News flash: Travelling solo doesn’t mean being alone! It's a sense of freedom, a time for you to discover yourself and it’s easier than you think. Ask anyone who has travelled solo and they’ll tell you what a one-of-a-kind-experience it was. Sure it comes with its downfalls - You can feel like you’re on top of the world one minute, and the next can remind you that you’re a tiny speck swallowed up in it all. But that’s all part of the journey! Here are 9 things all solo travellers must do to travel alone, but not be lonely!
1. Take yourself out for dinner
Eating dinner in a restaurant, by yourself, is the first real test you should take. Baby steps. It will test your confidence and probably intimidate you, but it’s the ultimate way to let people know you don’t care what they think.
“You’ve seen that lone soldier, sitting alone in the coffee shop without a care in the world. They're somewhat mysterious, confident, and they don’t check their watch every five minutes to see if they're late for something. That is the mindset of a person who has travelled solo. Maybe they're even flying solo right now...”
2. Take up a new hobby
Life is short, and now is the time to do all those things you’ve always dreamed of doing but didn’t have the time... or guts. The options to push your boundaries with a new experience are practically endless! Whether it’s photography, a cooking course or even a book club. Getting involved in local hobbies is something that everyone should do when solo travelling. It gives you the opportunity to learn a new skill, make some new friends and understand the local culture a little deeper.
3. Meet the locals
So we know you were probably told throughout your whole childhood “don’t talk to strangers”, and now we’re telling you to throw that advice out the door. Confusing. But being alone gives you the opportunity to strike up new conversations with random strangers and you never know who you will get to meet this way!
4. Attempt to learn the lingo
Learning a new language can be frustrating, stressful and challenging, we get it. But, not having anyone around that speaks your language will force you to dive in, even if it’s just a few phrases to start with. DuoLingo is a good place to start.
“Accept that you are going to say a lot of stupid things. Language can be tricky and words can look or sound alike. However these weird situations are the best learning moments.”
5. Go where the travellers go
Stay in hostels when possible. The best thing about hostels (besides the price, cha ching!), is meeting other travellers. Did you also know that Couchsurfing is not only handy for finding cheap places to crash, but it’s also a smart and safe way for finding friends in a new city?
There’s also meetup.com (it’s like Tinder... but for friends with similar hobbies) Then, there’s always Facebook. There’s thousands of groups solely dedicated to travel and connecting expats with one another. Often if you search up a destination there’s a group for it.
Related: How to Make New Friends Abroad
6. Ditch Google Maps
Get lost. Literally or metaphorically. Even if just for a day, there is no better way to see a city and understand its culture than strutting it. Once you’ve got your head out of that phone, it will slow you down so that you have to take into account how the city is designed and you’ll notice all the beautiful details you wouldn’t have before. And when you do find your way you'll feel stronger, wiser, and way more self-sufficient.
7. Spend time in nature
Nothing kills a natural high more than your travel buddy complaining along the way. Remember, on a solo travel adventure, your itinerary is your own. You can gaze upon that beach sunrise or mountain panorama for as long as you like. Go somewhere tranquil just to be alone with your thoughts. You'll feel rejuvenated and inspired.
8. Sign up for free city tours
You may or may not know this, but many European cities offer local walking tours that operate on a pay-as-much-as-you-feel-like basis. The guide’s earnings are based on their performance so the tours are usually well prepared, funny and super informative. What a way to get an introduction to your new city in a few hours at whatever price you feel like paying.
9. Look into volunteering
Volunteering is humbling, eye-opening and inspiring. The best part is that you don’t need a buddy to do it. There are many types of volunteering programs you can go on, ranging from category to destination. Do you want to work with wildlife in Africa? How about communities in Nepal? It’s easy to say we want to do it all, but really deciding what reaches out to you most is exactly what volunteering is all about.
Now that you know all the ways to make the most of solo travel and how to stay safe doing it, the only question left to answer is… where to next? Let us help you decide via the little green button that leads to amazing places below.