10 Tips For Travelling Alone That Will Transform Your Travels

10 Tips For Travelling Alone That Will Transform Your Travels

Solo travel is a skill, and one I’m constantly honing in order to get the very best out of my experiences abroad. I’ve travelled through 45 countries, more than half of them solo, and it’s taught me so much about myself and the universe. I highly recommend solo travel to anybody and everybody – whether you’re 18 or 80, male or female, introvert or extrovert.

To help you figure out how to travel alone and take that leap of faith, or enhance your solo travels if you’re an old hand at this, I’ve tried to distil my wisdom into ten top tips for travelling alone. I hope they will open up new possibilities for you, and empower you to  go out and meet the world.

1. Look At The People, Not Your Guidebook

tips for travelling alone (c) The Blog Abroad

No matter where I go or for how long I’m staying, the very first thing I do when I get to a new city or country, is go to a busy place, get a coffee, and just watch people in their element. An hour spent people-watching will usually tell you more about the culture and customs of a new country than your guidebook. I then use what I’ve learnt to shape how I interact with the people I meet, showing I’ve made an effort to understand and adapt to their culture. It’s a surefire way to make friends, and help you make deeper connections even if you’re only staying a few days.

2. Start Saying YES

how to travel alone (c) The Blog Abroad

It’ll either be a good time or a good story, but either way it’s one of the secrets of how to travel alone. Say yes to the coffee. Say yes to the hike. Say yes to leaping so far outside your comfort zone, that you’d feel like a foreigner if you ever went back. Say yes to adventure. The advantage of not being with a group is that you’re more likely to say “yes” to whatever serendipitous encounter that comes your way.

3. Learn How To Meet People While Travelling Solo

tips for travelling alone (c) The Blog Abroad

One of the best things about travelling alone, is that you have “HI, COME TALK TO ME” written all over your forehead. There’s no wall of defense in the form of friends who might block you from having an incredible and engaging conversation with a local or fellow traveller. People are curious, and when you look foreign, they want to know your story. In turn, you learn theirs.

All you have to do is show the world you’re open to new connections. The best way to meet people while travelling solo is to hang out in places where people can easily approach you: Coffee shops, public squares, museums, the hostel bar… Take a book with you, rather than looking at your phone –  it’s much more likely to spark a conversation.

4. Know Your Limits When It Comes To Alcohol

how to travel alone (c) The Blog Abroad

In hopes of sounding like the mature adult I strive to be, it’s so important to understand your tolerance levels while out drinking. And I’m not just talking to the ladies. Getting messy drunk is actually a bit rubbish, especially true when you’re travelling. You’ll waste valuable adventure time nursing a hangover in your hostel dorm, and it doesn’t make a great impression on your new hostel buddies. By getting to know your limits, and working out how to hit the sweet spot of tipsy but not wasted, you can have a good time and still be a responsible adult while travelling.

I know, I know — what is this sorcery right?! It’s like magic. It can seem hard at first, but it’s very possible with practice!

5. If It’s Your First Solo Trip, You’ll Need To Unlearn Stranger Danger

tips for travelling alone (c) The Blog Abroad

This one is probably the hardest to achieve, because it’s been drilled into us since we were kids. If it’s your first solo trip, you’ll likely be closed and defensive with many of the strangers you meet. But the more you travel, the more you’ll realise that 99% of humans are innately good. And by keeping an open mind, no matter where you go, you’re more likely to get the most out of your travels. The word “stranger” has a negative connotation, but I firmly believe strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet.

We love, hurt, laugh, and cry the same. We all have emotions. We all like music. Find common ground in the most basic matters of life and strike up a conversation with someone you’ve just met.

6. Have A 10-Second Intro

how to travel alone (c) The Blog Abroad

It’s likely that the first question you’ll be asked will be where you’re from and how long you’ll be passing through. After you’ve covered the basics, it can be useful to have a little 10-second spiel that opens the floor for deeper conversation. I’m not talking about a rehearsed speech of course, but knowing roughly what you’ll say next will stop the conversation faltering and help you make new friends more easily.

For me, it’s always something along the lines of what I love the most about the other person’s country and how it compares to my experiences in the US. It never hurts to show some appreciation for the country you’re visiting, and it sets the tone for a really positive and empowering conversation.

7. Smile More

tips for travelling alone (c) The Blog Abroad

There is no better accessory than a big, winning smile. Strangers will walk up to me, compliment my smile, and then the next minute, we’ll be at a restaurant laughing and learning about each other’s lives. This is one of the most important tips for travelling alone to keep in mind. Smiles are friendly, inviting, and universal. They can be translated and understood in any language, and it’s something I try to be mindful of when I’m roaming the streets of a new destination.

8. Do Something You Wouldn’t Do At Home

tips for travelling alone (c) The Blog Abroad

Salsa dance. Paraglide. Eat a weird-looking food. By opening yourself up to these new experiences, you’ll no doubt make new friends as you bond over these crazy experiences. The honest truth about learning how to travel alone, is that you’re never really alone. Every time you sign up for a new activity, you’ll have a bunch of eager and friendly faces to meet and join you. And the beauty of being away from your friends and family is that you can try new things and experiment more freely than you might do with people who’ve known you your whole life.

9. Always Keep A Couple Friends Updated On Your Whereabouts

tips for travelling alone (c) The Blog Abroad

A quick and easy safety precaution for travelling alone is to keep a friend or two updated on your daily whereabouts, no matter where in the world they are. If you’re not regularly updating your social media and letting people know you’re okay and having the time of your life, it’s good to keep someone in the loop so that there’s a point of reference or contact in the case of an emergency.

10. Never Underestimate The Power Of “Hello”

tips for travelling alone (c) The Blog Abroad

There’s a quote that goes, “I greet the janitor and boss of my company exactly same.” I love that so much, because at our core, we’re all the same. Human. And by treating everyone with the same amount of love, kindness, and respect, you open yourself to new perspectives and possibilities, while adding another stash of good karma to your collection.

I’m a huge believer in the universe reciprocating the energy you put out into the world — so be kind to everyone. Because a simple “Hello!” will go a long way.

So now that you’re fully convinced that your solo trip is going to be one of the most exciting and life-changing vacations ever, I hope you take these tips for travelling alone to heart and come back with some awesome stories. Anything I left out? I’d love to hear it in the comments below ?

About The Author

Glo is a kick-ass solo female traveler currently winging her way around Africa. Follow her adventures over at The Blog Abroad.

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29 Responses to “10 Tips For Travelling Alone That Will Transform Your Travels”

  1. Good advice, clearly and even eloquently put forth. I often travel alone, and prefer it for all the reasons you say: being open, available, unlimited. Need to stay free, without fear, yet always aware, and always communicate every day back home via social media, cellphone to let friends/family know you are safe, and to share your good times with them. BEST ADVICE you gave: take a book, not a phone, to that cafe, and YES people-watch to get your bearings. We are all one species — but sometimes the animals can tell us things too.

  2. i always have problem in knowing new people while am traveling solo.. i feel there is always suspicious towards me they don’t need any arab bullshit and to be honest i can understand it they got enough from terrorist attacks and the bad behavior from the arab who live in there country so they don’t want to take the risk of getting close to arab.. i don’t say they are racist because it is human nature to take the easy choice.. i only feel bad because i want as any persone to reflect my culture and talk to people to see that am normal educated funny and easy going person as many people in the world. not all the arab are stupid dishonest savages and sex seeker. but also i have a problem in starting conversations with anybody 🙂 :s

  3. Susan Peters Reply

    I agree 100%. Last year I went to Europe for 6 weeks by myself–my friends all said “Aren’t you AFRAID?” I just laughed. I’m 73 and have been jumping on trains and buses on my own for 50+ years. And yeah, sometimes I have to jump off again and find my way back to civilization, but it’s always an adventure!

  4. Hi
    I am about to travel alone from a small island in the Carribbean to western Canada. I appreciate the useful tips however I’m skeptical about greeting too many folks lest they engage you in too much time wasting and boring conversions.
    Regards, Keith

    • Hi Keith, I’m from western canada and we are very friendly and polite here. You will have a wonderful time.

    • you will definitely get the boring conversation part.but sometimes you can find some interesting people.

  5. Claire Dinneen Reply

    I’m currently travelling alone myself and completely agree with everything you’ve said! Woooooo solo travels!! 👍🏽👍🏻👍🏾☺️

  6. I agree with all the advice given here but the only problem
    I have is that in a world where there is fear & doubt of talking to people because of national security it makes me worried that I will get judged or ignored or automatically assumed for being someone that I am not & it freaks me out but I’ll tak the advice on baked especially the last part. No matter what happens, I will never never compromise my moral codes, my integrity or my freedom for a moment of anger. I welcome all people of all faiths & races & orientations as long as they give me a chance & do not judge me automatically.

  7. I always travel solo around SEA. I have always felt that no one wants to get to know me. Maybe I’m not an interesting person to begin with. But that’s maybe the case of ‘just another Asian man travelling around Asian countries’.

  8. Adrian Fingleton Reply

    I agree with your comments though I find that having a travel companion also enables you to go ‘wow’ and sharing kind of amplifies the experience. I’m amused that of your wonderful pics I think my wife and I have been at exactly the same spots as you in Rio (overlooking Ipanema), Santorini (that might be our cruise ship below) and looking out from the gardens in Florence across the city. All in the last few years. Great inspiring blog, keep it going (and being Irish I liked your St Patrick’s day post too, from Dublin)…

  9. Aida Sapargaliyeva Reply

    Omg I love this . Right now I’m traveling solo for the first time, and it’s amazing experience when you get to meet new people, culture and get to know yourself more.

  10. Love it. My first experience traveling solo was crisscrossing Europe after studying in Spain for a year. That was 15 years ago. I decided to spread my wings and spend the summer traveling solo from the Balkans to Provence. I’m excited to relive my “youth” at 36 and your article was just the primer I was looking for. Keep smiling!

  11. Some great tips! And I’m so pleased that you’re an African-American woman travelling solo. The media is always showing Caucasian young people with backpacks, which is fine, but I’m a mulatto living in New Zealand and I certainly want to be exploring more countries, especially some in Africa + also India. And I’m now 70yrs young! I would like to encourage my daughter to go back-packing, but I’m the one who’s done some of that! It’s good to know a few basic greetings + sentences in the country you’re visiting: also any holy days: whether as a woman you’re expected to cover up more: take a small make-up mirror to check if there’s anything behind you that coould be troublesome. Most of all, have fun!

  12. Really great tips! I’m usually travelling solo but mostly have trouble to make new friends as I’m too defensive… I will try to be more open and less affraid 🙂 thanks for these tips!

  13. I’m 24 and I’ve travelled to some countries around the SEA. Most of it solo. Travelling alone is a valuable and rewarding experience. It enables me to try many unique experiences, and meet different people from all walks of life.
    Meeting new people is a challenging task for sure and I try always to start a conversation because, for me, it is so interesting to hear others’ stories whether a fellow traveler of local.
    Those tips are really good and practical. People-watching to observe local culture is an activity to do next time I travel.
    Love your pics and keep it up.

  14. Travelling alone can be such a wonderful experience. For me a must is to always update my friends and family where I am where I am headed so someone will know my location.

  15. Great tips! I don’t travel alone but I do travel as a lone parent with my 3 children and alot of these tips are good for us too!

    • Simone Jacobs (Hostelworld) Reply

      Hey Austin, Glad you found this blog helpful!
      Cheers for your comment.
      Happy travels, Simone ☺️

  16. I love the tips! I’m just worrying about when I go to a foreign country and I can’t read anything or I can’t talk to anybody because I’m not familiar with their language, any tips?

    • Simone Jacobs (Hostelworld) Reply

      Hey Josie, thanks for your comment 😀 Glad to hear you enjoyed the blog!

      I know what you mean, the first couple of times that i travelled to foreign countries the language barrier did worry me a bit, but its really not as daunting as it seems! Plus, after your first foreign trip your confidence with being alone in a different country, that doesn’t speak your language will grow 🙂 Luckily, in today’s world there are a decent amount of apps out there to lend a helping hand voice. There is an app called Textgrabber that recognises texts from images and translates it… which is very helpful with menus 😉 There’s also an app called Itranslate Voice that provides voice to voice and text to speech translations for iOs and Androids. Oh, and of course, good ole google translate!

      Hope this helps! Just shout if you have any more questions.

      All the best and safe travels ✈️
      Simone ☺️

  17. Great tips!

    I’m 21, travelling solo for the first time soon and I’m really anxious about it. Its something I’ve never thought about doing until recently but I want to take the leap of faith and try it. However, I’m nervous about getting lost, language barriers and general safety. My parents are worried too.

    Are there any tips I can do to assure them I’ll be ok and to keep myself safe?

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