When you’ve made that all-important decision to set out all by your lonesome, any solo travel tips you can get your hands on are very much welcomed, trust me I know! That’s why I wanted to tackle one of the biggest concerns for anyone choosing to travel solo… loneliness.
Feeling that stinging pang of loneliness can be the number one thing that puts many people off solo travel, but I’m here to tell you, there are ways to battle that demon and have the solo trip of a lifetime!
What do you do when traveling alone?
One of the things I struggled with most at the height of my depression and anxiety was loneliness. As soon as I got home from the office and I had no one but myself for company, the loneliness would be crippling! So why would I want to jet off to a completely different country all by myself? How could I possibly enjoy myself when no-one is there to experience it with me?
All it took was a second of bravery and a desire to see the beautiful city of Barcelona and my first solo trip was booked… then I started freaking out, but we’ll touch on that later.
It took about a day or so once I had landed and checked in to my Barcelona hostel before I really started to get the hang of traveling alone. See social media example of my loneliness below:
All it took was chatting to one person sleeping in the bunk underneath me and all was forgotten. I was introduced to more people, I started hanging out in the bar downstairs, one night I jumped in a taxi and headed down to the beach with 2 Australians and a Canadian and the rest was history.
So what did I do exactly? What other stuff did I do to combat the loneliness? Well, here are 13 things you can do to help yourself forget that you’re traveling alone, or simply just enjoy your own company!
13 tips for handling solo travel loneliness
- When faced with ordering a table for 1, ask for somewhere next to a window, on a balcony or in a corner where you can simply sit and people watch! Try not to sit in the middle of a crowded restaurant, it’s not fun.
- STAY IN HOSTELS! Probably my number one tip for traveling alone. Not only are they cheaper, but they are also filled with people looking to meet new travelers and make friends!
- Jump on sightseeing tours and get to know the location you’re visiting. Try and do this on day 1 of your trip! These bus or walking tours tend to give you a general overview of your location and are great for getting a better idea of where you want to visit for longer!
- Try and take packed lunches on your days out. This can not only save you money, but it gives you the freedom to choose your lunching location! Sit by the beach, in a beautiful courtyard or overlooking a stunning landscape!
- Plan an itinerary for your trip. You don’t have to plan every second of every day, but make a list of all the things you want to see and do. This helps to stop you just wandering around feeling lost and panicked!
- Try something you’d never thought you’d do! Whether that’s bungy jumping, skydiving or even setting yourself a fitness goal like climbing to the top of a mountain or building! This will give you a personal sense of achievement and something to boast about when you get home. Doing it alone can also make it feel even more special because you know that the only person that helped you complete your goal, was you.
- Prepare a playlist, podcasts and take a few books! These can all help you during the traveling stage of your trip. Airports and public transport can always be a lonely place if you’re just sat there in silence, so keep your mind occupied.
- Talk to people! Whether it’s other people staying in your hostel, a friendly looking person in a coffee shop queue or a shop assistant. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or introduce yourself, I promise people are generally nicer than you may first think!
- Take advantage of all the facilities in your accommodation. I stayed in Generator Hostels, both when I went to Barcelona and when I went to Stockholm and their facilities are amazing! If you’ve got a gym at your disposal, head on down and get a workout in. If they have a bar, go and grab a drink and have a chat with a few of the other guests. If they have spa facilities (you baller you!) then go grab a delicious massage or treat yourself to a facial!
- Plan your trip around a specific event. Maybe your favourite sports team are playing or the location you’re going to has a national celebration happening that you can get involved in? When I went to Barcelona, it was the Feast of Sant Joan, which is a celebration to mark the first day of summer. Everyone heads down to the beach and parties till dawn, amazing!
- Blog about your experiences. Sharing what you’re up to and interacting with social media whilst you are traveling, can help you feel connected with others around the world, or even family and friends at home. There are plenty of hostels, hotels, and cafes that provide computers and free wifi for you to use, so why not take advantage of them?
- Practice mindfulness and meditation. Yup, you should have known this was coming. Get your zen on for at least 10 minutes every day and use the time to reflect on and appreciate all the awesome things you’ve done and achieved so far on your trip!
- Get your photography game on. Take a camera, whether a DSLR, small compact or just your smartphone and start taking as many pictures as possible. Not only does it make you more aware of your surroundings, but it occupies the mind and helps you spot little details that you may have missed otherwise!
Finding the courage to book your first solo trip
Getting the balls to actually book your trip is always the first hurdle, but the best way to do it is to not think about it. Don’t think, just do.
Take baby steps in your planning, tell yourself you don’t have to actually book anything, but save up a little bit of money to cover the cost of your trip anyway. That way, when you do decide you really want to visit a location, you don’t have to think long and hard about how you’ll be able to afford it because the money is already there! All you have to do is click that ‘Book Now‘ button!
Once it’s done, you’ll be surprised how easily you’ll find the planning process and even though it will always be nerve-wracking, solo travel is really, really worth it!