How to Travel Alone

Travellinf Alone

Travelling alone can be as daunting as it is exciting. On one hand, you can assert your independence, be uncompromising in your choices and see yourself, and the world, in new light. On the other, you have to handle all the logistics, and those fears of loneliness, all by yourself.

Don't let nerves take over. See Essential Travel Magazine's top ten tips for making the most out of solo travel, covering all the practicalities, as well as the social aspect of travelling alone.

  • Do

    1. RESEARCH. Knowing what to expect will help relieve any apprehensions. Swot up on local culture and make a note of appropriate dress, attitudes toward foreigners and the sorts of foods you can look forward to. Learning a few local phrases will ease you into your travels.

    2. SURF THE WEB. In recent years, the internet has become a prime resource for finding like minded people to travel with. Sites such as www.travbuddy.com, www.meetup.com and www.thelmandlouise.com (one for ladies only) have made it easy to hook up with fellow travellers heading your way. Use with caution however, and try to bring a group of people together, rather than meeting one to one.

    3. GET ON A COACH. This one is not for everybody, but if social networking is beyond you, or you'd prefer to be sure of company before you go away, book a travel tour. This could be as simple as a day trip organised at your destination, or as specific as a specialist solo travel holiday. For the latter, try www.solosholidays.co.uk or www.friendshiptravel.com for fair deals.

    4. PLAY IT SAFE. Always be aware of your personal safety. Don't advertise where you're staying, or the fact that you're alone, to strangers. Carry a safety alarm or whistle and use your common sense and instinct when you're in unfamiliar areas, particularly after dark.

    5. KEEP IN TOUCH. While boasting loudly about your adventures to friends and family over email or Skype, remember to let them know where you are, where you're staying and where and when you're heading off next. Having someone keeping tabs on you can be invaluable in an emergency.

    6. EMBRACE YOUR FREEDOM. One of the best reasons for travelling alone is having time and space to yourself. Welcome this solitude as a positive and you won't feel so lonely. Enjoy your own company.

  • Don't

    1. WING IT. Make a loose travel plan without being restrictive - a basic itinerary can give your travels structure and get you excited about going away. Also, be prepared. Jot down the number of your local embassy, airline carrier, accommodation and the local emergency services. Make sure you have the relevant visas as well as copies of your passport, your bank account (plus online) banking details and plenty of currency.

    2. GET RIPPED OFF. Travelling alone can mean incurring charges for single occupancy rooms and supplements on cruises and tours. Be keen to these penalties, and try avoid them by using a singles-orientated booking site such as www.travelalone.co.uk, or book with specialist operators (see tip 4). You could also opt for a bunk bed in a hostel.

    3. BE A WILTING WALL FLOWER. Not only will emitting confidence help keep trouble at bay, but you'll find you have more fun too. If you're the self-conscious type, prepare for uncomfortable situations (such as eating out alone) by carrying a book, newspaper, or diary.

    4. BE A RECLUSE. Socialising with others doesn't mean sacrificing your independence. Meeting up with fellow travellers can be stimulating and a lot more fun than constantly being alone. Stay in hostels with a communal kitchen or, if you don't fancy roughing it, opt for a hotel with a lively bar.

Last Updated: August 2009