Thinking of planning a holiday or going travelling by yourself? Solo travel is a great way to gain self confidence and explore the world in more depth, doing things that you wouldn’t do when travelling with a friend or partner and meeting people from all walks of life. Solo travel is becoming more popular and some destinations are perfectly catered to trips for one! We’ve assembled our top solo travel tips and advice that covers all aspects of your trip.
Use our solo travel tips to help plan your holiday and make you feel more comfortable venturing out into the world by yourself. We have a feeling you’ll love the freedom!
Solo travel tips before you go
1. The most important thing to do before you go is to book a good quality travel insurance with low excess cover that’s valid in the country you’re visiting. We also recommend getting protection for your phone/gadgets in case you lose them.
2. Learn the basics of the local language in advance with the Duolingo app. It’s excellent for teaching you some easy to remember phrases and you never know when it’ll come in handy.
3. Save up and allocate sufficient cash for your trip. You don’t want to get caught short on the road and want to enjoy your trip to its full potential!
4. Pack carefully and travel light. It’s much easier to get around without a huge suitcase! Don’t forget the essentials such as bug spray, sun cream and medication. Browse our ultimate packing list here for inspiration. ?
Choosing a destination
5. When deciding on your solo holiday destination, consider countries that cater to solo travellers well. Top things to look for include safety, affordability, ease of getting around, whether English is widely spoken and communities of fellow travellers. Check out our top picks for solo holiday ideas here.
6. Do plenty of research into your destination so you’re aware of how to get around, what to do when you arrive at the airport and the top attractions to visit.
7. If you’re travelling for a short holiday of up to 3 weeks, it’s best to have a rough itinerary and to book as much as you can in advance. Time is limited and you’ll want to see and do as much as possible. For longer trips, feel free to go with the flow and book things on the fly for extra freedom.
8. Keep in mind that costs will be higher for you compared to travelling with someone else. Hotels, car hire and some excursions are items where you’ll need to cover the full cost.
9. Going on your first solo holiday? Why not try a short city break to Lisbon, Vienna, Barcelona or Berlin? All of these cities are great for solo travel and will give you a sample of what solo holidays are like before you plan something big.
10. Don’t be afraid to pick a destination that you’ve already been to and are comfortable with for your first solo trip. It can be a completely different experience by yourself.
Our top solo travel tips for where to stay
11. Hostels are a great way to meet other travellers, many of them who are also travelling solo. Always research the reviews for a hostel before booking. Location, cost and the social activities/ages at the hostel are all super important.
12. Many hostels also offer private rooms and not just dorms. If you want your own space but also like the social idea of a hostel, private hostel rooms are perfect! They cost more money than a dorm but are still cheaper than hotels.
13. Don’t feel obliged to stay in hostels. If you want a few nights in a luxury hotel or a private AirBnB apartment where you can cook, go for it! Taking time out from the hostel scene will recharge your batteries with a good night’s sleep and you can have all the swimming pool relaxation and spa time that your heart desires!
14. Always lock up your belongings in hostel private lockers or the hotel safe. Keeping your possessions secure, especially your passport and cash, will help reduce any holiday headaches.
15. Have you ever heard of Couch Surfing? It’s a cool accommodation idea where you stay with a local at their home/apartment for free or a very cheap price. Check out their website here. Many solo travellers swear by it and it’s a great way of meeting knowledgeable locals! Just be sure to choose a host with good reviews and plenty of previous guests.
16. Ensure that the accommodation you’re booking has free WiFi. It’s essential for staying in touch with friends and family back home and researching your destination.
17. Having your first meal alone in a restaurant can be a big challenge. Ignore those thoughts at the back of your mind that tell you you’re weird for eating alone. It’s a normal part of travel! Business travellers do it, solo travellers do it and you can do it too with ease. If you’re really nervous about eating alone, try to choose somewhere quiet and casual for the first time.
18. A big part of hostel culture is meeting other travellers in the common areas and planning dinner out together. Simply ask what others are doing for dinner and chances are you’ll be able to join a small group or another traveller at your hostel will happily check out the restaurant with you.
19. Many hostels offer group ‘family’ dinners on an evening, where everyone comes together and pays a one-off fee for drinks and delicious local food. Research hostels in the area that offer this perk – in our experience it’s excellent!
20. Use the kitchen facilities of your hostel or apartment to cook your own meals. It’s a cheap way to eat and you can get creative with local ingredients.
21. Take advantage of fast food street stalls and restaurants for cheap and easy food on the go. It doesn’t have to be unhealthy either! There’s usually fast food across a variety of cuisines if you look around. We recommend TripAdvisor’s ‘Cheap Eats’ feature.
22. If you really like a restaurant and feel comfortable eating alone, eat there more than once! You can chat to the staff and try new things on the menu.
23. Eat earlier in the evening for less crowds.
24. Eat by the bar and strike up a conversation with the bar staff if they’re not too busy.
25. Join a group cooking class and learn to make local dishes alongside others. You’ll eat as one large group on a communal table and will improve your cooking skills.
Exploring your destination
26. Join organised tours to explore the local sights with other like-minded travellers. Tours are both a great way to meet people and gain insightful knowledge about an area from a local. They can be multi-day guided itineraries or short day or half-day excursions and you’ll find them in almost every tourist destination around the world. Check out Viator for day-trips, or Tour Radar for multi-day trip itineraries.
27. Always check tour reviews before booking tours. We recommend TripAdvisor! You may also want to shop around to find the best price and see what type of crowd the tour attracts. Some tours will have a younger ‘budget traveller’ crowd, whilst others cater to history lovers and sometimes couples. Choose the best fit for you!
28. Whilst tours are great at meeting others and sharing your experience, we also recommend exploring yourself. It’s relaxing, enlightening and you’ll truly get to appreciate your surroundings without any distractions. Go on a solo adventure to an ancient temple or have an early breakfast and head out for some sunrise sightseeing in the city.
29. Venture off the beaten track and uncover the less explored areas of your destination. The top tourist sites are great, but sometimes you can have a more thrilling experience seeing something less frequented. Every place has its hidden gems!
30. Planning on visiting a popular attraction such as the Roman Colosseum or Sagrada Familia? Book tickets online in advance and secure a queue jump. It’ll save you wasting hours standing in queues by yourself. The same goes for busy restaurants and booking transport.
31. Get up early to explore your destination at your own leisure. Being by yourself, you don’t have anyone else’s schedule to worry about and can do what you want, when you want! See the top attractions early-morning when they’re not too busy.
32. Familiarise yourself with the local transport system. It’s a lot more affordable when travelling by yourself over getting a cab and it’s sometimes quicker.
33. Try to travel light with one bag so you don’t have to worry about waiting around for luggage or accidentally forgetting a bag.
34. Be wary of your personal space and belongings when using night coaches or buses. Try to sit in an open area at the front of the bus.
35. If you’re really unsure where you’re going or it’s late at night, pay the extra cost for an Uber or taxi. It’ll get you home quickly and safely.
36. Use Uber (or a similar taxi app) over the local taxi service where available. Journeys are tracked and drivers are registered, often making it safer than a standard cab. There’s also less chance they’ll rip you off!
37. Leave plenty of time between modes of transport and always arrive at the airport/train station/bus station with plenty of time to spare before departure. The last thing you want is to be stranded alone!
38. Download an offline map onto your Google Maps app for the area you’re visiting. It works without your data signal or WiFi and it’ll help you if you get lost. We also recommend saving key attractions, bars and restaurants as pinpoints on the map. Check out a guide on how to do this here, from our friends at The Travel Hack
39. Pack a fully charged USB battery pack for journeys or when exploring the wilderness. It’ll boost up your phone when the battery ideas and is great for emergencies. We personally use the Anker PowerCore Redux power bank. Solar chargers are another handy gadget to check out.
40. Pack a small day-pack for when you’re out and about. Sun cream, a small towel, water and snacks always come in handy!
41. Travelling alone on a flight is the perfect opportunity to try to grab a free upgrade! Ask if the flight is busy at the check in desk and ask politely if there are any upgrades available. As a solo traveller it’s much easier for the airline to get you a better seat.
Safety tips for travelling alone
42. Take extra care when you’re by yourself. When travelling with a friend or partner, you’ll have someone there to look after you if you get sick, however you may not have anyone to help you if you’re travelling alone. Be wary of what you eat and any potentially dangerous situations and always make a note of nearby hospitals. Try to travel with someone else if venturing into the wilderness.
43. Carry a mini first aid with you that includes basic medication, anti-dehydration sachets and bandages. We personally use this one from Amazon. This is one of our solo travel tips that can be applied to any situation, even when you aren’t travelling alone.
44. Don’t head out alone in the dark and stay in well-lit areas when the sun goes down.
45. When you’re drinking or on a night out, know your limits and don’t drink too much. Try to make friends with other travellers that can watch out for you if planning a night out.
46. Be careful with your cash and bank cards. If you run out of money or lose your card, you won’t have a friend to lend you some money. Always keep some spare cash in your luggage or locked away at your hotel/hostel room.
47. Always keep a couple of friends or relatives back home updated with your whereabouts. Moving destination or planning an evening trek? Send them a quick message to let them know on the rare chance that something happens. Sharing your itinerary with them before you go is also recommended.
48. Make a note of your emergency contact information and keep it in your wallet/purse.
49. Be wary about random strangers trying to sell you something or pestering you on the street. They may seem friendly, but always have your guard up and don’t be afraid to give them a firm ‘no’.
50. In sketchy areas, on busy streets or at night, don’t wear headphones that block out background noise and avoid flashing expensive phones and cameras.
51. Always use safety equipment such as life-vests and helmets where offered and book excursions with reputable companies that have a good safety record. We recommend researching the company online before booking.
52. Never give away too much information about yourself to people you’re meeting for the first time. That can include your full name, where you’re staying and the valuable possessions you’re carrying.
53. Buy a flat-pack money belt such as this one that we use. It’ll fit neatly around your waist, under your shirt and is great for securely storing your phone, money and ID.
Meeting other people when you’re travelling alone
54. Hostels are by far the best way to meet other travellers and a social atmosphere is encouraged. You’ll also find lots of like-minded solo travellers. Strike up a conversion with your dorm-mates, in the common room or during an organised hostel event. Some hostels are quiet and more hotel-like, whilst others encourage a social environment. Check the reviews in advance to get a gist of the hostel vibe.
55. Travelling alone gives you a great opportunity to meet the locals. Ask a local tour guide for tips, chat at the bar or engage with passers by at the market or at an attraction. You’ll usually get a good signal whether someone wants to be approached or not by their initial reaction. Learning a little bit of the local language can go a long way and they’ll respect that you’ve taken time to learn.
56. Being a regular at a café or stopping by a coffee shop to catch up on some social media and emails is a great way to meet others in a relaxed, social environment. Look out for a coffee shop with lots of travellers.
57. Organised tours are our favourite way to meet other people. You’ll be with them for the full day and there are plenty of opportunities for conversation.
58. Join an organised bar crawl with your hostel or the local nightlife promoter. Alcohol makes everyone more relaxed and you can bond over a few pints in a bar. Just don’t get too drunk!
59. Many destinations have travel communities and expat groups online where you can gather tips or arrange a meetup. Search Reddit, Facebook and the Lonely Planet forums for your destination.
60. Finding places to meet others whilst travelling solo is easy. The harder part is striking up a conversation! All of the following are great ways to get the chat flowing and speaking to friendly strangers will soon become natural to you. Our top conversation starters:
- Ask for recommendations about the destination you’re in and ask when they arrived
- Talk about their home country (or yours) and ask questions
- Look out for a familiar accent or someone that speaks the same language and ask where they’re from.
- Ask if they know any cool cafes or restaurants to eat nearby. They may even ask to join you!
- Ask how long they’ve been travelling and if they have any favourite destinations
- Spark up a conversion about something cool they’re doing or wearing. Like their necklace? Ask them where they bought it
- Smile and be friendly! That’s the best advice in any social situation and you’ll look more approachable
61. Not everyone you meet will want to engage in a conversion, and you’ll probably bump into some rude or obnoxious people! Don’t take it personally and simply move on to someone that’s more receptive and friendly.
General solo traveller tips to ensure that you have an amazing trip!
62. Contrary to our previous set of solo travel tips, don’t be afraid to be alone. Spending time alone on your trip is excellent for building character and you’ll be able to find peace with your own company. Spend as much or as little time alone as you wish on your trip. You are travelling solo after all!
63. Ever seen the movie ‘Yes man’? Go on your solo trip with the intention of being spontaneous and saying ‘yes’ to (almost) everything!
64. On a similar note, feel free to say no too if you want to do your own thing and don’t want to participate in a group dinner or activity one day. You’ll find that it’s easy to meet other travellers, but be sure to take a step back and do the things that you came to do too.
65. Being by yourself, it can be easy to use your phone a lot and contact those back home. Try not to spend too much time on Instagram and Facebook. Disconnecting from the outside world a little will help you embrace the solo travel lifestyle, enjoy your trip and make new friends. Keep your phone time for when you’re relaxing in the your room on an evening.
66. Document your trip with lots of photographs and even a daily travel diary. It’ll help you remember your trip in years to come and the people that you met along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask random passers by if they can take your picture.
67. Be cautious but not overly cautious. Being aware of your surroundings and the people you bump into is important, but the majority of trips happen without any issues and you should focus on enjoying yourself at every moment!
68. Don’t wear yourself out, take a break. Get some sleep.
That brings us to an end of our list of solo travel tips! Do you have any of your own insights or handy tips for travelling alone? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below. For inspiration on the best solo holiday destinations to visit, check out our ideas here.