One of the questions I get asked the most as a solo traveller is “how do you do it” and “can you provide me some tips.” In this post I aim to provide a list of tips for those new into solo travelling or those who have experienced it beforehand.
Before we head into the many tips I have learnt through travelling circa 45 countries (and countless more cities) as a solo traveller is that these are things that I have learnt over time. When I first went solo abroad I wish there was a blog post like this, everything I have learnt and experienced was new to me and I continually learn whilst solo travelling.
Another thing I’d like to bring up is that I am extremely fortunate to be able to explore the world whenever I like with great freedom – there are millions of others whom have never had the chance. Finally as a female and person of colour I am frequently asked if these factors are barriers to solo travelling – and let me tell you from first hand experience that they have not yet brought major troubles to me.
Tips for Solo Travellers
The below are in no means any order of importance, just in order they came out of my mind whilst writing this:
- Go with an open mind. Leave any thoughts you have of a country, culture, customs, cuisine etc at home. I have come across a large array of cultures and people whilst staying in hostels or other travellers I have met on walking tours and locals etc. This also ties in with respecting and learning about others cultures such as dressing appropriately in certain countries or religious sites. For example whilst staying on local islands in the Maldives, T-shirt’s and trousers must be worn to respect local customs.
- Stay in hostels. I am a big advocate for staying in hostels as a solo traveller, in order to meet like minded people who are in a similar position to you. From people I have spent just a morning walking around a city with to those I have made great friendships with and met up with in other countries hostels have allowed me to ensure I am never truly solo. There are now many hostel options including “poshtels” which are fancy hostels, those with female only dorms and those that provide free dinners which are extremely social able and a great way to meet people.
- Some of my favourite hostels to date include:
- Home Lisbon, Portugal. Stayed here no fewer than 3 times – an extremely welcoming hostel where, as the name suggests, you do feel like home. They have a daily dinner with the adorable grandma hosting and you feel like a family with the fellow travellers. They also organise day trips to Sintra, which I booked on and recommend.
- Ostello Bello, Milan – well located and welcoming who also host dinner which is a great way to meet people. There’s a complimentary drink upon arrival and have a range of games which we played in the evenings. They have a few hostel locations including Lake Como
- Hostel Villa Angelina, Dubrovnik, Croatia – located in the centre of the city. The hostel organised a sunset trip to a cliff which you get to meet everyone staying in the hostel and organise a boat day trip to nearby islands. The worst part was leaving.
- Other notable hostels I have stayed include Hostel Chillout in Warsaw, Bunkyard Hostels, Sri Lanka and the calming Tree House Hostel in Riga, Latvia.
- Plan your trip itinerary but allow for flexibility. Before catching your flight read up about your destination and what there is too see there and what interests you. Save these places of interest, cafes, restaurants to your Google Maps so you can refer back to them whilst there. Useful information can be found via blogs, books and websites. However one thing I’ve learnt is to allow for flexibility and not tire yourself out. An attraction may have to close earlier or sold out, or you may find our via your accommodation receptionist better alternatives to your plans.
- Also find out what events are taking place – for example my second visit to Venice was during the start of Carnival and my visit to Madrid was during open museum weekend which allowed for free entry into the museum and Palace!
- Try not to over schedule and tire yourself out. Going with the flow and freedom are some of my favourite aspects of solo travel
- Set out Plan B incase your original plans fail such as a museum being shut or flight being cancelled
- A few basic words and phrases in the local language go a long way – even in popular tourist areas. Knowing words such as please, thank you, hello have never failed to leave a positive mark with receptionists, waiters and supermarket staff. Phrases such as asking for directions, buy train tickets can be vital to you.
- Have your wits about you. Travellers are often a target for petty crime such as pickpocketing and this does extend to solo travellers. Tips such as buying a bag with zips and flaps which make it harder to open, and placing your bag in front of you whilst walking / on public transport are things I do here in London and continue to do when abroad. Be vigilant and if you do not feel safe do something about it such as walking in busy and lit areas. Use the lockers provided in hostels to keep your valuables safe.
- Enjoy yourself! Go with the flow, enjoy your freedom, explore a new city / country and create new friendships. There are many reasons why travellers I have met solo travel including that they are used to it or they want to push themselves out of their comfort zone. Whatever your reason is – I hope that you have found this yourself and more importantly enjoy your solo trips!
“If you never go, you’ll never know”