Top 5 solo travel tips
Solo travel is awesome, but a little planning can make a world difference to your enjoyment. I say this from experience! After a few years of research and practice, here are my top solo travel tips.
1. Have a cheat sheet.
Sort of like an itinerary… but if your itinerary isn’t fully planned, having an idea of WHAT TO DO NEXT when you arrive in a new location can reduce STS (solo travel stress), which can be very ‘me against the world’! I’d especially recommend this for solo female travellers. Fill the sheet with the basics for each destination (I also recommend emailing it to yourself):
• Language – hello, please, thank you, goodbye, do you speak English. I recommend learning them, even if it’s on the plane ride into a new country.
• Arrival – note the date, time (including ETA local time arrival) and the flight/train/bus/ship/donkey-ride in booking details.
• Port map/notes (i.e. airport, train station, bus stop etc.) – which exit do you need? Where is the subway? For airport maps check out OneWorld or FlightStats.
• Transit options –.Do your research ahead of time. The place you’re staying might have some recommendations too.
• First place of accommodation – note the address and contact details. Even if your itinerary is vague, having the first night pre-planned can greatly reduce stress when travelling alone.
• Departure – have the date, time and booking details of your departure? Winning! Try to deal with international departures a few days in advance; you can get caught out with simple details like preferred seating selection or baggage limits when hopping from country to country.
2. Go to the people.
Finding people to strike up a conversation with is relatively easy if you’re staying at a hostel or in any sort of shared situation. Try looking for accommodation with a bar or games area. Generally people in these spots are chatty, and fellow solo travellers! Huzzah!
Alternatively, try joining small day tours or classes. Often you’ll find a mix of local, international, group and solo travellers to chat to.
If you end up by yourself at a pub or café and there’s an opportunity to sit up at a bar (in front of the bartenders or chefs), this is also a quick win. Hospitality staff are no strangers to conversation so if you’re feeling a little isolated, this is great.
3. Bring a book.
As a solo activity, bring a book. If you don’t mind bringing your tech gear (remember to specifically list your devices on your travel insurance policy), there’s always the Kindle or the Kindle app for Apple or Android devices. Having a book helps when you’re bored in transit, when you’re by yourself in a bar or restaurant, or when you just want to relax.
4. Bring playing cards.
To help you make friends, playing cards are great. They’re light and serve as a great ice breaker. Going through the 20 questions game can become arduous city after city! If you don’t know many games you’ll usually find someone very happy to show off their skills and teach a crowd too. It’s like moths to a flame.
5. Ask people about themselves.
Repeating the same information city after city can be epically tiring after a while. Remember that you are not on show – get people talking about themselves. Some conversation starters include:
• Where are you from? Where are you going? Stay city specific, try not get all stalkerish sounding by asking about their accommodation location.
• How long have you been here – they could give advice about what to see and do.
• What’s the city’s favourite sport – do you follow it?
• Where do you want to travel to in the future?
Preparing for a solo travel adventure can feel overwhelming (well, it did to me), but plan a few basics and you’re set. Get cracking and check out our Secret Hotels for some great deals.
Have you been on a solo adventure lately? Tell me about it in the comments.