There are a lot of obvious benefits to travelling alone. You get to choose your destination, where you stay and for how long. You get to choose what sights you want to see and where you want to eat without compromise. You don’t have to wait around for someone to try and get the same week off work, especially if they work shifts and don’t get a rota until the night before.
Travelling alone also helps you grow as a person. You will probably spend more time alone which gives you time to reflect upon what makes you happy, what you want with life and what is important to you. It helps you to become confident and believe in yourself.
So here are some tips that helped me when I have travelled solo.
1. STAY SAFE
This is the most important point. Try not to travel alone in the dark especially if you are unfamiliar with your the destination. Know and respect the culture of the place you are visiting. Have money stored in several different places and hide valuable possessions if it isn’t possible to leave them at home. Make sure you know the number of the emergency services.
2. Learn a little bit of the language
This one is difficult to do if you’re visiting several countries at once but if you’re only going to one or two places then knowing a few words will be beneficial. Hello, goodbye, please, thank you and help can get you a lot further than you think. Most people are often willing to help and they are more likely to make an effort if you have learned their language.
3. Know where your accommodation is
And make sure that it has a 24hr reception if you are arriving late in case of delays. Take it from someone who walked around in a circle for half an hour trying to find their hostel, look it up on a map before you go. Print or screenshot directions and the map so even if you don’t have internet, it will already be on your phone.
4. Don’t feel guilty about your itinerary
If you want to visit every tourist attraction that’s fine. If you want to sit in your hotel room all day that’s fine. If you want to eat McDonalds that’s fine to because sometimes we just need free WiFi. It’s your trip and there is not a right or wrong way to travel.
5. Pack light
There is nothing worse than arriving in an unfamiliar destination and having the added stress of carrying heavy bags. Navigating train stations and busy streets with lots of bags isn’t fun. You need a lot less than you think so don’t bring too much.
6. Know why you are going
This doesn’t have to have a really significant meaning but knowing why you are travelling can really help you make the most of your experience. If you want to see the world then you know to pack as much as you can into your itinerary. If you’re taking some time out to relax then make time for that. If you are trying to get over a break up then cities like Paris are best to be avoided until you feel comfortable enough to be around lots of couples again.
7. Bring a book
Bring something with you to keep yourself entertained when you have nothing to do. Books are also useful if you are eating alone and you feel awkward about it. It can also serve as a conversation starter.
8. Don’t feel shy about eating alone
I have worked in a few cafes and pubs and I have never felt any different when serving a solo diner and serving a group of people. A lot more people go somewhere to eat alone than you would think so don’t feel bad about it.
9. Hostels are perfect for meeting new people
If you don’t want to spend all of your time alone then book into a hostel. They always have a social event going on but you will also get talking with people in the same room as you. Saying hello can go a long way. It’s also a good way of finding out about your destination as many will have already spent time there.
10. Organised tours
If you can’t face staying in a hostel then an organised tour is a good alternative. You get to meet other travelers with similar interests so you instantly have something to talk about.
11. Keep in touch
Apps like Whatsapp have made it easy to connect to others so take advantage of them to keep friends and family up to date, even if it is to shamelessly brag about your trip #soblessed.
12. Trust your intuition
If you feel like something isn’t right then trust your instincts and make sure you keep safe and remove yourself from the situation.
I will update this post often with more tips that may be useful. Please share any tips you have in the comments as well. I would love advice from other travelers.