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Welcome everyone to my first collaborative travel blog series! Joining me is the ever lovely Katrina, a fellow Canadian who writes brilliant, quirky travel blogs over at Hopeless Wanderer.

Together we shall cover 4 topics under the umbrella of “What NOT To Do” while travelling. She will take over next week’s topic, so stay tuned for that! Today we shall delve into some useful tips of what NOT to do when you are travelling solo! Let’s get started.

 solo traveller NEW pin
While I wouldn’t consider myself an avid solo traveller, I did travel a handful of times on my own to Hungary, Ireland, the UK and parts of France. I learned a lot, and made some mistakes along the way!
While it is not my favourite way to travel, as I much prefer a friend (stay tuned for what NOT to do when travelling with a companion in 2 weeks!), travelling solo is not something I would tell anyone NOT to do. There are many enriching experiences and lessons that can only come from travelling alone. With that being said, here are my top 8 things NOT to do should you decide to travel solo:

1 – Do Not Turn Down Casual Conversation

Being a female travelling alone, you will get many pieces of advice and warnings on a central theme: “Safety first!”, “Don’t trust anyone!”, “Stranger danger!”, etc. This is perfectly good advice, but be confident enough and casual enough to say ‘hello’ to a local or a fellow traveller, whether male or female. Be wary of any danger signs, but don’t be a stiff either! Some of my best times spent travelling solo in Budapest was in the company for 4 lovely, respectable men! We had beers, palinka shots, and even danced a bit. None of them flirted with me or at any single point made me feel uncomfortable, it was a lovely time. Even if you don’t end up spending a number of hours with a new stranger, you never know what you will learn from a casual conversation with an old lady in the middle of nowhere in Knock, Ireland or what friendship you might strike up with a german couple in Brussels!

2 – Do Not Be Indecisive

 Being on your own means you don’t have to ask anyone for their opinion or make room for their travel tastes. While this is liberating it can also lead one to feel like there is no one to turn to for advice, inspiration or affirmation. You can avoid this by doing to research ahead of time, or simply by asking either the people working at the front desk, your guide, or even online where there are a plethora of female travel groups. But ultimately, you should get to know your travel style, know what you want to get out of your travels, and make your own decisions like a highly functioning adult.

Solo traveling is a great way to develop the skill of making decisions for yourself, sometimes on the spot, and other useful personal skills can be developed as a result of becoming more decisive!

3 – Do Not Get Bored

Travelling alone means more periods of tranquillity and silence during those train rides or flights. A good book can be an excellent companion, and can even be your Plan B! I read the Hunger Games for the first time while in a cold Scottish hostel on a very rainy day, and it was amazing and surprisingly one of my favourite memories from Scotland (among many!).  If you’re not big into reading, even Sudoku or crosswords, magazines, or journalling will do.

4 – Do Not Leave your Stuff Unattended

This is also one for those travelling with company, but even more important for those travelling alone. Seriously, no one is there to watch your back or to keep an eye on your things while you run to the wash room. I had a phone stolen when I got off a train in Bristol, and I left my wallet with EVERYTHING in it in a hotel restaurant along the Irish West coast. Thank God the Irish are some of the kindest, good-hearted people I have ever met, and I was able to retrieve my wallet, passport, credit card, and money! But don’t count on being as lucky as I was. Guard your things.

5 – Do Not Burn Yourself Out

I definitely did this when in Budapest. Watching an Italian Opera in Hungarian lyrics with a massive migraine and exhaustion was not my best moment.. I should have just stayed at the hostel and slept. But I’ve been raised by a Russian mother who claims we have Jewish blood, so I could not, on good conscious, let my pre-bought ticket go to waste! This is a very easy mistake to make for any traveller, but even easier when you’re alone, because there’s more pressure on making decisions on your own. Do I take a nap? Or do I go on a Ghost Walking tour? Take care of yourself!

6 – Do Not Leave Without Communication or Emergency Contact

Your family and friends should know where you are every step of the way, in case anything happens. It also does not honestly hurt to buy a cheap phone on prepaid to carry with you for emergencies and to be call to book a bus tour. Wi-Fi and internet access is something that is become more readily available, so take advantage of it any chance you get!

7- Do Not Eat Alone

As a social introvert, this is a situation I dislike the most, but can’t always avoid. I was fortunate that most places I went to, I stayed in a hostel where I met lovely travellers who made an effort to get together with other travellers to go out for dinner. While I was in Northern Ireland, though, I had some lonely fish n chips suppers in my hostel. Unless you really enjoy eating by yourself, my suggestion would be to make that extra effort to dine with someone from you walking tour, your hostel, or local Couchsurfing community!

8 – Do Not Take all the Pictures Yourself

An occasional selfie doesn’t hurt anyone, and even with the invention of the selfie stick, there are still some places with incredible backgrounds that you don’t want cropped. Not everyone is a natural photographer, and not everyone might know how to use your camera, but don’t let any of these silly reasons stop you from asking, politely, other tourists and travellers to snap a picture with you. If it doesn’t turn out great, say thank you, and then wait another minute and ask someone else! Chances are you will return the favour soon enough.

Have you travelled solo? What was your experience? Would you do it again? Do you recommend it? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!

Next week I will still have a small blog post, but don’t forget to check out Katrina’s blog for another ‘What NOT to do while travelling’ topic!

Tags : collaborationsolo travel
Elizabeth

The author Elizabeth

Christ Follower. Wife. Traveller . Chocolate chip cookie lover. Day dreamer.

9 Comments

  1. These are some great tips for solo travelers! Thank you for sharing!

    I actually find eating alone to be much nicer than expected – though it gets you down to do it all the time! Before starting to solo travel, I thought that I would hate it, since I’m somewhat of a “shy extrovert.” But I actually learned to embrace the alone time to think, people watch, and read a good book over a nice meal. 🙂

    1. I think if you do it in a cafe, especially outdoors, eating alone isn’t bad. I was in Belfast and went to a fast food fish n chips restaurant where it didn’t feel right to eat alone at all! So I would take my food to go and eat it alone in my hostel room. It was a sad time. But people watching and journalling are great to do while eating! Thanks Marie!

  2. Eating alone isn’t the end of the world. I’ve been in a long distance relationship for the past three years, and often find myself venturing out alone for a good meal. I make an effort to find a decent restaurant with bar service and order food from the bar. I usually chat with the bartenders if it’s not too busy and often have spontaneous conversations with other lone travelers. I think the more important “don’t” here is: Don’t deprive yourself of a great culinary experience only because you are intimidated by dining alone.

    1. I know it isn’t, and I also know that eating at a cafe can be a good down time to catch up on journaling, blogging or to just people watch. But I make this point to encourage people to use it as a great way to connect with other travellers or locals, since eating is socially and culturally a very social experience! 🙂 Wow, good for your Kristi! That’s great!

  3. Hi! As an introvert I actually enjoy all the “lonely” sides of solo travel and hiking. I love eating alone by my tent or even in a pub or restaurant. I can think, analyze, plan my next move, observe everything around. I do agree with the other points – asking for photo whenever I can (which sometimes means in less than perfect surrounding, b/c that’s where I met a human!), being careful about my baggage and so on.

    1. I agree! And I actually do think eating is a perfect time to do those things (other than while in transit on trains and buses), but I’m a ‘social introvert’ which means enjoy company but my introvertness is dominant. So for me it is a challenge to talk to people and find company to eat with. Eating alone is easy, in a sense, and I always encourage people to challenge themselves 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Great tips! I’m planning my first solo trip soon and I’m super excited. Thanks for sharing this. Also, I like that you encourage not being too afraid of stranger danger. One of my favorite things about traveling is meeting new people. I’ve always had friends with me so security didn’t seem like an issue. I’d be slightly more nervous about it traveling solo, but I don’t want to not talk to people simply out of fear.

    I love when hostels organize outings for their guests. It’s a great opportunity to get to know people and their stories, and also make some new friends to dine with.

    Thanks again for the tips!

    1. No problem Tara! I definitely met some great people during solo travel, you just have to be open to talking to them. 😀 Where are you going solo travelling?

  5. The complete freedom of solo travel can sometimes seem intimidating, though, especially if you don’t consider yourself the spontaneous type.

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