Travelling Alone. Solo Travel. What you Need to Know.

Bungle Bungles, Kimberley by Jo Castro Must Know tips for Travelling Solo

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics the fastest-growing household type in Australia is ‘lone-person households’ which are anticipated to grow to about three million by 2031.

With that in mind tour companies and hotels will be wanting to attract this new demographic, so do your research before you pay a hefty single supplement.

The last time I travelled on my own was to a blog conference in Melbourne, which was kind of businessy,  and before that it was as a backpacker, years ago when I set off with a couple of T-shirts, two pairs of pants, a pair of shorts, a sarong, a packet of Imodium and a whole lot of gung-ho.

Pic by Dave CastroAnd it was GREAT FUN. Then I got married, had kids, and travel was still wonderful. We travelled in Europe (How to Travel with Kids the Easy Way), Asia and Africa, but it was all encompassing what with nappies and kids toys, and later on often with childrens’ friends tagging along too.

I’m not sure how I would feel about travelling for an extended period on my own now.

And it got me thinking.

Business people do it all the time, but they travel in a reasonably controlled environment and are not on the road doing the exploratory thing.  If you’re setting out on a holiday, then you may have to pluck up some courage to hit the road on your own again.

Be bold and just do it.

Because the good news is that there’s no need to feel discriminated against as a single traveler and it’s a great way to make new friends.

Read on for some great tips

Hook up to a Tour GroupRemember that tour operators have better buying power and there is safety in numbers.

Adventure Wild by Jo CastroThere are some seasoned tour companies around, and not all of them are of the frog-march variety. I’ve been on some awesome deals, in China for instance to the Great Wall of China, in Nepal on a river rafting trip, and I’m looking forward to going  on a Kimberley tour with Adventure Wild   ‘glamping’ in outback Western Australia.

Carolyn Schonafinger from Holidays to Europe, an online travel company specialising in European holidays is open to helping solo travellers. “We are passionate about sharing our European travel expertise with you and helping you to experience the holiday in Europe you have always dreamed of. Whether you are a solo traveller, couple, a family, or a group of friends, we offer a huge range of tours, accommodation and transport options for you to choose from,” she says.

Look out for best deals

Ask companies if they offer deals for solo travelers:- Hunt down those companies or hotels who are prepared to waive the single supplement. Do a Google search for “single travel” or “single travel tours” and you’ll be surprised by how the travel industry is responding to this growing demographic of solos.

Pic by Dave Castro

I asked some seasoned travel bloggers for their tips and advice about travelling on your own. Here’s what they had to say:-

Jenny Freedman from A Taste of Travel Blog is a travel veteran. “Traveling independently needn’t be difficult. But you must plan ahead. Book up early if you’re thinking of staying in hostels because the best ones get full quickly – and hostels generally don’t have as many single rooms available compared to doubles or dorms. Remember that word gets around in the solo travelling community – so talk to people, as well as checking out websites (such as Lonely Planet) and other travel forums.”

 “If you’re on a budget then get a list of 1 and 2 star hostels and find the best that’s on offer. If you’re thinking of travelling by train then get your train pass before you leave home, not when you arrive in the country.

 “For me, research is important. It’s important to work out a rough plan of where you think you would like to go and check out hotels or hostels in these cities. As I said, the best hostels and cheaper hotels get booked out in advance, so if you are prepared with a few options before you leave home, it can take the hassle out of travelling on your own. Don’t forget that in Greece and Croatia especially, the ferries are met by people offering rooms to rent- these can also be a cheap option.”

“If you are travelling with a company, then look for those that offer different accommodation levels. If you are on your own but don’t want to pay the single supplement, the company will often team you up with another traveler of a similar age. It could be the start of a beautiful friendship!!”

“Backpackers may like to check out ‘Busabout’ – a great way to travel and meet other solo travelers. They follow specific routes but cover a lot of countries. If you want to travel by train in Europe then buy your Eurorail pass before you leave home.”

Caz Makepeace from YTravelBlog has this to say:-

Trust your intuition

“It always knows best. If something doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. There is a reason why you get that unsettled feeling in your stomach when you meet that strange person on the beach.”

“Don’t freak yourself out by imaginary monsters, but definitely pay attention to those little messages our animal instincts give us.”

Caz, has been travelling the world on her own and latterly with her hubby and two children for about 10 years. She’s written a post about female solo travel over at YTravelblog. You might want to check out her tips …http://www.ytravelblog.com/female-solo-travel-tips/

Amanda Kendle is a blogger and social media consultant in Perth who has travelled all over the world. After living in Japan, Slovakia and Germany, she returned to Australia full of travel tales and she writes about these at NotABallerina.com.

“The best tip anyone ever gave me as a solo travel was to always keep a book in your bag. That way, you can eat alone at a restaurant and read your book at the same time – you won’t feel strange for eating alone and you’ll get to enjoy your book, too!”

Regarding safety

“When I travel solo, I am extra careful to pack really light, and to make sure whatever I need to carry around (either during the day when sightseeing, or when moving to a new city or accommodation) is as easy as possible for me to deal with – I deliberately take a lot less. That way, I don’t feel “trapped” by heavy bags and if I’m walking along somewhere that feels a little unsafe, I can still walk fast enough to get to a better spot,” says Amanda.

Annabel Candy, a freelance writer has traveled in over 40 countries. She writes a popular travel blog at Get In the Hot Spot.

“Solo travelers can get the best deals by waiting until they get to their destination before booking if they are brave enough. If you’re there and a hotel has a room available, the chances are you can get a good deal on it just by being there and by being prepared to negotiate. I think people are afraid to bargain but it’s a great skill to use even in developed countries don’t be afraid to ask something like, “Can you give me a special deal if I stay a week?”

“Often by arriving at a place with no booking you’ll find new hotels that haven’t got any customers yet who will be happy to have you and by staying in one place longer you always get a better deal.”

“Travel safety is important for solo travelers but no more so than anyone else. I always recommend leaving your flashy jewellery at home, losing the camera round your neck that screams tourist, and steering clear of areas you don’t know after dark.”

“I scan a copy of my passport and other important documents then email them to myself before leaving home so there’s always a back up online accessible from anywhere just in case I do lose anything,” says Annabel.

Want to know more?

Here’s a list of posts about all aspects of single travel from Journeywoman

There’s lots of advice over at Solo Traveller and you could find a travel partner at Solotraveller

Cruise Critic offers a list of the 10 best cruise lines for solo travelers

Find and meet other travelers at TravBuddy

Do you have any tips for solo travellers? Scroll down to ‘Speak Your Mind’ and let us know.

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Comments

  1. Hi Joanna,

    I don’t do enough solo travel:) I’d like to do more, it is liberating and such a great confidence booster. So many opportunities and experiences can only happen when you’re alone.
    Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot recently posted..How to Overcome Your Greatest Travel FearsMy Profile

  2. It is a great confidence booster, I agree Annabel. Everyone should have the chance to take off on their own at least once in their lifetime – through choice rather than circumstance of course. Firm friendships and golden opportunities often result. Thanks for taking the time to pop by :)

  3. Travelling alone is something I never do – so this blog really has some great tips for would-be lone travellers. When we went on a bus tour in UK in 2005, there were a number of lone travellers on the tour – and I thought what a great, safe, easy, and comfortable way to travel for people who are alone but want to travel! A friend of mine recently went solo on a Kimberly trip because her husband didn’t want to go – and she had a wonderful time. And I have just been in touch with a local company who does travel for over 55s and are to be launching new singles packages soon.
    It is great to know there are safe ways to travel for lone travellers – especially women.
    Thanks for the blog Jo – great post!
    Jill Harrison recently posted..Discover Gold at DundasMy Profile

  4. Thanks Jill, look forward to hearing more about the trips for over 55 ‘s. It’ such a growing demographic of travellers and often solo travellers.

  5. Ooh, some great other tips here! And it gives me a real desire to go travelling solo again – I think that will have to wait (quite) a few years though, at the very least Mr2 will be a regular travel companion for me for quite some time (and no doubt my husband will want to come along fairly frequently too). But one day … there’s nothing quite like travelling solo and being able to make your own mind up about exactly when, where, what and why.
    Amanda @ Not A Ballerina recently posted..Around Australia in a van: Canberra, our nation’s capitalMy Profile

  6. Thanks for the great tips Johanna, and the shove. It is time to go exploring and as I am a complete novice I will certainly be checking out all your great info.
    Cheers
    Leeanne

  7. Great to hear Leanne! Happy travels wherever you choose to wander.

  8. Thanks for your tips Amanda.
    Enjoy the companionship of travel with hubby and young kids while it lasts. Your time will come to take off and enjoy the freedom of choice again all too soon (kids decide they want to do their own thing far too quickly!)
    Until then, happy travelling however it may be.

  9. I did a week solo travel stint in Thailand and Sydney this year. It was with a media group though so it was pretty controlled. I really did enjoy those rare moments I had to myself where I could just wander freely and explore. I kept checking my pockets and looking around me thinking I was missing something. I was children,prams, nappy bags, constant monitoring. As much as I LOVE family travel, that freedom of solo travel is so refreshing,.

    GREAT tips.
    Caz Makepeace recently posted..Visit Perth – The Top 12 ReasonsMy Profile

  10. A great article Jo for anyone about to head off on their own. I loved reading the other fabulous tips. As I was reading it, I kept thinking that maybe it was time for another solo trip or at least one with the girls…never say never!
    jenny@atasteoftravel recently posted..Postcard from…..New YorkMy Profile

  11. Thanks Caz. I can imagine how you felt as if something was missing when you were travelling alone in Thailand and Sydney this year without children! It’s a worry how conditioned we become isn’t it! Having a little time alone when you have a busy family life/holidays is essential to keep on an even keel I think – as you say refreshing.

  12. Thanks for commenting Jenny. A trip with the girls sounds good, sometimes a mother and daughter trip is almost as good as a solo trip – for being able to wander freely and explore.

  13. I really enjoy the blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.

  14. John says:

    Nicely done Johanna. I agree most of what was written right here & this would certainly make me want to return to your blog again. Love all the things on your blog writing, pic, tips!!
    John recently posted..Foreign Talent Crucial For Singapore’s GrowthMy Profile

  15. Hi Johanna,
    Great article and lots of useful info for solo travellers. Just last week I returned from a two week trip to Europe that included being a solo traveller for a few days. It was something I hadn’t done for many years and I have to admit, I was a bit aprehensive about being lonely on the days I’d be on my own, but it worked out really well. I kept myself busy during the day discovering new places and at night I spent the time writing my blog and transferring photos from my camera to laptop. I would say to any would-be solo travellers, to give it a go. Whether you choose to join an escorted tour or do-it-yourself, with a few basic precautions (which you’d apply at home anyway), you can experience new places and have a wonderful time.
    Carolyn recently posted..Welcome to Holidays to EuropeMy Profile

  16. Thanks for your comments, Carolyn. It seems as if you kept yourself busy and happily occupied as a solo traveller, and as you say, as long as a little ‘savvy’ is applied it can be a great new experience if you’ve never given it a go before.

  17. Christine says:

    For years I travelled with kids now I solo travel and love it. I follow a lot of the tips, travel light, carry a book and trust your instincts, works every time. I have used Carolyn of Holidays to Europe and definately recommend her.

  18. Thanks for replying Christine :) It sounds as if you are a seasoned solo traveller with some tips of your own to add perhaps? Great that you can recommend Holidays to Europe, thank you for the thumbs up – a personal recommendation is a real plus for Zigazag readers. :)

  19. Thank You!

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