It’s no secret that travel is one of life’s great pleasures.
While it can be wonderful to discover new places with friends or a partner, there’s a reason why the famed travel writer Dame Freya Starkonce wrote: ‘To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.’
Travelling alone, whether on an extended sojourn or a quick mini-break, can be a genuinely enriching adventure. Yet it’s not always easy. From safety issues to boredom, there are many things to consider – particularly for women – when planning a solo adventure. Here are our top tips for staying safe and making the most of your alone time.
1. Do your research: It sounds obvious, but studying up on the region you’re planning to visit is a crucial part of a solo trip. In between organising your travel visas and documents, make sure to read up widely on your destination. Check out any travel advisories that the Foreign Office has issued, look into local cultural practises, and peruse blogs by people who’ve visited the area. In short, have some idea of what you’re getting into.
2. Make some decisions in advance: From booking your accommodation and hotel transfers to writing up an itinerary, a little advance preparation will help you ease into your journey. You can always change your plans once you’re feeling settled.
3. Be smart and trust your instincts: Visiting a foreign country can often feel peculiar at first, particularly if there’s a language or cultural barrier. That said, it’s important to trust your instincts. If someone or some place feels off, there’s likely a reason why so don’t ignore your gut. Also make sure to keep your wits about you, even if it means saying no to that second cocktail.
4. Get on board with being bored: One of the great myths about travelling is that it’s all fun, all the time. From waiting in airports to weathering long bus journeys, exploring the unknown often includes a lot of sitting around. Without a travel companion to pass the time with, these periods can seem particularly grueling, so it’s best to be prepared. Get lost in a book, write in your journal, and don’t despair. It won’t be long before you’re having the time of your life again.
5. Be a joiner: Just because you’re travelling alone doesn’t mean you have to be a complete loner. If striking up conversations with strangers doesn’t come naturally to you, try signing up for group day tours or drop-in classes of some sort (Surf lessons, anyone?). You’ll likely meet loads of diverse people and maybe even pick up a new skill.
6. But embrace being on your own: Dining alone can be daunting, not to mention going to the theatre or checking out the local music scene. Our best advice is to just give it a try. You’re likely to realise that A) no one is staring at you, and B) you actually enjoy your own company.
7. Choose your choices: One of the greatest things about travelling alone is having the freedom to do exactly what you want. Bored at the museum after only 20 minutes? You’re free to leave. Desperate for a lie-in after a late night out? Hit the snooze button, you have nowhere you need to be. While it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing things simply to keep other people happy, when you’re completely on your own you have no one to please but yourself. Now’s your chance to do exactly that.