be in a prepared state of mind when travelling alone.
Yes, these tips make it sound like travelling alone can be daunting, but it’s not. Do it often and it will be habit forming. A lot of precaution must be taken, but travelling solo is extremely rewarding.
Kat from Kat is Travelling
Before I travelled solo, I always had everything planned out before my trips, but my top tip now would be to not do that. Of course book anything essential in advance, but I found that travelling solo allows you to meet so many different travel buddies and they will inevitably cause you to change your plans. If you’ve booked to stay somewhere for a certain amount of time or booked your next accommodation and travel to the next destination weeks in advance, then you’ve closed off the possibility of travelling with a new friend you might meet.
I’d suggest booking things a couple of days in advance if it’s reasonable (obviously if you’re going somewhere at the height of season and there’s a particular attraction need tickets for then you’ll need to plan in advance!). Travelling solo is so liberating because it gives you the freedom to go where you want, when you want on your own terms so don’t tie yourself down before you’ve even got started.
Megan from Mapping Megan
When you’re travelling alone, the best way to avoid trouble is to act like a local. Thieves primarily target tourists, so research your destination before you go and try to blend in. In places like Medellin, Colombia, for instance, locals don’t wear shorts or hats. So why wear shorts and make yourself as a “gringo” target. You may as well wear a sign in Spanish saying “mug me please”. Yes, the city gets hot during the day. But you can wear thin long cotton pants and still avoid being an obvious target.
Most importantly, if you are travelling in a Muslim country the dress code becomes even more conservative for both guys and gals.
It is better not to wear any kind of flashy jewellery that draws attention to yourself or which you cannot afford to lose. Feel free to leave your most expensive camera at the hostel/Airbnb and take your iPhone/smart phone instead. The reality is you’re not going to come across the kind of scenery which requires photography with a DSLR every day.
It also helps to learn some basics of the local language. This will help you to communicate with the locals and also know how to ask for help in case if you come across any bad situations.
Rain from Words and Wanderlust
There is no better formula in solo-travelling than ensuring that you have easy access to information.
When travelling alone, I find it best to stay in hostels as opposed to hotels. Hostels are teeming with solo travellers who, most likely, are just as hungry for travelling the most cost-efficient but most adventurous way possible, like I do.
Whenever possible, I stay in dorm rooms, as it is a surefire way to meet fellow wayfarers, who are a wealth of helpful information. I also raid the bulletin board for opportunities to split cost in tours, share transportation or do side gigs to top up the travel fund. This is particularly helpful as straight-up solo travelling can be quite costly.
I also hang around the hostel lounges to socialise and exchange travel tips with other hostel guests. Often, I find myself changing travel plans following tips I learn from other travellers’ solo travel experiences.