Travel bloggers’ secrets: top tips for traveling solo
Months ago, we dished out our top tips for traveling as a couple, but today it’s time to pay tribute to the flip side of wanderlusting: solo travel.
I asked some of my favorite travel bloggers to share their top tips for traveling solo. Though perhaps initially daunting, solo travel can be freeing and exciting. Don’t take it from me, check out what these 7 vagabonds have to say:
“Traveling alone gives you an unbelievable feeling of freedom, and your itinerary can be easily adjusted to do anything you like. Here are some takeaways I have from my solo-trips and adventures:
- Bring a book or a movie, or have your favorite tune handy, something that gives you this warm fuzzy feeling in case you get hit by a severe case of blues and need a pick up!
- Always research the area where you go: is it safe, is it women-friendly, does it meet your dietary needs if you have any?
- Always have a plan B! When I travel with friends, and weather lets us down, we can always cozy up in a coffee shop and chat, just spend time together and catch up. When you are by yourself and grow sick and tired of coffee shops, have an alternative place to go when it is cold or pouring outside, like a museum, a free gym (quite a few of them have 1st few sessions free), indoor swimming pool or anything else you might enjoy.”
– Alina from A Traveling Pants Universe
“Travelling solo as female has been widely seen as a dangerous thing, that if you do – you’re crazy, or brave, or something else extreme. I think we need to give ourselves more credit! I am not saying travelling solo doesn’t require you to take safety precautions, but even if you were travelling with a friend, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a group, you would still need to take the same organizational and precautionary steps. Travelling solo does not have to mean you must always be on alert, watching your back, and spending extra energy being careful of where you are walking and where you going. It can be exhausting, and it can ruin your trip. Relax, enjoy your time, and don’t do anything more than what you would normally do to stay safe when travelling with a buddy or even commuting in your own home town. Locals are no different than the locals back home. And backpackers can be just as creepy or just as friendly! There will be weirdos everywhere you go, but there will be welcoming people too. I would rather be open to meeting these lovely people than hiding away from everyone altogether. Be safe, but have fun and embrace the adventure!”
– Kristina from I Left Home
“Don’t skimp on staying somewhere safe. I know there are loads of budget travelers out there, but your safety comes first. If you have to spend a few more dollars, euros, pesos, then do so. Make sure you are in a decent part of town and that there’s a good lock on your door. You’ll sleep better at night and so will your loved ones back home.
Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you, but don’t be scared. Trust your gut, your intuition. If something feels off, it probably is.
That being said, be open to meeting people – locals and fellow travelers alike. If your gut says, “this person seems okay”, he/she probably is. You never know – you might make a new friend!”
– Lynne from Wander Your Way
“Travelling solo can be a little daunting but once you make that first step you will not regret it. Arrive at a new destination during the day so you have plenty of time to find accommodation in daylight hours. You don’t want to be wondering the streets at night with all your belongings not knowing where you are going. Staying in hostels is a great way to meet new people and you can get tips on sightseeing from others who have just been to visit an attraction. If you don’t fancy staying in a room with 8 other people hostels often have single rooms, you can still have a bit of your own space if you need it. My main concern when I was travelling on my own was safety. Make sure someone knows your plans and check in with them on a regular bases. Dress like a local, a sarong is handy as you can use it to cover your body if required. Take some organized tours to break up your trip and to meet other travellers. Listen to your gut instinct, if something doesn’t feel right or you feel uncomfortable make sure you change the situation.”
– Anne from Let Me Be Free
“One of the things I always try to do is meet locals prior to arrival (Couchsurfing, Interpals!) Doing this has helped me develop nice relationships with people while traveling to certain places, and also allows me to experience culture from a more local-like perspective. By any means, I am trying to say that you must do this. I have also traveled to places where I haven’t met anyone before, and I always try to be open and receptive to new experiences, while always trying to follow my instinct. I love meeting new people, making the initiative and even asking for help when I am in need and I feel it’s safe to ask for it.
Traveling solo is not exactly spending 100% of the time by yourself. Of course, having time for yourself best a solo travel experience, but if you feel that sometimes you want socialize, these are the best tips I can give you to be social while traveling.”
– Brenda from Traveleira
“I’m a 24-year old Danish female solo traveler. My main and favorite destination is China which is why I’ll give you a few tips for traveling solo in China. China is not a dangerous country but the language barrier can be quite a problem for newcomers so I’ll advise anyone to download the dictionary Pleco beforehand. This dictionary can read aloud the word when the Chinese taxi driver doesn’t understand your weird accent. Furthermore, I think bringing cash around is a must because most places in China only take cash and if they take card, they usually only take the Chinese Unionpay. Another tip is to not travel during Chinese peak season such as Chinese New Year and the Golden Week. At those times, all public transport tickets will be sold out and all attractions will be overrun by eager Chinese tourists. The last advice I’ll give you is to bring tissues everywhere you go because Chinese restrooms have a tendency to not include toilet paper. Just saying. Anyway, in for an adventure? Then China is the place to go.”
– Lena from Lena Around
“My top tip for solo travelers, especially girls, is to make friends with locals, be it online (prior to the trip) or impromptu. Of course, you need to be friendly and open-minded to start with! Why? because locals know the best street food, the hidden gems, the prettiest viewpoints, the dangerous streets to avoid, the tourist traps . . . the list can go on for days. If you are a student without a fixed monthly income like me, local advice is highly appreciated.
There are so many ways to make friends online. In my opinion, the most trusted site will always be couchsurfing.com. It is by far the safest way because there are reviews and detailed self-introductions to help you decide if a person is safe to be friends with. Of course, there are other websites and forums, I use them from time to time too. However, always keep in mind that some might not be who they claimed to be, so double check, preferably through Facebook or Skype! Safety should always be the first thing that comes to our minds.”
– Vivian from Miss Happyfeet
What are your top tips for traveling solo? Share with your fellow vagabonds in the comments below!