Traveling solo has become a popular way to travel and is becoming more popular every day. As a young woman who has traveled solo before I can say that I have met some lifelong friends, made some of my favourite memories and I am keen to do it again when I can. The world beyond can be scary, which is a major reason why many women don’t travel solo. If you continue reading, then you’ll know why the world is worth exploring as a solo traveler.
1. Overcome your fears
I started travelling solo when I was 18, that year I turned 19, and through this year abroad I learnt that one of the most important things is overcoming your fears. You might be nervous to leave home alone, or perhaps you’re scared of flying. Any fear you have about travelling is perfectly reasonable, and the only way to overcome that is to do the experiences. Step out of your comfort zone atleast every day when you travel. Trust me, when you return home you will be grateful you did.
2. Make friends
Another amazing thing about travelling is the friends you make along the way, and sometimes the friends you make will be the people you didn’t expect to meet. When I was staying in Inverness, I did a day trip to Isle of Skye with Rabbies Tours. On there was another girl travelling solo from Texas. We bonded and spent the rest of the weekend exploring Inverness, then later explored Edinburgh together. We are still great friends and talk all the time, despite being in two different countries. The friends you make while travelling will be some of the coolest friends you’ll have – get out there, don’t be shy, overcome the fear of socializing and meet those people!
I can’t recommend this enough. This might sound like a given, but I highly recommend planning your days and weeks for your trip. Planning might take a while but knowing where you’re going for how long and how much it will cost is very important. On my last trip, I didn’t plan every single day so sometimes I found that there were no buses going that day or I got to a place and there wasn’t actually anything to do there. If you’re unsure about how to plan for your trip, you can read my post on How to Plan for Your Next Trip. A lot more goes into planning a holiday, especially if you want to do a lot while you’re traveling. I also recommend using Trip Advisor for your research.
4. Group Tours
This partly goes hand in hand with my last two points. Group Tours are an incredible way to travel, you can make friends – like I did at the Isle of Skye – and it’s a great way to get around. I recommend planning where and when you do group tours as they can book out quickly, especially during the summer when most tourists are around. Group tours are also a great way to see more of the area you are in and see place you wouldn’t be able get to by yourself. You also get a tour guide who knows so much more than the tour brochures you’ll find about the place you’re visiting. Although, I would recommend looking at reviews first. If you’re in the UK, I highly recommend Rabbies. I can’t recommend Group Tours enough!
5. Online Travel Groups
There are tonnes of travel groups online nowadays. I am apart of a few female travel groups and the support on these groups is incredible. You can learn heaps about travelling from these groups as the other members will be able to tell you so much about travel and the place you’re going to. You’ll also get the opportunity to meet new people. Say you’re going to a new city and you’ve never been there before, I can promise you there will be someone either living there or visiting at the same time as you. This is a great opportunity to meet new friends and to explore whichever place you’re in.
6. Safety is Key
This may be a given, but I know from my own experience, that it can be easy to relax about safety when you’re in specific places or with friends. Trust me, when you’re traveling you need to be alert. While it is important to have fun while you’re traveling and looking over your shoulder all the time can ruin your trip. However, take the necessary precautions to stay safe. This could include letting people at home where you are and giving them your itinerary, tell your accommodation where you’re going that day or when you plan to get back, knowing the emergency numbers, just to name a few. Also, make sure you keep your travel documents safe while traveling. Sometimes your accommodation will give you a safe in your room – some hostels give you a locker if you’re in a door. I recommend using these lockers, or safes, as you’ll know your precious things are safe in there while you’re exploring, just don’t forget to leave those things in there.
7. Check Out Your Accommodation
Imagine this: You arrive in a new city, its beautiful, you’re excited, you’ve never been here before. You get to your accommodation, you can’t find the bathrooms or the showers, the staff are rude, the rooms are messy, the other guests are creeping you out, and the beds are uncomfortable. Doesn’t sound great does it? Trust me on this, bad accommodation can put a dampener on the rest of your trip. I made the mistake of only reading reviews on a specific website – all 5 star reviews. The hostel was awful! After my stay there, I checked the reviews on trip advisor and the hostel had received 2 stars or less. I now know to always check the reviews of hostels – especially on trip advisor as most people here are quite honest.
8. Know About the Country You’re Travelling To
Part of traveling to a new country is that it’s a new experience! Which is amazing! But something you should always do before traveling is to get to know the country a bit better. What is the national language? What is the best way to travel? How far apart are your destinations? Whereabouts are you staying? What are the emergency numbers, i.e., for the police? It’s always good to feel prepared before landing in the new country – you’ll be able to arrive feeling confident in a new place and you’ll have plenty of time to soak it up.
9. Bring a Good Camera + Save Your Pics!
These could have been two points, but I have added them into one point because they go hand in hand. Bring a good camera, or have a phone with a good camera, and save your pics somewhere – i.e. google drive, or a travel photo album. Trust me on this, in 5 years time when you’re in lockdown at home, or stuck at your desk at work, you will miss travelling and those memories will be saved for you to reminisce over.
10. Join a Pub Crawl
Much like the Group Tours, this is a great way to meet people – especially if you’re in a hostel. Bonus: If you’re in a hostel, then you’re hostel will probably organize a pub crawl – I recommend doing this one as you’ll meet people that are staying at the same hostel as you and they can be your travel buddies in your current destination. It’s also a great way to see the local area, see the night life and know the local pubs – you can revisit these pubs with your new travel buddies 😉.
11. Go On a Walking Tour
Similarly to the Pub Crawl, your hostel will probably organize one of these if you’re staying in one. If you’re not in a hostel, there are plenty of walking tours available, check out the local tourist centre or local areas website. Imagine a Walking Tour being a sober pub crawl…with less pubs. You can see the local area, soak up the culture, and see the sites. This is a great way to meet new travel buddies, or perhaps you met new friends last night on the Pub Crawl (unless you can’t remember meeting them, of course), and you all have decided to do this activity together. I can’t recommend doing this enough!
12. Always Arrive at Your Destination During the Day
It can be difficult to navigate a new city at night time, often you’re tired after a long journey, and it’s important to make life easy when you’re a solo traveler. Once I was travelling from my homeland of Australia to England and I needed to get from London to friends in the countryside. I made the mistake of getting to London in the late afternoon and I didn’t get to my friends until late at night, which meant I was incredibly tired when I got to London and I wasn’t completely awake when I was navigating the London Underground and trains. I have learnt my lesson and will always make sure I arrive in the day.
13. Print Out Your Flight Itinerary
Trust me! You need a physical copy, and you will need it on you! This is a great tip I’ve learned from my mum, who has traveled A LOT, and I am incredibly grateful. Having a physical copy of your flight itinerary on you will mean you won’t have to mess around on your phone, and you don’t have to worry about your phone running out of battery. This will make your life a lot easier when you’re at the airport. Alternatively, if you’re not traveling by plane and rather by boat or train, then I recommend printing out the itinerary for that.
14. Book At least Your First Night of Accommodation
This might seem like a given, but I’ve been in the situation when I didn’t book the accommodation until I arrived in the country. It was the middle of summer, everyone else was there, and there was limited accommodation. Never again will I do this. I managed to book a decent B&B, which had a great traditional breakfast, but I didn’t have the peace of mind of having a bed that night. If you do anything from this list, please do at least this point.
15. Always Pack Some Extra Room
One thing I have always struggled with when travelling is packing! I somehow manage to pack an almost empty suitcase and come back with my suitcase bursting at the seams. This can be avoidable in a few ways – you either pack less before you leave, or you don’t buy much when you’re travelling. If you’re like me and can’t resist a good deal, or can’t resist buying an extra pair of shoes that will definitely remind you of that one day on that one trip, then my number 1 packing tip is to pack sensibly and to not pack anything you definitely will not need overseas. Also, check the weight limits of the plane carrier you’re travelling with. I usually go with QANTAS and their limit for overseas travel is usually around 30kg (66 pounds) if you’re travelling in economy.
So there you have it, my advice for solo travelling. It is a bold step to take, but it is a step that’s worth taking. I would love to know more about your travel stories! Comment your thoughts below!
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