Taking a solo trip is one of the most liberating and revealing things you can do in your life. Some of the advantages are obvious: having the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want to, go at your own pace, and avoid arguments with your travel companions. But there are reasons that are even more valuable than these. It is the best way to travel to learn about your likes and preferences, to learn how to resolve your problems and be independent, to overcome insecurities or even to face your fears, and of course, it´s always a good time. You have to have this experience at least once during your lifetime! That being said, here are our tips for traveling alone and overcoming those fears on solo traveling.
SLEEP IN A HOSTEL
What sets hostels apart from hotels is their sense of community. They´re simply the perfect place to meet new people with your same interests, same plans, and even your same budget! Unlike hotels, you don´t have to worry about paying a single supplement because you are on a single travel trip, instead save that money for an adventure! Nothing like a hostel bar or a common room to strike up a conversation and find other people who dare to do an activity with you.
Take advantage of the wisdom of the staff! They´re usually young people who will not hesitate to tell you where they eat or where they leave. Moreover, they will know how to give you some of the best tips for traveling alone, such as what are the places in the city to avoid!
TAKE PART IN ORGANIZED EVENTS
Maybe traveling alone wasn´t your initial idea, but something you had to do because you didn’t find a travel companion, or because there were last-minute cancellations. So, don’t give up a group outing!
On the city walking tours, you can meet a lot of people. There are many: classic, thematic, according to the history of the city, or more original as those of street art. Also, food, drinks … and party. Yes! Bar tours (called Pub Crawl) are the most popular among lonely travelers. It makes sense, not everyone dares to party alone!
Also, don´t forget to take a look at the experiences on Airbnb, as they show you countless activities to do in groups with other travelers.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA AND COMMUNITY APPS
When you travel alone, it´s because you want to! You will have many occasions to interact with people, and whether you do it or not, it will depend on your predisposition to do it! Here are some tips on traveling alone while also meeting people along the way.
Couchsurfing was born with the purpose of connecting travelers with hosts offering accommodation in their homes, but now it is used for much more than that! With the Hangouts feature, you can see which travelers are at your destination during your dates and you can even do it in advance. One of the wonders of this app is being able to meet other travelers and locals without having to sleep in their homes.
Ask a Stranger is a question-answer service to answer any of your questions. Show Around is a service from local guides that show you the best of the city (or whatever you want to see of the city, come on). And Spotted by locals is an app where you can find recommendations of plans and places the local people suggest!
We already know that Facebook is a bit of a doldrum especially among the younger audience, but do you know that it is still incredibly useful for travelers? The groups! You can participate in forums, ask questions, exchange views, or even decide to travel with someone! Do some research and you will see that there are many travelers and groups for every kind of trip.
With the geolocation on Instagram, it is now possible to see who is at the same destination as you, or where you have gone or want to go. You can try starting a conversation with someone, as long as you’re not creepy, eh!
LEARN ABOUT THE LOCAL LANGUAGE
Do you want to befriend a local? Try telling them something in their language! Okay, they might look at you strangely and ask you to repeat yourself in English, but most likely they value that gesture, and earns you a little bit more respect. Use apps like Duolingo, Bubble, or FluentU to practice. Ah! And if you want to make someone laugh, use Speak the World, a feature within the Hostelworld app where you can choose different lips and put it over your face while you talk. Whoever doesn´t have fun, it´s because they don’t want to!
LET OTHERS KNOW ABOUT YOUR ITINERARY
- Let your family and friends know where you are going to sleep. And if you´re going to travel the world for several months, always inform them about the next destination of your route. With today’s technological facilities, it´s easy to let your friends back home know where you are on social media, so the odd thing would be not to do it! Just always remember to stay in touch with someone!
- Think well about logistics to avoid headaches. The cheapest plane ticket may arrive in the middle of the morning. And what will you do when you arrive? How will you go to your accommodation? Are you going to want to walk at night in that place? Think well about these things.
MOVING AROUND SAFELY AND CONFIDENTLY
We don’t want to scare anyone, but the best way to prevent bad things from happening is to be prepared for bad things, so here are a couple of tips for traveling alone and returning home only with good memories!
- Move like a local: If you get lost, don’t get upset! If possible, try not to be nervous, and take care of your body language by staying upright, moving with confidence as if you had been there a thousand of times. In many places people will approach you if they see you with a map or phone looking around, but not everyone has good intentions…. Use common sense! If you have a bad feeling, decline politely, and if someone insists on helping you when you have already said that you don´t need help, it´s probably not a good idea to let yourself be convinced.
- If you get lost: Always keep an eye out for the people around you, especially while walking through unknown streets, having your eyes glued on your mobile screen doesn´t let you be alert to possible dangers!
BE PREPARED FOR EMERGENCIES
- Make copies of all your documents and of the credit card you´ll be using, email them to yourself or save them in the cloud. You will have a peace of mind knowing that even if everything gets stolen, you will remain documented and with access to important documentation. It´s also a good idea to get travel insurance in case of any emergencies!
- Save the address of your accommodation in a place other than your mobile phone, take a business card, for example, or carry it on a piece of paper. If you need it in case of an emergency, you will appreciate having it on hand.
- Get a local SIM card if you travel outside your region to be able to make emergency calls, and not always being dependent on the Wi-Fi!
SECURE YOUR VALUABLES
- Do not carry your backpack behind while moving through crowded places. Although we already know that this is also said when you travel in a group, it´s also crucial while you solo travel since there are less eyes keeping track of your things!
- Separate your money in two different places: another great tip to take note of, so if someone steals from you, only part of your money will be taken.
- Take only what´s necessary: Although it is obvious … the best way to not have your valuables taken away, is by carrying only a few valuables! One of our tips for an eco-friendly way to travel is to travel light, read our post if you want to know why!
DON´T BE NAIVE
- Prepare for a possible robbery: Not all people who come to ask for help will want to steal from you. Nor is it about shutting everyone down and becoming unsociable! But there are times when you should distrust, such as when a street vendor approaches you in a busy place (he could have a buddy who wants to steal something from you while you are distracted) or when you witness a fight (there are thieves who work in groups and provoke this to generate distractions and rob tourists.) On these occasions, you should keep your belongings even more secured.
- When asking strangers questions on the street: Don’t settle for a single answer. Ask at least three people. Your answers should match, if not there´s something up!
- Do not take unofficial taxis: At the exit of some airports or in the arrivals area, there are taxi drivers who offer their services. Most likely, they are not official. Avoiding them would not only be convenient for your physical safety, but for avoiding a scam, too.
TIPS FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS
If traveling alone is already a challenge, for a woman it´s a little more difficult. Women traveling need to take notes on the tips, which have helped more than one.
WEAR A FAKE ENGAGEMENT RING
Or a fake wedding ring! It may seem a bit of an exaggeration, but it serves to keep the creeps away, avoid harassment or simply unwanted questions. There are countries where it is frowned upon for women to walk alone in the street without the presence of a man, and what to say, that they are solo female travelers. If you have to lie to be left alone, well look, we see it more than justified!
DRESS LIKE A LOCAL
If you do not want to attract much attention, and especially, in countries with cultures very different from yours, dress like the women there. Not only will you feel safe, but also more confident, but it’s also fun to blend in this way. The locals will also respect you more when they see that you respect their traditions.
WHERE SHOULD I TRAVEL ALONE?
So, you have decided to embark on a solo trip and now you have to choose a place to go. If it´s your first time, it´s important that you choose a city or country that is safe, that is popular among other tourists and easy for you to move around. After all, it´s about doing it as pleasurable as possible so later you´ll want to repeat the experience.
If we were making a list of safe destinations, we would have you reading for hours! That being said, let’s just list a few places that are perfect for venturing alone and helping you out of your comfort zone.
Large, diverse, modern and with a fascinating history to discover. Visiting the attractions related to World War II gives you the opportunity to reflect on a dark past. But the current Berlin is cozy, here you can be whoever you want and however you want, it is one of the freest cities. Also, has one of the most fun bars and clubs for all tastes!
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
Out of all the countries in Southeast Asia this may be the easiest for the solo tourist. The people are friendly and hospitable, and you don’t have to be afraid of being ripped off. And have we mentioned their delicious food? You can walk around alone at night through the streets of Bangkok or Chiang Mai without the fear of anything happening!
An inspiring and sophisticated city without coming off as pretentious. Everyone here looks handsome and stylish, a constant pleasure for the eyes! The Danes will make you feel very comfortable with their hygge philosophy inside their flirtatious cafes, terraces and galleries. If you want to reconnect with your inner child, look no further and go to Tivoli Gardens, which is an amusement park.
If you are looking for something cheaper and a place to save money, then go to Portugal. If you have not crossed out the capital of your list, do it now. It has everything: history, culture, good gastronomy, lively nightlife, and oh yes … wine! There are neighborhoods like the one in Alfama, that´s worth getting lost in. When you go in a group you don’t really have time to stop along the way and sit and watch. It´s worth sitting alone at their viewpoints while reflecting on life!
One of the favorite destinations for the most spiritual travelers. And you don’t need any fellow travelers to do some yoga and or meditation sessions in the middle of nature! Nor to enjoy some quiet beach days. In Bali you can spend your time day touring, since they´re quite affordable. Also pamper your body with spa sessions or massages. A trip to love yourself!
THE PILGRIMAGE OF SANTIAGO, SPAIN
One of the favorites to rediscover yourself and learn how to manage day to day life with only a few resources. You will learn to share what you have, and to be as you are, without any filters. Without your wardrobe, without makeup, without your precious goods. The Portuguese Camino from Porto is as challenging as it is enriching. And contrary to what it may seem, it does not require excellent physical fitness!