I’m a huge fan of solo travel. As much as I love traveling with my family or friends, there is something special about my solo adventures.
Since my first solo trip back in 2017 to Croatia and Italy, I’ve learned to relish my free time, have been open to making new friends (especially other solo travelers), and I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone big-time!
I’ve done small group tours, independent travel, daytrips, and just chilled out by myself: happy in my own company.
Solo travel is the best adventure, so let me explain how I came to this conclusion.
So why is solo travel the best adventure for travelers?
Firstly, I’m an introvert, but I’ve developed strategies for having me-time and for allocating social time to my travels.
And secondly, just because you are traveling alone, doesn’t mean you are alone all the time. Far from it! I find that when I travel alone, I’m more open to meeting people.
I’ve met so many new people from all over the world. People from the United States, England, South America, and everywhere in between. I love doing my own thing, but I love that there are plenty of opportunities to do activities or have unique experiences with travel groups.
In Australia, I was on a group tour in the outback of north-western Australia for 14 days from Darwin to Broome. It was such a great experience going into the national parks, learning about the local history and learning about the local indigenous culture.
The social and political history was eye-opening, and it highlighted the brilliance of how knowledgeable local guides can make a trip so much valuable than just seeing the best places.
The trip also taught me that we all have different travel styles. Our tour wasn’t a solo travel tour, but there were a number of solo travelers on it. Some were young and single. Some were widowed, divorced and others who didn’t want to wait around for others to commit to the trip. Others were married and travelling together. And then there was me: happily married but travelling to see my family.
I didn’t want to miss seeing an incredible part of the world just because my husband wasn’t here and free to come at the same time.
On tour in the Australian Outback.
What are the best ways to travel solo?
My solo travel style can look completely different to your solo travel style. Solo travel, like any travel varies by what you want to do and see. We all travel differently, so traveling alone can also be done the way it suits the individual.
I can be Little Miss Independent, and I’ve seen enough in my nursing career to know that life can be short, and we need to take the opportunities when they arise.
I was learning Tai Chi here in New Zealand, when I came across a Tai Chi School in China. No one I knew was in the slightest bit interested…but that was not stopping me from going. This would be a completely different solo trip.
I had a few days to get to my school, near Yangshou, and it was quite the travel adventuregetting there. I caught buses, taxis, and small local vans. On my big travel day from Guilin to the village of Xingping, the hotel manager gave me a note to show anyone who I needed instructions from.
I had no idea what he’d written, but it worked. I was held be the hand and guided onto buses, led to taxis, and literally packed into a minivan. The locals seemed to take it very seriously that I was to get where I needed to get to.
At one point I had some time up my sleeve, so after locating my bus I wandered off to a small market. The woman who had helped me earlier, came running up to me, urging me to stay close to the bus.
Despite having only the most basic knowledge of the language, I found this part of China such a great place to travel as a solo female traveler. It was probably way more intrepid than my travels in Europe, but the challenges I faced have made me a stronger person.
I’m pleased I had some previous solo travel experience, and this trip wasn’t my first time. That would have been a big shock to the system.
At the Tai Chi School I found I could relax, as I was surrounded by fellow students. This was quite different to my first trip to Croatia and Italy, where I went on a walking tour several times, and small group trips on other days to get my fix of conversation.
I love my time with people when I'm traveling, and it helps me appreciate my blissful solo time. Travels in general give me the chance to understand new cultures and to see that we're not that different– I think it makes me a better person, with a much wider view of the world.
Outside the village of Xingping, China.
Where to stay as a solo traveler?
Just as out travel styles vary, so do our accommodation needs.
I quite like my own room but am happy if that room is in a hostel, where I get to meet more fellow travelers. Personally, if I’m feeling a bit lonely, one of the best ways to meet people is to stay in a busy hostel. There’s nothing easier than chatting to strangers as you share the kitchen making your breakfast or sit in the lounge writing in your diary.
Hostels are also where I’ve met other single travellers, who might be keen to go walking at night – one thing I’m not that keen doing alone whether I’m travelling or at home. Or you may find people to join you on a hike the next day, or someone to go out to a local restaurant with.
With having my own private room, if I need some space, I can retreat there for some peace and quiet. It's the best of both worlds.
On my travels I’ve stayed in hotels, camping grounds, Airbnbs, and Bed and Breakfasts. Sometimes it’s just about what’s available, while other times it’s about budget.
When I was in the Cinque Terre in Italy, the villages were very expensive to stay in as a solo traveler. There was no discount for one person needing a single room. Hence why I ended up basing myself ten minutes up the hill in a hostel. It turned out to be the best choice I could've made.
Who says camping grounds can't be amazing! Lake Argyle, Western Australia.
Solo travel is self-care in a vacation.
Not all solo travels need to be big adventure trips.
Some solo vacations can just be for giving yourself a treat, relaxing, and unwinding from the busyness of life. You can pamper yourself. You don't need to think of anyone but yourself. You can eat when you like and what you like.
A week on a beach, or a weekend in an inner-city apartment can be just as refreshing to the soul as month-long adventure trips.
Solo travel is all about doing it your way! Your time. Your freedom. Your space.
Soaking in the serenity of the Cinque Terre, Italy.
Keeping yourself safe when traveling solo.
Whether you plan to travel in Costa Rica or Costa del Sol, in Ecuador or Everest Base Camp, or in New Zealand or Nigeria, you need to think about your safety.
On my first solo travel trip, safety was my number one reason for carrying a lightweight, carry-on bag. I didn’t need to ask anyone for help, meaning I never let it out of my reach. I could manage it by myself – even with my recovering frozen shoulder – so I didn’t struggle with a heavy bag. And it meant I could get on and off local transport easily.
Plus, there was no waiting for luggage at the luggage carousel at the airport, and no lost bags!
Learning to travel light was a revelation! I first heard about it from a man we met in Yosemite National Park, who biked across America. It has since become quite an obsession for me!
I always travel with travel insurance. There are no exceptions to this rule for me.
I also make general travel plans and always let someone know where I plan to be for that day. I leave my itinerary at home for my husband, and I often let the hotel receptionist where I’m heading for the day. It's just a habit I've got into.
On my first solo trip, having people know where I was, became a really big backstop for me. It was a relief knowing that on any particular day, my family would know where I was. I may have become a little bit over the top with my spreadsheet, but it gave me huge peace of mind.
I hate it when people say, "Use your common sense." My common sense is different to yours and vice-versa. I tend to trust my gut and instinct more. If I have a niggling suspicion that I'm doing something unsafe, I back-off and find a crowd, or head home.
I don't generally do things I wouldn't do at home. Like, I wouldn't walk in the central city at night, unless it's a street full of people. I wouldn't walk a hike that's labelled as dangerous, unless I was with others and had the correct equipment.
If in doubt, ask the locals if there are no-go areas.
The Queen of one-bag travel!
Looking for inspiration?
I've just written a travel memoir,
Dare to Travel Solo: Exploring Croatia and Italy with a light carry-on bag and a ton of determination.
It's about stepping outside of your comfort zone, believing in yourself, and making dreams happen.
It's way more than just a travel book. It's a self-discovery journey, a midlife peptalk, and you'll feel like you're on holiday with me!
Have you ever considered solo travel?
So, you can see I am quite the cheerleader for solo travel trips.
I cherish my own company, but I’m also happy in the company of strangers. I love adventure trips and the beautiful people I meet along the way. Solo travel has given me lifelong memories to cherish. That’s just the type of traveller I am.
What kind of traveller are you?
Are you keen to give solo travel a go?
What’s stopping you?
Could you see yourself mixing up solo travel and group travel?
Head over to my solo travel page for more wisdom on how to travel solo successfully.
Or if you're after a bit of inspiration, read about how my first solo travel adventure changed my life.
Happy (solo) travel planning!