10 Tips on how to Travel by Yourself
Traveling solo is one of the most rewarding experiences you will encounter in your life. Many people are stuck in the mindset that traveling on your own wouldn’t be fun and that it’s better to have a companion on the road, but these people have it all wrong. Solo travel is such an exciting, rewarding, and liberating experience. It gives you complete freedom to see the world as you please. It’s the time in your life where you will find yourself opening up to complete strangers along the way, and some of these strangers will end up being your lifelong friends.
At first thought it can be intimidating to think about traveling by yourself, so to help ease your mind we’ve put together ten of our best tips on how to travel solo and have the time of your life.
1. Choose your destination
This is when you should look at your bucket list and go to the place holding the number one spot. There are many countries well known for being a top spot for solo travelers. A few of the top spots are Thailand, Vietnam, Italy, Nepal, Bali (Indonesia), New Zealand and Ireland. In these places, it’s not uncommon to meet travelers from all over the world with similar stories to you on why they packed their bag and ventured out on their own. It’s also important to consider what kind of activities you’re interested in doing while traveling. If you’re interested in surfing and other water sports, your best destinations would likely be Australia, Indonesia, or Hawaii. For hikers, you’d want to travel to a mountainous area like Switzerland, Nepal, or New Zealand. If you’re interested in cultural activities, visit a country with a rich history and interesting traditions like Italy or Greece. While traveling solo, especially as a female, you will also need to take into account your safety. Do research on your destination prior to booking your flights and determine whether it’s a safe place for a solo traveler. That brings us to tip # 2.
2. Research, research, research
And then do more research. When finding accommodation, hostels are the best place for solo travelers. Hostels provide the perfect setting for traveling alone because it allows you to make friends with people from all over the world. It also gives you the freedom to either spend the day exploring on your own, or see if your roommates from your hostel want to go out and explore with you. When finding the perfect hostel, research is key. The top things to consider when researching are:
One of our favorite websites to use is www.Hostelworld.com. This site is great for solo travelers because it has detailed reviews as well as ratings for each aspect of the hostel. These ratings include value for money, security, location, staff, atmosphere, cleanliness and facilities. Each hostel reviewer gives these categories a rating out of 10 which is a good way of judging what the hotel will be like. As a solo traveler, the most important categories to take into consideration are security and atmosphere. You will want to choose a hostel that’s safe to stay on your own, as well as somewhere that has a social atmosphere making it easy to meet people. Our rule of thumb is to look for hostels with an overall rating of 8 or higher, meaning it is well above average.
Transportation is another useful thing to research prior to your solo adventure. It’s important to know what the best mode of transportation is for your destination. For example, the best way to get around in Thailand would be scooter or motorbike. For a city like Athens, however, the best and most affordable transport would be to take public transportation. Public transportation is typically safe while traveling alone, but it’s always important to use common sense. If you’re uncomfortable where you are, then get away from the situation and go somewhere you feel safe. Solo travelers are also more likely to get ripped off, so if taking a taxi, make sure to get one with a running meter.
3. Don’t get sucked into overpriced scams
People may see you as an easy target to overcharge since you are alone. Stick to your guns and don’t accept a price higher than you’re willing to pay. This is where research also comes in handy, because you can research the average costs of transport, tours, hostels, and attractions beforehand. Stand your ground when it comes to a price, and if the price is still too high, then move on to another company.
4. Give a copy of your itinerary to a family member or friend
Also try to keep in touch with a family member daily and give them an update on what you plan to do that day. Although it’s uncommon for something bad to happen to you, it’s safer to err on the side of caution just in case of an emergency. If you happened to get into trouble, it’s important for your family to know what hostel you’re staying at so they can contact them if they haven’t heard from you. It also will give your family peace of mind knowing your plans and where you’re staying.
5. Use common sense.
Don’t explore alone late at night. Don’t go out drinking alone. Always watch your drink. Although it might seem like you’re in a safe city, there can be bad people in the world, so be cautious in whatever you do. Single travelers may seem easier to target than people in groups, so be aware of your surroundings and stay safe. Use the following tips as a guideline on how to stay safe while traveling alone:
Schedule your arrival during the daylight hours
Keep in touch with family or friends on a regular basis
Don’t wear expensive jewelry
Don’t expose large amounts of cash
Lock your valuables away
Know the phone numbers for the police, tourist police, and hospital
If you feel unsafe, go to a public area with lots of people
Be aware of your surroundings
Try not to look too much like a tourist and avoid bringing your oversized map out in public
6. Download an app for backpackers
so you can exchange advice and travel plans with other travelers. There are an abundance of apps available for backpackers that we’ve found useful to have while traveling. Below are the top must-have apps for a solo traveler.
Backpackr: This app is designed as a meeting place for backpackers from all across the globe. You simply create a profile listing your travel plans, and the app alerts you when there are other backpackers visiting the same place as you over the same dates. It’s a convenient way to meet people prior to your trip and coordinate travel plans if you’re interested in the same activities. We’ve found it most useful for travel advice from seasoned backpackers. There is a common room on the app where travelers can post their questions or concerns, and other travelers can comment with their own advice for you.
Tourlina: This is another app for backpackers but is female-only. This app has a similar look to Tinder, as you create a profile with your photo and a little introduction about yourself, and then you swipe through profiles of other females traveling to the same location as you. If you both swipe “yes” for each other, meaning you’re interested in being travel companions, then the app allows you to message one another to coordinate plans. The only downfall of this app is that it only allows you to message 1 backpacker unless you want to purchase a plan. For 3 months of unlimited chats on Tourlina, it costs $5.99. Unlimited chats for 6 months is $10.99, and 12 months would be $15.99.
Maps.me: Even if you have Google Maps or Apple Maps on your phone, we would still suggest downloading the app Maps.me. This app works offline, so you will never be stuck without directions no matter where you are in the world. In many foreign destinations, the location you search for won’t be found in Google or Apple Maps, but you can be sure that Maps.me will have what you’re looking for. The app even has categories you can search for within your area, such as wifi hotspots, bathrooms, food, sights, gas, transport, ATMs, and many more.
Convert: This app comes will be your lifesaver while shopping, negotiating prices, booking tickets, or even figuring out the weather. Convert allows you to determine the currency conversion for any form of money in the world. For example, if you were booking a ferry ticket for Thailand and it said 500 Baht, you could enter that into the app and it would let you know that the cost is $14.29 USD. The app also allows you to convert length, power, temperature, time, weight, and more.
Google Translate: You WILL need this app! Even if you’re in a big tourist location, you will want to at least know basic words to communicate with the locals. At the very least, learn how to say “Hello” and “Thank You” in their language, because it shows respect and will bring a huge smile to their face. You may also completely butcher the words, but it still shows the locals that you’re putting in effort, and that will go a long way with them.
7. Be confident and start a conversation with strangers
Even if you’re completely out of your comfort zone, it’s important to appear confident. It can be extremely hard to meet people if you don’t have the confidence to initiate conversations while traveling. The one thing we’ve found as a good conversation starter is to ask about travel history. Backpackers LOVE to talk about where in the world they have been, so strike up a conversation about their favorite sights, cities, or countries. The great thing about having conversations while you’re abroad is that you already know you have something in common: Traveling!
8. Have a backup method of communication.
Phones are one of the most commonly stolen items, so on the off chance this happens to you, you will want a backup method of communication and internet. Consider bringing a tablet, ipod with wifi capability, or an old phone with you. If your phone were to get stolen or break, it’s quite expensive to buy a new one in another country. If you have a backup option with you though, you won’t be left without a way to communicate with your family and friends.
9. Don’t carry all your important items and documents together
If your bag happened to be stolen, you don’t want to lose everything. If your hostel has lockers, use them to your advantage. Bring a combination lock and keep extra cash, credit cards, your passport, and valuable electronics in the locker when you leave the hostel for the day. You want to bring enough cash with you for the day and any potential emergency, but don’t bring all of your money with you. You’re also better off leaving your passport at the hostel unless you need it for any reason throughout the day. Just bring a photocopy of it with you when you’re outside the hostel.
10. Don’t over-plan your trip
It may seem a little crazy to not book your outbound flight, but you never know what could happen while traveling. You might make friends who want you to tag along to the next country with them. You might find yourself wanting to stay longer in your location. You might meet the love of your life and not want to go home. There are so many things that could change while you’re traveling the world, so some things just can’t be planned. It’s best to be as flexible as possible while traveling because after all, the most fun part about backpacking is being spontaneous and not knowing where you could end up next!
With these ten tips, your solo trip is bound to be the time of your life. We know that the idea of solo travel can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time traveling alone, but trust us when we tell you that you won’t regret it. By opening yourself up to these new experiences, you will learn more about yourself than you would have ever thought was possible and you’ll learn to be your own best friend.