Updated: Apr 23
I wanted to write this post because I feel like a lot of people talk about “solo travel” as this glorified or trendy thing that only some people can do. I want people to know that anyone can do it. Seriously!
I first traveled alone by accident, but I do it now because there’s something special about spending time alone. You meet more new people, you do things you wouldn’t normally do, and you take it slower (or sometimes faster) than usual because you can go at your own pace. There is zero pressure, and you can just enjoy it! Here are my tips on how to successfully travel alone.
So, I have to start this off by saying, at first, I had never planned to travel alone. It happened by accident TWICE before I decided to actually start going on trips alone. The first time, I was planning on meeting up with a cruise a day late, but the cruise changed course, and I ended up alone in the Bahamas for a day and a half and had to figure things out the night I left. The second time, I rebooked a flight, and Expedia royally messed up.
I ended up with a 40-hour layover in Istanbul and had to figure something out within a week of my arrival. After this, I realized that traveling alone can be really fun! I’ve taken three (on purpose) solo trips after this one and haven’t regretted it a bit!
P.S. shout out to Max for the idea for this post!
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Have (Somewhat) of a Plan
If you’re traveling solo, it’s really important to be able to tell people where you are and what you are doing when you can. I say somewhat because plans will always change, and something always comes up when you are traveling, but a plan ensures that you won’t be stressed about what you are going to do when something goes wrong.
Research a location before going and have an idea of things you want to do, how long it will take, and how to get there. When I go on a trip, even with friends, I like to do this because it helps us make sure we don’t miss any of the best things to do in a location. I feel like this is a best practice in general but especially when solo!
A plan is also a good idea when traveling solo because you can tell someone back home know where you are headed and what you are doing. Letting people know where you are is essential for safety reasons.
Book Accommodations in Advance
It’s important to feel safe and comfortable when you are traveling alone. Because of this, it’s best to have a place you are going to stay booked in advance. Each time I have solo traveled, I’ve used Airbnbs that are very popular with highly rated hosts because having a local is helpful, you have an exact address, and often these hosts offer other services like tours or picking you up from the airport.
This means even less stress because you have transportation figured out and won’t have to worry about getting in a sketchy cab or getting Uber to work on your phone. In Istanbul, it was the best because the owner of my Airbnb also owned a travel company, and I was able to book a tour through the hotel because of them. No need to look for a tour company that was reputable because I already had access to lots of reviews from the host!
Pick a Place You Will Feel Comfortable
My first on purpose solo trip was to New York City. I had been to New York several times before but decided I wanted a weekend away and went for it. I had a great time because I was comfortable enough with the city itself and really enjoyed exploring new places like Coney Island.
It’s not about picking a city you’ve already been to but about feeling comfortable. Traveling to a placed you have learned about or already know can be great, too. Somewhere you won’t have a huge language barrier can also be helpful when trying to communicate.
Both times I accidentally solo traveled were to places I didn’t know well and didn’t really feel safe at first. I basically had no choice to do it both times though, or miss my entire trip, so I went for it. It did end up working out, and I didn’t have any issues, but I wouldn’t recommend going somewhere you’re unsure about as your first trip traveling alone.
Have an International Plan for your Phone or Pick Somewhere with Lots of Wifi Nearby
If you’re going to another country, this is an important one! Being able to look up where you are if you are lost or calling your hotel if there’s an issue can be really important. Plus, I know that when I am by myself I start to miss family and friends more. It’s always nice to talk to a familiar person when you are feeling alone or need advice on something. I am lucky enough to have T-Mobile—if you travel a lot, T-Mobile is great because they have free international service in over 150 countries.
Have a Budget
A budget is really helpful when traveling by yourself because it keeps you grounded and will help you make sure that you don’t overspend on your trip. I find when I shop alone, I spend wayyy more, and for me, when I travel alone also I tend to spend more. It’s easy to overspend on your own—don’t fall into that trap! Plus, the only money you have is your own, so if you burn through it, you’re done for.
Keep Your Money in Multiple Spots
This sounds like a weird one, but what I mean is keep some cash in a secret spot. Do not carry all your credit cards at once while out and about. Make sure you have some money on a debit card, too. When I am traveling alone, I will carry some of my cash and one card at a time.
I leave the rest in a safe in the hotel (if it is available, if not, keep it with you!). I have learned the hard way that storing your money in different places will help you when traveling. If you lose a card, bag, or drop your phone, you will have to find a way to get to your money and things!
This one is key, I think, especially if you are a female solo traveler! I know it can sound cliché, but you can wind up a big target if you are drinking and alone. I am not saying don’t drink at all, but I would not go out to clubs and bars without friends when traveling solo. Also, staying sober doesn’t mean don’t enjoy some drinks. I just don’t recommend going crazy unless you are somewhere you feel really comfortable.
Take at Least One Tour
I know some people are not into group tours, but going on a group tour is a great way to make friends. I have done it on every solo trip I’ve taken and still have friends from all of those trips that I keep up with on social media and email. It is so fun to make friends abroad and keep in touch. Traveling alone doesn’t mean you can’t make friends on your trip!
Some people recommend staying at a hostel for this same reason. I am generally not someone who likes to stay at hostels, but they are an easy way to meet new people while traveling!
Bring Along a Book
A book can be really handy when eating dinner by yourself, on public transportation, or if you can’t sleep at night. Plus, reading is fun! I think it’s really good to have a book during meals because it allows you something relaxing to do while you eat, keeps you busy, and honestly makes you look more confident sitting alone.
I hope these tips were helpful as you think about how successfully travel alone. Don’t be scared to try it, and feel free to read more about traveling alone for the first time here. Be your most confident self and book that trip you’ve always wanted to take! You can do it!