Solo traveling is like a double edged sword. It can be the most wondrous and amazing experience of your life. It can also, however, be daunting and scary.
The first time I traveled alone was a huge learning curve. I loved the experience though and it opened the door to many more adventures. I only traveled for a long weekend to Bruges in Belgium, but that small trip pushed me to accomplish my dream of visiting Antarctica and Greenland! If you are considering solo travel, let my solo travel tips guide you towards a brighter future:
1. Stay open-minded and embrace new opportunities
When traveling alone, I have found that saying yes really helps. If a new opportunity arises, take it! For example, whilst in Jordan, I got the chance to sleep under the stars in the Wadi Rum desert – that memory will stick with me forever! I was a little cold, but I am so glad that I said yes. You must stay open-minded at all times. Refrain from being dismissive. Embrace the unexpected and embrace everything that is thrown your way. You will look back on your adventures with pride and sheer joy – your solo journeys will be fulfilling as a result.
2. Stay in hostels to meet potential travel buddies
Hostels are a solo travelers dream! This is what hostels were created for! I have stayed in many hostels and have met some wonderful people as a result. There is no better place in the world to meet fellow travelers. Hostels usually have dorms and common room areas. You should use these areas to speak to other people and get to know them. This could lead to long term friendships. Moreover, you could travel with these people or do a little sight-seeing with them. Just be confident and friendly – don’t sit secluded in a corner and alienate yourself!
3. Consider joining organized tours to meet new people
Some travelers avoid organized tours – they consider them to be cliché. I on the other hand often join tour groups. First and foremost, organized tours provide you with in depth knowledge. Moreover, they give you the chance to see the main sights of a destination. More importantly, they offer a solo traveler the chance to meet new people. I have taken many tours and made many new friends as a result. I have even joined organized trips with companies such as G Adventures. Use tours as a means of finding friendship!
4. Force yourself to veer out of your comfort zone
If you stick within your comfort zone, you will limit yourself and your travels. You may miss out on many opportunities as a result. This is one of the things many people struggle with whilst traveling alone. It is so much easier to stick to what you know. Why would you veer out of your comfort zone when the alternative looks more attractive? You have to get out of this mindset though! I know that it may be difficult, but just try something you normally wouldn’t – your solo traveling experience will be that much better as a result!
5. Always travel with a book or tablet for those long journeys
I have found that solo traveling can sometimes be arduous. For example, I took the Eurostar from London to Brussels – the train journey wasn’t particularly compelling as we were underground for most of it! What did I do? I took a book and my tablet! Reading helped pass the time. Furthermore, I used my tablet to draft some notes for my blog. Reading material or a tablet really can help break up those tiresome journeys – it can also help keep your mind active and alert.
6. Never get too drunk and leave yourself vulnerable
Getting drunk and partying until the early hours of the morning might seem like a fantastic idea. But what happens if you get too drunk and get taken advantage of? Who is there to ensure you get back to your hostel safely? The reality of it is that no one is there. Even if you make friends on your travels; there is no guarantee they will come to your rescue. I always have a few drinks and a good time, but I also know when to draw the line and stop. Don’t let alcohol compromise your safety and make you vulnerable!
7. Make regular contact with your family and share with them your whereabouts
I appreciate that making contact with people back home can be irritating and time consuming. By doing this, however, you can improve your security. Furthermore, if anything should happen, your family could provide assistance in finding you. Finally, you can also give them peace of mind – I know that my parents still worry when I travel alone, even though I am 31! This really is one of the most important solo travel tips! Just send a simple SMS or WhatsApp message at set stages – when you have arrived at the airport when you have arrived at your hostel etc. You might want to check out our ultimate guide to making International calls when traveling abroad as well.
8. Avoid taking risks
Walking down that side street might seem like an adventure. But what happens when a group of muggers is waiting for you? Risk taking can sometimes pay off – it can lead to adventure and awesome memories. Remember however that these risks are increased for solo travelers. Think about your actions. Consider if the risk is actually worth it. Is it worth your potential safety? Is it worth your money or even your life? When traveling alone, avoid taking risks unless they are absolutely necessary!
9. Make the most of playing to your own tune
When I travel with other people, I constantly have to compromise. They may want to see the Spanish Steps in Rome for example, even though I really wanted to see the Pantheon. When I travel alone, I literally have myself to please. No one else! This is such an awesome feeling. I can do what I want, and see what I want. When traveling alone, you must make the most of this opportunity. If there is something you really want to do, then do it! Solo travel allows you to play to your own tune. You must exploit this and fulfill your dreams without limitation.
10. Regularly back up photos and other media
When traveling alone you can’t give your valuables to someone else. Furthermore, you can’t rely on someone else to save photos and videos – you are responsible for everything! What happens if you lose your camera or your SD card becomes corrupted? As a top solo travel tip, when traveling alone, I always try to back up my photos to an external device. Failing that, I will take several memory cards and swap them regularly. That way, if one fails, all my travel photos and videos are not stored in one place. I will still have at least some digital memories of my solo travels.
I hope you now have a clearer understanding of how to conquer solo travel. By using these solo travel hacks, you should be able to enjoy traveling alone as I have. If you are looking for inspiration on where to travel, don’t forget to check out our article on the best budget travel destinations for 2018. The world is a huge place with so many wonders. It would be a shame to miss out just because you don’t have a travel buddy!