I’ve been traveling solo for many years and I can tell you, I still read other peoples solo travel tips to make sure I’m not missing anything. I don’t typically like to over plan my trips so some unplanned experiences can add to the experiences of my travels.
That being said, traveling solo can make things a bit more complicated when things don’t go as planned. I’ve put together some of my most important solo travel tips that I’ve learned to use over the years.
Plan your first night
When I’m arriving somewhere new, I make sure I have my first night booked. I also make sure I know how I’m getting to my accommodation (bus, taxi, train etc) and what time I’m arriving. Being in a train or bus station in a strange country after midnight is never a good idea. That’s pretty much a good rule for any country I’ve been to! Try and arrive during the day if you have the option. If you arrive really late at night, consider staying at an airport hotel for the night and continuing on in the morning.
Hostels, hotels or Airbnb?
Hostels are a great idea for meeting people when traveling alone. There are tons of sleeping options from 10 bed dorms to private rooms. If you are not a fan of hostels, then hotels are a better option than Airbnb, in my opinion. I find Airbnb can be quite isolating as a solo traveler and if you have any problems, you may not be able to get help quickly. You may also have to go to another location to pick up the key to your Airbnb so if you are arriving late at night, keep this in mind.
I recently rented an Airbnb for a few nights in the suburbs of Amsterdam and it was lovely but it was located in a dark courtyard that gave me the creeps every time I walked through it. Just keep in mind that you may not have all the information about an Airbnb when you book it.
Back up money stash
Always, always, always, put some money in another location other than your purse or primary bag. These days, it may also make sense to put a back up credit card somewhere as well. I usually keep $50 US handy and use this as my back up. Most countries you are traveling to will accept American dollars if you are in a pinch.
Speaking of being in a pinch, a few years ago I was traveling through India solo when the Indian government decided to devalue certain Indian money overnight with no advance notice. Long story short, most of the cash I was carrying became useless. Bank machines were shut down for two days (seriously) so the only thing that saved me was being able to exchange my $50 US for Indian rupees at the hotel.
Socialize or don’t
Some trips I love to meet other travelers and share my experiences and other times I love the solitude and am perfectly happy to have my days alone. Point is, it’s your trip, and there is no right or wrong way to travel solo.
If you are staying in hostels, and want to meet other travelers, make an effort to chat with others in the common areas. You already share a common thing to chat about- traveling, so it’s easy to go from there! When I stay in hotels, I usually sign up for some group tours to meet others. Walking tours are a great way to meet people and if you do one at the start of your trip, you might make friends who can join you for other adventures during your trip. Read about my fun food tour I did in Paris!
This seems to be one of the major fears for solo travelers. I admit, I wasn’t always a fan of dining out alone but now I embrace it! One of my solo tips is to always research where you are going to dine solo, if possible. I like to see what the atmosphere is like so I feel comfortable eating alone. Looking at pictures of the restaurant online will help you to determine it’s a fit for you.
I’m also a huge fan of bar seating. It’s great for chatting with others during dinner and some really nice restaurants keep bar seating for walk in guests. See my post on dining alone in Amsterdam for more tips on this!
If you are still nervous about solo dining, consider take out. After a long day of sightseeing, I would sometimes just grab a take out pizza or something small for dinner in my room.
Fear of the unknown
I have had a lot of fear of the unknown when traveling- What will happen if the hotel is noisy and I can’t sleep? What if I’m lonely? What if I hate the experience? And more fears..
Guess what, they have all happened and it’s become part of my solo travel experience. You will learn as you go and will have some not so perfect experiences. That’s ok. Actually, some of my favourite solo trips memories come from problems I encountered along the way that showed the kindness of strangers or the unexpected detour I took that uncovered a favourite travel spot.
And we never think about all the good things that will probably happen on your solo adventure. The people you meet and places you see will stay with you for a lifetime. Embrace the unknown and try being a bit more brave than usual and it will repay you many times over.
Making the decision to go and travel solo is such a gift to yourself. I hope things don’t go exactly as planned for you and you have a wonderful solo adventure!
Some of my solo travel friends I met on my adventures: