So, I have been thinking of posting my own tips for solo travellers for some time. Having been travelling solo for the last few years, I do have some common tips for solo travel that I recommend regularly to those who asks. Meeting so many people in New Zealand who have just started travelling solo, or just started travelling in general, I have found myself giving out some of my tips to them regardless so I might as well put this out for others as well.
Pick a hostel carefully. It is easier to make friends in a smaller hostel but not if it is too big. If you wish to make friends or at least have the opportunity to talk to other people, I find that hostels or staying in dorms are always the best option for solo travel. The chances of meeting other solo travellers there are much higher if you are staying in dorms. If you wish to just enjoy being by yourself though, hotel or a BnB would do just fine as well.
Be open and friendly at all times. I have to confess that I’m an introvert so being friendly at all times can seem hard to do at all times but honestly, I’ve ended up with such interesting conversations with strangers just by being friendly (or even just by smiling!) in the least likeliest places. There was the time on the boat tour in Milford Sound where I found out the random stranger next to me was a fellow Singaporean. Or the time when a 92 year old granny sat next to me on the bus to Dunedin and told me that she still go on easy hikes to keep herself active! Or the time I happened to share the same cable car ride up a mountain with another solo traveller and ended up hiking 4 hours with him.
Prepare ahead to keep yourself from stressing over handling your own travels. You will be on your own during this time, doing a little bit of research will go a long way to handling a solo trip for the first time. Don’t worry if you have researched too much for your first trip either. I did that in the beginning and started relaxing my researching only after travelling solo for some time.
Embrace the freedom of making your own decisions. Travelling with friends always comes with a compromise. Just enjoy being able to decide on everything yourself and based on your own interest. You don’t have to drag friends or rationalise stopping at such places. It’s perfectly fine if you change your plans and if you don’t end up doing what you are supposed to. It’s your travels, don’t end up doing something you do not want to do. That’s the freedom of solo travel. 🙂
On the other hand, try to push your limit a little. It is understandable if you don’t think you may want to do it. Just give it a try first and then decide that you do not want to do it again. At least you can say that you have given it a try! I didn’t want to try sandboarding at first because it scared me a lot to go down from such a high point. In the end, I am glad that I did do it just to tell people that I did it anyway despite my fears. Will I get back up there? I seriously am not sure whether I will be able to do it again. Hehe..
Expect awkward and lonely moments while travelling. Embrace it all the way and pretend everything is as you want to be. Yes, there are definitely awkward times during solo travel. Times when I wished that I could have another person with me so that I don’t look awkward eating alone during a tour activity or when I see couples and families all around me. Honestly, after travelling alone for so long, I have kind of gotten used to all the awkward stares when eating alone or being out with couples or families. And when I do get such feelings, my friends and families are always available online for me to share and laugh over my experiences. So next time it happens to you, just laugh it off and share the story with your loved ones.
Sign up for group activities or tour groups. This can go either ways. In places when I’ve taken tour groups on my solo trips, I have not been able to make friends and other times, I have been able to make friends easily. No matter what, just be friendly and social with those on the tour, nothing beats having friendly conversations which will come in useful if lunch is included. And if you really want to have company, just insert yourself subtly into any of the groups who might be receptive to it. I had a guy do that on our group because he didn’t want to eat alone.
Best time to update your social media and stay connected with your friends and loved ones. No matter where you are, they are definitely always interested in whatever you have been doing. It can just be something simple like sending them photos or just giving them a call whenever you feel homesick.
Don’t be scared to ask for help. I have since learnt you cannot afford to be shy or scared to ask for help when travelling alone. When you are alone and lost or in need of anything, it hurts nothing to just ask for help. More often than not, I have been given more help than I’ve expected and the people are always much more friendly when they realise I need help.
Keep yourself alert of your surroundings. This cannot be stressed too many times. As someone travelling alone, I keep my suspicions up at all times and go with my intuition. I have been lucky enough but I would still rather not take any chances.
And that’s it!
I follow these tips myself whenever I’m travelling solo so I hope that it helps you if it’s your first time trying out solo travel. Just have a little bit of courage to take the first step and hopefully you will be able to get a wonderful experience from it. You never know. 🙂
Please do comment below if you have any other tips to add on to this or maybe this will convince you that solo travel is not that hard after all, yes? 😉