13 solo travel tips for your first trip

If you’re a bit worried about travelling solo for the first time, we’ve collected the top 13 tips to ensure your first solo travel adventure is a success.

1. Pack light

Bag open on table with travel items falling out

Make sure you’re able to carry everything you’re taking. You don’t want to arrive at your destination and find you’re struggling to lift your bag off the conveyor belt at baggage collection or having to do 6 trips up and down the stairs at your hotel each time you move to somewhere new.

TOP TIP! Sure, wheelie suitcases are a dream to glide through the airport but trust us, they aren’t so convenient on narrowed cobbled streets in Italy or changing platforms at the train station. Opt for a backpack instead – yes, it’s not so easy on the back but you’ll thank us as you weave in and out of the crowds.

Related: Typical problems for the solo traveller and how to solve them

2. Arrive during the day

When booking your flights, opt for one that arrives in the middle of the day, or at least when it’s still light outside. While they may cost a bit extra, it’s worth it as a solo traveller. Arriving in the dark makes it hard to get your bearings and everything seems scarier and harder at night.

3. Mix with others

Spanish language students walking along beach promenade in Barcelona

Our Spanish language students in Barcelona explore the beaches together

No matter how many times you’ve travelled solo, you may find yourself feeling lonely at some point during your trip.

One of the best, and usually easiest, fixes is to mix with others. If you’re staying in a hostel, head to the common area where other travellers will be hanging out. Go out for meals with them, share a couple of drinks, or exchange travel stories.

4. Sign up for courses

female surfer riding a wave at sunset

Are you a keen cook or want to try your hand at surfing? Sign up to a cookery class or head down to beach and get a lesson from one of the surf schools.

Not only will you have a great time and learn new skills, but you’ll get to meet new people with similar interest.

5. Don’t be afraid to dine alone

One of the biggest hurdles of solo travel is dining alone. On a learning holiday, you will rarely find yourself alone, but when you do, head out to a restaurant on your own.

If you’re worried about what to do while your meal is being cooked, take your travel guide, your favourite book, or a notepad so you can read and plan the next day’s activities.

TOP TIP! Ask your waiter about the best things to see and do in the area – invaluable local insight for free!

6. Go on organised trips to break up solo travel time

guided walking tour of Valencia

Walking tour of Valencia by GoLearnTo’s Spanish language school

If you’re on a long solo travel trip you might want to break up the solo travel time by signing up to some organised holidays.

Our activity and learning holidays with local hosts are a great way to meet new people and get some insider information on what you should see and do in the area.

Read more: Our most popular activity holidays for solo travellers

7. Practice your selfie skills

woman taking selfie with glass of wine

Everyone loves taking pictures of their travels but if you’re travelling solo it can be hard to get anything but photos of landscapes and buildings. If you ask other travellers you might risk someone snapping a photo of their thumb or just your head with the skyline.

Enter the selfie. Practise your selfie skills before you go and you’ll come back with plenty of photos of your travels to show off to friends and family.

8. Take an unlocked phone

Before you travel, get your phone unlocked by your provider. Then, when you reach your destination pop into a phone shop and buy a local sim card so that you can save on data and call charges.

TOP TIP! Check your roaming allowance with your provider – if you’re from the EU, you should be able to use your data as normal if you travel within the EU.

9. Always keep valuable items with you

If at all possible, don’t bring valuables with you for your travels. For the important items like your passport and credit cards, never leave them in your hostel or hotel room, or with any luggage you let someone else watch while you use the toilet.

10. Pack a waterproof bag

man jumping into water from rope swing

Torn between wanting to dive into the cooling sea and keeping an eye on your bag? Take a small waterproof pouch with you when you travel solo. Chuck your money, camera and phone into it when you’re at the beach and jump into the sea worry free (like this guy is doing).

11. Use Skype or WhatsApp to chat with those back home

Make sure you’ve got Skype, WhatsApp or Facetime on your phone so that you can call your friends and family back home.

It’s also a good idea to let people know where you are and whether you’ll be out of reach for a few days.

12. Trust your gut

If your instincts are telling you to get out of a situation, don’t ignore them.

13. Know how much transport should cost

Famous yellow tram driving through Lisbon

Whether you’re a solo traveller or not, getting scammed by local transport can ruin your day and your budget. Ask hotel and hostel staff or locals how much the bus or taxi should cost. In most countries, where there aren’t taxi metres, you should barter with the driver to agree on a price before you get in.

If you’re still concerned about a solo trip, consider a singles holiday that gives you downtime by yourself but plenty of planned activities and an interesting mix of people to meet, on your terms.