Solo travel is both exciting and terrifying, but 100% worth it. I took my first solo trip to Berlin and feel confident enough to go just about anywhere on my own. Many of us dream of travelling the world with ‘bae’ or a group of friends, but life is too short to waste it waiting for the perfect circumstances.
In this post, I’ll share a lengthy Q&A of things to consider before planning your first trip.
Is solo travel safe?
Safety is relative. I generally travel to ‘safe’ destinations (no civil unrest or risk of extreme weather) and apply common sense whether I’m alone or with someone. Give friends and family a copy of your itinerary and frequently check in with them. Always keep your phone charged and make sure you know how to get back to your accommodation. It would also be wise to either not disclose that you’re alone, or use your discretion when sharing that info.
Overall I consider solo travel to be just as safe as group travel if not more due to you naturally being more aware of your surroundings. I try to always know where I’m going (or at least look like I do) and choose discreet places to check directions etc. If you’re ever in doubt, always trust your gut instinct.
How to travel solo as a woman?
The same rules apply with regards to safety, but I also take into consideration places that are considered ‘solo female travel-friendly’. Popular places that appear frequently on these lists are Europe (London, Berlin, Italy) and Asia (Bali, Japan, Singapore, Thailand) but the possibilities are endless. Partying and going to bars isn’t my thing, but I believe late-night dinners and shows are a great way to enjoy your destination at night as an alternative.
Solo travel for introverts
Not many people believe this, but I’m actually quite introverted and this hasn’t hindered my ability to travel solo. I’d recommend joining groups or tours if you want to meet people, or occupying your time with immersive experiences if you’d rather the alone time but don’t want to feel ‘awkward’. I also hear Tinder is the wave for meeting new people abroad (use your judgement) and arranging to meet someone is definitely easier than approaching strangers. I like to ask my contacts if they know anyone in the city I’m visiting (always works for big cities) and meet people that way. Don’t let introversion hold you back. Solo travel is for everyone and you might actually enjoy stepping outside your comfort zone.
Travelling with depression and anxiety
I’ve always found travelling therapeutic. The sunshine lifts my mood and it’s a break from the monotony of everyday life, but it isn’t always that easy. There are plenty of things that could trigger anxiety while travelling: delays, getting lost, potential dangers etc. Planning ahead and giving yourself plenty of time will go a long way, trust me I know the stresses of nearly missing your flight and it’s not cool at all! For the most part, travel temporarily eases the pain, but don’t be afraid to take a step back if things get overwhelming.
How to travel solo on a budget?
Money is one of the biggest stumbling blocks when it comes to travel. The worst thing about solo travel (aside from not having anyone to take your photos) is not having anyone to split the costs with. I have expensive taste and footing the bill for 5* hotels on my own is not something enjoy!
This is where getting ‘bargain hunting’ comes into play. Start by choosing the cheapest time to fly (Google Flights is my go-to tool) then use comparison sites to find the best hotel deals. Sometimes it’s cheaper to book directly (both flight and hotel) and other times package deals are much better value.
I literally scour the internet for the best value hotels and always manage to find a balance between price and design. I’m a sucker for design. I hate
wasting using my annual leave, but if you’re UK based and want to do Europe, there are tons of mid-week city break deals for under £200 for one person. This is the time to use your air miles and corporate discounts where possible. I’m lazy when it comes to looking for deals and will pay for convenience, so if I can find a deal, anyone can!
For me, this isn’t a problem. Start by going for lunch or even coffee by yourself in your hometown to get accustomed to the feeling. If it really bothers you, then carry a book/magazine and ask to be seated at the bar or by the window where possible. Even at night in restaurants filled with groups and couples, I’ve never had a problem. In fact, the waiters are usually extra nice when they realise you’re alone and cater to your every need.
Solo travel vs group travel
I think both have their pros and cons. I’m tempted to say some destinations lend themselves better to group trips, but I’ve seen people fly all the way to Trinidad to experience carnival on their own and have the best time! This applies to ‘romantic’ places too. Group travel allows you to bond with your friends and create shared memories, however going by yourself allows for introspection and ‘me’ time.
My favourite hacks and tips for solo travel:
- Have a plan. It’s not about creating a rigid itinerary, but you’ll feel a lot more confident in knowing where to go in advance. I like to have a point of reference then freestyle when I land.
- Download CityMapper. I can’t read a map for the life of me, but CityMapper will help you to seamlessly navigate major cities across the world. Activate the push notifications and you’ll get reminders to get off the train etc.
- Offer to take photos of fellow tourists and they’ll reciprocate. I specifically ask those with a DSLR or who look like they know what they’re doing.
- Sign up to travel alerts so you can be notified of any serious incidents or potential dangers.