Traveling alone was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. After over a year and a half of solo travel, here are my best tips:
1. Don’t Be A Stress Mess
I will be completely honest here – I had a MASSIVE breakdown in San Francisco airport, while I was standing in line to go through security, immediately after my parents dropped me off for the first flight on my never-ending solo journey around the world. I had to resort to taking deep breaths in my hands. If only I could tell my SFO-breakdown-self what I know now – take it one day at a time! After that initial round of questioning why you would ever sign up for this, you’ll realize how amazing and rewarding solo travel really is.
2. Carry the Right Gear
As a solo traveler, you won’t have any strong man candy to lug around those extra large suitcases, so try packing light. I carry only a 44L backpack, and a day bag. By packing carry on only, you’ll be able to easily carry around your own luggage, plus you’ll save on checked baggage fees – ka-ching!
3. Stay Where You’re Comfortable
When I was traveling through Europe, I did Couchsurfing, and loved it. In Central and South America, I tried out hostels. I was not too keen on the large dorm rooms full of anywhere from 8 to 16 people, but I was a fan of private rooms. I can be a light sleeper, so though it was more expensive to get a private room, I was able to sleep. I’m now a huge fan of Airbnb, as they have some excellent budget options (and some crazy cool villas, if you’re looking to splurge). Sign up to Airbnb here to get free travel credit when you book your first place!
4. Don’t be Afraid to Splurge
When I first started traveling, I was a bit freaked out to see so much money going out of my bank account and not much coming in. This sometimes made me want to stay home all day and inhale mass amounts of baguettes and red wine. But remember – you may never come back to this place. Carpe diem, seize the day, mi amor! Take advantage of where you are and do all the things you’ve always wanted to do – it’s been scientifically proven that we feel best when spending our hard earned money on experiences, so why not book that coffee tour in Colombia or go to the elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai?!
5. You WILL Make Friends
I’ve met so many people while traveling the world. I’ve made far more friends in the past year than I have in any previous year of my life. If you are looking to make friends while traveling, check out my video on the subject. Also, consider couchsurfing (you’ll become automatic bff’s with your local host), and private or dorm rooms at hostels (check out reviews to make sure it’s a social hostel).
6. Learn to Take Your Own Travel Photos
The number one mistake I made when I started traveling was being shy about asking people to take my photo. I was even shy about taking selfies. I was happy to be immersed in the place I was visiting, but now I have no photos to look back on of myself in those places. Learn from my mistakes and take your own solo travel photos.
7. Research Before You Go
I felt fully prepared when I left for my trip, because I had done hundreds of hours of research on budget and solo travel. I scoured the internet for weeks to learn everything I could about travel hacking, solo travel on a budget, solo female travel, couchsurfing, and what you need to know as a solo female traveler. If you want to save some time, consider downloading a copy of my ebook, where I’ve compiled all the info into one easy resource.
8. Know And Prepare for What Makes You Unique
Everyone has their thing. For me, that thing is veganism. Though it’s been surprisingly easy to find vegan food around the world, I’ve made it even easier by using resources such as the Happy Cow app and searching for vegan friendly restaurants before I get to a destination. (See my favorite vegan restaurants in the most vegan friendly cities in the world).
9. Get Inspired
One of my favorite things to do in my free time is to read travel websites and blogs. Research the places that you are going, pick the restaurants you want to visit, and search on instagram to see some of the beautiful photos taken there of places you may want to visit.
10. Be Smart, Cautious, and Aware
I have quite a few tips on safety in my book, but the main point is to just be aware of your surroundings. Know which areas to avoid, don’t carry your phone in your back pocket, and if you’re in a busy place, keep an eye on your stuff.
11. Dress Like a Local
To avoid looking like a complete tourist, try dressing like the locals. This will help you blend in, and help prevent you from being a target of a mugging.
12. Walk Everywhere
I always prefer walking over using public transport, because it’s usually a much more immersive experience. Don’t get me wrong, I still use public transport, but taking the long way has definitely resulted in finding more than a few hidden gems.
13. Try To Arrive During the Day
Believe me, this one will save you so much hassle. I’ve arrived at Kuala Lumpur airport at midnight, train system down for the night, with no way of getting to my airbnb. I ended up taking a very sketchy taxi. I would have felt much better arriving during the day when I would have had the chance to take the trains.
14. Keep a Copy Of Your Passport and Important Documents
Maybe keep a few in a couple different places (suitcase, purse, money belt, etc). I also keep a photo of my passport on my phone and computer.
15. solo travel is Easier Than You Think
Most importantly, take that flight, explore, and have an amazing trip. Solo travel is insanely liberating and so powerful. Bring your positive attitude, embrace whatever comes, and explore to the best of your capabilities.
Ten years from now, make sure you can say that you chose your life, you didn’t settle for it.
Check out my ebook full of tips and tricks for solo female travel!