Over more than a decade, I've written thousands of solo travel tips in hundreds of posts on how to travel solo.
It's time to wrangle them together and compile the best advice into one post.
The top 10 solo travel tips were difficult to choose. That's why they are followed by some of our most popular solo travel posts. Use them to dig into the details of advice on specific issues.
The Top 10 Tips
Here are what I consider to be the top 10 solo travel tips to serve you well on any journey.
- Book your first night accommodation in advance. Know where you're going to lay your head, at least for the first night or two so you don't find yourself wandering around an unfamiliar place when you may be tired from a day of travel. We use booking.com. Although we often opt for the lower pay-in-advance rate, we wouldn't recommend it now when travel restrictions can change on a dime, as these rates are generally non-refundable.
- Arrive well before dark. This is important as everything looks better in the light and, should you not be happy with your accommodation, you have time to make a change before nightfall. I learned this the hard way in Havana. Trust me. When you're going some place new, daylight will help.
- Plan for some social time. Whether it's taking a class or a day tour, plan for some social time. You will likely meet people alone one way or another but plan for it to make sure. Go to Viator to book your entrance to attractions and events around the world. (Tours sometimes require a minimum number of people for booking. If you can't book online, call the tour company directly and see if you can join a group.) At this time, double check that attractions are open, that tours are operating, and confirm the health and safety protocols that are in place.
- Carry the essentials when you go out. Carry the business card of your hotel so that you have the name of the place where you’re staying in the local language. Have copies of your emergency contacts, insurance, and passport on you. Be sure to pack masks and hand sanitizer.
- Manage jet lag. If you are flying, avoid alcohol, drink lots and lots of water, and get yourself onto the time zone of your destination as soon as possible. Be aware if you are jet lagged and slow down decisions. You may be more clumsy and indecisive because of it and when you're traveling solo, this can be an issue. See Worst Jet Lag Ever for symptoms, prevention, and remedies.
- Be proactive. If you’re unsure of yourself, ask for help. Standing around looking dazed will not get you where you want to go and it may get you noticed by the wrong people. It would be a strange occurrence for you to choose to ask the wrong person for information, so, go ahead, smile and ask for help.
- Know which way is up. Study a map of your destination. Get to know it. Get a sense of direction using major landmarks like Central Park in New York City and the CN Tower in Toronto. This will help you explore cities safely. See How to Navigate a New City Solo for tips on how to find your way around and how to develop a better sense of direction.
- Stay low-key. Don't flash jewelry or expensive cameras or electronics. Be discreet to avoid unwanted attention.
- Eat at the bar or communal table. Obviously, this is not advised at this time, but when we're not fighting a pandemic, eating at the bar or in a restaurant with communal tables can be a great way to mix with locals. Now might be a good time to take your food to a park and have a picnic, enjoy street food, or, if your accommodation has a kitchen, to try cooking with some local ingredients.
- Be patient. It can be difficult arriving in a new city alone. Take your time. Take a day to relax, watch the city function, and settle in.
20 Solo Travel Tips, Posts & Pages
Out of more than 1,200 posts on Solo Traveler, here are some of the top articles focusing on the why and how of solo travel that have been the most popular with readers.
- Start Planning Your Solo Trip Here Whether you're looking for inspiration, planning, saving, or safety tips, this is where to begin.
- Bare Minimum Packing Traveling light makes solo travel easier and less expensive. Follow the solo travel tips in this ultimate packing post.
- Solo Travel Deals For people looking for a tour or cruise, this is the page to check out for travel options with no, or very low, single supplements. This list is updated monthly and you can opt to receive it by email by signing up here.
- The Ultimate List of Solo Travel Checklists There are many decisions to make about a trip and this list of solo travel checklists is here to make sure that you don’t miss any.
- Eating Alone is Easy When You Know How Advice on this one aspect of solo travel that many people find particularly difficult.
- A Road Trip Alone: Top 10 Tips to Prepare Clearly, many solo travelers like a road trip. This post has consistently been among our top 10 most-read posts. We also have a Road Trips category on Solo Traveler where, in addition to this post, you can find tips, routes, solo road trip stories by Tracey and me as well as readers, and even a playlist.
- Affordable London. Affordable Paris. Affordable New York. This series of posts offers great tips on enjoying some of the most popular destinations while traveling on a budget.
- Best Budget Destinations for Solo Travelers: the 2020 Shortlist After reviewing many lists of budget destination recommendations, here is our shortlist of top destinations for solo travelers on a budget for 2020 – and maybe 2021, since we haven't been able to visit any of these cities yet.
- Solo Travel: 10 Tips to Avoid the Single Supplement Looking for a tour, cruise, or resort with no single supplement? That’s what solo travelers want. Here are 10 tips to help you get it.
- Solo Travel Destinations. Our destinations section has hundreds of posts written by readers on destinations that they recommend for solo travelers. They include the why, what, and how of the destination.
- How to Travel Alone Without Being Lonely: 10 Tips & 12 Posts Worried you’ll be lonely traveling solo? Here’s some great advice on how to travel alone without being lonely and enjoy the social side of solo travel.
- Build Confidence: Solo Travel for Personal Growth Solo travel is about much more than travel. It’s about building confidence, discovering new interests and talents, and living life to your own rhythm.
- Tips for Those Who Struggle to Keep a Travel Journal A travel journal can be your most treasured souvenir from a trip. Here’s the best journal app plus old-school tips for writing and keeping a great journal.
- Getting Past the Fear: Taking Your First Solo Trip When a reader wanting to embark on her first solo trip reached out for help in moving from planning to action, the Solo Travel Society jumped right in with encouragement and advice!
- What to Do at Night When Traveling Alone What can a solo traveler do at night? There are many options, some that are social and some that make alone time special.
- Night Safety for Solo Travelers: 17 Tips Going out at night offers unique ways of experiencing your destination but it does require some special attention for safety. Here are 17 tips to keep you safe.
- Gear & Books – All Solo Traveler Tested This is the list of products we personally own and love.
- Planning and Packing Tips for Checked Baggage – There are ways to minimize the cost and hassle of checked bags. Check out these tips.
- Travel Solo and Practice 3 Essential Life Skills Solo Traveler is as much about life as it is about travel. This is because solo travel can make us better at life. It encourages us to practice three essential life skills.
- Going Alone? Travel Insurance for Solo Travelers Here’s what solo travelers should look for in travel insurance including the one benefit that’s most important for those of us who travel alone.
- Best Accommodation for Solo Travelers What’s the best type of accommodation for solo travelers? Something reasonably priced since you’re paying the whole bill. Here are eight options.
- Top Tips for Stress-Free Solo Travel Solo travel is many wonderful things. But it can also be challenging and difficult at times. Here are some expert tips for stress-free solo travel.