Thinking about going on a solo travel trip? Here my top tips and hacks to prepare you for your trip and make for a great first solo adventure!
There are generally 4 questions I get from people when they hear me talk about one of my solo travel trips.
You can watch my video Q&A about solo travel tips for women, or read my advice below.
Should You Travel Solo?
Well first off, you get to go where you want. No one else is making you do something you don’t want to do!
Maybe your friends and family can’t take the time off. Don’t miss the opportunity because someone won’t go with you.
Or… Maybe you just need some down time! And that’s perfectly OK.
My favorite reason is that you tend to meet more people when you are traveling alone, and you won’t likely be traveling alone for long. When you travel with someone else, you are less likely to talk to strangers at a café or strike up a conversation with someone on a tour. I met someone I dated for a couple years on The Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg, Austria. You just never know whom you will meet.
I find my senses are always heightened when traveling solo. I hear more, see more, taste more and I am more aware of things around me. Heightened senses lead to heightened experiences, and I’ve had some of my best experiences traveling solo.
What Are Some Tips for Traveling Solo?
Pack light. Bring only what you need. You don’t have anyone to watch your luggage while you go to the bathroom. The more gear you have, and the more cumbersome you are, the more you become a target for theft.
Make sure to use luggage that keeps at least 1 hand free, like a backpack. (Here’s the one I use). You’ll need that extra hand for things like your phone with GPS.
Pack more of the essentials and worry less about your clothing. When traveling alone, you’ll need to have everything yourself from Band-Aids and ibuprofen to an umbrella and snacks.
Make sure to leave some of your itinerary open and fluid. The tighter your schedule, the more stressed you are, and the more chance there are for mistakes and mishaps. Besides, you never know who you might meet, and you never know where you might end up. My story: I was traveling alone through Egypt, and I met two Australian girls on a feluccatrip. Well, one fell in love with the felucca caption (they are now married with kids), and the other needed a new travel buddy. I became that travel buddy, and together, we learned to dive in Dahab, saw the tombs in Luxor by donkey and also spent 2 weeks in Israel.
How Can I Be Safe While Traveling Solo?
- Act confident and smile. Happy, confident people don’t looked stressed and are less likely to be a target. Stay alert, and aware of your surroundings, and be careful about drinking too much, or partying too much. When traveling solo, you want to keep your wits about you.
- Look like a local. When traveling solo, it’s more important to blend in with the crowd; downplay your clothing and take extra care to respect the culture by dressing as the people do in that country. I’m not saying ditch your cut offs for a burka, but don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself. Expert tip: And you girls will love this; buy shoes from the country you are visiting.
- Don’t carry all your money and passport with you, and if you are moving locations, spread your money and credit cards among all your luggage. By doing this, if you get robbed, it’s less likely you will lose everything.
- Make sure you have an in case of emergency person in your phone. If something happens to you, and you don’t have any ID on you,
- Put your itinerary in a google doc along with a copy of your passport and copies of your credit cards. Make sure to include hotel phone numbers in your itinerary. Share this google doc with your in case of emergency contact and trusted friends or family.
- If you ever feel uncomfortable, step into a store, and ask for help. Do not risk your personal safety. Also, if you ever get mugged, let them have your bag; again, it’s not worth your personal safety. And remember, you won’t be carrying all your money and credit cards with you.
- Don’t arrive too late in the evening to your new location when traveling solo. It’s best to arrive during daylight hours as it’s easier on you, less expensive than after hours arrivals, and you are less likely to run across bad people.
To sum up safety as a solo traveler, just be smart about what you are doing. Keep a good head on your shoulders, and pay attention to your surroundings. I’ve traveled to more than 35 countries solo, and have rarely had a concern.a
How Do I Meet People While Traveling Solo?
Think differently about your accommodations when traveling solo; make sure to book accommodations where you will meet people. I find Airbnb’s the loneliest and the most difficult to maneuver when traveling solo. I personally prefer B&B’s and smaller with community breakfasts. Another great option is hostels. I personally choose private rooms in more expensive hostels, as I’m no longer a 20 year old backpacker. My story: I met a grandfather & granddaughter traveling through Thailand for her graduation gift at breakfast one morning, and we spent the next 2 days together seeing the sights of Bangkok from crazy food stalls to Patpong… (that’s a whole other story!)
Great ways to meet people include grocery stores, especially little markets near the tourism hubs of cities. Try street markets or food trailers that have seating, and ask to join a stranger at a picnic table. I also love to eat at restaurant bars instead of sitting solo at a table. Some cultures think it’s a bit strange for a woman to eat at a restaurant bar alone, but hey, respect their opinion, and ask for the bar seat anyway. Put yourself in situations where you have the opportunity to meet people.
Start your travels with an organized tour. You’re likely to meet some other amazing solo travelers who might want to join forces after the tour. (link vespa tour video/article)
I almost always book a food & wine tour my first night in a new country/city. Breaking bread is the best way to meet new people, and you always meet interesting fun people on food & wine tours. (pick on in ibiza)
Final Words of Solo Travel Wisdom
The more you travel alone, the better you get. Give yourself some grace, and take it easy on yourself. You will get lost, you will make mistakes; traveling solo takes practice. Remember, like anything else mastery takes 10,000 hours, but oh what fun you will have becoming a master of traveling solo.
Have more questions for my Q & A series? Leave them in the comments below!
Explore, have a blast and enjoy the ride!
Have you ever thought people were crazy for traveling solo? or has your family told you, you were crazy for wanting to travel solo?
Well, I’m Kim, the abundant traveler and today I’m going to share some tips and tricks for traveling solo.
So, I’ve been to more than 50 countries and at least 30 of them I was traveling solo. I can’t ask the same for questions all the time about traveling on my own, number one: why the heck would you do it? Number two: how do you stay safe when you’re traveling solo? Number three: what are some tips if you’re going to take your first solo trip? and number four: how do you meet people when you’re on the road?
Well, let’s dispel the first question: why the heck would anyone travel alone?
The easy answer is you get to do what you want when you want and how long you want. You’re the only decision-maker, you get to do what you want all of the time.
Secondly, your friends and family might not have the time or financial means to go on the trip with you, do not miss the trip just because you have to go on your own. My personal favorite reason to travel solo is I end up meeting the most interesting people from all over the world, I have friends in Australia, Austria, Norway, China, all because I was traveling solo and I didn’t have somebody else to talk to you, so I had to strike up a conversation with a perfect stranger.
Number two: tips for taking your first solo trip. Definitely pack light, I suggest bringing a backpack and a small carry-on that way you have your hands-free for using your GPS to get directions, remember when you’re traveling solo, there’s nobody that’s going to watch your stuff while you go to the restroom in the airport or anywhere else. With your packing, I suggest that you carry more essentials and less fluff. Again, you don’t have a friend, that’s going to have a bad day for you when you get a blister. I also suggest making your itinerary relatively fluid, yes definitely plan out the first couple of days, so when you get there you know where you’re headed and you’re not and trying to figure everything out, but after that leave a lot of open time, as you meet people on the road, they may suggest that you go to another location where you thought you were going here and they say go here and it sounds much better to go where they’re going, it’s less stress when you keep an open itinerary.
Number three, safety tips. When you’re traveling solo, the number one thing you can do is smile and act confident, acts like you know where you’re going, even when you don’t which happens quite a lot. If you’re smiling and you’re walking confidently down the street, you’re less of a target for theft. I also think that acting and looking like a local as best as you can is also very, very important, you need to be respectful of the culture. And something that’s super important for all travel whether you’re traveling solo or not, it’s don’t take all your money and all your ID with you at one time, in case you do get robbed, you won’t lose everything, leave a little money here, put a credit card in this bag, leave some of it in a safety box at the hotel or at the Airbnb, don’t carry everything then you won’t lose everything. And my last safety tip is pay attention to what time you arrive at your destination, things are much safer and easier to get around at 3 O’clock in the afternoon than they are at 3 O’clock in the morning.
The fourth and final question is how do I meet people when I travel solo. Well, in all reality, I meet people the same way I do at home, I might go to a restaurant bar, sit down by myself, make sure that I leave a seat vacant here on either side, you never know who might sit down next to me. I might go to the grocery store and linger just a little bit longer or ask my fellow travelers: ‘Hi, Hey, where’re you from strike up a conversation’. A great way to meet people is through your accommodation, for me personally, I like to choose small B&Bs that have a community breakfast or a more expensive hostel that has a community area, I also get a private room in a hostels these days or pick small boutique hotels that you’re going to run across people. Some final words of wisdom about traveling solo get help there and go, do not wait, take the plunge, be brave, it gets easier yes you’re going to make mistakes when you start, yes it’s going to seem hard, but the experiences and the adventures that you’re going to have on your own way out way the fear in the beginning.
I’d love to hear your tips for traveling solo, so please leave a comment below, I’m Kim, the abundant traveler, click Subscribe and I look forward to seeing you on the next adventure.