There are many benefits to travelling solo, but if you’ve never done it before, the idea can be daunting. Who do you chat to about everything you’ve seen and done at the end of the day? What do you do with yourself while waiting for your meal to arrive at your table? These two questions alone are enough to deter even the most eager traveller from jetting off on an adventure to their dream destinations. But you can’t let the fear of being alone stop you. We show you how to travel solo without ever feeling lonely.
How to prepare for travelling solo
There’s always an excuse not to travel, just ask our Marketing and Communications Manager, Katie Stanwyck, who had a similar problem when she was considering fulfilling her dream of exploring Europe. She didn’t have friends with the time or money to join her. She had never travelled on her own before. She was worried about how lonely (and safe) she would be.
“It was a confusing point in my life, I was at the end of a work contract and knew I wanted to travel, but no one could come with me! I looked at my options and started searching on Pinterest, then I stumbled across the idea of joining a tour, which is something I had never considered. Within a week I booked a 32-day tour with Contiki in Europe and combined this with a few weeks of solo travel. This was one of the most terrifying things I’d done in my life, but it was easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
But upon her return, Katie can confirm that travelling solo is one of the best things you will do for yourself. Travelling on your own (and surviving) will empower you with self-confidence and capability that you won’t find any other way. You just need to be prepared!
Consider these tips and we promise you’ll learn how to travel solo without ever feeling lonely. Keep reading to find out more.
See Also: An Open Letter to Contiki, From Katie
Be a traveller, not a tourist
You’re travelling on your own, so you probably don’t want to bring unwanted attention to yourself. One of the great benefits of travelling solo is that it is much easier to get amongst the locals, but if you look like a rookie solo traveller, complete with a camera hanging around your neck and multiple maps falling out of your bag, you’re going to be treated like a tourist. Trust us when we say that the locals can spot you from a mile away.
Try blending in a bit. Dressing like the locals and even trying to speak a bit of the local language can help. It’s a sure way to meet people who will likely notice you’re not from around town, but rather a traveller looking for new experiences to share and an eagerness to live like the locals.
Visit the local spots
The local bar or cafe by your hotel is a great place to start your solo adventure on day one. You can even ask at your hotel or hostel for a place they recommend which is not too touristy, but where they still speak a bit of your language. You can really get a feel for local life and perhaps have your first conversation with a stranger.
Bars and restaurants have been places for people to gather and chat for ages, so it makes sense that this is a good place to start, and often bartenders are up for a chat if they’re not too busy. Of course, drinking might be a good social lubricant but it’s absolutely not a requirement. If you do decide to have a couple of drinks, make sure to keep your wits about you.
So you’ve met someone you want to speak to who speaks a bit of your language, but things can easily get awkward if you’re speaking with a thick accent, speaking too quickly or using slang. Communication is key when meeting locals and patience and consideration for your new friend’s limited language skills will make all the difference.
See Also: Is Travelling Solo Fun?
Carry a book
Just because you’re on your own, does not mean you want to talk to people. A great way to enjoy your time abroad on your own is to always have a good book to read. Whether it’s a novel you’ve been meaning to read or a book about your destination, sitting back while enjoying a coffee or a sunny day in the park, is a great way to immerse yourself in your surroundings without needing anyone to entertain you. Travelling alone is also a great source of inspiration, so another great tip is to carry a travel journal to write in or sketch your surroundings.
Learn to enjoy your own company
It’s not something that comes naturally to many people, but it’s a life skill that’s well worth pushing yourself to gain. Time on your own allows you to do exactly what you want, when you want to, without the distraction of conversation or compromising your time abroad for other people’s preferences.
Sit peacefully on a beach or watch street performers in a lively town square, surrounded by people, but still alone in your thoughts in a glorious state of calm.
Join group activities
Travelling solo does not mean you have to do it all alone. There are almost always activities you can participate in at your destination, from walking tours to volunteer programs, language classes or sporting activities. Joining a group will not detract from your solo travel experience, but can help you get the most out of your destination.
See Also: Take a solo trip this year
You can also consider joining a multi-day group tour while you’re travelling. We like touring as solo travellers because you get to experience the destination on your own (you always have plenty of free time away from the group) but with safe and reliable transportation and accommodation options are taken care of in advance. That way, you can spend your time enjoying the experiences that drew you to your destination in the first place, while also removing the pressure of organising everything yourself.
Finally just remember to be patient with yourself. After all, learning to enjoy your own company isn’t so much of a reflex as it is a honed skill. Just apply these tips on your next solo trip and remember that practice makes perfect!
We want to hear about your solo experiences! Tell us in the comments below and share your tips and tricks with our community of readers and travellers.