Home » 10 handy tips for solo travel

10 handy tips for solo travel

written by Wanderlust Chloe July 4, 2016

So you’re about to set off on your first solo travel adventure. How many people have tried to give you advice? No doubt you’ve been told numerous times to use common sense, not to talk to strangers and to stick to well lit areas. You probably sat there nodding while thinking to yourself “I’m not an idiot”.

Before I jetted off on my solo travels around Central America I went through all of this. I worried myself silly about Nicaraguan bandits, getting sick from Mexican street food and being eaten by mosquitoes in Panama. While the latter may have come true, l think that’s the worst that happened, so I’d say I coped pretty well!

It’s natural to feel nervous before jetting off alone. So here are a few helpful tips on how to stay safe and make the most of your solo travels.

Solo travel, vineyard-in-Chile---Wanderlust-Chloe

1. Research, research, research

From how you get the bus in Thailand, and the safest area of Havana, to where the most fun hostel is in Budapest, it’s not just about Googling places. One of my favourite ways to research is by hopping on Instagram. Search by your location and you can see all the photos people have posted recently. Just last week I found the best ramen in San Francisco using this method!

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2. Feeling intimidated by travelling solo? Then book a group tour

Solo travel, -on-a-group-tour---Wanderlust-Chloe

My first solo travel experience was a 2 week trip to Mexico. I booked a spot on a group tour of 14 people – a bunch who became great friends. I’m a big fan of group travel. It takes the stress out of the daily admin that goes along with travel and allows you to really enjoy the experience. It’s also a great option when you’re travelling through areas that may seem threatening. I was really glad to have the security of a tour and a local guide while in Honduras.

3. Savvy Packing

Taking care of yourself on the road can be hard at times. One of the best purchases I ever made – sun cream in an aerosol. Finally I can apply my suncream evenly rather than looking like I’ve been assaulted by an iron! I’d also recommend portable battery packs for when your phone battery is running low and padlocks for your luggage and lockers.

4. Allow for spontaneity

Solo travel, -looking-out-over-LA---Wanderlust-Chloe

I always used to get carried away with tip number one and over plan. It felt safer to know exactly what was happening every single day. Yet some of the most exciting moments on my own have happened when there was an unexpected change. I met a new friend or saw somewhere I’ll never forget and more. Start with a rough plan but allow a bit of breathing space.

5. Get to know yourself

Solo travel, Atacama-Desert-sunset---Wanderlust-Chloe

This is something I definitely did during my time travelling solo. There were days when I barely spoke to another human being. I had breakfast, lunch and dinner alone. Wandered around the shops alone. Hit the beach on my own. You get the idea. While I’ve always enjoyed my own company, I wasn’t sure I’d feel very secure spending prolonged periods solo. Before you hit the road, try going out for dinner on your own to see how you feel. It gets easier, especially when the restaurant has wifi! Also, if you’re not sure about the neighbourhood you’re in, grab street food or cook in the evening to avoid any nasty after-dark surprises.

6. Get to know the locals

So your mum warned you not to talk to strangers? Well, sometimes it’s actually a good idea. Throw a little caution to the wind and ask locals where to eat, stay and go out. While in Mexico someone suggested I go to a lagoon called Yal-Ku. It was pretty much deserted, totally magical and one of the best places I’ve ever snorkelled. Thanks for the tip Pedro!

7. Travelling solo doesn’t have to mean you have to stay solo

When you’re fancying company, find out which hostels have a good social scene. Even if you’re not staying there, there’s often a bar or list of activities you can take part in.

8. Be travel efficient

Solo travel, lake-in-Slovenia---Wanderlust-Chloe

Save a scan of your passport on your email, take out comprehensive travel insurance, let your bank know you’re travelling, send your itinerary to friends and family and make sure you have access to everything you need when you’re away. I changed phone networks recently so that I can use my phone as normal in 18 countries across the world. Being able to access the internet on the go has saved me from a few sticky situations, while also allowing me to be a bit more spontaneous once I’m out and about!

9. Don’t worry if you don’t love every second

If you’re away for a long time it’s only natural to have low points. I travel solo a lot, but I still have my off days. Whether I’m feeling homesick, a bit under the weather or stressed, I try to remember that it’s all part of the travel experience and it’ll pass. I’ve panicked that I’m not enjoying something enough, and that’s made me enjoy it less and less. You have off days back home, so you’ll definitely have them when you’re away. Loosen up and embrace it!

10. Embrace the solo life

Solo travel, volcano-in-Guatemala---Wanderlust-Chloe

Think of all the things you wouldn’t be able to do if you were travelling with others. Want to party until dawn? Go for it! Fancy going to bed at 8pm? You can! What about going on a spontaneous date with someone you just met? Do it, he may be the love of your life! Freedom is one of the greatest feelings in the world and this is your chance to let go and live a little.

Ready to roll solo? A lot of our travellers do it. Check out all our solo travel info over hereWant more destination inspiration like this? Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter here.

Chloe Gunning blogs at Wanderlust Chloe. You can follow her inspirational travels and adventures on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. All image c/o Wanderlust Chloe. 

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14 comments

David Zoey January 2, 2019 - 11:48 pm

Solo traveling is not easy. All set up the plan before solo traveling. Right destination choice. You must collect all the details of the destination you are about to visit. You actually share the right and valuable information. Your tips are helpful for solo traveling. Great blog. Thanks!

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David Zoey September 6, 2018 - 11:54 pm

Safety is important part of solo traveling. Before the traveling collecting all information about your destination. I am glad to find it. Great tips you share with me. Thanks for such post and keep it up.

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Anonymous December 30, 2016 - 11:55 am

Hi Chloe
Love your comments.
I am 66 and about to do a big solo trip of SouthAmerica with Intrepid who I highly recommend.
For myself I read all the books I can on the place to visit then any others I take on my Kindle.
I try NOT to look at other people’s photos of the places to visit, only enough to plan, I think it spoils the element of surprise.
Store photos on photo cards if you cannot download. Take a spare camera.
For safety I do not take any good jewellery or watches , I dont like to look like a wealthy tourist . I just buy some local trinkets to brighten my dress
TRY to only take hand luggage , too many suitcases is a pest. For the return flight it doesn’t matter so Take, or buy another bag to fill with souvenirs.
Rest in afternoon , ready to enjoy the evenings. If your fresh you enjoy it more.
Be impulsive , sometimes I have joined others and do what they do , stuff you may not have thought of
Above all SMILE all the time .

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Pamela Wood December 26, 2016 - 11:56 pm

Is there any person over 70 that like to partner up for travel in 2017 please let me know going to Mongolia plus plus

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steph February 22, 2017 - 10:49 am

Check out the travel site for women travelers looking for other women travelers- thelmaandlouise.com. Great site to find travel buddies!

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Charlotte August 13, 2016 - 7:48 pm

Heading to India solo in 2 weeks, a bundle of excitement and nerves. Have read a million articles on solo travel, and this has been the most.. soothing, succinctly getting to the points that have been niggling me the most. Great read, thank you 🙂

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adrienne gill August 13, 2016 - 1:52 am

I would like to go on my own but i am 56 years old but think i will get lost on another country and not knowing the laungage

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Anonymous August 18, 2016 - 5:05 pm

I am 53 and book on an intrepid group tour. Last year singapore . Malaysia and Thailand. This year the balkans in 10 days. Highly recommended.

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Anonymous February 22, 2017 - 12:38 pm

Hi, was thinking about an 11 day Intrepid tour to Nepal and then once I get a feel for the place hanging about for another week. So, from your post Intrepid seems legit. Right?

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Helen August 18, 2016 - 8:43 pm

I’m 63 and have been travelling solo for the last 10 years. I love it. One of the best parts is allowing yourself to get lost and fine places where the tourists don’t usually go. People generally love to help you find your way, despite the difficulties of different languages. I sometimes feel that young people like to help me because I look like their grandmother.

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Lyn April 19, 2017 - 12:36 am

I also think you should consider a group tour. A little tip would be to call Intrepid to get a feel for the makeup of those who have already booked trips in the month you plan to go then you can see which would be the best fit for you.

I always do a group tour as I have no sense of direction and would ge lost within ten mins on my own but on a group tour that element is taken care of. I wouldn’t worry about the language because the group leader will be there to help with travel, eating and sightseeing. You will also find the majority of people will speak some English. The only place I’ve been to where this wasn’t true was China.

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Wilma keighley August 4, 2016 - 6:23 am

Can I ask how you can find out which phone networks are going to be useful in which countries?

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Emily Kratzmann August 4, 2016 - 9:31 am

Hi Wilma,

The easiest way to check would be to Google phone networks in the destination you’re heading to. Most network providers also offer data packs now too, so you could purchase a pack before you head off that will let you send texts, make calls and get onto the Internet when you’re on your travels, but can’t access wifi (just watch out for roaming charges!).

Cheers,
Emily – Intrepid

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Alan Rimmer July 5, 2016 - 9:01 pm

Hi Chloe, a really good, practical, well-written article. Solo travel success is largely down to common sense, you’ve encapsulated it in a nutshell…Go You !! Every success with future travels.
Best wishes…
Alan

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