Would you travel across the world by yourself?
That’s a question travelers are not only answering with a resounding yes, but the idea itself is more encouraged today than ever before. The “solo travel” phenomenon has officially arrived, with adventurers and wanderlusters alike blazing the trail to self-discovery. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being totally free, experiencing a new destination with no plan but your own. Free to see whatever, go wherever, and meet some amazing people along the way.
But it’s easier said than done. Many are intimidated by traveling alone, worried about this and that. So we let the experts chime in, offering advice for first-timers considering solo travel.
From having self-confidence, doing group tours, or staying in a rental accommodation to learn from the locals – these top solo travel bloggers all agree on one tip: just do it! Our pros are all females, but their words ring true regardless of your gender, age or travel experience.
We asked them one question: What’s the most important piece of advice you would offer someone traveling solo for the first time? Here are their answers.
– Audrey Bergner, That Backpacker
“As great as it is to plan things in advance, you never know how you’re going to feel about a place, who you’re going to meet, or what you’re going to find until you arrive at your destination. Sometimes a city may be love at first sight and other times your feelings may be lukewarm. Don’t lock yourself in with long bookings until you’ve had a chance to dip your toes!”
– Rachel Jones, Hippie In Heels
“If you are walking around looking at your phone’s map, acting nervous, or in general being awkward, you’ll draw attention to people who would take advantage of that. Act like you know what you’re doing, walk with a purpose from place to place, and don’t be a afraid to smile and interact with locals – that’s the best part of solo travel!”
– Jessie Festa, Jessie On A Journey
“Instead of worrying about getting lost, losing your passport or losing your reservation, understand that when you have nobody to rely on but yourself your problem solving skills will be enhanced and you’ll figure out how to get out of these types of situations. Instead of stressing, realize there may be times you’ll run into issues and you’ll have a much better time if you roll with the punches and go with the flow instead of allowing every problem to ruin your trip. Missed trains and lost baggage aren’t fun, but they’re also not the end of the world.”
– Kristen Sarah, Hopscotch The Globe
“It’s completely normal to feel nervous and scared even. I did too the first time I traveled solo, and even the second! But, once you’ve booked that ticket and arrived in your destination, the feeling you get will be like nothing you’ve felt before. You will feel so empowered and have a newfound freedom! I believe every person should go on at least one solo trip in their lifetime. It’s truly the best gift you can give yourself. Personally, I go on at least one solo trip each year and it ends up always being an incredibly insightful and highly enjoyable experience.”
– Kiersten Rich, The Blonde Abroad
“Nobody starts out as a confident solo traveler. This is something that comes over time as you become more comfortable finding your way by yourself and making your own choices. But, traveling solo is not scary. The world is full of amazing and wonderful people so don’t let fear keep you from experiencing the world. Give yourself the gift of independence, an opportunity to experience new cultures and the time to learn about yourself and what’s best for you. You will be a much more confident and independent person because of it.”
– Ashley Fleckenstein, Ashley Abroad
“My advice to solo female travelers is to book a private accommodation in a vacation rental or hostel. That way you will have your own privacy but still be able to meet other travelers and the locals all around you. The country I always recommend to solo travelers is Ireland – it’s small, English-speaking and absolutely beautiful. I’ve been there three times solo and have always had a blast!
– Christine Amorose, C’est Christine
“If you’re nervous about exploring on your own, book group tours, and stay in group accommodations like hostels or a rental where you’re surrounded by friendly locals. You’ll meet plenty of people along the way.”
– Cailin O’Neil, Travel Yourself
“Have a relative or friend that always knows where you are going and staying and that you can check in with from time to time. That way someone at home will know where you should be.”
– Anna Lysakowska, Anna Everywhere
“Do your research to be prepared for every eventuality, but don’t over-plan. You might want to change your activities, lodging, even sometimes a destination when you’re abroad for millions of good or bad reasons. You make some friends who you’d like to join, you could get sick or you just simply don’t like the place you’re visiting. There’s no need to freak out about it, but it’s always good to have a plan A, B and C. It never hurts to know too much.”
– Christine Ka’aloa, GRRRL Traveler
“For every beginning soloist, I recommend staying at hostels, where you’ll be around other travelers. There are many more female solo travelers on the road these days and I meet a lot of them at hostels. Hostels are social places, where you’ll find travelers eager to meet and share stories and advice. I use questions to meet people and often, I find travelers open to hopping onto my itinerary and sometimes, vice versa. It’s much easier to make quick and flexible travel companions, when you’re alone and already at the destination, than when you’re coordinating your travel from home.”
– Monica Stott, The Travel Hack
“The thought of traveling solo is pretty terrifying for a lot of people and this fear stops most women from traveling alone – but don’t let it stop you! You soon adapt and you’ll love the freedom and the adventure. Once you’re on the road you realize that it’s much easier to meet new people when you’re traveling solo so you never need to be on your own. You do need to be cautious from a safety point of view so be careful and trust your instincts – just like you would at home.”
– Brenna Holeman, This Battered Suitcase
“Listen to your intuition, but be open to new experiences. As a solo traveler, I think it’s important to keep an open mind and do things that may be slightly outside your comfort zone: try that new food, talk to that stranger, go to that art exhibit by the artist you’ve never heard of. It sounds like simple advice, but when traveling solo you can’t rely on anyone else for company, so it’s one of the best ways to find out who you really are and what you’re really capable of. It’s an incredibly rewarding and powerful feeling, and you never know where those new experiences will lead you in life.”
– Amanda Williams, A Dangerous Business
“If a place or situation is making you feel uneasy, remove yourself from it. And, on the other hand, if your heart is telling you to stay in a place longer or be spontaneous and change your plans, listen to those feelings, too. Traveling solo means that every decision you make is completely up to you!”
– Jeannie Mark, Nomadic Chick
“Women come to me all the time worried about their first solo trip. I always tell them this: prepare but don’t be rigid. Women are taught to worry about every single detail, from safety to harassment, or how to pack properly, right down to the type of tube socks to bring. But I also think it’s equally important to leave room for spontaneity. Embracing the unknown a little is how a first time solo traveler grows and finds her inner strength. Laugh, smile, and enjoy the absurd, awkward, and epic moments. Because they’ll be plenty of them!”
– Sabrina Iovino, Just One Way Ticket
“Don’t be scared to travel alone, you will meet many more people than if you would travel with a companion! You will make plenty of friends on the road, just trust your gut. And if something feels wrong, remove yourself from that situation. Happy travels!”
– Camille Willemain, This American Girl
“You got this. Really, you got this. And not by following any advice except for the truth that comes from your own inner voice of knowing. The world is big and crazy and beautiful and terrifying and confusing, but if you trust yourself you will navigate it with the strength and certainty of a Queen. Focus less on what’s around you, and more on what lives within you. It’s the surest way to be safe, to be happy, and to grow into your greatness. Just trust yourself, you know the way.”
– Flora Baker, Flora The Explorer
“It’s important to remember that just because you’re traveling solo doesn’t mean that you’ll be alone – or that you’ll feel lonely, either. It’s a common misconception that solo travelers find it hard to meet people, but in actuality I’m often surrounded by future friends in the hostels I stay at, the volunteer projects I work on and the wonderfully weird foreign situations I find myself in.”
– Alexandra Baackes, Alex In Wanderland
“Remember to balance a healthy dose of worldly caution with a hearty dose of wide-eyed curiosity. The vast majority of people you encounter on your travels want to help you, not harm you. The good judgement and wise intuition that keeps you safe at home will also guide you on the road. You won’t even believe the kind of things you are capable of until you’re putting one foot in front of the other doing them. Traveling solo gave me a confidence that has positively affected every aspect of my life – it’s something every woman should try, at least once.”
– Laurel Robbins, Monkeys and Mountains
“If you’re worried about being lonely, plan activities where you will connect other people. Find special interest groups on MeetUp.com or Internations.org where you can meet locals and connect over a shared interest such as hiking, photography or visiting a special exhibition at a museum. You can also sign up for a volunteer vacation – I did a 10-day volunteer trip on a sailboat in Scotland researching dolphins and whales, and our group bonded over our shared love of animals.”
– Stephanie Yoder, Twenty-Something Travel
“It’s natural, and normal, to be scared before your trip. Don’t take that as warning bells, but as a natural part of the process. Once you arrive and start enjoying yourself those fears quickly slip away.”
Featured Photo: Crater Lake, Oregon
Credit: Instagram, Steve Armenti: TripAdvisor Vacation Rental’s guest contributor.