6 Tips for Travelling Alone All Solo Explorers Need to Know
If you’re searching ‘tips for travelling alone’, you’ve already taken your first significant step in seeing the world, committing to doing what you want regardless of what others do or think.
Want to go travelling, but nobody else will come? Simple, take yourself.
It’s an exhilarating feeling being out in the world on your own. You get complete control over what you see and where you go, uninfluenced by anyone.
The world is your oyster.
It’s an exciting yet daunting feeling. Yes, you can see whatever you want, but planning is required to be safe, fun, and responsible.
I had the same feeling when I set off on my adventures, so be prepared, as riding solo is much easier when you are. Here are 6 tips for travelling alone to help you have an incredible experience.
- Be vigilant
- Share your location
- Beware of scams
- Learn the local customs
- Live the hostel life
- Go on group tours
Read more about our top tips for travelling alone below, explaining why each are so important.
1. Be vigilant
It doesn’t matter what country you’re going to; safety is the top priority.
I’ll be honest; worrying about my personal safety almost stopped me from travelling solo. I was terrified something would happen to me, and I’d be alone to pick up the pieces.
I got swept up in the news and bad stories you hear, especially as a woman travelling solo.
Flying out to New Zealand, I had a panic attack. Every irrational fear I had came flooding back. What if someone attacked me? What if someone stole from me? I calmed myself down by breathing, slowing my thinking down to logical steps, and reassuring myself that I would meet friends along the way.
I would hate for someone not to go out and travel because they were afraid for their safety. The best way to approach this is the same rule that applies everywhere. Whether you’re in London, the Australian Outback or the mountains of Virginia, always be vigilant. You’ve managed to keep relatively safe in your current location at home, and the same rules apply when abroad.
A key point to remember is that bad news sells. You’ll always see bad news, as that’s how our media is. It is outnumbered by countless new friendships, experiences, and love stories that spark; you just don’t see all that.
Thankfully, if you’re going to a US summer camp, you’ll have all the positives without the negatives. You’re in a safe, secure environment, with a leadership structure ensuring that all first time solo travellers feel comfortable.
If you’re aware of your surroundings, keep personal items in a safe space, and remember there’s by far more positive than negative, you’ll be able to stay safe and focus on enjoying each place instead.
2. Share your location for peace of mind
Thanks to the technological age we live in today, there are different ways to keep people in the loop with where you’re at.
The most obvious is the “Find my iPhone” app. for Apple users. Still, there is also family GPS sharing for Android users.
I highly recommend getting travel apps that transmit your location to put your mind (and your family’s minds) at ease. If you’re worried about data or out of satellite reception, having a shared calendar is an excellent substitute to show your travel plans.
Having a shared calendar, such as Google Calendar, that your family back home can look at is an easy way for them to know (roughly) where you are.
Put as much detail as possible, e.g. name and number of the hotel, flight details etc. By doing so, you’re clearing your mind of unessential worry, and a clearer mind helps you focus on the present instead.
3. Beware of scams
This is a rule for anyone anywhere, but it is especially true when alone.
I’ll share an anecdote a fellow traveller told me when they visited Myanmar. She had just arrived and was approached by someone who asked if they could practice their English.
Being new to the country, she agreed, and they explored the capital together.
She began to feel uncomfortable as the local took her on a rickshaw ride, and the driver demanded payment. She was safe but unfortunately had to learn the hard way about local scams (on her way back to the hostel, she was approached by others asking to practice their English, and it’s well-known to those who have backpacked anywhere in South East Asia).
Us tourists stand out; that’s just a way of life. Stay vigilant and use trusted tour guides and taxis (ask your hostel or hotel about what companies they would recommend).
Scams happen everywhere. They’re happening in your home town right now or through the flood of spam texts and emails we get.
It doesn’t stop you from going outside your house, so don’t allow it to stop you from exploring the world.
4. Learn the customs
Nothing is worse than an ignorant traveller; they give the rest of us a bad name. If you take away anything from these tips for travelling alone, let it be that you become a conscious traveller who makes an effort with the community you’re visiting.
Simple things such as learning how people greet each other in the country (or countries) you are visiting and pleasantries such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ can go a long way.
Unless you are a whizz with languages, I’d also recommend having a language guide handy. Nowadays, that doesn’t mean lugging a thick book around with you, as there are apps that can help you translate and break down language barriers.
Learning the customs and having the tools to navigate languages is useful when travelling solo because you rely on the local community much more than those travelling in groups.
5. Live the dorm life
One of the main tips for travelling alone is that hostel dormitories (or even a single room in a hostel) offer better value for money.
If you want to be prepared, book hostels in advance. But I found that booking a few and then leaving some sections open offered flexibility, which is part of the adventure of travelling.
The great thing about hostels is that they are like little communities and are great opportunities to meet different people. The best experience I had in a hostel was when I made friends with a German girl who would be on the same coach as me the next day.
We spent the whole coach ride chatting, and when it stopped at a site, we each had someone to take photos for us (I had never seen the value of a selfie stick until I went solo travelling). You naturally gravitate towards people in a similar boat to you, and in a hostel, you’ll find solo travellers in abundance.
What’s better, if you’re going to summer camp in America, your accommodation is included, meaning you’ll have the perfect opportunity to meet others who will become your best mates for life, all in a safe environment.
Read to explore America yourself?
6. Go on tours
For introverts who want to stay in a hotel or have a single room in a hostel, I’d highly recommend group tours, such as The Coyote Trip for an after-camp tour, to meet people and stay safe (extroverts also welcome!)
This was totally me; I am an introvert. I definitely pushed my boundaries and did stay in dormitories, but sometimes I was just so tired that being social was just a bit too much at that time.
Tours, however, offer a way to meet new people that you see for just a few hours. Yes, you can offer to meet up, but there is a bit more distance than the people you share a room with. On top of that, the activity you are doing can act as an icebreaker, and you’re not having to scramble for topics to talk about.
The hostel desk is the best place to get advice on tours, as they’ll know which ones offer the best experience and price. Sometimes there are discounts if you book through the hostel rather than the website, with flyers dotted everywhere.
Travelling is such a great adventure that going solo provides an extra thrill. Prepare for a rollercoaster of emotions and know that everything you feel is natural and understandable.
You’ve made a very sensible decision in looking for tips for travelling alone. This preparation will stand you in good stead, keeping you as safe as possible and allowing you to focus on seeing wherever in the world is on your bucket list.