Far too many people put off travel because they are unsure of going it alone. For my next trip I’ll have James as my companion but when I left for my travels back in 2011 – I did so solo.

Solo travel is a hugely enriching experience and I would advise anyone who is unsure of taking the leap – to go right ahead and do it. If you travel with a friend or a partner you have a comfort blanket – and while this may be the perfect choice for you – if you’re slightly shy, this comfort blanket may hold you back from meeting new people.

Don’t let the prospect of travelling solo hold you back or put you off. Think of it as an opportunity. After all, only a solo traveller can know what it’s like to travel completely freely.

Here are my top 10 tips for solo travel.

 

#1 Say hello.

This really helped calm my nerves before I left on my trip. I went on a night out with a friend the week before leaving and met one of her University housemates. Within no time at all I found myself telling her all about my upcoming travels and saying the words: “I’d feel fine even if you were coming with me and i’ve only known you 5 minutes…” The reality is that you’re only really travelling solo until you’ve said your first ‘hello’.

#2Plan.

As a girl travelling alone I felt it comforting to know where I’d be staying on my first few days in any new place. I’m all for spontaneity, but by having a rough plan for the first couple of days, you give yourself the chance to settle in without the added pressure of the unplanned. There’s plenty of time for that.

#3Join an organised tour.

Wherever you chose to travel to, chances are there will be an organised tour that you can join. This really helped me relax into my solo travels. (In that I had no chance to ‘relax’ at all!) I flew to New Zealand and spent my first six weeks of solo travel on the Kiwi Experience. I had the time of my life on this tour, met some of the best people, jumped out of a plane, swung off a canyon, climbed a glacier and swam with dolphins. It was the perfect way to dive right in to solo travel.

#4 Know that feeling lonely every so often is OKAY.

There will be times when travelling solo that you miss home, you miss your family and you feel lonely. This is normal and totally okay. Give yourself a break, Skype home, talk it out with a fellow traveller and I guarantee you will wake up the next day feeling fine and ready to grasp the opportunities of travel with both hands.

#5Pack light.

This is something I didn’t do – and boy did I regret it. My backpack was bigger than me. It was a pain to lug around and it made everything ten times more difficult than it should have been. Make life easy for yourself – pack lightly & strategically – you’ll thank yourself for it later.

#6Learn the lingo.

Knowing a few basic words in the native language of the country you’re travelling around is so handy. If you are travelling solo in certain countries, it is well known that you are likely to be hassled. By learning how to politely but firmly say ‘no thank you’, you can cut any unwanted exchanges short and move on with your day.

#7Explore.

The beauty of solo travel is that you have nobody else to please but yourself. If you want to go to that museum – go. If you want to sit in a cafe all afternoon and watch the world go by – do it. It’s your adventure, it’s your time and it’s your choice – revel in that.

#8Couchsurfing events.

I can’t recommend these enough. Couchsurfing is a fantastic network for travellers, solo or otherwise. As well as providing places for you to lay your head, the Couchsurfing network is also a gateway to thousands of social gatherings happening all over the world. When I first arrived in Melbourne I knew no one. I spent the afternoon catching up with family over the internet at the City Library and in the process noticed there was a Couchsurfing drinks event happening that evening just 10 minutes from my hostel. I told myself to stop making excuses and go. It was rather strange walking into a bar alone to join a group of strangers but it ended up being a fantastic evening where I met a girl who hosted me for a week of my stay. Read my guide to Couchsurfing here. 

#9Appear approachable.

Don’t bury your head in your laptop whilst sat in the hostel common room. Don’t spend the entire train journey staring at a book or your phone. Look around. Smile at people. Say hello. You never know where you could meet your next travel companion. I struck up a conversation with a girl as she dragged her suitcase out of the hostel I was working at in Sydney. Three weeks later we were picking up a rental car and road tripping around the Australian outback together.

#10Trust yourself.

This is about common sense. When travelling alone it is so so important to trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, then get on up and remove yourself from the situation pronto. Be careful with your belongings, be careful with yourself and listen to your gut.

 

Most importantly, remember to revel in the pure freedom only a solo traveller can know. Give yourself a break ever so often. And enjoy every single moment.