Traveling alone can be one of the most rewarding experiences you ever have had. You’re seeing the world for yourself and getting to know yourself in a way that a group trip would not allow you to do.
Solo trips can be very empowering and are an opportunity to really push your comfort zone. I highly recommend you take that opportunity and run.
If you’re unsure where to begin, this post is for you.
To Get Started
Before you begin on activities to do at your destination, you have to pick where you want to go. The best solo travel destinations are easy to navigate, help you ease into the experience of being alone, and allow you to travel alone safely (especially important!). This is especially true for first-time solo travelers.
You may also want to consider choosing destinations with no language barrier. Traveling alone can be scary enough without the added layer of inability to communicate (especially true for your first solo trip).
My first solo trip was to Scotland and Ireland. People were friendly, it was easy to get around, and it felt completely safe.
Of course, everyone has a different threshold for what they consider a good fit. Do your research, get some solo travel inspiration, and pick based on what you’re interested in and what you can handle.
For travel safety tips, read more at Travel Safe While Abroad
Things to Do When Traveling Alone
Once you’ve arrived, you should know how you will spend your time. You don’t need a strict itinerary, but having a plan can allow you to get the most out of your trip.
Here are some ideas to kick-start your journey.
1 – Do a Tour on Your Own
This is an easy thing to do by yourself. While it’s daunting to climb onto a tour bus and ask strangers if you can sit next to them, it’s also great for meeting new people. Booking a tour on at least one of the days for your trip is also a great way to get a sense of where you are and the history and background of the city/country you’re visiting.
You can also use it to understand how the city is laid out and get recommendations from tour guides on where to go and things to do.
2 – Go To a Bar/Out To Eat
Do not eat in your hotel room by yourself! Ask your local hotel concierge services for restaurant recommendations and then walk in and take a seat.
This was by far the scariest thing for me. I always felt like I would be stared at and judged for being alone. NOT TRUE. When you pull yourself out of your head and look around, you’ll notice that everyone is either on their phones or deep in conversation with the people they are with.
Those who notice have just given me a smile and some strike-up conversation!
If this is scary for you, try it during brunch or lunchtime for your first venture out. There’s less potential for creepy people, and it’s a more casual time of day as well
3 – Try Local/Authentic Cuisine
This goes hand-in-hand with the prior point. We tend to stay in our comfort zone and so may gravitate towards food and restaurants that fit that zone. When traveling in a group, you may also go where the majority want to go, and if you’ve got picky eaters, you may not get a chance to try some of the local flavors.
Traveling alone is your chance to stretch your wings and try local cuisine served in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. Some of the best food abroad is from these little spots.
When planning your trip, researching local cuisine ahead of time is helpful regarding what specialty foods are unique to each country and city and the best restaurant recommendations. I’m a firmer believer that the locals provide the best, most authentic flavor. Once at your destination, ask your hotel concierge and your tour guides.
(An example of authentic local cuisine is street food! See my street food experience in India: Indian Street Food You Must Try)
4 – Practice Bargaining While Shopping
Traveling alone is a great way to practice your bargaining skills (as you haggle, you also get to practice the language!).
Many cities have areas where souvenir shopping is the best and cheapest. Sometimes, you can even bargain down on prices for the things you want. These markets/areas can be fun to explore, so ask and see them before purchasing all your memorabilia.
5 – Purposefully Do Something That Challenges Your Comfort Zone
The beauty of traveling alone is you can do ANYTHING you want. Being alone does not preclude you from anything. So don’t miss the opportunity to go for something you otherwise may not do if you’re in a group. You’re already traveling alone, so take this time and this chance to branch out!
If you need ideas on how to do this, this article may help: 12 Ways to Start Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
6 – Take Time to Figure Yourself Out
Generally, people start traveling alone for a reason. Maybe you need to take time off work or get away from whatever life stressors you’re dealing with. Maybe you need a mental cleansing and want to gain perspective and realign your life trajectory. Whatever your reason is, make sure you remember to give yourself time to focus on that.
A solo trip is about you and what you need or want to do for yourself. The best solo vacations give you a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment and help you grow as a person. Regardless of whether or not you have done this, always remember that traveling alone can be a defining moment. The fact that you can travel alone is a gift and privilege, and you should use it to the maximum of your ability.
Above all, don’t forget to have fun!