Travelling solo might sound a bit scary, but it's also one of the most rewarding life experiences you can have. Not only do you get to decide where you’ll go and when, but you’re also more likely to make friends with locals and other travellers and get involved in activities you might otherwise give a miss.
There's a bit more to take into consideration when travelling solo, so here are our top tips for making the most of your travels.
1. Money Matters
There's nothing worse than having no access to your money and no friends to bail you out, so make sure you tell your bank you're heading overseas before you take off.
It’s also a good idea to have some cash on hand before you leave (not too much), and make sure you have debit and credit cards that don’t charge overseas transaction fees. We like to keep all our savings in an ING account which has no international ATM fees, and the 28 Degrees Travel Card has no annual fees and no currency conversion fees.
2. Stay Connected
Even if you want to get off the grid and discover yourself, do the right thing and let your friends and family know where you are. Grab yourself a local sim card, make sure you’ve got Facebook Messenger or something similar installed on your phone, and download Find My Phone.
Keep in touch with a couple of people at home and make sure they always know where you’re headed next.
It's also a good idea to create a Google Drive or Dropbox account where you can keep all your important documents and share the link with someone you trust.
3. Know Your Location
Being in a new place can definitely cause some anxiety, but the best way to overcome it is to be prepared and get to know your surroundings.
Don't rely on having access to wifi as soon as you arrive in a new place. Take screenshots (or even better, printouts) of your accommodation location so you can show taxi or bus drivers, or a helpful local. You should also download offline maps. Maps.me is a winner.
Once you've got your maps downloaded, go for a walk and check out the local landmarks to help you get your bearings. If you do find yourself stranded, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You might even get some local tips if you ask the right person.
4. Pack Light
When you're considering throwing in an extra pair of shoes, just remember you won't be able to count on anyone to look after your luggage while you're hunting down snacks for your next train trip.
Plus, the bonus of travelling solo is that no one else knows if you already wore those shorts every day last week.
5. But Remember The Essentials
Take a power bank. Having no phone and no friends is no fun.
We'd also highly recommend getting a tablet and loading it up with as many shows, movies, podcasts, books and playlists as you can. Long airport layers and bus rides are infinitely longer when you're on your own.
Obviously, you'll also want to remember your passport and any visas you need. Hopefully you didn't need us to tell you that.
6. Buddy Up
Travelling as a single means you're super approachable and you should take advantage of that. Hostels and tour groups are great ways to meet new people so if someone invites you to join them (and they don’t seem dodgy), smile and say yes.
7. But Stay Alert
If you're staying in a hostel, lock your valuables up. Getting robbed is a pain at the best of times, but it's enough to break your spirits when you're on your own.
If you're on an overnight bus, keep your valuables on your person, no matter how paranoid it makes you feel.
8. Learn The Language
No one’s expecting you to be fluent in five languages, but learning a few basic words and phrases is always appreciated. A simple hello and thank you goes a long way.
9. Stay Sober(ish)
Making friends and going out is great and all, but you need to know your limit when it comes to alcohol. That new friend you just made is not going to be impressed if they have to look after you all night. Not only will you save yourself from a nightmare hangover and waste a day, you’ll also be aware of your surroundings. Safety first, people.
10. Keep It Low Key
Flashing your cash and expensive jewellery can totally get you noticed by the wrong people, so keep things discreet. Take a day or so to settle into your new destination before you explore too far and spend some time people-watching. Check your guidebook or online for any areas you should be avoiding.
11. Eat Like A Local
Eating new foods has to be one of the best things about travelling, so get out there and try everything you can. Stumbled across somewhere full of locals? That’s a pretty good sign it’s going to be good. If you can, grab a seat at a communal table. You might just make a friend or two.
12. Go With The Flow
If you have the luxury of time, try not to book everything in advance. You'll meet people you want to spend more time with and others you want to get away from as quickly as humanly possible. If you give yourself some flexibility you'll be able to hang out with new friends and spend longer exploring the places you love, or you can hightail it out of the places you're not so into.
13. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Make the most of your solo travel, you probably won't get another chance to do it again soon. Step out of your comfort zone and try new things, smile and make friends, learn to enjoy your own company, and you’ll have yourself the trip of a lifetime.
Ready to go? Here's our favourite places to travel solo.