Going solo: strategies for travelling alone

Try not to fear travelling on your own as the experience can be liberating.

Feet of a solo traveller up against a wall

Finding the right person to go on holiday with is never easy, and once you find someone, you may have differing views on where to go. So, try not to fear travelling on your own, as the whole experience can be extremely liberating.

As a solo traveller you can go where you want, do what you want, whenever you want. When you travel on your own, you’re more likely to take notice of different cultures, meet more local people and have the travel experience that you really want. So now you’ve bitten the bullet and decided to go it alone, these four strategies will help you make the most of your trip.

1. Follow your passion
Consider basing your trip on your interests and/or passions – even if you have lonely moments, most of the time you’ll be immersed in something you enjoy. Don’t put yourself on a coach where all that is required is looking out the window and getting your bags to reception on time. Instead, choose a cooking class, meditation retreat, hiking tour, fishing trip or canoeing adventure – anything where you can get involved in an activity or experience with like-minded people.

2. Lonely hearts
Don’t look for romance – it’s a bonus if it happens, but can be very disappointing when, as is the case most of the time, it doesn’t eventuate.

3. Chatterbox
Become one. Force yourself to talk to strangers – and practise this before you leave. Expect knock backs and learn to be philosophical about them. Forget the Ritz; go for cheaper, share accommodation including backpackers and hostels. Some of the time you may want privacy and your own space, but you are much more likely to find fun company at a hostel and have a better time than in lonely five-star luxury.

4. Write it out
Keep a journal. It will not only form a wonderful record of different sights and sounds, but can also be a trusted, discreet and non-judgmental friend to whom you can pour out your heart if you have an attack of the blues.

Are you a frequent solo traveller? Do you have any recommendations?

Other articles:

Solo traveller safety

Solo travel conversation starters


    To make a comment, please register or login
    8th Feb 2016
    Another suggestion. Before you leave set up an email group with the addresses of close friends and rellies who are interested in your travels. Send them off an abbreviated 'diary' note every day or so and encourage them to respond. I think of them as my virtual travel companions, it takes the edge off loneliness when you feel that your friends are, in a sense, travelling along with you. It's a safety thing too. Let them know your next stopping place so they can check up on you if no word for an unusually long time.
    8th Feb 2016
    I like the idea of staying in hostels and it's worth knowing that many, especially in China, have single rooms with en-suite bathrooms. Cheaper than hotels, and you still get the benefit of other friendly guests and staff to talk to if you want. The staff usually have reasonable English and are very willing to welcome and assist senior guests. Much friendlier than the hotels I tried.
    8th Feb 2016
    I travel solo but tend to do a mix of small group tours and time by myself. Last year I was in the USA for 7 weeks - a 16 day tour and a 10 day tour with time in cities on my own. Share photos and experiences on Facebook - people comment, respond - so I have a "conversation"about what I am doing/seeing.
    Happy cyclist
    8th Feb 2016
    Travelling alone is fantastic and I do a lot of it but I totally disagree about 'keeping in touch' via social media. As long as you are contacting friends at home and hearing about what is going on at home, how can you immerse yourself in what your are seeing and the people you are meeting where you are? I say don't email or do Facebook etc. Just live the moment, and don't become a chatterbox, instead become a listener and enjoy hearing about the lives of the people you are encountering. If you have difficulties you will just have to solve them yourself and, believe me, get a big buzz from discovering just how resourceful you can be if needed. Leave your phone and all other electronic devices at home and have a truly unique experience. Plus its a whole lot cheaper!
    8th Feb 2016
    Spot on HC, I send the odd postcard, I've travelled solo a lot, don't miss having to fit in with anyone else's wishes, free to do as I wish when I wish, I've never been one with the need to talk incessantly, overcoming difficulties when they arise is half of the experience
    8th Feb 2016
    I do most of my travel solo and I think the real trick is lots of planning. It's much easier now with all those internet sites which help you, but even the best laid plans can go awry such as when the train breaks down and strands you in some place you were not expecting. When this happened to me I had a really big melt down on the street (trying to find a hotel without junkies out the front) and then asked for help which was happily given and put me into the best hotel I stayed all trip. I learned my lesson - never be afraid to ask for help, even if you don't speak the language.
    8th Feb 2016
    I solo travel a lot & agree with HC & trood there is always some one to chat to if you want.
    8th Feb 2016
    Happy Cyclist makes some good points, I agree with most of the points. I certainly get a buzz out of being resourceful and coping with all the day to day difficulties. I'm a 70yo woman, travelled on my own in China for over a month, and other countries also. No language, just lots of hand signals, drawings etc got me by, met lots of wonderful local people too. I was on a two star budget at best and enjoyed every moment.
    But if any seniors are feeling uncertain about travelling solo and don't have the Happy Cyclists confidence, then I believe the brief email to friends and family is a great help. Helps the anxious family too :-)

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