Get ready for your solo adventure
Visit the places you’ve always dreamed of going – all on your own terms. Everyone has their reason for going it alone. Maybe your family and friends are busy, or perhaps you’re just after a bit of me-time.
Whatever your reason, solo travel can be an empowering way to explore the world. You can go wherever you want, whenever you want. And with a 53% increase in Google searches for ‘solo travel’ from 2017 - 2019, interest in venturing out alone is on the rise. So, what’s stopping you?
In our guide, we’ve covered the main things you need to know to get ready for your solo traveller holiday, including destination ideas and how to overcome any last-minute nerves.
- What is solo travel like?
- Choosing your destination
- Before you go
- Once you’re off the plane
- If something goes wrong
What is solo travel like?
Solo travel can be a liberating experience. The confidence you’ll feel from stepping out alone will fill you with independence. Something that can be valuable to learn at any age. In fact, Booking.com reported 40% of 55-64-year-olds are now taking trips on their own. A reminder that solo travel isn’t just for Millennials.
Whether you’re after luxury, relaxation, or a backpacking adventure, you’re sure to feel a sense of freedom. Consider your travel options for what kind of solo experience you’re after.
If you’re travelling alone for the first time, think about joining a stress-free travel tour. With an organised travel group, you’ll meet like-minded people to travel with and you’ll have an itinerary mapped out for you.
It’s a great way to guarantee a once-in-a-lifetime experience without the hassle of organising it yourself. You’ll be taken to must-see places and often get access and discounts that are off limits to independent travellers.
It doesn’t have to be all about adventures or finding yourself. If you just want some sun and time to yourself, why not book yourself a solo holiday package?
Most travel operators offer adult-only resorts, letting you enjoy some quiet time by the pool with a good book. And if you’re after a bit of luxury, go for the upgrade option. Bliss.
If you fancy going all out for your solo trip, backpacking is sure to take you out of your comfort zone. It's a great way to cut costs and experience solo travel wanderlust.
Staying in hostels is not only cheap, but an easy way to connect with other backpackers if you want to meet some other solo travellers. Popular backpacking locations include Thailand, Australia, Bali and India.
Choosing your destination
Finding the best place to go for your solo travel trip can be tricky when the world is your oyster. Not a bad problem to have.
Your dream destination will depend on your reasons for choosing to travel solo. Do you want to recharge on a wellness retreat? Or are you taking a career break or gap year for a longer trip?
It’s also worth thinking about your budget and the duration of your trip – how far are you willing to go? Lastly, do your research and consider where you might feel comfortable going alone. Here are some pointers to get you started.
If this is your first solo venture, why not dip your toe in the water with a short city break to Europe? Perfect if you’re feeling pre-travel nerves, European countries regularly top the rankings of the safest places to visit in the world.
According to Lonely Planet and Hostel World, these are the best places to solo travel:
- Berlin, Germany
- Rome, Italy
- The Netherlands
Tempted by the popular Southeast Asia backpacking experience? Fancy surfing the turquoise blue Australian ocean? Or perhaps you picture yourself cruising route 66 through the States?
According to Lonely Planet, STA Travel and Hostel World these are some of the coolest places to solo travel:
- East Coast Australia
- New Zealand
- South America
- Sri Lanka
With 84% of solo travellers being female, women are leading the way.
Lonely Planet has ranked these countries as the best destinations for solo female travel, based on equality, human rights and safety:
- New Zealand
- The Netherlands
Before you go
Settled on your destination? Before you hear the sounds of waves crashing, you’ve got a bit of planning to do.
Venturing off on your own means you’ll likely be managing travel by yourself. Get started with these flight tips:
- Set an alert for flights – Three months before you travel set an alert with a site such as Skyscanner or Kayak to keep an eye out for price drops and deals.
- Use month-view – One of the best benefits of solo travel is flexibility. Use the month-view calendar on flight comparison sites to see the cheapest days to fly.
- Sign up to airline newsletters – You'll often find airlines offer exclusive offers to their newsletter subscribers. Be the first to hear about a new offer by signing up.
You’ll also need to remember to pack the essentials and make sure you can easily carry all your luggage. Here are our top packing tips:
- Tie a ribbon on your luggage so it’s easily recognisable
- Avoid taking valuables, such as laptops and jewellery, unless they’re necessary
- Keep your important documents in clear zip bags that won’t get wet or damaged throughout your travels
- Leave your hairdryer at home – you should find one at your accommodation
It’s only natural to have some nerves before embarking on a solo journey – especially if it’s your first time. But after a few days settling in and getting to know your way around, you’ll soon forget any worries.
To ease your nerves, it may help to tie up any loose ends at home before you go:
- Pre-book (at least) your first night’s accommodation
- Plan how you’re going to get from the airport to your accommodation
- Research the destination and find somewhere to eat on the first night
- Plan some activities you want to do for your first few days
- Check the weather forecast before you go
- Make sure any bills are paid and that your home is secure
- Review all your important documents – don’t forget your passport!
- Check you’ve packed any essential medication
Going it alone can be daunting, especially if something goes wrong. A flight could get cancelled, or important documents could get stolen. Even worse, you may need urgent medical care.
Sainsbury's Bank Travel Insurance is underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE.
Once you’re off the plane
Stepping off the plane is an exciting feeling – there’s so much promise arriving somewhere new to explore.
But if it's your first time travelling alone, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. Take a deep breath and remain calm. Follow the directions as you get off the plane and collect your luggage. Don’t accept any help from strangers and stick to your plan of how to get to your accommodation.
To be on the safe side, it’s best to follow a few precautions:
- Avoid quiet streets or remote spaces and walk with confidence and purpose
- Always keep your travel money and belongings close to you
- If you feel threatened at all, draw attention, and involve passers-by
- Be reserved with your judgement of character – not everyone is who they say they are
- Don’t share a taxi or accept a lift from anyone other than a designated pre-arranged driver
- Don’t tell anyone where you’re staying until you know you can trust them
- Always keep an eye on your personal belongings
Don’t worry – it's perfectly normal to feel apprehensive, homesick or lonely when travelling alone. It can help to:
- Give your family, friends or loved ones a call or use video chat
- Plan things you want to see or do for each day – get out there and experience the local culture
- Look out for any solo travel tours or groups you could join. They might offer an environment where you can feel safe to meet others and push yourself out of your comfort zone
One of the sure-fire ways to meet new people when travelling alone is by staying in hostels. Hostels are full of independent travellers – and just like you, they probably want to meet new people.
Most hostels organise group tours for fun days out that you can get involved in.
Always keep an emergency pack with you. This should include:
- A printed copy of your passport (stored separately to your passport)
- The contact details of your travel insurance provider
- Your medical insurer’s emergency line
- Your bank contact details
- The local British embassy, consulate or high commission’s contact details
As well as storing any numbers in your phone, you should also keep them written down somewhere – just in case your phone is lost or stolen. It’s worth keeping a note of a friend or family member’s contact details too.
If you’re attacked, threatened, feel in danger or have your passport stolen, contact the local police for advice.
And if you have an accident or lose any luggage, contact your travel insurer as soon as possible. They’ll advise you on where to get help and assistance.