There’s no disputing the fact that solo travel can be scary. While it’s one thing to enjoy your own company, going to an unfamiliar environment without any companions is enough to make most of us feel uncomfortable. It can be further isolating if you don’t speak the local language.
That said, it would be even more of a shame to not travel just because it meant going on your own. As an experienced traveller who has taken a number of solo trips, here are my four dos and don’ts to help the whole concept of solo travel seem less daunting.
DO book in advance
A solo adventure is not the time to ‘wing it’. Make life easier for yourself by booking all flights, accommodation and transfers so that you have peace of mind. A few less things to worry about will mean that there’s less scope for things to go awry. Make sure you research areas for accommodation beforehand and pick somewhere you think you’ll feel safe and comfortable – ideally within walking distance so you don’t need to constantly catch taxis alone. Pre-organising your airport transfers – or at the very least knowing how you’re going to get to your destination – will make you feel more relaxed when you arrive than if you have no plan of attack.
DON’T let the language barrier scare you
Many locals know that tourists aren’t going to be fluent, or even remotely good, at speaking in a foreign language. While nowadays in most places there are locals who speak some level of English, there are countless apps available to help you if they don’t. Make note of some key phrases before you go and download Google Translate, which allows you to scan foreign words and gives you the English translation. Have your accommodation or any other key places of interest written down as well so locals can have a better chance of helping to point you in the right direction.
DO try to make friends
While it may be tempting to just hole up in your hotel room and order room service – this is a waste of all your hard-earned money and now how you’ll get the most out of your trip. Pluck up your courage and head out see the sites and experience the local culture. Booking a walking tour or another group activity is a great way to meet other travellers and sitting at a bar will allow you to strike up conversations with locals whose tips may be invaluable. When you’re on your own you are far more approachable than when you have company, so the chances that you’ll meet some new friends to spend time with are far higher when travelling solo.
DON’T worry about what others think
Most of us fear that by being seen alone we are viewed as ‘losers’ or loners. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It takes extreme courage to step out alone – particularly when it comes to dining. Hold your head high and remind yourself that everyone is far more concerned with their own lives rather than with judging you. It’s also helpful to remember that it’s better to be alone than in bad company just for company’s sake.
Airbnb has also recently revealed the top 10 most popular cities for solo travel. Based on data from their site – solo bookings are rapidly rising in a number of cities – the top 10 are:
- Cancún, Mexico
- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
- Cologne, Germany
- Playa del Carmen, Mexico
- Johannesburg, South Africa
- São Paulo, Brazil
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Mexico City, Mexico
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Busan, South Korea
Have you been to any of these cities? Where would you recommend or not recommend for solo travel? We’d love to hear your advice or tips for travelling alone in the comments.