Seven Tips for Solo Travellers

Solo travel isn’t for everyone. In fact, I’m one of those people who isn’t especially fond of it. However, I also am one of those people who wouldn’t stop myself from going somewhere just because I couldn’t find a partner in crime to go with. It’s hard to find people who have the ability, flexibility and want to travel to the same places at the same time as you, so sometimes, solo travel is a must.

However, solo travelling doesn’t need to be intimidating. Naturally, we like to be with people that we know, especially when we’re doing something brave like going to a new country, but travelling solo can bring all sorts of its own benefits.

Here are some tips to ensure you have the best time while on your solo adventure.

 

Stay in hostels

One of the biggest fears of solo travellers is how they are going to meet people, and staying in dorm-style rooms in hostels can be an excellent way. Even if you aren’t too fond of sharing a room with someone, getting a private room in a hostel can have its benefits too. Hostels are made for backpackers, and you’ll meet plenty of people who are also travelling alone. They also often have regular social events at and outside of the hostel which encourage interaction with other guests more so then when you stay in a hotel and stick to yourself.

 

Bring a book

I often find that eating can be the hardest part about travelling solo. I’m just not a fan of sitting in a restaurant and eating alone. However, trying food while travelling is so important to me, and I don’t want to be restricted to eating in my hotel room or from fast food joints. I find that bringing a book or magazine with you when you head out for a meal can make you feel less uncomfortable. You’ll have something else to do other than eat and stare into space.

 

Fake it until you make it

There’s safety in numbers—however, that doesn’t mean being alone is completely unsafe. When travelling solo it’s important to use common sense and trust your gut. I also suggest faking it until you make it. When you look confident, like you know what you’re doing and where you are, you appear less vulnerable. Plus, you’ll feel more confident and less scared to be out exploring on your own.

 

Pack a selfie stick or tripod

A common issue with travelling solo is the question of how you are going to get great travel photos, with you in them, while you’re alone. It can get annoying to ask strangers to always take your photos, and sometimes there’s no one around to do so. I suggest taking a selfie stick or tripod with you. You may feel a bit silly using them at first; however, you won’t head home realizing you have no photos of you on your trip. Some of my best photos were taken with a selfie stick!


Be aware of scams

Educating yourself before you leave on your trip can be valuable whether you’re travelling alone or with a group. There is so much information online about every destination that you can make yourself aware of things to watch out for in the country you’re visiting. For example, when I went to Thailand, I was told it was common for locals to tell you streets were closed and you couldn’t walk down them, only to try and show you a new route, which leads to their friend’s stores. Knowing this in advance, when the locals approached me, I knew right away that they were trying this scam. This gives you a one-up and makes you feel more confident!

 

Arrive during the day

A new place can seem intimidating when you first land at the airport, but it can seem even more intimidating at night. A city can look entirely different at night versus during the day, and when you’re jet-lagged, culture-shocked, and a bit out of your element, arriving during the day will help you feel more confident. If you can, try to be strategic about when you arrive into a new country.


Embrace it

If you immediately think of solo travel as intimidating and lonely then you are going to have a sour taste about it. The truth is, solo travel can be lonely and intimidating if you make it that way. Instead, embrace it. Embrace that you can do what you want, when you want, and that you are independent enough to travel to a new place all on your own! Solo travel can be empowering—and travel, solo or not, can be life-changing if you let it.

 

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I Want to Travel, but Where Do I Start?

Travelling can be intimidating to those that weren’t born with the travel bug. Where do you start? Where do you go? And how do you prevent yourself from having one of those awful travelling experiences that scar you for life?

Growing up, my family always took family trips, and in high school I went on student exchanges and school trips to several different countries, so for me, travel has just been a part of my life since day one. But I understand that not everyone grew up in a travelling family like me. So if you didn’t start travelling young, is it too late?

Absolutely not.

For people that haven’t travelled much before, I always recommend easing into it. Jumping in headfirst is often what causes people to have a negative experience. For example, if you’ve never travelled outside of your own country before, hopping onto a plane to a country like India would likely throw you too far out of your comfort zone, and not in a good way.

Instead, start off doing an all-inclusive vacation and taking day trips off the resort with local tour companies, or by yourself to experience a bit of the culture and local customs. Next, move on to countries or places that are similar to your own. For example, if you live in Canada, maybe try travelling to the United States or another province that you’ve never been to before. Alternatively, you could travel to another country that speaks the same language or has similar customs to yours, like the United Kingdom.

After you’ve gotten the hang of planning your travels, getting yourself around, and pushing yourself a bit out of your comfort zone, you’ll feel more ready to tackle places like Europe that have language barriers. And eventually you’ll build yourself up to tackling countries with cultures that are more divergent from your own and will feel more prepared when you’re visiting them. This will help you have a positive experience rather than pushing yourself too far from day one.

But what if you’re too scared to travel alone and don’t have someone who can come with you? Waiting around for others is the biggest mistake you can make. Instead, find a way to travel abroad that still makes you feel comfortable. For example, join a group tour company like G Adventures or Intrepid. This way you’ll still have travel companions and won’t be doing it all alone.

Too many times, I have heard from people who say they wish they could be like me and travel more, but travelling isn’t unreachable. Staying home isn’t going to do anything but make you look back when you are old and grey and regret the chances you didn’t take. Trying something new and putting yourself out of your comfort zone can challenge you in a positive and exciting way. Think of everything in your life that scared the crap out of you—falling in love, a job interview, your first day of school—yet, when you look back at those things now, you wouldn’t be where you are today without pushing yourself to do them.

 So take the leap (even if it’s a small one at first). I promise, you won’t regret it.

 

When you’re ready to take that leap, here are some Tips for Safe International Travelling.

For all other podcast episodes of ‘Lily Likes It Here,’ check here!