How to Travel Solo: answers to the 5 most common questions
You want to travel.
And for a variety of reasons you don’t have anyone to go with – OR – you choose not to go with anyone.
But, you’re not sure solo travel is for you. What do you do?
Go. It will be okay. I’ll tell you why.
Answering your questions on how to travel solo
Traveling solo is a rewarding and enriching experience. Being self-reliant, you’ll gain confidence and uncover abilities you never knew you had. Being on your own, you’ll discover more about yourself and your interests – you’ll learn how you want to travel. There are many reasons to travel solo at every stage of life. I share these in this free eBook download: “Glad You’re Not Here: a solo traveler’s manifesto”. You may also want to read You Need You as Your Best Friend.
So, now that you’ve decided that you should go solo, here are answers to the questions that just about everyone asks.
Should I go alone or in a group?
If you have traveled before, traveling solo won’t be too much of a stretch. You already know the ropes so, with the information below and more that is found around this site or in my book, you’ll be just fine.
If you haven’t traveled much in the past, joining a group is a great option. The tour company will take care of the details of your trip while you enjoy the journey and learn more about travel as you do. You may even want to tack on a few days at the end of your tour to spend time really on your own. There are a number of tours companies that are great for solo travelers. More and more, companies are offering group tours without a single supplement. Sign up for the Solo Traveler newsletter and you’ll receive the Solo Traveler Advisory of deals on the third Monday of every month.
How do I travel solo and stay safe?
Safety is usually the first concern for new solo travelers. Even those who have taken trips by themselves may wonder about safety when going to new destinations. I know I do!
I’ve written about safety extensively and will give you some links below but, broadly speaking, safety is pretty straight forward. Do some advance research so that you know that your destination is safe generally and what specific safety issues there may be. When you’re there:
- Take the time to learn how the destination works. Be patient with yourself. Stand back and watch.
- Always stay in public as public is safer than private.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Know where you’re going and go with confidence.
- Be cautious of people who approach you but avail yourself on the support of those of your choice.
- Don’t share where you’re staying with others. Your accommodation should also be your safe haven.
- Don’t be afraid to be rude if necessary.
Will I be lonely?
Will you be lonely? Not likely. Solo travel is a very social experience if you want it to be. I meet people all the time as I travel solo. In Paris last month I met a woman on a city tour and we ended by having lunch together. In Chile, I met Noemie on the Navimag ferry and ended up camping with her for a few days. From short encounters to weeks, I meet and enjoy the company of other solo travelers and locals all the time. Here’s how:
- I smile a lot.
- I’m curious and ask questions of people around me.
- I stay in places that are social – primarily B&Bs and hostels.
- I ask open-ended questions and show an interest in what people say.
- I use local greeters when they’re available. Learn more here.
I’m not an extrovert but I have learned how to act like one. Have a read of I’ve Been Rehearsing for this Role my Entire Life.
Where should I go?
Just about anywhere that you would be inclined to travel will be great as a solo traveler too. If you’re new to travel as well as solo travel, take baby steps. Try some place close to home where both the language and the culture are familiar. If you’ve traveled but not solo, the traveling part won’t be a great challenge but being alone may be. I break down how to choose a destination in detail here. You can also check out the Solo Travel Destination section on the site. You’ll find over 100 destinations recommended by readers of Solo Traveler, all of them rated by level of difficulty.
Some of my favorite destinations have been, in no particular order as it’s difficult to declare a favorite:
- The Lake District, England, for the walking, beauty and quiet culture.
- Gerona, Spain for its history and proximity to Barcelona, the sea and three Dali sites.
- Patagonia, Chile for the beauty of the fjords when traveling there and the mountains themselves.
- Montreal, Canada for its lively culture, uniqueness and its proximity to home (if you’re Canadian or American)
- New York City, United States for who can resist this city with a personality that countless films have striven to capture.
Is it expensive to travel solo?
It can be more expensive to travel solo but that is mostly due to accommodation. When you are traveling alone and not sharing your accommodation the cost is double what one of a couple would spend. This additional expense that tour companies incur is usually passed along to their solo traveler clients. However, there ways to save money on accommodation and on other things.
- Consider B&B’s, small inns without the amenities of chain hotels (amenities that you may not use) and hostels. I still use hostels and really enjoy the experience. Or try a vacation rental or a home exchange.
- Look for tours or cruises without a single supplement. Sign up for our Solo Traveler Advisory and you’ll receive options in your inbox every month.
- If you love good food, try special restaurants at lunch. The food will be from the same kitchen and managed by the same chef. You’ll have that special experience for less money.
- The time of year you choose to go will make a big difference. Traveling on the high season is expensive but going on the shoulder or even the low season is an option that will save you a lot of money. Read: The Sweet Spot for Solo Travel: the question of “when”.
You can get lots more tips at 30 Cheap Tricks for Solo Travel