The thought of solo travel can be daunting, but the experience can be one of the most liberating things you will ever do.
Why travel solo?
There are several reasons why people choose to travel alone; lack of other options (in no way as depressing as it sounds), setting your own schedule and spending quality time with yourself are all valid reasons for taking a solo trip.
Perhaps you have always wanted to try skiing or go on a walking holiday, but can’t find anyone with the time or the inclination to tag along? Don’t let this put you off, if you like the idea of travelling with others there are plenty of options out there.
Why not try a group tour with other like-minded travellers? This can be a great option for those travelling on their own for the first time, or for those who like socialising and meeting new people.
Pros of a group holiday:
- No mandatory single supplement – usually you have the option of sharing a room with another person to avoid the single room supplement that can make a big difference in price.
- You get to meet new, like-minded people
- Planned itinerary – takes the hassle out of planning your holiday
Cons of a group holiday:
- Less independence and spontaneity, timetables are usually fairly strict for group tours so there is less chance to do your own thing
If, however you love the idea of getting out there and doing your own thing, and want the flexibility that that entails, then the possibilities are endless.
Pros of a solo holiday:
- Maximum independence – do what you want to do, when you want to do it
- A sense of achievement – travelling alone can give you a real confidence boost and make you more self-reliant
- Socialise when you want to socialise
Cons of a solo holiday
- Can be more expensive due to single room supplements
- You need to take responsibility for your own travel plans
- There can be lonely moments on the road
Ten tips for travelling alone
If you’re thinking of going it alone, here are some of our favourite tips on how to travel safely and get the most out of your trip:
Learn the lingo
Try and memorise a few phrases in the local language, they can really help open doors. Download the google translate app for help with reading signs and menus – its an essential tool for travellers as you can scan or take a photo and it will translate instantly what you need to know.
Learn to only pack what you absolutely need to take, it’s no fun lugging a suitcase or backpack around when you’re trying to figure out where you’re going. Travelling with minimal luggage is about as liberating as travelling alone. Who are you trying to impress anyway?
Make sure to arrive during the day
This goes without saying, try to avoid arriving in an unknown location late at night. As well as being safer, you’re also more likely to be able to find your way around. If its unavoidable make sure you have made advance arrangements for getting where you need to go with a reputable company. If you’re not sure about a certain area, then don’t go. Always go with your gut.
Stay in accommodation with other solo travellers
If you’re going on a break specifically geared towards solo travellers, you’ll likely be staying in the same hotel or even in dorms. However, if you’re going on holiday on your own you may want to consider B&Bs or hostels as these will provide you with greater opportunities to meet fellow solo travellers. You can share your experiences and take tips from each other; you might even spend a few hours visiting things together.
Bring a book
If you don’t like the thought of eating alone in a café or restaurant, then take a book along. Not only are they entertaining company, but they are also a good non-verbal signal (better than a phone) if you're not in the mood for talking to anyone. If you are so inclined bring a journal to jot down any thoughts, experiences or impressions of your trip – it can really help to jog your memory in years to come.
Photocopy your passport
Leave a copy with a friend/relative, and a copy in your suitcase, just in case. Make copies of other important documents like driving licence, travel insurance and any paper tickets or reservations. Also make sure you have some of your emergency contacts written down somewhere just in case you lose your phone.
Let others know your itinerary
Leave a copy of your itinerary with the same friend or relative. If you don’t have a detailed itinerary and haven’t booked all your accommodation, make sure you keep them up to date with your whereabouts, including the name and address of your accommodation, as and when you book it.
Make sure you have travel insurance
Yes this applies to all travellers, but it bears repeating, for further info on this topic see our travel insurance guide.
Take all the photos you like
Why not take a million selfies if that’s your thing? Just try not to get in anyone’s way, make sure you’re in a safe spot and don’t take out an expensive phone or camera unless you’re confident that you’re in a safe area. Also don’t take photos of others unless they give you their consent (seems obvious but bears repeating).
Revel in it
Don’t lose sight of why you chose to travel alone in the first place, revel in the freedom to make your own path and your own decisions!
Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below