Holiday for one? Tips for traveling solo.

Cool handsome guy

Tuscany, Italy

I’m equally comfortable traveling solo or with others. What I like best about traveling alone is that I can follow my own path. I’ve done it for awhile now, so I’m pretty comfortable squatting almost anywhere. If you’re thinking about taking a trip alone and never tried before, there are some basic things you can do, regardless of your gender.

Before booking your trip, the main thing you should ask yourself is if you’re comfortable doing things on your own at home. If the answer is no, then you may not enjoy traveling solo. If you’re not sure, then you might want to try booking a trip alone but on a cruise or as part of a tour group for your first time. This way you can go alone, but you will have people that you can reach out to quickly if you find that you’re uncomfortable.

Here are nine tips for traveling on your own.

Before you go

carry-on-luggage

Pack well to avoid getting stuck carrying around too much luggage. 

Research

I know I sound like a broken record starting my tips with this one, but especially when you’re traveling alone, you want to know a lot about where you’re going. You can check the official tourism websites for a destination you want to visit, but they are not objective. Their goal is to make everything look amazing to attract visitors. If you want the real deal, check sources like bloggers, Instagram, Twitter (look under the hashtag #TTOT) or forums like Traveltalkonline. These are some great spots to receive in-depth information from locals and visitors about safety and culture, as well as get answers to your questions.

Make sure to check ahead of time what areas to stay away from and double check the information when you arrive in your destination city. The people you stay with should be able to make sure you spend your time in the right spots.

Try Couchsurfing or Airbnb

Couchsurfing.com is an online community of travelers around the world who share their spare rooms or couches with strangers for free. They’re willing to host you and provide recommendations on where to go. Through airbnb.com, you can stay in a room in someone’s house. The ratings and reviews on the site can help you find places to stay with reputable hosts.

Pack smart

I’ve mentioned before that I prefer to pack light. When traveling solo, it’s a great habit to get into because you make sure all of your essentials are with you in a carry-on and personal item bag (like a backpack). It helps you move around easier and avoids lost luggage. Read Do you really need to take that with you for my tips on packing light. You want to dress for comfort. Additional tips: Split up your cash and credit cards into different spots so if you lose one set you still have another. Always have some emergency money hidden somewhere on you.

While you’re there

Strong athletic man swimming butterfly style in the sea. Active summer holiday vacation. Sport, healthy lifestyle concept

Travel gadgets can keep your stuff safe while you swim. Swimming in Sicily, Italy.

Stay connected

Look for warnings about destinations you are about to visit by checking with your country’s department that issues travel warnings. For example, in the US it’s found under Alerts & Warnings. When you’ve arrived at your destination location, make sure to keep up with things that are going on and connect with family and friends regularly about your itinerary. Find places with reliable hotspots close to where you will be staying to keep in touch. Beware of what sites you log into and your passwords when it’s free wifi, especially if it’s not password protected. I recommend buying a travel data plan.

Be aware

Personal safety and protection of your valuables can be a big concern but needn’t be such a fear that you become paranoid. Try not to dress like an obvious tourist (fanny packs, cameras swinging, and home country flag patches). Travel gadgets can help hide keys and money if you have to leave them unattended, like when you’re swimming. Don’t flash money, expensive technology or wear expensive jewelry.

Know where to go and where not to go

Don’t let fear rule you. Of course, there are places that you want to stay away from depending on what is happening and also areas that you want to be careful of when you’ve reached your destination. Use common sense and be observant of your surroundings, and you should be ok. Stick to main roads sand well-lit areas when possible. If you come close to dangerous neighborhoods, you’ll usually find that someone will warn you before you get into it too far. But make sure you walk with confidence if you do end up in one.

It’s obviously ok not to let strangers know you are alone. You can always say you’re waiting to meet someone until you’re sure they are trustworthy.

Meet people

bartender-aria

Bartender at the Aria Hotel, Las Vegas

Discover secret spots by getting to know people that work at stores, in hotels or security guards, taxi drivers, and bartenders. If I’m staying at a hotel, I always grab a drink at the hotel’s bar. Bartenders have the scoop on things to do, and if you feel nervous dining alone for the first time, you have someone to talk to while you grab a drink or snack.

Learn from those who live in the country you’re visiting. Make it a point to avoid other travelers occasionally and start conversations with people that live there. People across the world speak basic English, so it’s easier to communicate than you might think. Hand gestures and body language also help express messages.

If you feel uncomfortable talking to strangers or think people seem unfriendly, try making eye contact and smiling. If they smile back, say hello in their language and take it from there.

Make new friends. If you’re not comfortable couchsurfing, try citysocializer.com. Through this site, you can find people to meet up with for dinner, drinks or a show.

Choose your adventure

Guitar.jpg

I learned to play guitar on vacation and kept it up. Hanging out in Central Park last year.

Try to do things that push you outside of your comfort zone. It doesn’t have to be something extreme like bungee jumping or cliff diving. It could be anything you wouldn’t consider doing at home like singing in front of strangers or taking lessons doing something you’ve never tried. You might be surprised to discover what you’re capable of when no one is watching.

Try volunteering or lending a hand

The smallest acts of kindness are always appreciated, no matter where you are in the world. It can be as small as opening a door, helping someone that is elderly to walk across the street or taking a picture. You can even volunteer some of your time while you’re there. It’s not only rewarding, but you’ll learn more about the country and its people. It can also help you make new friends.

Grassrootsvolunteering.org recommends volunteer opportunities around the world.

These are some of my tips for traveling alone. I will follow this up with a post about my favorite destinations to visit alone. What are some of your tips for vacationing solo?

58 replies »

  1. I love this! This is my second article of yours (the other was “choose your own adventure” ) that I’m reading and it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’m planning on going to Tamarindo, Costa Rica, New York City and hopefully on a Cruise from Miami to Bahamas. Solo. I’m definitely intimidated. Of course, with Costa Rica I’ll be going with a study abroad program but New York city and the Cruise I’ll be traveling solo . It’s comforting to know that you live in NY and gave some useful tips. Your writing style and niche is definitely inspiring me to travel and write about my experiences. My biggest challenge is being introverted and making friends while traveling. Do you have any tips on that?
    Anyways, thanks for the article!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot! I appreciate it. That sounds great. First time solo travel can be tough but once you get started, you’ll find the things that are comfortable for you to do. As for an introvert and travel, my tips are to smile and people and say hello and see if they respond back. I’m not an introvert so it’s hard for me to give advice. I know that Samantha is posting an article in a few days about making friends as an introvert on the blog. I think she said Tuesday or Wednesday if you want to check for it. You’ll probably find it really helpful. Writing about your travels will be great. I look forward to seeing them if you post them!

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  2. Great tips Aldo! Sometimes, I travel solo like you and have used a lot of your tips. However, reading travel blogs are new to me and I find your links and suggestions very helpful. You are right when travel guides and tourism websites only mention great things and are a sales pitch. Meet up locals through the websites is a great idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot Marko! I didn’t read any travel blogs either when I started. Maybe in some cases made it more fun because every new tip was a discovery! But then again, a lot of these good sites to meet up with people weren’t available either. Now I get my info from different blogs before I go to see what’s new.

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  3. Great article Aldo. I got to tell my sister about couchsurfing and citysocializer. Sounds like a great way to meet new people. Also I think buying a travel data plan ahead is the best advice one can give, I got charged recently with major data and had to fight on the phone for over 2 hours to get travel plan approved .

    Liked by 1 person

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