How to Start Traveling Alone – Be Prepared for Your First Solo Trip

For many people, the thought of traveling alone to any destination for any length of time fills them with absolute dread.

Is it safe? What if I get lonely? How do I make friends? What if I don’t speak another language? Will I be kidnapped? How do I read a map without the help of a least five of my best friends?

It can certainly be one of the most nerve-wracking and terrifying decisions you could ever make in your traveling life.

But it doesn’t have to be!

The world can be divided into three types of people.

  • Those that have traveled solo
  • Those that will travel solo
  • Those that would rather step in front of a bus.
Travel around world

This guide is aimed predominantly for people in the second bracket, a little bit for those in the first, and a considerable amount for those people who would point blank refuse to travel in anything less than a pack of ten soul-mates they’re extremely well-acquainted with.

Basically, I’m going to tell you – “You can do this!”

people at airport - travel concept

Successful solo travel is one of the greatest achievements anyone could ever hope for during this very short kick-of-the-ball we have on the planet. It’s one of the most rewarding, fulfilling, challenging and life-affirming goals we can set ourselves.

This post is an attempt at being the definitive guide to going it alone and flying solo. It’ll answer all your questions, calm your fears, ignite your desires and encourage you to take that all important first step on a road of discovery that you will remember until you draw your last breath.

There are links to more in-depth guides with tips and tricks throughout – including the best places to travel if you’re alone – so keep your eyes peeled.

And there’s some expert advice available from those brave adventuring souls who have been there, done it and got the T-shirt – a selection of interviews with solo travel gurus.

Let’s dive right in and take a look at why people should travel solo in the first place. But just to be fair – I’ve added the disadvantages too, so you can make up your own mind if it’s worth it for you. *

*Hint – it is worth it, and you’d be madder than a box of frogs not to give it a go.

CHAPTER 1:

The Advantages of Traveling Solo

solo traveler with backpack

There are ups, there are downs, there are round and rounds, but ultimately, you’ll discover that getting out on the road by oneself has more positives than negatives.

Let’s take a look – but this list is far from exhaustive – I’m just bringing up the big guns here.

Freedom Baby!

If you’ve done any traveling at all, you’ll recognize the scenario of seeing a large group of people plodding around together having to make decisions as a collective.

This, to my mind, is one of the worst possible ways to explore the world.

I don’t mince my words when I say – I would rather stay at home than partake in such a venture.

You’ll rarely satisfy everyone, someone will ALWAYS throw a tantrum, and eventually, there’s going to be an epic fall-out that results in nobody ever speaking to each other again.

Alright, so it might not be quite that bad, but you get the idea.

With solo travel, the main and most magnificent advantage is your total freedom. Especially when doing a road-trip alone.

YOU decide where you want to go.

YOU decide when you want to go.

YOU decide how long you’ll stay.

YOU decide where and what to eat.

(I could go on with this list for some time.)

And you’ll soon find that choosing your own route or what sights and attractions to visit is invaluable. Particularly when – in an alternative scenario – you want to attend a 1930’s feminist photography exhibition while your companion wants to visit the red-light district…

NO COMPROMISES – what you say goes. You’ll wonder why you’ve never done this before.

Making Friends for Life

How many times have you seen couples traveling together who never say a word to anyone else?

While that’s alright for some, there’s little point staying in a hostel and not enjoying conversation with other guests.

Likewise, groups of people can often stick in their own clique and learn nothing of their fellow travelers.

And they’ll rarely speak to locals or introduce themselves to the people living in another country.

When you’re on your own, you’ll be surprised just how fast and easy it is to meet new people and potentially find the real best friends you never thought existed.

Sure, we’ve all got great pals we grew up with, buddies from school or university, work colleagues or that one mate we don’t know where they came from but we like them anyway.

But trust me when I say – the connections you’ll make during random encounters when you’re traveling solo is worth a million times more.

It’s just on another level.

And it will astound you just how much you have in common with someone you might never have met.

Comfort Zone? What Comfort Zone?!

You’ll be stepping out of it – that’s for sure.

And it can only be a good thing.

If you’ve only ever traveled in a group or you’ve not traveled at all, then being on your own forces you to make the big-kid decisions. There’s nobody else to rely on, it’s just you and your own problem-solving ability.

From negotiating a new city for the first time to breaking down a language barrier, or dealing with a taxi driver who tries to take advantage of tourists – the list is endless of the new challenges, trials, and tribulations you will face.

All while being thousand (or million) miles away from the comfortable bubble you call home.

You will face these challenges – and you will overcome them.

Because that’s how we grow.

Skills to Pay the Bills

Do you think after traveling the world for 6 months solo, you’ll come back the same person who went out?

Not a chance.

After stepping out of the aforementioned comfort zone, you’ll learn all sorts of new skills that you can implement in your life on a daily basis.

Your confidence will skyrocket, your problem solving and time management will improve, you’ll be a demon organizer and planner, your ability to adapt will be that of a chameleon, decision-making will be god-like, your people and social skills will be up to the wazoo and you’ll feel like you can accomplish anything.

It’s a win-win-win-win-win-win-win (etc) situation.

And it will do wonders for your resume. It’s amazing how many employers look favorably on the worldly wise because when it comes to those in-demand skills, you’ll have them in abundance.

If you can trek through the Cambodian jungle, figure out the Moscow underground or survive the Budapest party scene then conquering a rough day at the office will be child’s play.

A Bigger, Better, Brighter, Bolder You.

Some people say they go traveling to find themselves, and while this is a little bit of a cliché, that’s because it’s true.

With traveling solo, you’ll learn far much more about yourself and your capabilities, your strengths, and weaknesses, your boundaries, and limitations, your hopes, dreams, aspirations, favorite 7/11 snack at 5 am in the morning and everything in between – then you would in an entire lifetime of doing just about ANYTHING else.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.Mark Twain

When you’re out there on your own, you’ll come to understand just how right he was.

You will educate yourself more in one week than a whole year looking at a textbook.

You will find what it is you’re looking for.

And making memories is much, much more important than owning stuff. You will return home far richer than you could ever have imagined.

The question is – what are you waiting for?

CHAPTER 2:

The Disadvantages of Traveling Solo

Young traveler

I promised I would be fair, didn’t I?

So, in a futile attempt to balance it out, here are some possible disadvantages to traveling solo.

Isolation

A common concern with people who have never traveled solo is the fear that they will be lonely.

Admittedly, it is nice to share the camaraderie of a larger group, and you might feel the odd lonesome pang from time to time.

This is only natural – but check out the FAQ and interview section for more thoughts and advice on how to manage this. It’s not a large enough obstacle to keep you from hitting out on your own.

It’s More Dangerous?

So is walking across the road to get to work in the morning.

Some might believe that being alone poses a greater risk, but it just depends on the situation.

Something bad could happen to you anywhere in the world if you’re simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Yes, there is safety in numbers, but numbers also attract much more attention. You’re more likely to slip under the radar flying solo.

Again, refer to the FAQ section below for more info, but there are bucket-loads of advice out there for staying safe while traveling alone, so don’t let it keep you up at night.

ebook cover 3d

Get 50 Solo Travel Safety Tips eBook for FREE

No more reading loads of posts about solo traveler safety. Get your 50 point safety list in one eBook. Be ready, stay safe!

Nobody to Share the Sights With

To my mind, this is the only real disadvantage to solo travel. The others are – to a certain degree – negligible or at least within the confines of your control.

But when you look upon the Great Wall of China for the first time and you’ve nobody standing next to you to hear you exclaim – how f**king cool is that?!

Then it might leave you feeling a little empty.

The trick is to make sure you’ve made new mates before embarking on such an excursion – but there really is nothing like standing next to a loved one or close friend when you’ve climbed that mountain together.

CHAPTER 3:

airport safety control

There’s no doubt that solo travel is a growing trend and we’ve all seen it gain some great popularity over the past year or so. There are many articles all over the web about how solo traveling is becoming the next big thing in the travel industry altogether.

But it’s not only solo travel that has been growing and is continuing to do so.

The whole travel industry altogether has been growing and as of last year, it counted for more than 10% of the world GDP.

In different countries, the number of people arriving for a temporary visit is affected by a lot of factors, which of course affects overall travel trends as well. With a decline in travel activity in some countries, the world trend is still growing and holds a strong position.

Which only means that more people are taking the step to explore, discover and enjoy the world.

Among all of that, solo traveling is continuously gaining more popularity within the travel society. I want to point out that this positive trend itself answers a couple of the frequently asked questions on solo traveling.

Let’s talk: Women Solo Travelers and Safety

In a couple of words: if solo traveling would not be safe, this trend would not be growing and gaining this kind of popularity.

And when it comes to this aspect of solo traveling, it is also worth mentioning that approximately 70% of all solo travelers are women.Women vs Men Graphic

Approximately 70% of all solo travelers are women Click To Tweet

This is one of the facts I always want to point out when asked about the safety of women, who travel alone.

What is more, there are some specific reasons behind women choosing to travel solo much more often than men do.

And when it comes to showing interest in solo travel and asking questions on the safety and other factors of solo travel, it is important to look at these stats. Simply because they say a lot and can give a good look into what you are going for.

So if the example of others make you feel safer about the decision to travel alone, you can also start with the most popular destination. And for women travelers it’s Europe, but of course not for entirely all women.

Europe is the most popular destination for women solo travelers. Click To Tweet

However, there is not a single best destination for all solo travelers. And that freedom is exactly what makes solo travel so special and widely loved.

europe map

Keep in mind that your desired destination has a lot to do with the amount of money you are going to spend on the way. And this is where an interesting phenomenon appears.

Millennials have less money, but more time. Therefore they are taking longer travels, that leads to spending more.

This is How Much it Could Cost to Travel Alone

But keep in mind that the amount you spend on the way is directly related to how you plan your trip and the decisions you make on the move.

I many cases, a significant part of all spending goes towards accommodations. So it’s important that you do at least some planning on that if you don’t want to waste too much money.

But it is all a part of the price you need to pay, to see the things you want to see and enjoy whatever it is you want to enjoy. I don’t want to say that solo traveling is cheap, but it definitely lets you cut the costs on things you simply see as useless.

82% of people who travel alone spend less than $4,999 per trip and only 16% spend $5,000 to $10,000 per trip.

82% of people who travel alone spend less than $4,999 per trip Click To Tweet

Some might say that this is not cheap in any way. But there is something you have to keep in mind.

Solo travelers will usually go on longer trips than others. Simply because there is less to worry about and not as many reasons to return home after a week of traveling.

Traveling with facility means at least one parent has to return to work, the kids have their things to do and it is just not comfortable to be traveling for a long time.

As for solo travelers, there is complete freedom. That is why they will go away for up to 2 or 3 months. Even more for some solo traveling enthusiasts. This is the reason why the price of travel seems to be higher with solo travelers.

plane

Just to point out the importance of accommodation it is worth mentioning that about 82% of all travelers have not chosen an accommodation provider when starting to plan a trip.

For you travelers, this is where you could cut some costs of the travel by planning ahead and using services that allow you to book great deals. What is more, I suggest you use services that allow you to change things on the move.

As for travel-related businesses, this is your chance to provide travelers with what they are going to be looking for.

The next thing is to find the right way to communicate with your audience. And there is something here that travelers can also keep in mind – make videos for other travelers! As for travelers – watch videos to find the perfect location you want to stay at and visit.

For travelers, the video format still is truly important. Out of every 5 travelers, 3 are influenced by online videos when it comes to making a decision on activities, destinations, accommodations, and brands they will be using.

Out of every 5 travelers, 3 are influenced by online videos

Out of every 5 travelers, 3 are influenced by online videos Click To Tweet

I would also like to say this since we are talking about videos. If you ever doubt yourself on traveling solo for the first time, take a look at the experience of others. You will be thrilled and excited to a level where nothing is going to stop you from going.

So Why Do We Choose to Travel Alone…

I know that for a lot of solo travelers this is simply the urge to go into something unknown. But as statistics show, there is a significant part of solo travelers who travel for specific reasons.

This goes specifically for women solo travelers who, as mentioned before, make 70% of all solo travelers.

Reasons why women travelers choose to travel solo.

Reasons why women travel alone

We could say that a typical solo traveler is a woman who is looking for unique destinations for inspiration, independence, and self-discovery.

59% of female solo travelers plan to travel again in the next 12 months.

59% of female solo travelers plan to do again in the next 12 months. Click To Tweet

This just shows that solo traveling is kind of addicting and no fear that you once had will hold you back.

If we look at all solo travelers together, there are still some clear trends in why more people are choosing to travel solo.

And what are those?

The one main reason is simply INDEPENDENCE.

In fact, 55% of all solo travelers point this out as the single most important reason for the decision to go at it alone.

How solo travelers choose a destination.

How solo travelers choose destination

With all that said, people really doubt themselves and the idea of traveling solo. I can understand that because I too had some questions when I traveled solo for the first time.

But then again there’s the saying: you don’t know what you don’t know.

Like with children, marriage, first love (and other worth-mentioning events), you only truly understand why others are raving about it only when you, yourself, exeperience it.

CHAPTER 4:

Top Tips and Advice for Traveling Alone

smiling wanderer traveler with backpack

In this section, I aim to cover a few essentials that will aid anyone thinking of taking the plunge and going solo.

But they’re just as useful however you travel.

As with most advice on this page, it is by no means exhaustive. These are just 10 of the best tips I have accumulated that will hopefully make your experience safer, relatively pain-free and ultimately more rewarding.

1. Tell Someone Where You’re Going

The age-old advice you probably got when you were a kid still rings true here. Whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re going – let someone know.

Be it the hostel staff, a friend or family member back home or anyone you trust – even if you’re just popping out, it’s good practice to give someone a heads up, just to be on the safe side.

2. Immerse Yourself

Do the thing, take the class, learn the stuff, visit the place…throw yourself into the experience to get the most out of it.

Revel in your new-found freedom and use it. Cowering in the corner never did anyone any favors.

3. It’s all About the Confidence…

When you go – go with a purpose. Confidence is a very attractive quality. It’ll bring new friends, it’ll keep unwanted types at bay and it will enable you to open up to a world of possibilities.

4. And the Common Sense

A little bit goes a long way. Keep a good head on your shoulders. Don’t do anything rash or stupid. Make good judgment calls and learn to spot scams or dodgy situations.

If you don’t have them already, the skills and street smarts will come in time – but it doesn’t hurt to practice.

5. Don’t get too Drunk

Simple. A wasted solo traveler is a much easier target than a sober one.

Watch what you drink and who you’re drinking with. Know your limits. And if an offer looks too good to be true – it most likely is.

Plus, not being drunk helps with tip #4, having enough common sense to evaluate situations.

6. Pack Light

You don’t need three pairs of jeans. Lay out what you think you’ll need to pack and half it. Make that quarter it.

So long as you do regular laundry, you can last months on very little.

7. Separate Valuables

Just generally sound travel advice. Keep your passport, cards, cash and other important documents in different places. Invest in a hidden money belt or an anti-theft backpack for day-trips.

Keeping everything in the same pocket or compartment pretty much shows you don’t actually want to keep any of this stuff, also it screams: “Will someone, please, rob me?”.

8. Get Insurance – Or Don’t

You’ll get loads of travel blogs and websites telling you that insurance is a must. While it is a very good idea, you don’t actually NEED it.

I’ve had many traveling buddies wander the globe without it with no problems whatsoever.

Perhaps they were just lucky? Would you really want to risk it?

Anything can happen at any time, and if you’re on your own you’ll need all the help you can get – particularly if you’re up against the backside of beyond in an inhospitable and unsympathetic locale.

My advice would be to consider where you’re going and what you’re doing – and focus on the health side of insurance – rather than possessions. Stuff can always be replaced – you can’t be.

So, do you really need it for 6 months interrailing around Europe as opposed to hitchhiking the length of Africa?

Are you planning on doing a spot of skiing or just a three-day break in Vienna?

You get my point – but on your head be it!

9. Carry Protection

I’m not talking about condoms (although – you should definitely have a bunch of those).

Although it’s illegal in some countries (better to check beforehand) having a pocket or purse-sized pepper or CS gas spray is highly recommended.

It’s highly likely you’ll never have to use it – but that little extra peace of mind is invaluable – especially if you’re on your own or a female traveler.

Don’t, whatever you do, carry a knife. Statistics show you’re far more likely to get it used on yourself than it successfully being used by you to get out of a dangerous situation.

10. Trust People

Looking back over these tips, I realize that many are to do with safety when traveling alone. And while they’re not intended to put the fear of God into you – it might put some people off.

But negative incidents are comparatively rare, and one of the best pieces of advice I can impart on you is that people are good.

For all small minority of a*sholes who want to ruin it for everyone else, there are far more hundreds, thousands and millions of people who are decent, kind and considerate human beings. Human beings who will help you, shelter you, guide you and give you the clothes off their back should you need it.

Trust in the good in people. Strangers are just simply friends you’ve not met yet.

CHAPTER 5:

FAQs About Solo Travel

travel concept

To more assist you in your quest for solo travel guidance, I’ve included a thorough frequently asked questions section.

If you can’t find it here – it probably isn’t worth asking.

Where do you Even Start?

One of the first things that long-term solo travelers will be asked is how it all came about.

We all have different stories and reasons for traveling the world alone, but I can bet we all pretty much had similar beginnings.

You make the decision to go, you decide where you want to start (for some this is simply closing eyes and pointing at a spot on a map), you budget for your trip, organize and pack your gear and when the time comes – you leave!

Personally, I’ve always thought the best way to travel is with as little constraint as possible.

Don’t plan too much, don’t book hundreds of tours or days out. Don’t have an itinerary scheduled like a military operation.

It doesn’t have to be this huge headache, hernia-inducing problem. All aspects of travel should be – and are – enjoyable.

Just go with the flow, man!

Isn’t Solo Travel Dangerous?

There’s a common misconception that solo travel is dangerous, particularly if you’re a woman. But there are numerous places where it’s perfectly safe for women to travel solo. Everyone should travel solo at some point in their lives!

It’ll help debunk this myth.

Do you live in a city or have you ever lived in a city? Maybe you’ve lived somewhere near a busy road? What about in a place where the weather can turn violent?

Perhaps you’ve even spent time in the most dangerous place in the world – your own kitchen.

Traveling solo is no more dangerous than any of these things.

As I previously mentioned, something bad can happen to you at any time – that’s just the way the world (and life) works.

I would take the same precautions wandering around London as I would wandering around Bangkok.

But obviously, there are more dangerous spots in the world, such as war zones, countries with civil unrest or suffering a disease epidemic. Obviously, it’s best to steer clear of such places.

There are a gazillion articles and books out there on how to stay safe while traveling, along with myths and truths about being a solo backpacker.

Don’t be intimidated by scaremongering – and don’t pay attention to everything you see or read in the news!

beach side

How do you Deal with Loneliness?

It doesn’t hit every solo traveler, but if or when it does it can hit hard. The fear of being alone, lonely and loneliness is one of the biggest obstacles for people who might be considering a solo trip.

The good news is there are a number of tactics, strategies, solutions, coping mechanisms (call them what you will) in order to – at the very least – deal with the inevitable pangs of loneliness we all feel from time to time.

Travel concept

Make New Friends and Travel Companions

The first is a no-brainer really and one of the aforementioned best reasons people travel solo.

Use this time alone to make new friends. Get out there and force yourself to strike up conversations – it’s a lot easier than you think, even if you’re a timid wallflower.

We, travelers, are an extremely friendly bunch – perhaps to a fault – and there’s always someone willing to welcome a newbie into the fold. So – when you see a group of people chatting in the common area of a hostel – go and say hi.

Aside from this, there are always people on the lookout for travel companions. This is particularly true if you happen to be traveling a well-trod path, something like the famous “gringo trail” through Central and South America.

There’s a strong chance you’ll meet someone going your way who will be more than happy to have company for a few kilometers/cities/countries/months/years/a lifetime.

And the interesting thing is, once you’ve dipped your toe back into the waters of communal living, there’s a strong chance you’ll grow weary of it once you’ve had your fill. You can then strike back out on your own again, enjoying your cake and eating it too.

people sitting and walking in airport terminal - travel concept

Changing your Mindset

It’s all too easy to wallow in depression and anxiety, and loneliness can be a parasitic, unwanted leech on our wellbeing and health.

Telling someone not to be depressed is like trying to put a band-aid onto cancer. Likewise, telling someone not to be lonely isn’t going to do anyone any favors.

The only person who can help you – is you.

As hard as it might at first seem, changing your mindset is an extremely effective way of combating loneliness and depression in general. And the beauty of traveling is – there’s more than enough distractions out there to keep your brain from festering.

Read a book, visit a museum, hike a trail, watch a movie, do some exercise, climb a mountain, ride a horse, cook a meal (the more communal the better) play a board game, brush your teeth, chase some pigeons…the list is endless for activities that will help you get out of your head space and beat loneliness.

And don’t be afraid of doing something that usually might go against the very notion and reason for travel in the first place.

Don’t beat yourself up if you want to watch a movie instead of visiting Machu Picchu (although that is an extreme example – you probably should see that). We all need downtime occasionally – so treat yourself.

Touching Base

Imagine being Marco Polo, intrepidly exploring the wilds of the Russian Steppe circa 1270 and you’re suddenly homesick and lonely. Spare a thought for him next time you’re skyping your family.

In this day and age, the wonder of technology has shrunk the world into a comparatively small place, and the beauty of that is your friends and family are actually never too far away.

So, if you ever feel really down in the dumps while you’re traveling solo, drop them a line – they’ll be just as glad to hear from you as you will for them to give you the energy boost you need and the encouragement to keep on truckin’.

Or, they might tell you to –

Go Home

The last resort yes, but a resort nonetheless. If ever it gets so bad, remember that you’re not on another planet, so just go home!

Solo travel isn’t for everyone, and kudos to you if you try it and it doesn’t work out.

There are loads of ways you can still enjoy traveling alone, but there’s no shame in deciding you’re not cut out for it.

As with most things in life – do what makes you happy, and if that means a shorter trip – then so be it!

How do you Meet or Talk to Locals?

There are certain countries in the world where the language barrier feels like it spans the very length and breadth of time and space itself. Where try as you might, there is no way that either party is going to get their point across.

Then you just end up shouting at each other in your own language hoping that something will stick.

But unless you’re in the deeper, darker parts of the world, this is, thankfully, quite rare. You’ll nearly always be able to find someone who has an understanding of English. Many times, they’ll be even better at speaking it than you (if English is not your first language).

Here are a few quick tricks to help you integrate and meet the locals.

Learn the Lingo

This is a generally sage piece of advice for any traveler, but learning a few words of the local language before you go will stand you in good stead to make friends and put a smile on people’s faces.

You don’t have to be fluent – just enough to say the basics – with please, thank you and sorry your top priorities.

Even armed with even a little bit of the foreign tongue, you’ll find that it will make their day because you made the effort to try.

Don’t be that obnoxious, ignorant tourist abroad and you’ll keep everyone happy.

Go Out

One of the best ways to meet locals is to actually go out.

Frequenting cafes, bars, clubs or other entertainment venues will have you rubbing shoulders with the indigenous peoples in no time.

The conversation will flow (Dutch courage or not) – and you’ll discover that most folks around the world are a friendly bunch, keen to make foreign buddies and even keener to show off their own country.

You’ll have a guided city tour with your new friends before you know it.

Check Couchsurfing Meet Ups or Expat Groups

Couchsurfing isn’t just great for finding places to stay, it’s also brilliant at bringing like-minded travelers and locals together.

If you’re feeling lost and alone in a new place, check to see if there is a couchsurf meet-up group. Most major cities will have one – and in many smaller locations too. They’re springing up all over the place.

Failing that, expat groups will also have regular meet and greets, where locals, travelers and people working abroad can all find new friends and good company.

ebook cover 3d

Get 50 Solo Travel Safety Tips eBook for FREE

No more reading loads of posts about solo traveler safety. Get your 50 point safety list in one eBook. Be ready, stay safe!

Is there a Specific Age (or Age Group) that You Would Recommend for Traveling Solo?

The short answer is no, but generally speaking, you should be of sound mind and capable of making decisions.

Older than 18 is a good start – but then there’s no age limit. You can be as old as the hills themselves to still get a lot out of it.

Just make sure you’re in decent physical shape – highly advisable if you’re traveling for a long time as it will eventually take its toll.

What if my Family and Friends don’t Approve?

This is a tricky one – nobody wants to upset their friends and family and risk alienating them. But if you’re an adult, it’s ultimately your responsibility and choice.

It’s up to you to convince your loved ones that this is what your heart desires and that it is the best thing for your life – because it really is!

Sure, they’re going to be worried and concerned – as any good parent or friend should be – but sitting them down and rationally discussing your decision is the best way forward.

It’s all about communication and trust. Find a compromise. Schedule regular check-in times and stick to them.

At the end of the day though – it’s your life.

They can’t keep a bird’s wings clipped for long.

summer beach vacation

What if I get Bored?

If you travel for long enough (I’m talking years here) then there’s always the chance you will become jaded with it and need a break. The dreaded slump, when traveling doesn’t seem exciting anymore.

The beauty of travel is that it will always be there. If you’re burned out, then it’s okay to take a breather. Contrary to popular belief (or certain travel blogs would make you believe) it’s not a competition.

But if you’re bored after only a few days or weeks on the road – then you’re doing it wrong.

There are literally thousands of new experiences out there waiting to be enjoyed and if you’re not enjoying them, then you need to mix it up.

Change your routine, see something you wouldn’t normally see, put down roots for a while, pick up some volunteer work, paint something, build a model aircraft.

Seriously, I know one guy who built a Spitfire in a hostel because he just needed grounding for a while.

Your enthusiasm and zest for the road will soon return, so worry not.

beach

Do You Have to be Rich to Travel the World?

It’s a common misconception that in order to travel you need to be rolling in cash, filthy rich, in the 1% and own a helicopter.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, most travelers, backpackers, and gap-year students are exactly the opposite – barely a penny to their names.

It’s entirely possible to travel the world on anything from $5 to $50 day – depending on where you go and where you stay of course. 2 nights at the Ritz in London will blow a year’s travel savings for most people.

There are loads of tips, tricks, and techniques for you to see the world on a budget, so much so, there are hundreds of books written about the subject.

It would take me several thousand words to cover such advice, but here it is in a nutshell.

  1. Plan well.
  2. Stick to your budget.
  3. Choose your destinations wisely.
  4. Consider hitchhiking or ridesharing.
  5. Travel in the off-season.
  6. Shop around for deals.

I was getting carried away even with these 6 – so you get the idea. To answer your question – no, you don’t have to be rich to travel the world. End of discussion.

What if I get Homesick?

I could write an entire article about getting homesick while on the road – it happens to the best of us.

While there are a lucky few it doesn’t affect at all, for most people, the pangs of love and familiarity they share with the motherland will say hello from time to time.

But like loneliness and depression, there are loads of strategies you can implement to overcome homesickness. Here are just a few of the best.

Call Home and then Don’t Call Home

As previously mentioned, social media and communication apps make it easier than ever before to stay connected with loved ones back home.

If you’re feeling a niggle of homesickness, make some time to speak to the folks or friends wherever you or they may be.

But don’t rely on it too much!

If you’re using it as a crutch, you’ll find you’ll be spending more time hanging onto every little happening at home rather than getting out there and exploring where you are right now. It’ll hardly have been worth traveling at all.

Try to limit your interactions with home base – and concentrate on forging your own way in the world around you. Home will still be there tomorrow.

Keep Busy and Active

A great way to keep out of the dilapidating clutches of homesickness is to distract yourself. It’s a great technique for many things in life – trick your body and mind into focussing on something else.

Again, like loneliness and depression, exercise and activity are the enemies of negative thinking and thoughts. Banish your homesickness by getting back on the horse.

Literally – riding a horse is a great start!

Look After Yourself

The clue is in the word. HomeSICKness. You’re not well. In that case, treat yourself as you would if you were actually sick with flu.

Indulge in some great food, buy yourself something nice, splurge on a fun experience like skydiving or scuba diving.

Treat yourself – you deserve it!

Oh, and two final pieces of advice that are invaluable at any time of life, traveling or otherwise, homesick or depressed, bored or lonely.

  1. Maintain personal hygiene.
  2. Stay off the booze.

Sticking to that will be half the battle.

Where are the Best Places to Travel Alone?

A great question and one that could be up for a long debate – particularly if you’re a solo female traveler.

The ever-trusty google is awash with pages and pages with lists and lists of the best destinations to visit if you’re on your own.

However, just to get the ball rolling and as an at-a-glance-guide, here are my top country or region picks for solo travel (in no particular order).

  • Germany.
  • Thailand.
  • Scandinavia.
  • Iceland.
  • Malaysia.
  • Iran – Yes, you read that correctly.
  • The Balkans.
  • The Baltics.
  • Oh, pretty much all of Europe.
  • New Zealand.

This list is by no means exhaustive – it was just off the top of my head. Likewise, below you’ll find a selection of countries that are great to travel solo over an extended trip if you’re looking for a nicely wrapped travel itinerary.

Again, in no particular order.

  • Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia.
  • Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia.
  • Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam.
  • Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania.
  • Scotland and Ireland.

That’s more than enough to wet your solo traveling appetites!

Airport - travel concept

How do you Decide Where to Stay?

This will depend entirely on your budget, but for solo travelers, I’d heartily recommend staying in hostels. In fact, this entire post is based on the fact that you’ll be doing just that.

But don’t be alarmed – they’re not the dodgy dives they might have been in your parents or their parents’ lifetimes. Hostels today are every bit as comfortable as hotels and bed & breakfasts – even more so in many cases.

Remember though – you get what you pay for. I’ve stayed in some heavenly abodes, and I’ve also stayed in some total sh*tholes where I’d have been better off sleeping on the street.

Of course, feel free to use Airbnb, hotels or other guesthouses, but if you want to meet new people, enjoy a social atmosphere and make your money go further – hostels are your best option.

A simple google search will provide you with all the info you need for wherever you’re going. I find typing “best hostels in___________” will bring up more than enough to choose from.

Hostelworld is a great resource – but here’s a top tip; never book through them, always book directly with the hostel.

They take a commission that would otherwise be going where it should be going – straight to the hostels themselves.

And don’t forget Couchsurfing if you’re really on a budget and looking to meet locals and new friends.

Hostel wise, always do your research and ask yourself the following basic questions.

1. Does it have a Good Location?

Where is the hostel located? Is it within easy reach of transport hubs? Close to the action? Halfway up a mountain? Where would you prefer to be?

2. Is it a Party Hostel?

It’s as simple as this – if you like to party and don’t mind potentially being kept awake all night – then party hostels are for you.

If this isn’t your bag – go somewhere else. DON’T BOOK A PARTY HOSTEL AND COMPLAIN WHEN YOU CAN’T GET ANY SLEEP!

You have been warned.

3. Is it Clean?

With hundreds of people coming through the doors daily – particularly during the high season – the cleanliness rating can sometimes take a battering.

Some hostels you can eat your food off the floor, in others, you might feel like the very air is contaminated.

Remember – you get what you pay for, so if you’re in a 2-bucks-a-night place with 100 beds, don’t be surprised if you find hair in the plughole.

4. Are the Staff Decent?

Good staff can make or break a hostel, so check the reviews to see what others are saying about them.

Don’t forget though – they’re human too. One disgruntled review from an overly sensitive type does not make a good account break.

5. Does it Suit My Budget?

Book a hostel that has everything you need and is the right price. There’s something out there for everyone.

If you manage to tick the boxes of what you’re looking for, everything else should fall into place. Failing that – you could always go solo camping.

How do you Make Friends Traveling Alone?

How have you made friends up until now? (I am assuming you have friends). Making them while traveling isn’t that much different.

In fact – it’s a whole lot easier.

Again – and like many of these frequently asked questions – I could write an entire article dedicated to the subject.

But for now, here’s a quick rundown of things you can do to meet your new best mates.

  1. Stay in hostels. You’ll make a potential new friend the second you enter a dorm room.
  2. Go on group excursions or trips. Stuck together for a day? Guess you’d better talk.
  3. Keep an open mind. Not everyone is going to be the same as you or your mates back home.

That’s pretty much all you’ll need. I can honestly say hand on heart, that of all your worries about traveling solo, making new friends is probably the least.

Even if you struggle to make them normally!

How does it Feel to Travel Alone?

In a word – liberating. You can’t put a price on the freedom you’ll feel when you’re out there on your own.

It’s spiritual, it’s life-affirming. It’s everything.

You know that feeling Jack has when he’s standing at the bow of the Titanic and he screams “I’M THE KING OF THE WORLD!”?

That.

These resources provide more answers to specific questions

You can find more answers to convince yourself from more bloggers.

Hear me out on this one!

These are all mostly opinions, but they can be just enough to get the feeling of what solo travel is like. So there is a good reason to follow up with other travel bloggers. HERE ARE SOME ARTICLES you should go thru:

And that is not all…

Only official answers from your government or other institutions should be taken seriously for some specific questions. Here are some that might come in hand:

Use Travel Alerts and Warnings for information on states that are currently dangerous for travelers. This information is crucial and might, in fact, save your life.

Another important question is travel Visas. U.S. travel and work Visas are an important part of the travel if you want to visit this country. The same goes for UK Visas. This actually is one of the things that you have to look for some more information up in regards where you are from and where you are going. Informative sites like this can be truly helpful.

Then there is this site that allows you to compare passports and see how visa-free they are.

CHAPTER 6:

Interviews that Set a Good Example for You

solo backpacker in outdoor

But what is behind these statistics and who gives the best answers to your questions? Well… It’s the people who dare to travel alone and are always looking for new horizons.

I talked to some of them and asked them 5 simple questions:

  • The most important lesson you have learned from traveling?
  • What makes you get up and go out?
  • How do you capture and save your memories?
  • Your dream trip?
  • What is the one thing no-one should do when traveling?

And these are the answers I received.

By the way, these will give you some EXTRA DOSE OF INSPIRATION and a better look at why we travel.

Kaspars Misins in Nepal

Kaspars Misins

Kaspars is a long-term traveler and a travel blogger from Latvia sharing his travel stories and photography at WeAreFromLatvia.com. Together with his girlfriend they have been traveling and living abroad since 2013.

The most important lesson you have learned from traveling?

We all are the same.

Yes, we maybe look different. We wear different clothes. And we speak in different languages. But we all are the same deep down.

What makes you get up and go out?

A simple thought – life is an interesting journey.

Our planet, nature, people, different cultures and traditions, it all fascinates me. There is so much I want to try and experience, to see with my own eyes.

And I know that all of it is possible nowadays. You can just buy a plane ticket and be on the other side of the globe already tomorrow. Yes, it’s not as easy for everyone. But we, Latvians, have one of the most powerful passports in the world. We can travel everywhere.

Knowing that I can’t just sit and wait for something. I don’t want to wait for something. So I get up and work for it.

How do you capture and save your memories?

I love taking photos.

In December 2015 I bought a new camera – Fuji X30. And since then I have it with me most of the time. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s the best camera I have had so far, and I’m really satisfied with it. It has helped me to find a new passion.

What I do now after a tiring day of, let’s say, hiking or sightseeing? I sit down to go through my photos, to edit and to backup them.

You can check out my photos on Instagram.

Your dream trip?

I have several, and the list is growing… But if I need to name only one, then let it be an overland trip across Africa.

What is the one thing no-one should do when traveling?

Don’t be an asshole. And with that I mean – respect other cultures and traditions, respect the way people are living in other countries.

Kathy At Walkabout Wanderer

Kathy At Walkabout Wanderer

Kathy is a Walkabout Wanderer. She quit her job in 2016 as a nurse and is now wandering around the world. Having traveled to over 60 countries, she shares her travel on her blog along with tips to help you travel the world.

The most important lesson you have learned from traveling?

To be open-minded and not judge people/a country by other people’s experiences. Many a time I’ve had a preconceived idea that a friendly local is only helping me in certain countries for money.

However, most of the time they have just wanted to practice their English, learn more about me or just be helpful.

Now I make sure I approach each place with an open mind and make the most of my experience but still be aware and travel in a safe way.

What makes you get up and go out?

The idea of seeing the world. I have always been an active person and love exploring places. If I am traveling and I don’t explore then I feel like I am missing out on the area.

When I wasn’t traveling and working full time, I would always go somewhere on my days off if I had more than two days off in a row.

How do you capture and save your memories?

I always travel with my camera as I love taking photos but I am very conscious that I do not want to be viewing everything through a lens. It saddens me when I see other people with their face in their phone rather than viewing the wonderful surroundings they are in.

Apart from updating my Instagram and Facebook, I do not do anything with my photos. I really should find something a little bit ‘different’ to collect these memories together.

In addition to this, I write posts on my blog about my experiences to share with others. However, I can not write about every amazing experience I have. So they are all saved in my brain which I share with people from time to time.

Sometimes I feel that I might bore my friends with my stories which is one of the reasons why I love Couchsurfing so much. It is a great way of meeting like minded people and sharing experiences with them.

Your dream trip?

Wow, this is a hard question to answer. I am really keen to visit Tibet and Iran. I have heard amazing things about both countries. Another would be to visit the Antarctic as then I will have been to every continent.

Other times I feel that I am on a dream trip due to the experiences I have with local people such as when I traveled in Myanmar or when I was invited to my friends’ wedding in India.

What is the one thing no-one should do when traveling?

I have seen this a lot and it really annoys me. You should never treat another person as a lesser person than you. I have seen many tourists speak down to local people as they feel that they are better than them.

On a few occasions, I have stepped in and spoke up for the person. Pointed out the rude behavior of the other person. Sometimes the offender is embarrassed and apologizes but other times they defend their behavior and leave. I have always been thanked by the victim.

We are all human.

Matthew Lane

Matthew Lane

I’m Matthew Lane, I run Facebook group UK Backpackers. My first experience of solo travel was in 2010 at the age of 18 spending 3 months in Ghana volunteering in a remote village. Since then I have become a seasonal solo backpacker.

The most important lesson you have learned from traveling?

That there is so much beauty in the world and to appreciate everything I have, I’ve met many people in very poor situations and they’re the happiest and most generous and kind people I’ve ever met.

What makes you get up and go out?

For me it’s Mother Nature that calls, I just want to see all of the beauty of our natural world.

How do you capture and save your memories?

I usually use my phone camera or my GoPro, although I don’t capture everything in great detail, I like to live in the moment and enjoy every second of it rather than messing around being a cameraman, so most of my memories can only be shared through my stories.

Your dream trip?

It’s never about the destination; it’s all about the journey. I’m pretty happy when I’m wandering about in Natural Parks and wild camping. But I also love traveling too and volunteering in 3rd world countries, it’s very rewarding.

What is the one thing no-one should do when traveling?

Don’t ignore your own country!

I’ve met so many people abroad that would do anything to travel around my country, the UK; yet I took it for granted.

And if you’re new to solo traveling or traveling in general then exploring your own country can be a damn good place to start, besides loads of people you’ll meet across the world will want to know to best places to go and it’s pretty embarrassing when you haven’t a clue.

Sharon Gourlay

Sharon Gourlay

I am a total travel addict and have visited 83 official countries. I am determined to hit 100 by 40! I am a big planner and love organizing travel, talking about travel, writing about travel, really anything to do with travel at all.

Blogger at Digital Nomad Wannabe and Travel Writer/Blogger at Where’s Sharon?

The most important lesson you have learned from traveling?

That we are all the same! It should be obvious but it’s not always for some reason. I recently went to North Korea and initially I was shocked to just see normal people doing normal things.

What makes you get up and go out?

I’m an experience junkie. I want to see and do everything! I’m getting close to country 100 and I look forward to hitting most of them one day.

How do you capture and save your memories?

Photos and my blog. My travel blog started 12 years ago and really was just a journal at that point. It’s great to have all my memories recorded.

Your dream trip?

It was North Korea but I just knocked that off. I knew it would be such a unique experience and it was. I’m not sure what should be #1 on the bucket list now as I can’t believe anything will measure up!

Trans Siberian or a trip through the stans is probably it.

What is the one thing no-one should do when traveling?

Be arrogant and obnoxious. I really hate it when people whine and complain about a destination not being like home. Isn’t that exactly why you travel?!

living on the dirt profile picture

Shelly

Hi there! I am Shelly. I lived the normal life, went to college, worked in my career, spent $40,000 on my tuition and here I am now, not using my degree, facing my fears and solo traveling. My biggest passion is hiking and you will find me mostly on the trails. You can check out my website at Livingonthedirt.com. Happy hiking!

The most important lesson you have learned from solo traveling?

Your friends and family will come around.

When I started to have this dream, my family pretty much disowned me. They were extremely upset with my decision. But, after time went by and they realized how happy I was, then they started coming around and now my friends and family almost expect me to leave when I visit home.

Instead of wishing that I would stay, they no longer do that and are actually happy for me when another opportunity arises.

What makes you get up and go out?

The world! How my body is when I am home and when I am traveling is completely different. I find myself lazy at times and a bit depressed when I am home.

When I am traveling I almost spring out of bed because I know there is something to be explored. Everything is new and for me, it’s the best feeling in the world!

How do you capture and save your memories?

I love photography and video-making. I have a Youtube channel, Living on the Dirt. I love capturing my experiences on film and then making a movie out of it later.

Your dream trip?

My dream trip would be to literally backpack around the world and hike everywhere. If I could hike on at least one breathtaking trail in every country, that would be incredible!

What is the one thing no-one should do when traveling?

Don’t let fear stop you. When you are traveling, face your fears. If you are afraid of heights, try doing an activity involved with heights. If you are afraid to meet people, try to strike up a conversation with somebody. This is the time to really push yourself and become the strong independent woman you are!

A Journey of a Thousand Miles…

…Begins with a single step. It’s up to you now to begin your journey of discovery.

Or don’t!

It’s totally cool if solo travel isn’t for you and you’d much rather stick with your friends.

The important thing is – that you actually travel.

If you have any further comments or questions – or you’d just like to drop in for a chat, please feel free to get in touch below.

And if you know anyone who is considering a solo trip, do pass on all this info and share with your family and friends. It might just give someone the push they need to set sail.

Now, it’s time to explore.

ebook cover 3d

Get 50 Solo Travel Safety Tips eBook for FREE

No more reading loads of posts about solo traveler safety. Get your 50 point safety list in one eBook. Be ready, stay safe!

Comments