How to Travel Solo
There are many good reasons that stop people from traveling, but one that isn’t very good is that they don’t have anyone to travel with. Traveling solo can be a fun and exciting way to experience new destinations and broaden your horizons and I want to share with you my tips on how to have a wonderful time traveling on your own.
People generally have two big fears that stop them from traveling solo: safety and loneliness. Safety is always an issue when traveling, whether solo or with others, but it does seem more daunting when you’re alone. Loneliness is a feeling that solo travelers have to deal with a lot, but it’s easy to beat with the right attitude.
How to Stay Safe
In terms of safety, the first thing I would recommend to a solo traveler is to pick your destination wisely. I’ve traveled a lot around westernized countries, like Europe, Asia, and Australia, and I’ve never felt that they were more dangerous than the average American city. In addition, popular tourist destinations, like Southeast Asia, are busy enough and have a solid infrastructure that safety isn’t a huge worry.
The most important thing to remember is to always keep your wits about you. This means keeping an eye on your bags, locking up your valuables, and not broadcasting that you’re a tourist. If you need to check your map, don’t do it in the middle of the street. Walk with purpose and try to blend in with the locals. Personal safety is really a matter of common sense, whether you’re at home or abroad.
How to Deal with Loneliness
The second fear that solo travelers have is loneliness. It’s scary to be out in the world all on your own, but it’s exciting too. In my trips, I’ve really learned to look at solo travel as an opportunity to meet new people and to be open to making new friends. If the thought of chatting up strangers is too daunting, I recommend staying in hostels or joining independent traveler tours.
Hostels are probably my favorite way to meet new people on the road. There are always a lot of other solo travelers staying in hostels and everyone is usually friendly and eager to meet fellow travelers to share stories and tips. From the dorm rooms, to the lounges, or the kitchen, hostels always have lots of places to strike up a conversation and get to know someone new.
The other option to meet people is on tours. I’ve taken a few day trips out of major cities and even a multi-day backpacker tour around Scotland and have usually met great people along the way. Make sure you choose a tour company that fits your travel style so that you can meet people who are more likely to be in your age group and share your interests.
At the end of the day, what I like best about solo travel is that it really challenges you to get outside your comfort zone. Taking solo trips has taught me to be much more outgoing and more open to new experiences. With a dash of common sense, a willingness to make new friends, and a big appetite for adventure, a solo trip might just be the trip of a lifetime.
Solo Travel Books
Solo Travel Links
- Lonely Planet
My favorite travel guides. Their site has a lot of basic info on each destination to get you started. Check out the Thorn Tree forum to ask more specific questions and connect with other travelers.
This is my favorite hostel booking engine. They list tons of hostels for every destination, and they have lots of reviews so that you can find a clean, safe place that fits your style.
- GAP Adventures
They're a tour company that does backpacker and independent traveler tours around the world. Most travelers that go with these kinds of tours are under 35, and a lot of them go solo.
- Intrepid Travel
Another good independent travel tour company. Going with one of these companies is also a great way to avoid the hassle of figuring out transportation and lodging.