You may be a little intimidated at the idea of traveling alone to a city or country you’ve never visited before. And let us tell you – that is completely normal. But if you’re someone who can get past the natural nerves and uncertainty that arise, we’re certain that you’ll love the end reward.
Traveling solo is an amazing opportunity to see the world, and is a very rewarding experience.
- Gives you the freedom to do what you want, when you want
- Teaches you self reliance & independence – you’ve got to go it alone!
- Encourages you to try new things & meet new people
- Gets you out of your comfort zone – something only the bravest among us are willing to do
Of course, travelling with friends and family is also an incredible experience and will provide you with memories to last a lifetime. But there’s something different about traveling alone – something that is difficult to put into words but can be felt when you set off on your solo adventure for the first time.
We know that the idea of getting on an airplane and going to another country by yourself, where the locals don’t speak your native language, and you don’t know anyone, is overwhelming for most people.
This is why we’ve put together our top tips for traveling alone.
How to Travel Alone
Keep Documents at the Ready
There are several documents that will help keep your trip organized, therefore limiting the amount of stress you feel when preparing.
- Packing List
Being prepared is one of the main factors in feeling comfortable. By creating a packing list, sectioned into categories for things like Footwear, Outerwear, Toiletries, and so on, you’re much more likely to remember the gear that will make your trip that much more enjoyable. Be sure to create the list well in advance of the trip, and double check it the day before you depart to give you that added peace of mind.
- Itinerary & Reservation Information
Throughout your travels, always carry with you a detailed list of all your flights, hotel or hostel reservations, and any relevant transit information for train or bus bookings and schedules. Additionally, bring with you a contact list that includes phone numbers, addresses, and any other relevant contact information for:
- Your accommodation(s)
- Family or a friend who should be contacted in event of an emergency
- Transit stations and airports
- Local cab companies (if relevant)
- Money & Passport
While it’s not exactly beneficial to imagine all of the ways that your trip *could* go wrong, it is a good idea to have thought of a few likely scenarios that you should be prepared for. This is especially true when it comes to money or your passport. Make a copy of your passport that you can carry with you, while the original stays in another bag or the safe box at the hotel. Take the same approach with your money – never carry all of your money and/or bank cards with you. Make sure you have back up funds, bank cards or travelers cards and some cash in another location in the event something happens to your wallet.
Prepare Yourself – Mentally
As with the undertaking of any new pursuit, it’s important to keep your thoughts and attitude in check. In advance of the trip, consciously think about some of the elements of travel that are most likely to cause a little bit of stress, like:
- Time differences & jet lag
- Culture shock (remember to keep assumptions in check!)
- Cuisine & traditions
Be open minded and remember the reasons you’ve chosen to embark on such an adventure – it’s likely for the same reasons that are adding stress to your life! Relax, and enjoy it, by:
- Remaining judgement-free!
- Joining in a local tradition
- Being open to new foods
- Stepping outside your comfort zone and trying something new
After all, you only live once!
You just never know who you’ll meet while traveling – and trust us – people are a lot more friendly than you might think! So introduce yourself, because you just don’t know what will come of it.
Many of our fellow travelers have talked about this, and about the great things that have happened after they’ve taken that first step and introduced themselves to a stranger, saying things like, “It led me to a new adventure!”, or “I made a lifelong friend.”
Here are a couple icebreakers you can use to make that first connection:
- Ask for directions
- Ask a question like, “Where is a good place to eat?” or “Where do all the locals hangout?”
- Ask a question like, “If someone was to see/witness only 3 things in X destination, what do you think they should be?”
Know Key Phrases
Typically, it’s common that an attempt at speaking the local language will garner better results than simply blurting out what you’re looking for in English. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but it’s courteous to at least try and communicate in the local language.
Generally, others don’t care if you completely ‘butcher’ their language. No one expects you to be fluent. But knowing the basics of a few common questions can go a long way.
To get you started, try researching these basic phrases prior to your trip:
- Hello / Goodbye
- Please & Thank you
- How much?
- I am looking for…
- Directions to…
- I’m lost; can you help me?
- Do you speak English?
More helpful pointers & tips for 5 common languages.
As humans, it seems to be in our nature to plan things. We have agendas, timetables, calendars, and so on. But planning things so neatly doesn’t work as well when traveling. And no matter how hard you try, sometimes you just have to roll with it!
It’s great to have a full schedule in order to make the most of your time, but be sure to have some wiggle room built in in case you find something better to do (hey – plans often change for the better!). And all too often, we hear from travelers that while on their way to see something, they run into someone who tells them it’s a waste of time, and will suggest something much better to see. Embrace this and go with the flow – plans don’t have to be set in stone.
You don’t have to be a professional photographer or have an expensive camera to capture great moments or beautiful photos.
Having a small digital camera that you can keep in your pocket or purse is priceless when those special moments arise during travel – and trust us, there will be many! We recommend taking many photos, and bringing an extra memory card just in case. You never know when that perfect photo will happen; if nothing else, it’s a great way to relive your adventures when you get home.
Keep a Journal
There’s just something about writing in a journal when traveling – especially when you’re traveling solo!
Not only is it a great way to pass any downtime, but journals are also a great way to keep record of the exciting things you’re seeing, experiencing, feeling, and so on. Whether you plan to share those writings with family or friends on your return is up to you, but by keeping a journal you’ll always have something to look back and reflect on, whether it’s before your next adventure or simply as you get older.
However you decide to approach your travel journal, do it your own way!
- When you journal – maybe you only write on a rainy day at a coffee shop, or maybe you do it each morning before you set out on the day’s adventures
- What you journal about – maybe you’re recapping everything you did that day, or maybe recording certain feelings you had at various steps in the journey, or writing in your travel journal only sporadically to describe one really memorable event or attraction
- Why you journal – whether it’s to have memories to reflect on later in life, or it’s simply a way to address the occasional loneliness you may feel, you can’t go wrong with a travel journal
Be Yourself… & Be Confident!
Yes, being alone in a new place can sometimes be anxiety-provoking. But that’s no reason to let it get the best of you. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, remember to take a step back, and remember that you are there to have fun!
Confidence is a huge part of that, whether it is trying something new, venturing out with strangers or just introducing yourself; be confident! Sometimes having confidence when you’re alone and in a new place can be difficult, but you’ll be surprised at how good it makes you feel.
Exuding confidence is especially important when…
- Walking the streets – nothing says ‘tourist’ like standing on a street corner reading a map with a confused or terrified expression on your face! Duck into a shop or archway, read your map, and emerge confidently!
- Using public transportation – avoid drawing attention to yourself by looking lost or scared. Embrace the experience and have faith in knowing that you’ll arrive at your destination in no time
Trust Your Instincts
Being your own best counsel is absolutely the right approach when it comes to solo travel. Essentially, if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it – regardless of whether it’s something in your itinerary, a meal, an invitation from a local, and so on. If it seems too good to be true, or just a little off, it probably is!
Solo Group Travel
Solo travel is an incredibly rewarding experience that everyone should experience at least once in their life. But if you’re looking for other travel options – worry not – because we have those, too!
If you don’t have a travel companion or would be more comfortable traveling with a few other people, we have the perfect solution. Our solo vacation packages let you meet up with a small group of like-minded individuals who are also on their own, creating a perfect solo group travel experience.
Additional Travel Resources
We hope you’re now feeling like you know all about how to travel alone. This site is full of more helpful travel resources. Take a look around and get planning the adventure of a lifetime today!