“That sounds so AMAZING… who are you going with?”
“Oh, no one… Just myself,” I reply.
A brief awkward silence follows as I watch my friend blink rapidly several times like there’s a glitch in the matrix.
“Traveling alone?? But that’s so dangerous!”
I know my friend means well, but this is a common concern that prevents people from traveling alone.
And it’s too bad because traveling solo has easily been the biggest source of self-confidence and means of self-discovery I have ever experienced. Not only that, but I always return home with such energy and renewed creativity that I am often eager to plan the next solo adventure.
And while traveling alone is not without its risks, with some preparation, common sense, and situational awareness, solo travel can be a safe and incredibly rewarding experience.
Check out some of our tips for solo travelers below for a safe and fulfilling experience.
Safety Advice for Solo Travelers
1. Research for your solo trip
Once you’ve decided on traveling solo and narrowed down the destinations that are really tugging on your heartstrings, start your research.
Things to look for when researching include:
Cultural traditions and religions: So you can arrive with a better understanding of local laws and reduce the risk of misunderstandings.
Your embassy: Determine where it is in relation to where you’ll be and pin it on your devices
Tourism numbers: Find out if your destination has areas that are suffering from over-tourism or when the off-season is for tourism to lessen the strain on those communities, resources, and ecosystems.
Accommodations: Figure out the places you want to stay and have a couple of back-up options
Transportation: Research how to get around your destination. Plenty of places have great public transportation options. It’s also a good idea to budget for private transportation such as rideshares or taxis in the event that you feel unsafe. Trust your gut.
Next, research the fun stuff, of course. What are your goals for your solo trip in terms of places you want to see, sites you want to visit, and immersive experiences you want to have?
2. Time your arrivals, and departures intermodal travel
When you’re traveling alone abroad, you’re already a little disoriented when you arrive. And tired. And maybe cranky depending on the flights. If you’re able, arrange your arrival during daylight or business hours.
It’s safer and more comfortable to figure out the lay of the land when the sun is up than to figure it all out during the night.
3. Choose sustainable accommodations with good reviews and in safe locations
Whether you’re planning on staying in a hostel, hotel, or Airbnb for your solo trip lodging, it’s always a good idea to check out their reviews before you book. This will give you a better idea of what to expect from the host, the space itself, and its location.
Pick the ones that are in safe neighborhoods. And for the best experience for all, choose locally-owned and operated lodgings that take steps to ensure their environmental impact is minimal.
*Conscious Travel Collective only partners with locally-owned boutique hotels with cultural significance and in prime locations. Check out CTC’s partners and their luxurious buildings on the trip pages here.
4. Keep your family informed of your itinerary
It’s always a good idea to let your people know where you plan to be while you’re away and when you’ll be there. In the unlikely event that something were to happen, it’s helpful that someone knows where you are or where you were supposed to be, so share a written copy of your plans and leave it with your folks at home and share your location with them on your phone.
5. Trust your gut
We’ve all had the moment when our body tells us something isn’t right, though our eyes and ears may not yet perceive a threat.
Without the luxury of the same safety and support systems from home nearby, be aware of your surroundings and listen to your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Advice for getting the most out of your solo travel adventures
1. Get out of your comfort zone
You’ll find that getting out of your comfort zone is a constant theme among the Conscious Travel Collective family.
Go with an open mind.
Travel is all about exploring the world beyond your usual horizons. It’s about meeting people whose experience seemingly differs vastly from our own. It’s about opening our minds to new (or new-to-us) ways of living and being. It’s about discovering the parts of ourselves buried beneath the ordinary.
So, don’t miss the opportunity to do something different during your solo travel experience. If you’re normally shy, be the first to strike up a conversation.
Picky eater? Try a local delicacy like chapulines in Oaxaca.
Not usually a thrill-seeker? Go bungee jumping. (Totally kidding, this isn’t a requirement. But hey, if you’re on a comfort-zone-pushing roll, go for it)
2. Learn some of the languages before you go, and practice them when you’re there
Most people wanting to travel alone do so out of genuine curiosity and desire to learn new things and connect with people from around the globe. Depending on where you’re headed, that probably means your native tongue is not going to be spoken in your destination.
If you’re an English speaker you’ll probably find that most locals are pretty accommodating when it comes to communicating in English, but even more patient and encouraging if you make the effort to communicate in theirs.
Give it a try!
There are plenty of online resources and mobile apps to assist you in preparing. And if you’re lucky like me, you’ll make a local friend who is willing to tutor you on your pronunciation and only giggle a little bit at your accent. 🤭
3. Practice being present
Technology (and our own brains) have a tendency to hijack our attention from the present moment to elsewhere. When it’s technology, it’s usually a phone notification or some screen time moment there to distract us.
When it’s our brain, it’s worrying about the future or a fixation on the past.
Slow down. Nothing in life is permanent, and when we focus too much on anything other than the present moment, we miss out on so much. Your solo travel adventure is a perfect time to really drop into yourself and experience the amazing things the world has to offer and gain clarity on what you have to offer the world.
4. Write it all down
Your solo travel holds the opportunity for so much expansion and learning to happen. One of my biggest regrets about my first solo trip is that I did not keep a journal about it.
What did you see that day? Jot it down.
Did you make a new friend? Put it in the journal.
Did you try something new? You get the idea…
Writing down your experiences will improve your memory of them, and help you keep track of your goals for your solo travel adventure.
With some preparation and implementing the tips above, solo travel can be a life-changing experience.
Traveled solo and have some tips you want to add? We’d love to hear them! Follow CTC on FB, and IG and tell us about it.
The author of this blog is the oh-so-talented, Shelagh Hogan.
You can find out more about her work on our team page