A solo trip is one of the best life experiences you can give yourself. If you're reading this post, I'm assuming you're either interested in that first solo trip or you're well seasoned traveler in need of some new solo travel hacks. Either way, this post will offer some of my favourite solo travel hacks I've learned from 15+ years of adventuring alone.
Here are 31 Solo Travel Hacks You Need to Know
31. Choose Hostels for Your Accommodations
Hostels are a great place to meet other travelers when you're traveling solo. They are often filled with travelers of all ages and offer free events where you can meet and befriend like minded folks. The majority of people you'll meet in hostels are traveling solo like you. Hostels are a great resource for learning about the area you're traveling in. You can very easily ask other travelers and hostel staff for advice on things to do, places to see and eat that you wouldn't necessarily find in a Lonely Planet book.
30. Know Where to Meet New People and Make New Friends
BONUS: Many cities (especially in Europe) offer walking tours for FREE. Just search for them on Google before your trip.
29. Keep It Simple
Do not bring anything flashy that will draw attention to you. It's best if you leave all the beautiful jewellery you own at home and stick with more earthy (wood or beaded) jewellery when you're on the road.
28. Pack Less
One of my top solo travel hacks is packing less. Surely, you don't want to be lugging around heavy bags when you have to get somewhere, especially when you don't have anyone to help you. It's really important to pack as light as possible. One travel hack for packing light is to lay out everything you'd like to take and then remove half of those items. Stick with the travel essentials and items that you really need. If you can just pack a carry-on and a small day bag, you will make your travels much easier.
27. Learn Language Basics
Learning the language of the place you're visiting will help you to really dive into the culture and make friends with locals. It can also boost your confidence when you're asking for directions, purchasing something or dining at a restaurant. I used Babbel to advance my Spanish speaking skills before a trip to Guatemala, and I think I did a great job 🙂
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26. Wear a Fake Wedding Band
This solo travel hack is specifically for my ladies. Even if you're not married or don't even have a boyfriend, wearing a fake ring can make you feel safer as it may prevent harassment. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe any woman needs a partner of any kind to be a confident and successful. You definitely do not need a man to travel. However, in some cultures where there's a strong monogamous view of marriage, wearing a wedding band can prevent unwanted attention. This can be highly dependent on one's culture and religion, but more often than not it can come down to an individual's belief sets and motivations. Nonetheless, it's worked for me in some places and not in others. It doesn't hurt to give it a try. Just be sure to wear a fake cheap ring for safety reasons.
25. Always Let Someone Know Where You're Going to Next
Check in with your friends and family back home to let them know your travel schedule. Let them know your current location, when and where you're heading next, and for approximately how long. This gives your loved ones peace of mind and if anything were to go wrong, you have people who can trace back your steps.
24. Always Keep Your Head Up and Make Eye Contact With the People You Meet on the Streets
Confidence goes a long way. When you look like you know where you're going (even when you don't), you are less of a target to someone looking to take advantage of the vulnerable. Keep your head up, make lots of eye contact with people, and...
23. Act Like You Know a Place Like the Back of Your Hand
When you're walking down an unfamiliar street or if you're lost, do not look like you're lost. Always look like you know where you're going. Act like you own the place or that you've been there for a while. Like I mentioned above, confidence is key, especially when you're traveling solo.
22. Take a Lonely Planet Guidebook With You
The Lonely Planet Guidebook is like the travel Bible. I have found during many trips, especially solo ones, that bringing a Lonely Planet Guidebook with me gives comfort. If I arrive in a new place that I know nothing about, I can rely on the Lonely Planet book to give me great and safe recommendations for accommodations, restaurants, or even tours to do.
21. Take Advantage of Solo Benefits
There are benefits to solo travel like getting that last discounted front row ticket to a concert because there's only one seat available. If you enjoy amusement parks like Disneyland, skipping to the front of the line is the norm when you travel solo. When the staff asks for "any solo riders to come forward," That's your cue to jump to the front rather than wait that extra 30 minutes to ride.
20. Follow the Rule of Three
I call it the rule of three because it means asking three different locals the same question. If you're looking for directions to a specific place, ask three locals. If at least two of the three give you the same directions, you know you're going in the right direction.
19. Purchase a Local SIM Card
In most countries, SIM cards are very affordable. I recommend purchasing one soon as you land at the airport. It's nice to have peace of mind knowing you can always use your phone to make a call or use the GPS if you need to.
18. Travel Solo Without Traveling Solo
If there's no one back home who can/will travel with you, but you still wanted be around other people, join a group tour. You still have the luxury of having your own room, getting alone time and choosing all of the activities you want to do, but you'll also be around other travelers. If you've never traveled solo before, and you're a bit nervous to do so, joining a group tour is a great place to start.
There are groups like G-Adventures who put together amazing trips all over the world with really cool individuals that will remain your friends forever. Siya and I have been on a few G Adventures tours. Together, we've done Peru and Japan. I've also done a solo G Adventures tour in the Galapagos and Siya did a solo safari trip in South Africa. Our group trip to Peru was over 11-years ago, and we're still friends with some of the people we met on that trip.
17. Use Community Sites to Meet Other Travelers
Community websites like Trover, Lonely Planet Thorn Tree and the Hopscotch the Globe Community Facebook Group are great ways to meet other travelers. You can discuss your upcoming trip, receive tips and advice from other travelers and even find a travel buddy to meet up with.
16. Arrive During the Day
Although middle-of-the-night arrivals can be nice on the wallet, they can be less safe. If you can spend an extra $100 to arrive in the day, I highly recommend it.
15. Choose Better Seats on Train and Buses
For your own safety, spending a little more to upgrade your seat on a train or bus is something I recommended. An example of this is if you're traveling solo by train in India, I'd suggest class Third AC or higher. These train bunks typically have more families and women in them, which tends to offer a safer environment, especially for overnight travel.
14. Get a Business Card
One of the first things I recommend doing when you arrive at your hostel or hotel guest room is to ask for a business card. That way, when you're wandering around your new neighbourhood, you'll have the address on hand for when you need to return at the end of the day.
13. Dine Alone
A common fear for many is dining alone. I personally love it because I can really enjoy my food. I don't have to talk to anybody, and I can really focus on just what I'm eating. If you're feeling a little bit uncomfortable or if it's your first time dining alone, you can bring a book or music to keep you company.
12. Take Your Vitamins
Vitamin D, probiotics, magnesium and B12 are the vitamins I always take with me on every trip. Since having my daughter, I also take iron and a pre-natal vitamin as well. These are the one's I take at home on a regular basis to keep me healthy, so it shouldn't be any different when on the road. Other essential vitamins to consider are Ashwagandha, which is great for stress relief and elderberry which is great to help prevent cold and flu. I also love bringing Your Super superfood blends to add to water or smoothies. Do your research, and find what works best for you.
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11. Schedule Rest Stops
When you solo travel, you're the one doing all planning and decision making. It can get exhausting. This solo travel hack is all about taking time off once in a while to just be in one location and chill out. You can go to a spa, get a massage, read a good book, have some drinks, and just recharge.
10. Ask the Hostel or Hotel You're Staying at For Places to Avoid
This is one of the solo travel hacks especially important for evening excursions. The world changes at night, and there will always be places you should avoid in every destination. Those working at the hostel or hotel you're staying at will be able to advise you of places to avoid. If you are going out at night, I'd recommend connecting with other travelers you can tag along with if you feel uncomfortable going alone. It's VERY important to trust your instincts when you travel. If you get the feeling you shouldn't be somewhere, especially alone, you're probably right.
9. Bring a Selfie Stick
Selfie sticks make a great sidekick for solo travelers. They're light, compact and help you capture your trip. When you're holding your camera out using only your hand, you don't get to see much of your surroundings. A selfie stick will capture more of the experience in one photo.
8. Always Have a Fully-Stocked First Aid Kit
Cuts, scraps and sprains happen, so it's best to be prepared everywhere you go. You can purchase a travel size first aid kit on Amazon. The best first aid kits are simple but varied and will have a variety of dressings and equipment to deal with the absolute basics. More importantly, they can be used with little or no training. This is the one I bring, and I'll add in a few extra bandages in different size, Polysporin, Advil, Tylenol and hydration salts too.
7. Bring a Portable Battery Charger
It's easy to bring a portable battery charger with you to throw in your day bag or pocket. Whether it's for a safety concern or trying to get from one place to another, the last thing you want is a dead phone when traveling alone.
6. Email Copies of Your Travel Documents
Email copies of your travel visas and passport to yourself as well as your family. This will make the process of replacing lost or stollen originals faster.
5. Use Transportation Services Like Uber, Lyft, or Grab
These ride-sharing apps can be a better option than using a taxi. You can actually set an ETA of where you are and it'll track your journey and send it to your friends or family so they actually can see where you're going in real time. They can also be more affordable than using a taxi.
BONUS: Use discount code siyaz to save $2 on your first three rides.
4. Dress Like the Locals
This is one of my favourite solo travel hacks because it's not only respectful but can be a lot of fun. There's no better way to immerse yourself in a new culture than to do as the locals do. Dressing like the locals will also help you blend in, something that can feel really nice when you're traveling solo.
3. Book Accommodations Ahead of Time
Even if you're into spontaneous travel like me, I would recommend booking your first two nights before going there. This way, you don't have to think about where you're going to spend the night after a long flight. If you're staying at a hostel, it'll give you time to just settle in and talk to other travelers.
2. Trust Your Gut
If you're going to take anything away from this post, this is it. When you travel solo, your gut feeling also known as your instinct or intuition, is crazy strong! It's there to protect you. Listen to it. When you feel like something doesn't feel right, you are most likely correct. So, follow your gut. If you don't feel safe in a situation, get out of there right away.
1. Embrace Being Alone
If you're not used to spending time alone, it can feel intimidating. I promise you, it's one of the best things you will ever do for yourself. Traveling solo is something I recommend everyone try at least once in their lifetime. Even if you're in a relationship or have kids, you can and should plan a solo trip. You learn so much about yourself - about your likes and your dislikes. It makes you a stronger person and it makes you more confident. It is one of the most rewarding experiences you can ever have.
I hope you find my 31 solo travel hacks useful when getting ready for your big trip. If you're planning your first solo trip, you're in for an incredible experience! If you've been on a solo trip before, share your stories or any additional solo travel hacks below.