Tips On Traveling Alone – Traveling alone can seem difficult from the comfort of home. What happens when things don’t go according to plan? What if you get stranded? Is it safe to go out solo at night? All these questions and more (what will I do if my luggage goes AWOL? What if my car gets stuck in a ditch? Will I be attacked by bandits?) often plague travelers before their first solo trip. To put those fears at bay, read on for our writers and editors’ top 15 tips for surviving solo travel. It will hopefully provide you with what you need to know before you even travel anywhere, and lead you to learn many new things about the world – and yourself.
It goes without saying that pre-solo travel anxieties will depend on what you want from your trip, and what kind of person you are. Do you enjoy being outside your comfort zone, or does the thought fill you with dread instead of excitement? Are you a sociable person who wants to be in the middle of everything? If so, you might go crazy if you can’t communicate, so go somewhere where you speak the language.
Tips On Traveling Alone
Conversely, if you’re traveling solo and more of an introvert, forget about the language barrier. Lively cities are perfect for people watching, especially those with a thriving cafe culture.
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Definitely one of our top tips for surviving solo travel. Take time to consider what you want from your trip, and where you are most likely to get it. For inspiration, and to help you focus on what you want, and how to get it, read our gallery guide to the top 20 places to travel alone.
Visit a homestay or look for a room to rent in an apartment – this gives you an automatic connection with residents if you are traveling alone. As a solo traveler, you have many options to choose from. Even if your landlord doesn’t take you around town, you’ll at least pick up a few local tips. Hostels are also geared towards solo travelers (here’s our pick of the best hostels in Europe), but bear in mind that you might spend more time with other tourists than with locals.
This came up time and time again as one of our writers’ top solo travel tips — being alone for long periods of time can be tough, but just roll with it. You can learn to run your own business along the way.
Or, if you’re feeling social, you can always try to make new friends. For example, offer to take a photo of a family at a big sight, or sit near a chat gang at a bar. This is really one of our top tips for surviving solo travel.
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Sometimes, especially in more welcoming and foreigner-fascinated cultures, the attention you get when traveling solo can be a bit intense. Learn how to say “no, thank you” in the local language, as well as “absolutely not” – plus the local non-verbal gesture for “no”, which is often more effective than either.
Also have local emergency numbers, such as the tourist police, saved in your phone. You’ll probably never need them, but just knowing you have them can give you the confidence to deal with awkward situations, whether you’re on a solo trip in South America, on a trip to Australia, or on the road of Europe.
Making photography a mission, even if it’s just unusual little details you notice about a place, gives structure to your day. Your friends back home will appreciate your perspective and the stories behind the photos. It’s also a great way to reflect on your solo travel adventure and remember what you’ve accomplished.
If you’re aiming to up your Insta game, you might want to look into taking an Insta-focused tour. You’ll find them in every corner of the world, like this photo shoot tour of Oahu, Hawaii, or this Ho Chi Minh City Hidden Gems Instagram Tour—and pretty much everywhere else.
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While the thought of visiting restaurants as a solo traveler may fill you with dread (and you may be tempted to subsist on fast food to avoid awkward situations), put that fear aside. Fancy establishments are fantastic places to dine alone. Waiters are happy to help solo Diners who smile and say: “I made a special trip just to eat here. What do you think?” Social people can eat at the bar, but there is no shame in taking a table for two.
If you are in your food and fancy business at the same time, seek out local taste experiences. Some provide in-depth detail on local delicacies, like this Parisian introduction to cheese and wine tasting, while others blend culture and cuisine, like this immersive sightseeing and home cooking experience in Bucharest. The world is your oyster when it comes to tastings (oysters optional).
If the thought of bar-hopping alone makes you die a little inside, just re-do your day. Wake up early, enjoy a leisurely breakfast (when all the good stuff is still available at the hotel buffet) and head out for parks, museums and other daytime-only activities. If you pack your day full enough, you’ll be ready for bed by 9:00 p.m.
Use Facebook and Twitter to make connections wherever you travel. Offer to take local friends of friends out for dinner, and you’ll be surprised how many people you bring along – everyone seems to be a tour guide for a night. Also look for your interests in your destination. While you may be traveling solo, you don’t have to be a hermit.
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For that purpose, and wherever you are in the world, you can check tours that connect to your interests and the specialties of your destinations – as the saying goes, “when in Rome”. Speaking of which, as an example, when actually in Rome culture vultures could take a guided tour of the old city by experts in the company of other history lovers. Or how about this Secret Roman History LGBT Walking Tour? Footie fans will usually have no problem finding fellow fans of the beautiful game to bond with – from touring the Maracana in Rio, to exploring Barcelona’s Camp Nou (nb solo travelers could make the latter more social by to take a stadium tour with tapas).
You get the idea. Securing a slot on the likes of these trips – doing whatever floats your boat – means you’ll almost certainly be in the company of like-minded folk. A win-win situation.
Even if you get lonely, don’t forget all the things you can do when you travel alone. Some of those benefits are small—whether that means doubling your chips in the guacamole or changing your mind every hour without worrying about making someone mad. But the real bonus of solo travel is much greater: pure freedom. You can take the exact trip you want, and even if you’re still not sure what that might be, you’ll have a great time figuring it out.
Remember that it’s okay to spend the occasional night watching TV in your guest house. You wouldn’t be home every night – it would be exhausting – so why try to do it abroad for several months?
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A smartphone or tablet is a must now there is free wi-fi almost everywhere. Having tech on hand means you can check what you need to know before traveling to your next stop. Among many other things, it means you can book your accommodation in advance and ensure a safe pick-up at your destination. And, if you feel lonely, you can connect to home, read the news and listen to podcasts – perfect for passing the time on long journeys, and a guaranteed way to travel to your destination in interesting company.
Long trips – perfect for planning, podcasts (and catching up on chicken). Image: Devil’s Nose, Ecuador © Shutterstock
It’s easy to get scared traveling alone, and retreating to the pages of a good novel can feel like the perfect way to escape curious stares on public transport or in restaurants. But going solo means you have a chance to really take in your surroundings, meeting locals and travelers along the way. Be content to be by yourself, but confident enough to introduce yourself to people if you want to be sociable.
It’s definitely worth learning a few words and phrases before traveling solo. Just knowing how to introduce yourself, start a basic conversation, order a beer and count from 1-10 makes all the difference. People like to know that you’re trying, no matter how rusty you are. If you’re wondering how to travel just about anywhere and make new friends, then trying the language is a must. If travel opens the mind, learning local lingo is a great way to open doors.
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It goes without saying that traveling requires the right documents and keeping them safe. For solo travelers, that’s even more important – no one wants to be stranded alone and without a visa. So, make sure you have saved the likes of your passport and visa details somewhere safe. For example, email yourself photos of your vital documents.
It is also quite essential to make sure you are insured. Go here to check-out options offered by our World Nomads affiliate partner.