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Solo Travel

The Ultimate Guide to Solo Travel (2023)


a female solo traveler in a kayak in clear blue picturesque water looking at mountains
What is in this blog? Table of contents:

If you’re intrigued by the idea of solo travel but haven’t a clue where to start, then buckle up - this guide is for you.

I’m going to cover the basics regarding solo travel today. I’ll go over several topics including, what to pack, tips, recommended tour operators, and more. We also covered in another blog the top destinations for solo travelers.

What is solo travel?

Solo travel is an often budget-friendly style of travel where you’re on your own - no friends, no family by your side.

Scary right? No, not really. While the idea of traveling without anyone may seem horrifying to some, it’s far less intimidating than you might initially assume.

It’s an experience that can be both profoundly rewarding and simultaneously infuriating. Looking back, even my most frustrating solo travel experiences are now fond memories.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of traveling alone?

I’ve put together a few of the advantages and disadvantages of solo travel. Hopefully, it’ll help you decide whether traveling alone is right for you.

Advantages of solo travel:

What you want, when you want

On a solo trip, you have complete control of your itinerary. No waiting around for people to get ready, no bickering over the day’s activities, and zero disagreements over where to eat.

Solo travel means total freedom. It allows for total spontaneity, decide in the moment precisely what you want to do, without having to worry about any travel companions.

You can tailor your trip to fit your own personal budget. You’re able to travel in as budget-friendly or conversely bougie manner as you like.

Step outside your comfort zone

As a general rule, travel allows us to step outside of our daily routines and immerse ourselves in a plethora of unique experiences. It enables us to learn things about ourselves we never would have discovered otherwise, while at the same time encouraging personal growth.

Solo travel, in particular, enables this to a far higher degree. It allows you to engage with new cultures, new people, and explore new environments without the protective blanket of familiarity that comes with traveling with people you know.

Meet new people

Traveling solo naturally makes you more open to meeting new people and it in turn makes you more approachable.

Making connections with new people will not only enrich your traveling experience, but it can carry forward beyond your vacation - to this day I still talk with people I met while traveling alone.

Disadvantages of solo travel:


I imagine a lot of you will be asking “Is it safe to travel alone?” To be blunt, it is safe.

Obviously, you need to take precautions, but these are the same kinds of precautions you would take if you were with a group of people. And to be honest, they’re the same precautions you probably take in day-to-day life anyway, especially if you live in a city.

Of course, there are dangerous solo travel destinations. You won’t find me touting Afghanistan as among the next best solo male travel destinations.

Remember, do your due diligence before booking a trip.


Loneliness, when traveling solo, while not an inevitability, should be expected at certain points. This can be beneficial to some extent, it’s important to learn how to be alone and how to keep yourself entertained. However, left untreated loneliness can put a serious dampener on a solo trip.

Luckily, there are many ways to deal with loneliness when traveling solo.

If you’re a social butterfly, stay in hostels and take part in as many group activities as possible.

If you’re not in a hostel, go to bars, expat meet-ups… There are even apps, like Couchsurfing, designed to help fellow travelers meet people.

a male solo traveller walking through a wooded area

Tips for solo travel

1. Be open-minded

My foremost tip for solo travel is you should try to remain open-minded at all times. Only by staying open-minded will you appreciate the full range of experiences and people that traveling solo offers.

Whether it means talking to the gnarled old grandma at the cafe in broken English or tasting the dish that looks suspiciously like a brain - try to keep an open mind and who knows where it will lead you.

Open-mindedness has led to me consuming duck blood jelly with locals in a tiny Vietnamese village, sitting in on Chechen Sufi ceremonies in the mountains of Georgia, and many other things that would never have happened if I’d not kept an open mind.

2. Take the free walking tour

Most popular solo travel destinations have a free walking tour. Use these as a means to both get an overview of the place you’re visiting and to meet other travelers.

Hostels usually have details regarding free walking tours. If not, you can likely find info online.

Please note, that while these walking tours are free, you should tip the guide as a thank you. Even with tips, free walking tours are still a top budget-friendly activity when traveling alone.

3. Stay at a Hostel

Worried about loneliness? Stay in a hostel. Not only are hostels a brilliant way to cut down on costs, but they’re probably the easiest way to meet people.

The communal living makes it easy to bond with those around you, even if you’re a little shy.

This said you shouldn’t be afraid to stay in a private room if you need space. You don’t have to stay in a dorm to get the full hostel experience.

4. Download an offline map

Many would argue that the best way to explore a new city is to get lost in it. I agree with this to an extent.

But once you’ve had your fill of exploring you’ll want to head back to your accommodation for some much-needed rest. And, at this moment being lost in the depths of a new city won’t seem quite as exciting as it did a couple of hours earlier.

To avoid this, download an offline map to your phone. It’s much cheaper than buying data or picking up a local SIM card and it allows you to explore without fear of not knowing the way home.

Maps.me is my personal recommendation.

5. Learn to eat out alone

I feel like there can sometimes be a stigma attached to going to a restaurant alone. However, in cultures all over the world, it’s perfectly normal to eat out alone.

So, regardless of whether you’ve got company, don’t be embarrassed to go into a restaurant and eat alone.

Even if you feel a little awkward at first, it’ll undoubtedly get easier over time.

solo female traveler wearing a red travelling backpack

Solo travel packing essentials

Below are 4 items that are important for any trip, but are essential for any solo travel packing list.

• A good book

No matter how many friends you make, or how busy you are - you’ll find yourself in need of downtime at some point. At times like this, why not get stuck into that book you’ve been meaning to read for months?

Reading is a great way to unwind while still feeling productive. One of the beauties of solo travel is that it gives you the time to indulge in solo activities like this that you may not have time for on a group holiday.

They’re also great for when eating alone at a restaurant.

• Portable charger

Like it or not, electronics are indispensable, and consequently, having them run out of charge can be catastrophic.

There’s no worse feeling than trying to navigate your way to your hostel at 3AM after a 20-hour bus ride only for your phone to run out of juice.

Bring a portable charger with you, and you’ll make it to the hostel with zero drama.

• A spare bank card (or credit card)

When traveling alone a spare bank card is vital. It can bail you out of all kinds of jams.

You could lose your main card or your main card could be refused at an ATM or cash terminal. If such situations occur while traveling with people, it’s frustrating but not disastrous. At the very least your friends can help you out.

If you’re alone though, no spare bank card could leave you in a situation where you’re unable to pay at a shop or restaurant. Or worse - stranded in a country with no money.

• Earplugs

A night's sleep in a crowded hostel dorm can easily be ruined by someone drunkenly trying to find their bunk in the dark.

Sleep in a hotel can be disrupted by thin walls and a snorer.

Sleeping on a night bus can be next to impossible thanks to incessant music played by the driver.

Regardless of whether you’re a heavy sleeper or not, earplugs are immeasurably useful when traveling solo.

How can I deal with solo travel anxiety?

Solo travel can anxiety-inducing, there’s no two ways about it.

One way to deal with this anxiety is to just dive straight into a baptism by fire. You know, strike out into a Moroccan souk, stopping only for cups of mint tea and to dodge the overladen donkey-pulled carts barreling through the narrow passageways.

Obviously, this isn’t for everyone. A better method for dealing with solo travel anxiety is to take it slow.

Join group excursions organized by your accommodation, make friends and explore with them. Gradually build up until you feel confident enough in your destination to go it alone.

If things get to be too much, that’s okay. Just go back to your accommodation to unwind for as long as you need. You have nothing to prove to anybody. This is your trip and you do whatever you need to do to enjoy it.

Alternatively, you could take a tour...

Best tour operators for solo travel

One means for dealing with solo travel anxiety is to book yourself onto a solo travel tour. These are tours designed with solo travelers in mind. On a tour everything’s organized for you: accommodation, activities, etc. - you literally just show up.

Tours vary in length some last for only a day, while others last for weeks.

Below are 3 of the best tour operators if you’re interested in solo travel but want the security of a tour.

Exodus Travels

A company operating out of the UK, Exodus Travel has been organizing tours for over 50 years. Embark on a trip with their trusted local guides to destinations worldwide.

They have tours on every continent offering up servings of culture, wildlife, adventure, and hiking.

Visit Exodus Travels website

Wild Women Expeditions

This Canadian female-owned adventure travel company specifically caters to tours for women.

Traveling with Wild Women Expeditions allows you to set out on an adventure to destinations worldwide with a group of like-minded women, led by local female guides who are great advocates for solo female travel.

Visit Wild Women Expeditions Website

Intrepid Travel

A company from Australia. Intrepid Travel offers varied solo tours all over the world - bike, eat, trek, or even sail your way through one of their itineraries.

Over 50% of tour participants are going it alone, so you’ll almost certainly find some kindred spirits, regardless of the tour you book.

Visit Intrepid Travels website

What age is best for solo travel?

As far as I’m concerned there’s no best age. I breakfasted in a hostel with a solo traveler in his 60s once. He entertained us with stories about his recent solo trip to Mongolia.

The idea of solo travel may conjure up images of twenty-somethings backpacking through Southeast Asia, but this is just one style of solo travel.

Provided you’re a healthy adult don’t worry about age. No one’s going to judge you for being a little more mature.

However, some hostels do have age restrictions. So make sure to check before booking your accommodation.

Key takeaways

Hopefully from this guide, you’ll have garnered a few key points.

First, solo travel is nothing to be afraid of. Is it safe to travel solo? Yes. Are you too old? No. Will you feel lonely? I doubt it.

Furthermore, on a tour, the risks to both your safety and your chances of feeling lonely are further minimized. There are even tours for older people if you’re worried about being the oldest there.

Second, you can keep things budget-friendly by staying in hostels and choosing low-cost activities.

Finally, it’s an amazing way to expose yourself to new experiences. Just be ready to embrace opportunities even if they seem a little strange.

Safe travels!


How do I make friends when traveling solo?

Remain open to new experiences, stay in hostels, join tour groups, and try platforms like CouchSurfing to make friends. There are many travel apps you can join to meet like minded people travelling solo. You can also go to local events and festivals, this is a great way to experience what the local culture has to offer and to meet the local people.

Is solo travel safe?

Yes, but remain aware of your surroundings and use common sense. With any form of travel there are considerations, when travelling alone it is vitally important to keep in touch with friends and family, have travel insurance, use transportation wisely and choose safe destinations.

How to plan a solo trip?

  1. Choose your destination.
  2. Book flights and accommodation.
  3. Arrange visas/vaccines etc. if necessary.
  4. Plan a rough itinerary.
  5. Pack a bag (bring your solo travel essentials).
  6. Hop on a plane!

Can you get travel insurance for a single traveler?

Yes, travel insurance is available to solo travelers. The majority of providers ofter policies specific to solo travel to cover any unforeseen circumstances. These policies cover things like personal liability, trip cancellations and medical emergencies. Before just picking a travel insurance plan i would carefully read the policy documents to ensure the cover is what you require.

How to travel solo on a budget?

Solo travel on a budget is a common theme, as can be achieved if done right. First you need to set your budget and stick with it. Some tips for budget solo travel include stayling in hostel dorms, looking out for free activities, shopping around for good deals and booking flights with layovers as these are often cheaper.

How to take pictures when traveling solo?

Invest in a tripod and familiarise yourself with your camera’s timer settings or be brave and ask a stranger to take a photo of you! Don't be scared of taking a selfie either, catching those memories will be worth it. Taking pictures of the local scenery and culture are another way to store those solo travel memories.

How old do you have to be to travel alone?

Provided you’re a healthy adult, there’s no age restriction to traveling alone. Solo travel is a great way to meet people of all ages and walks of life. Staying in hostels is a perfect way to meet new people, however some hostels do carry an age restriction so please double check this before booking your accommodation.

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