How to master solo travel

how to solo travel

Enjoy travelling anywhere by yourself

You won’t always be able to travel with a group. And even with group trips, you might end up with a day or an afternoon to yourself. How do you fill that time if you’re used to only following others?

Being comfortable traveling by yourself is a wonderful skill to have. It opens up new opportunities for you to visit anywhere you want without being tied to what others want. You’ll feel confident in more situations knowing you made it through trips across the country or across the world on your own.

You can often transfer your solo travel skills to other situations too. You might get better at internally mapping your own city, or navigating to new places in your hometown. Maybe you’ll develop an appreciation for Thai food or feel comfortable eating out or watching movies alone when you’re back home.

Who solo travel is best for

If any of these statements describe you, solo travel could be perfect for you.

  • I want to be more confident, independent, and self-reliant.
  • I don’t want to work around other people’s schedules and preferences.
  • I want to meet temporary friends on my travels but not be tied to anyone.
  • I can handle planning and organizing my trip.
  • I don’t mind eating alone or visiting sites by myself.
  • I’m a flexible traveler and like to be able to change my plans whenever I feel like it.
  • My friends and family don’t like to do the same things I do.
  • I’m an introvert and can’t handle being around people 24/7.
  • I don’t have anyone I would enjoy traveling with.
  • My employer sometimes sends me on trips and conference alone.

Advantages and disadvantages of solo travel

Most of the pros and cons of solo travel cut both ways. What’s a pro in some circumstances can be a con in others. For example, you get to decide where you eat, but that much flexibility could be paralyzing for some travelers who don’t know where to start.

Advantages of solo travel

  • It’s all about you and your needs.
  • You don’t have to compromise for others.
  • You get to decide everything about your plan.
  • You can change plans and timing when it’s convenient for you.

Disadvantages of solo travel

  • No one’s there to watch your back.
  • You won’t have someone to watch your bags.
  • You have to make every decision yourself.
  • You’ll have to rely on your own language, mapping, and calculating skills.

solo travel tips

Best cities for solo travel

Most cities work for solo travelers who want to go it alone the whole time or make new friends along the way. Compare a few cities we’ve tested for accommodating solo travelers.

  • Edinburgh. Scottish people end to be welcoming, so you won’t have trouble making friends at the pub or asking for directions.
  • New York City. You’ll find plenty to do for any type of traveler. And you can walk or use transit everywhere, so no need to take turns driving or split a rental car.
  • Boston. Seafood and the coast are a great combo. Enjoy a ball game if you want some company.
  • San Francisco. Another walkable city full of things to do. Join a pub crawl or brewery tour if you want to meet people.
  • Charleston. A friendly city with plenty of shopping and many walkable neighborhoods, Charleston is a great city to enjoy your solo travels.

Tips for solo travel

  • solo travel for backpackersTravel light. This is the golden rule of travel, but it’s especially important for solo travel. You won’t have anyone to watch your bags or put them in an overhead bin.
  • Research safety before your trip. Be prepared for areas to avoid and keep an eye out for possibly dangerous situations. And trust your gut!
  • Choose accommodations carefully. A single room can be more expensive than a shared room, but it’s also safer and quieter.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s okay to ask for help. Most people don’t mind helping out if you’re polite. Learn a basic phrase in the local language like “Do you speak English?”
  • Secure your cash. Don’t keep all your cash in your wallet or in your bag. Split it up and make sure your money caches are locked or inaccessible to pickpockets.
  • Have a backup plan. Give your travel plans to someone back home in case something goes wrong. Your phone number, hotel, flight number, and passport number are essential info to share.

Bonus tips: How to play travel bingo

Ever talked about travelling to someone who doesn’t travel? Prepare yourself now to hear the same responses. In fact, these phrases are called bingos because they’re so common you could fill up a bingo board with them.

Real life example: “You’re going to Japan? Aren’t you worried about being so close to North Korea?” (Yes, this conversation actually happened to the writer. While speaking with a librarian.)

Get ready to hear phrases like these, and feel free to use these sample responses to shut people down. The level of sarcasm is completely up to you.

“Are you sure that’s safe?” “Actually most of the world has a much lower crime rate than the US.”
“Isn’t that a third world country?” “You know, Mexico has cleaner water than Flint, Michigan.”
“Do they speak English there?” “No, but I know how to say ‘which way to the bar?'”
“Do you have family there?” “No, the best part of travel for me is to get away from family.”

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