Traveling solo is one of the most rejuvenating and rewarding travel experiences. Credit: Shutterstock

Best Tips and Destinations for Traveling Solo

Read our beginner’s guide to traveling alone and discover the best destinations for solo trips in Europe
Published 05/12/2022 by Melek Carkaci

An adventure in itself, traveling alone is something everyone should do at least once in a lifetime. Solo travel allows you to become stronger in body and mind while embracing independence and encouraging self confidence. Traveling alone can be rewarding and exciting but it can also be challenging if you don’t know what to do. That’s why it’s crucial to prepare before embarking on a solo adventure. 

From travel tips to the best destinations and recommendations for women and people of color, discover how to travel solo. 

Best tips for traveling solo

First-timer?: Getting out of your comfort zone is a real challenge, so start with weekend city breaks in well-known destinations. Avoid overly daring trips that could leave bad memories because of a lack of experience.

Budget first: Besides ticket prices, the cost of living, transportation, and accommodation are important factors in assessing your overall budget. If you’re looking for low-budget destinations, Southern and Eastern European countries are great options with low living costs.

Flexibility is key: Overplanning is the enemy of solo trips. When you travel alone, the choice is yours, so don’t set any rules. Walking tours are a simple yet effective way to get a good understanding of the environment, and then you can venture out with more confidence.

Pack light: Minimize your luggage to travel comfortably and save money on your ticket but also on transportation since you can simply take public transportation to your accommodation. And don’t forget, you have no one but yourself to look after your things!

The right accommodation: Hostels or Couchsurfing are perfect for budget travelers, but bed & breakfasts offer more comfort. All three options offer a unique social atmosphere with common rooms where you meet other travelers. For more privacy, simply choose a hotel room or try a home exchange.

Best solo activities while traveling

Act like a local: Eat at local restaurants, visit local stores, and ask bartenders and waiters for places of interest. You’ll see how rich and authentic the recommendations can get.

Try different perspectives: By foot, by public transportation, or by bike, vary your means of travel to explore differently. Solo travel affords great opportunities for cycling as you can do it at your own pace (we all know what it’s like to wait for a friend who’s too slow!).

Don’t be afraid to eat alone: For an easy transition, choose environments such as coffee shops and cafés with terraces where you won’t be the only one eating alone. Or grab some street food, and sit in a park for a relaxed picnic.

Kelly E. Carter, a former travel journalist and author of “The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel,” and “Bellini for One” says, “On my first night in Hvar, [Croatia] I went to dinner by myself and there was a large group of Croatians seated near me. They invited me to join them. That’s one thing I always love about being a solo traveler as sometimes you are presented with incredible invitations that would never come your way if you were with somebody because, number one, you’re probably too busy with your friends to notice the other people and number two, people want to get to know you.”

Time for yourself: Treating yourself is the heart and soul of solo traveling. So take time to sit in a café, read a book, listen to music, write a travel journal, etc. Simulating a sense of ease will make you feel comfortable and boost your confidence in new environments.

Workcation: Flexible working is one of the few positive things the pandemic has brought us. Combine home office with solo travel. Rent cozy accommodations on a long-term basis to work during the day, and travel the rest of the time.

Best tips for women traveling solo

Act like a local: Confidence is key so fake it until you make it. Set up a routine for the start and end of the day with specific places, follow GPS directions through your headphones (not on speaker!), and ask for help from hotels or restaurants rather than random people.

Stay connected: Keep your family and friends in the loop about your location and plans so they know when they can expect an update. Geotagging apps are very handy if you don’t want to spend time texting or calling.

A safe night out: Check the city’s agenda to find interesting current events. Theaters and museums in big cities also often have evening programs for late-night culture lovers. And if nothing piques your interest, simply go for dinner at a slightly later time!

Best travel tips for people of color

Blend in: Observing cultural codes and learning a few lines in the native language will always help you on your solo travel journey. Don’t be intimidated by stares, and try to initiate a conversation. With this positive attitude, you will be able to realize most people are just curious.

“[A Croatian man who took me on a tour] said a lot of people there had never met any black people and they can only go by what they hear,” Carter, who is African-American, says. “You don’t know it but you’re teaching people about black people. And I’m like, “wow, the pressure on me as a black woman!’ I had no idea of the impact that my presence had on a group of people who I will probably never say hello to. It makes you realize you never know who’s watching you and what impression you’re giving off.”

Favor open-minded destinations: Don’t jeopardize your vacation, and travel with peace of mind by choosing destinations known for their welcoming atmosphere. Do some research about the cultural diversity of the place, whether the city is a student town or a young town, etc.

“Another challenge is making sure that I, as a woman of color, am not getting the worst of anything. Just because I’m black and by myself, I am not going to accept the worst seat at a restaurant. I am not going to accept the worst location of a room at a hotel. I am not going to accept anything subpar,” Carter says. “Once people understand that it’s fine. So be prepared to stick up for yourself.”

Find an expat group: Discrimination topics are more approachable with people who understand you, and local communities will be your most reliable source of information for insights and recommendations, and maybe new friendships too!

“In some ways, I would say to research to see how people of color are accepted where you’re going,” says Carter. “Had I known in advance that black people were not being treated well in Croatia then I might not have gone and would’ve missed out on visiting this wonderful country. So ignorance can be bliss.”

Three top destinations for solo travel

Chosen as the best destination for 2022, Slovenia’s capital also ranks among the safest cities in Europe! Along with a unique environment blending nature, culture, gastronomy, and an Instagram-friendly setting, it is a perfect city break on a budget, with an attractive low living cost.

Ranked as one of the safest cities in Europe, Geneva is a diverse and cosmopolitan city, perfect for those seeking an elevated experience, from a sophisticated and diverse dining scene to shopping in world-class luxury boutiques.

Scandinavian countries are known for their relaxed atmosphere and their joie de vivre, and Helsinki doesn’t disappoint. It ranks first in the Legatum Prosperity Index 2021, taking into account many factors such as safety, personal freedom, living conditions, natural environment, etc. Perfect for solo trips thanks to its compact size, Helsinki is one of the cities where you can just hop on a bike and tour at your own pace.