Solo travel. It’s something that scares a lot of people. And I totally understand why. Arriving somewhere on your own, when you don’t know the place or anyone there, and having to figure it all out by yourself!
These days I have got so used to travelling solo that it feels normal to me to just pack up and go somewhere alone. In some ways I actually find it more difficult travelling with someone now – having to worry about someone else and not just being able to do whatever I want to do….not to mention how hard it is to find a good travel buddy!
But that definitely wasn’t always the case. In fact, solo travel used to scare the cr*p out of me!
At first it can be stressful, scary and lonely as hell.
I think the secret to enjoying your first solo travel experiences is to find ways to ease yourself in.
Take it slowly and start by dipping your toes in to solo travel rather than diving in straight at the deep-end and just arriving somewhere with no plan!
Choose destinations and trips that help you with some of the ‘unknown’ elements that come with travelling, and support you by providing some of the things that you need, even if that’s just taking the pressure off you to organise everything yourself!
I’ve tried quite a few different kinds of solo travel and there are plenty of options to help make it easier, depending on where you want to go and the kind of experience you want to have. Here’s some of my top tips for your first solo travel trip – hopefully they’ll help you to fall in love with solo travel in no time, just like me!
Go on a cruise
I never would have thought of going on a cruise until I went on this one a while back – it completely changed my impression of cruising and I realised how great it can be – especially if you’re going alone!
In my post about why everyone should go on a cruise, one of my reasons was that it’s so great for solo travel. I’ve actually now been on two cruises solo (press trips, but still) and they’re great if you want a holiday alone but don’t want to feel lonely.
The beauty of a cruise when you’re travelling alone is that you’re literally on a ship full of people, so you never feel like you’re on your own. Even if you just want to chill and not meet people, there will always be people around, and everyone is super friendly – including the staff. If you just want to chill out, then you can do that, but if you want to meet people then it’s the perfect place – and you don’t even have to go searching for where to go because everyone is in the same place!
The worry of having to organise your trip once your there is taken away from you, and there’s tons of fun things for you to do all in one place. There are loads of activities and parties on-board that you can turn up to and are a great chance to get chatting to other people, plus on-board restaurants and bars to try. On your days on-shore, you can easily arrange group activities and tours while you’re on board – the staff will arrange it all for you! It’s a great way to dip your toe into solo travel and get used to going on a trip alone without having to worry about all the other elements like figuring out where to go/what to do during your holiday!
Azamara Club Cruises are a great place to look if you’re tempted to book your first cruise. They offer boutique cruises to all sorts of destinations all over the world and for different trip lengths depending on what you want. And they have some great budget options!
It’s much more of a ‘travel’ experience than some other cruise trips because they focus on providing much more immersive trips where you really experience the places you travel to. They sail to lesser known ports, have overnight on-land stays and provide great experiences in each stopping point too so it doesn’t feel as touristy as some cruises and gives you a real taste of the places you’re visiting rather than just having a couple of hours in each place!
It’s a great way to tick off some of the destinations you want to go to but might find more tricky to travel to alone – after browsing all their trips I’m tempted to book a Norway cruise to see the Northern Lights!
Take a working holiday
If you work for yourself or can work remotely with your job then another great option for solo travel is to go on a remote working trip! I went to Bali last year with Unsettled and that’s what really kicked off my love of solo travel in a big way. They run trips all over the world and it’s a great way to go to a long-haul destination without so much fear of doing a long, far-away trip on your own! They run two-week and month-long trips so it’s a great way to really immerse yourself in a new place – that’s how I fell in love with Bali which has now become like my second home!
You’re also pretty much guaranteed to meet like-minded people and a different crowd than you might on a younger kind of group trip! Obviously it depends what you want, but I found on my trip that there was a good mix of people who were there to work and people who just wanted a holiday, so you could have the best of both worlds in now trip!
Group trips in general are a great way to get over the solo travel fear. I booked my remote working trip because I knew I wanted to go on a long trip but I didn’t want to have to be worrying about absolutely all of it on my own – discovering a new place, finding out where to go, and meeting people to hang out with all on top of trying to get work done just felt too overwhelming! So these trips are a great balance – you get a ready made group of friends to hang out with when you arrive, there are some organised activities and the company hosts will help you with planning extra stuff to do or recommending the best restaurants / sights to see.
There are loads of remote working retreats to choose from now, but Unsettled offer a load of great locations I’d love to visit – from Barcelona to Cape Town. Even if you don’t go on a fully organised trip, going to a co-working space while you’re away is a great way to meet like-minded people and find some fun events to go to (after work drinks, anyone?) Coworking spaces also often run their own co-living options that can be a cheaper alternative to one of the retreats.
Try a retreat
In case you didn’t already know, I love yoga retreats. I’ve been on a fair few and usually choose a retreat over a Summer holiday every year. It’s another perfect way to travel somewhere on your own – you’ll meet a group of lovely people and be looked after once you’re there (usually your meals and activities are all included) plus you always leave feeling pampered, thoroughly relaxed and amazing from doing so much yoga!
If yoga’s not your bag, they have retreats for pretty much everything these days – from HIIT training to juicing or detox-dieting. I also love the amount of retreats that are yoga and something – walking in the French alps, surfing in morocco…there are so many choices! And they’re all a great way to get a holiday or travel somewhere new where you’ll meet some great people and have an incredible experience!
Stay in a hostel
Before you freak out (if you’re one of those people who only relates hostels to drunk teenagers, people snoring in the next bunk or bed bugs) hostels have come a loooong way in the last few years. There are tons of great hostel options these days with great design, amazing extras and – even better – private rooms!
When I went to Barcelona on my first properly solo solo travel trip (as in, I didn’t have anything extra organised and I didn’t know anyone there), my safety blanket was staying in a hostel. I stayed in a private room because I wanted my own space, but the great thing about a hostel is that you can guarantee that other people there are going to be travelling solo too and, more importantly, will want to chat! My favourite hostel chain is Generator who have locations all over Europe, stylish rooms and also always have added extras like their own cafe/restaurants and bars on-site so you can literally just pop downstairs and be sure to get chatting to your new holiday friends over a drink! Read about my experience at Generator in Paris here.
Research your destination
This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but make sure you have at least some plans before you arrive. There’s nothing worse when you’re solo travelling than ending up wandering around a place with no idea where to go or what to do. It’s a sure way to instant feelings of loneliness! Decide some of the places you want to see and where you want to eat before you go so you don’t find yourself at a loose end when you’re on your own.
If it’s your first time, I also recommend choosing your destination wisely. Where will you feel comfortable, easily be able to communicate if you don’t speak the language, and not feel awkward being on your own?
It’s also important, especially as a female solo traveller, to go somewhere that feels safe. Stay in an area that you won’t be worried about walking around alone, and go somewhere that is safe for tourists.
Now that I’m used to it. It doesn’t really bother me turning up places alone, but I remember before my trip one of the things I was most worried about was going out to dinner each night on my own. So I shortlisted places that I felt were normal to go to alone and were bound to have plenty of restaurants were you could eat alone at the bar without feeling strange – so Barcelona came out as one of the top places on my list!
Solo Travel doesn’t have to be scary
I think the most important thing when you first solo travel is to make plans that help you to feel safer, less worried and more comfortable about going it alone. It can feel like a big deal having to go somewhere by yourself, but if you do it right then you can end up having way more of an experience than you maybe would if you were travelling with someone you knew! The way that you get to know a place and make connections with other people is totally different and gives you much more of a sense of actually travelling than when you’re just on holiday with a friend or parter.
Oh and one more piece of advice – if you’re in a place where stealing is rife make sure you look after your belongings at all times. Like literally wear one of those embarrassing bumbags that you laugh at your Mum for telling you to wear. Because you don’t want to end up waking up alone in Barcelona on New Years’ Day, hungover, with no passport, bank card or phone charger, a flight to catch home in a few hours and no one to help you…..trust me….!
This was a collaborative post with Azamara Club Cruises, but as always all opinions, words and images are my own.