Travel Alone and Love it: 50 tips
Traveling solo? Great! You get to do what you want when you want. You can connect with people if you wish or avoid them completely. When you travel alone, you travel on your terms. Here are some tips offered by other solo travelers so that you can travel alone and love it.
Note: Most of these tips were gathered in a survey of solo travelers. When you see quotation marks, these are the exact words from the survey results.
Before you leave to travel alone.
- Research, research, research.
- Book a homestay, hostel, B&B or small pension as they usually offer more access to friendly locals.
- Choose a destination where you can stay put in terms of your accommodation but have a good variety of day excursions. This way you save money and get to know the locals.
- Pack light – one carry-on if possible so that you can handle your luggage with ease. Read Packing Light.
Concerned about being lonely? Here’s how to meet people.
- Smile. “There is one thing I’ve surely learned…human nature is the same regardless of geography and culture – a smile goes a long way.”
- Learn a few words in the local language. “…just enough to order your favorite meal & a latte which can make a disastrous day into a fabulous one.”
- “Take a book that makes you laugh out loud and hold it so that people can see that you are reading in English. This often attracts people for a brief chat.”
- Visit the same café, fruit stall, restaurant… every day. You’ll get to know the people there.
- Be outgoing yet discerning in terms of who you connect with for more than a conversation.
- Meet people on tours then go for dinner or meet up the next day.
- Be curious. Ask questions.
- If you want to meet other travelers, go far off the beaten path. Travelers that find each other where there are few tourists are more inclined to talk to each other. Plus, you will likely have something in common.
- Wear something that starts a conversation. A themed t-shirt may be all it takes to get connected.
- Dorm or shared accommodation ensures that you will most certainly meet other travelers. A common room is a great place to meet people.
- Develop your people and communication skills.
Going out alone at night
- Taxis there and back are important for safety.
- Stay sober. Drink very responsibly so that you have your wits about you.
- Ask your concierge whether the place you’re planning to go to is fun and safe.
- Inform your hotel where you are going and when you expect to be back.
- Know where your purse is – or better yet, don’t carry one.
Have fun… (read How to Crash the Club Scene Solo)
- Consider dinner/show combinations where you know you’ll be seated with other people.
- If you’re going to a small club, arrive early to ensure that you get a seat at the bar.
- If you’re going dancing and there’s a line up outside the club, look for a group of tourists that you read as safe (they’re not usually too hard to spot). Pop into their conversation. Say you’re on your own and would they mind you joining them – at least until you get inside the club and get your bearings.
- Leave a club if it doesn’t feel right.
- Chat with the bartender.
- If a conversation starts, introduce yourself with your first name only.
- Leave by yourself and by taxi and don’t tell people where you’re staying.
Travel alone by day – including the often dreaded dinner hour.
- Establish a routine. Find a place to have coffee every morning or to buy flowers for your room every other day. People will get to know you and it will be nice to be known. They may have great advice for you.
- Bring photos, candles… to make your temporary home a home.
- Take tours to break the solo routine and meet other travelers.
- Dinner can be one of the most difficult times for the solo traveler. You can:
- Take a book. It will not only occupy you but also signal other solists that you travel alone.
- Ask people who are alone if you can join them. Worst case… they say no.
- Dine in the same place regularly so that you become friendly with the staff.
- Take your main meal at noon when the romantic crowd aren’t out and the prices are lower.
- Eat at the bar.
- Place your camera, travel guide or map on the table
- Read 5 Ways to Enjoy Restaurant Dining- Solo and “Eat Alone and Meet New People“.
1. Local transit
- A half day tour is great for orienting you to the city. After that, walking and local transit give you the best feel for the city.
- If you are going to a non-English speaking country, research how the system works before you get there or ask at your hotel before you head out.
- Look for passes and special deals for tourists
- Train travel is affordable and often very social.
- Overnight trains are time-efficient if you are traveling with time constraints.
- “Consider traveling coach. You meet the most interesting people!”
- If traveling overnight by coach in North America, try to get a double seat to yourself. A carry-on is about the same height as a seat so you can use it to extend the length of a seat and curl up.
- If you can, select your seat so that you are sitting near people who you consider safe.
- Always know where you luggage is.
- Travel with one carry-on so you don’t have to wait in long lines for check-in or wait to pick up your bag. Plus, your luggage won’t get lost.
- Board early so you have no trouble putting your carry-on luggage in an overhead compartment.
- Book your seat in advance for a preferred location.
- Always confirm that your flight is on schedule before leaving for the airport.
- At check-in, ask if the flight is ‘full’ or ‘light’. If it’s light, you may be able to jockey for a better seat.
- If you have a connecting flight, get all the information you need before boarding your first flight to make the connection easily.
- Bring light snacks with you. If there’s turbulence there won’t be service during the flight. Ginger snaps are a good snack and they settle the stomach.
- Check in advance what the driving license requirements are for the country you’re visiting.
When you travel alone, staying in touch with family and friends is very important. Watch for a post on solo travel and technology coming soon.
- Solo Travel Safety: 50 Tips