The thought of traveling solo can be terrifying—visiting an unfamiliar location, worrying about safety, and wondering if you’ll be lonely. On the other hand, it can also be exhilarating, life-changing, and according to some solo travelers, the best way to get to know yourself and explore the world. We reached out to some experienced solo travelers to get their input, and they shared with us some great tips to alleviate people’s most common concerns about traveling alone.
Marna is a frequent solo traveler. Going through a transitional period after a death in the family, she originally wanted to travel as a way to find herself while processing her grief. She became so enamored with the freedom of solo travel that she now prefers it to traveling with others.
Pamela started traveling solo after retiring from teaching. She finds a way to ensure she can take at least one major trip a year by living off her retirement pay and teaching online part time. She saves the money from her online teaching gig and reserves it specifically for travel.
Whatever reason propels you to travel solo, or if you’re just considering taking the leap, these tips will guide you on your solo journey.
Before You Depart
1. Book Your Lodging First
Marna uses Roomkey’s map feature to research an area before she travels. “Using the map helps me get a feel for the terrain, see how far it is from the airport or train station to my hotel, and what restaurants are close to the hotel. I research the hotel and book it first thing. Once I have my hotel room scheduled, the rest of the trip comes together easily,” she says.
2. Leave a Copy of Your Itinerary with Someone You Trust
It brings peace of mind knowing that someone will know where you will be at any given time during your travels. Plan to check in often so they know you’re still on track with the itinerary, and update them with any last-minute changes.
3. Create a Pre-Trip List
Pamela has a travel list like this one saved to her computer that she prints out the week before departing. It lists the last minute to-do items she might forget as she’s scrambling to get out the door. It includes tasks like watering the plants, stopping mail delivery, turning off lights or using an automatic light, setting the alarm system, and even unplugging electrical items. It brings her peace of mind when she departs to know that she didn’t forget anything.
If your main worry is leaving the garage door open or leaving the gas oven turned on, some travelers recommend taking photos right as you walk out the door. Then, when you settle into your seat on the plane, you can review your photos for reassurance that you’re good to go.
You should also create an emergency contact list to take with you and leave in your wallet. If there is an emergency, you’ll have all your insurance information and family contacts in one place.
4. Pack Light
When traveling solo, safety should be your priority. Being overburdened with luggage makes you vulnerable, so pack lightly. You should be able to grab your gear and move quickly and not be slowed down by excess baggage. Marna recommends packing money and credit cards in separate compartments. “I keep one credit card, my ID, and a small amount of cash in my purse. Then, as a backup in the event of a robbery, I have a small wallet where I place my insurance cards, another credit card, and several hundred dollars cash. I keep this small wallet in a waist or neck pack, or if I’m wearing cargo pants, I place it in a secure pocket. Then I always know it’s safe.”
1. Meet Other Travelers
Pamela prefers to travel by train because it gives her the opportunity to meet fellow travelers. She says, “When I’ve traveled with a friend or partner, I realized I didn’t meet many people—which for me is half the fun of traveling. When you travel solo, you’re more approachable. Plus, you tend to gravitate toward the observation car on the train where it’s easier to meet other travelers. I’m fascinated to hear their stories.”
Other ways to meet more people while traveling solo are to take advantage of any social or happy hour events at your hotel, dine at the bar in a restaurant instead of at a table by yourself, and spend time sitting on a bench in a park or other public place. You may be surprised by the new friends you’ll make, the opportunities to learn about the culture of an area, and how making friends along the way alleviates any loneliness.
Another way to meet local residents and other travelers is to post on your social networks while traveling. “One time I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and posted that my train was delayed, and I was trying to decide how to spend the extra time,” Pamela says. “A connection on Facebook, commented that she lived in Santa Fe and would love to pick me up and take me sightseeing. She even delivered me to the train station! It turned out we had numerous friends in common and have remained close friends since.”
2. Start Your Day Early
Johnny Jet, in his Forbes article, “Ten Tips for Traveling Alone,” says starting the day early helps with safety concerns and allows you to sightsee alone in a large city. He says getting an early start is a great way to avoid crowds at popular attractions.
3. Try New Activities
One benefit of solo travel is the freedom to do and see whatever you’d like. Your usual travel partner may not like museums, but would you visit every single one if given the chance? You can explore to your heart’s delight when traveling solo. So get out there and take advantage of the freedom to do exactly as you like.
With these tips in mind, you can plan your solo trip with confidence. If you’d like to learn more, Janice Waugh, the founder of Solo Traveler, wrote a comprehensive list, “Travel Alone and Love It: 50 Tips for Successful Solo Travel,” that’ll help you feel confident in traveling solo.
When you’re ready to book a hotel (or two, or three) for your next solo adventure, we can help you find the perfect room with one of our more than 60 hotel chain partners. Simply visit us at roomkey.com to easily compare low loyalty member rates from hotels around the world. When you find the one that suits your fancy, we’ll take you directly to the hotel’s website to complete your booking. No tricks. Just travel. That’s Roomkey.