I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: travelling solo is the most rewarding thing you can do for yourself. You can imagine travelling alone is quite challenging, which is exactly why I do it. I think it’s important to challenge myself every now and then, and not to be too dependent on others when it comes to travel, hiking trips or any other outdoor activities. Because no matter who you are, one thing is for sure: doing things on your own makes you more confident.
Backpacking in a beautiful location having fun on your own, feeling yourself and running your own show? Hell yes.
It wasn’t like that in the beginning, though. In fact, a lot of tears were shed when I took my first solo trip at 18. But it was so worth it. Now, I wanna share some of my tips with you so you can prepare yourself for your very first solo trip!
Does a solo trip of a few weeks or months still seem daunting? Then it’s perfectly fine to wait and first get comfortable doing things on your own. Start by going out for dinner by yourself, or plan a city trip or weekend getaway in your own country. Of course, it will take some time to get used to experiencing all these things on your own, but just give it a chance. And who knows, maybe you’ll discover that you actually prefer to travel with a friend or family. Which is also a lot of fun!
Traveling with only one carry-on? For some it’s their worst nightmare. But I promise you: once you’ve taken this step, you won’t go back.
I’ve dragged my large suitcase up too many flights of stairs, and at one point I just got tired of it. But traveling light is not just about weight, it gives you much more than that. Travelling with a backpack or small suitcase is safer, cheaper and you’re a lot more agile, wherever you go!
How to Avoid Loneliness
A lot of people ask me how I cope with loneliness whenever I travel solo. But the truth is, it has never been easier to meet like-minded people on the road. You will certainly spend more time on your own (some travellers actually prefer it and it’s a conscious decision for them), but few solo travelers actually spend their whole trip by themselves.
You can choose to stay in hostels, which is in my opinion the best place in the world to make new friends (aside from kindergarten). Try also Couchsurfing, Meetup.com or renting a shared apartment on Airbnb. So if you’re afraid of feeling lonely abroad, there’s really no need!
Travel in a Group
Okay, maybe this isn’t technically solo travelling, but still. If you’re not quite ready to travel by yourself, you could choose to go on a group trip just for women. Chances are you’ll find yourself in the company of like-minded travelers and potential friends! You’re travelling alone, but also you’re not. There are so many travel companies out there that offer these kind of experiences. Check out KILROY, Wild Women Expeditions and Damesly.
Depending on where you’re going, taking the bus is often more budget-friendly than the train. Flixbus is a well-known bus company that’s pretty much the European equivalent of the USA’s Greyhound buses, and will take you to various places across the border. I’d definitely recommend using Skyscanner for booking plane tickets. This website lets you compare prices and search for the cheapest destinations across the world. For trains in Europe, you can download the app Trainline to help you choose between traveling by bus or train, and you can book your ticket right away.
In many European countries, the infrastructure is well-developed and there are plenty of opportunities to travel by public transport. Many countries have a national app of their own train network, and it usually lets you buy your ticket in the app without having to print it. In the big cities, you can often save money by buying a multi-day pass that allows you to use all forms of public transportation within the center.
Google Maps allows you to download city maps so you can use them offline, very convenient! Other great apps for getting around are MapsMe and Rome2Rio.
As a solo traveller, it’s essential to always use common sense and be mindful of your surroundings. Tuning into your instincts is vital. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened in a certain situation, trust your gut and leave.
There are also a few gadgets you can bring to keep you safe, like a pocket alarm and a simple doorstopper for when you’re staying in hotels. As pepper sprays are illegal in many countries, you can bring a paint spray just in case. You could also take a self-defense course, for example in Krav Maga.
And of course, always let someone know where you are. To keep my family and friends updated about my whereabouts, I created a shared Google Calendar. In this calender, I can mark the dates, the address of the Airbnb/hotel I’m staying at, and if I go hiking I usually share the route I’m walking.
Extra tip: Learn some standard phrases in the local language or download Google Translate before you leave. Just a few words or a friendly greeting can go a long way. And if that doesn’t work, drawings and gestures can also be helpful.
Do you have any other travel tips? Feel free to share them below or on Insta!