The other week I talked about the benefits of solo travel, so today I thought I’d share some of my top tips for solo travel too. Whilst it’s definitely something I recommend anyone gives a try, there’s some easy ways to make it more enjoyable and even slightly safer. I’d love to hear your tips as well!
Research your destination
This tip applies for non-solo travel as well, but it’s particularly important if you’ll be by yourself. Make sure you learn about any customs or etiquette that might be different to your home country, including clothing and dining etiquette. If, like me, you’ll be a solo female traveller it’s also worth researching a little about the role of women in your destination country as well. The more you know, the more you can be respectful and avoid getting yourself in difficult situations.
Arrive in daylight
As often as possible, try and arrive in daylight hours into a new city. It will make getting to your accomodation a lot easier, not to mention safer, and you’re likely to have more options for getting around as well.
It’s also key to know how to get to your accommodation no matter what time you arrive. Have the directions written down, and don’t just rely on being able to access the internet just in case that’s not an option. Familiarise yourself with a map, how to buy tickets, and have some currency on you to get you started.
Stay in touch
Whilst one of the fun parts of travelling solo is the freedom it gives you, it’s also pretty important to stay in touch with people back home. Give family or friends your itinerary, no matter how loose it might be, and check in every few days so they know where you are and what you’re up to. It also helps with any feelings of loneliness you might be feeling if you can also get some news from home.
Find ways to talk to people
Speaking of loneliness, one of my top tips for solo travel is to make sure you find ways to talk to people. Otherwise, you can go days on end of speaking to no-one except staff in restaurants and hotels! This could be through going on a walking tour, taking a class in a local cuisine or craft or even going on a day trip. You don’t have to necessarily find your new best friend, but at the very least you might find some people to spend a few hours with!
Familiarise yourself with your location
One of my favourite things about solo travel is that I have complete control over what I do when I’m in a city. But, before I can figure out what that is I need to familiarise myself with the city! I try and do a little research before I get there, but then aim to get the lay of the land on day one. Usually I look for a free walking tour to give me an overview of the highlights, but also to get a sense of the layout of the city. Then I can go back and explore the areas that interest me in more depth. I find I usually learn some interesting tidbits about the city at the same time, plus meet some people too.
Explore different eating options
Lots of people find eating alone confronting, but when you’re travelling solo you’ll have to get used to it. So, look for ways to mix it up a little. During the day I love visiting local markets and making myself a picnic lunch – it’s cheap, delicious and no one looks twice at you sitting in the park eating lunch! For dinner, try eating at the bar or outside where you can do some people watching. Take a book, or make use of any free wifi to write some emails or do some research on your next destination. Or, head to a busy bar and strike up a conversation with people around you.
You’re less likely to look out of place at a casual eatery, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go out for nice meals as well. No-one else really cares why you are eating by yourself, so don’t let it worry you!
Choose your accommodation options wisely
There’s a couple of things to think about when picking your accomodation as a solo traveller. If you think you’re going to want to be out and about at night, soaking up the nightlife, then choose somewhere right amongst the action. That way you won’t need to travel far to get home. Alternatively, if you’re more of a homebody at night, at least make sure there are some restaurants nearby even if you want to stay in a more quiet area.
Pay close attention to the reviews of the accomodation – be that a hotel or AirBnb – before you book. If it doesn’t have lots of positive reviews, particularly with regards to the neighbourhood and the availability of staff/owners to contact if need be, then pick somewhere else.
Trust your instincts
This is really more of a life tip rather than just a tip for solo travel, but it’s especially important when you’re on your own in an unfamiliar location. Really listen to your gut before saying yes to things, especially those that sound too good to be true. Now, I’m not saying keep your guard up and don’t be open to new experiences – far from it! That’s one of the best parts of travelling. More to just check in with your instincts and be ok with saying no if you’re not sure. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.