Solo Travel
The Terminal | DreamWorks Pictures

PLANNING A HOLIDAY is never easy and for a trip to run smoothly, a lot of things need to fall into place. Passports can expire when you least expect them to, travel insurance can add yet another exorbitant cost onto an already expensive endeavour, and crafting a meticulous itinerary can feel like a full time job in and of itself. And in many cases, you’re coordinating plans with others. These days, it can feel hard to pin down friends for drinks; organising an international trip with mates, then, is a modern day logistical nightmare.

But travelling with family and friends isn’t the only way to travel. And if you’re really wanting to immerse yourself in a new culture and meet new people, travelling by yourself can be the best way to go. But admittedly, flying solo (literally) can be quite daunting.

However, we’re here to tell you that solo travel doesn’t always turn out like Bill Murray’s situation at the start of Lost In Translation. Besides, he was only travelling for work and ended up having a great time with Scarlett Johansson. But just in case an outdated movie reference isn’t enough to quell your apprehension, we’ve collated everything you need to know about solo travel so you can start creating memories that will last a lifetime—and make your friends regret shooting down your proposals.

Lost In Translation | Focus Features

Is solo travel a good idea?

Travelling is what you make of it, which means travelling solo can be a great experience, or a terrible one, depending on how you approach it. When travelling solo, it’s typically necessary to operate differently than you would on a regular holiday. There’ll be no one pushing you to get out and explore except for the voice in the back of your head reminding you that you should be making memories.

To avoid spending the entire holiday locked in your hotel room watching movies and frequently snacking on the minibar, it’s wise to plan ahead and find activities and attractions you find interesting. That way, you’ll always have something to do and a new event to look forward to every day.

Also, just because you’re disembarking the plane alone, that doesn’t mean you have to stay that way for the whole trip. Travelling solo means you’ll have more opportunities to meet new people to go on adventures with. Which can also negate some of the perceived awkwardness and loneliness associated with solo travel.

Is solo travel safe?

Whether you’re travelling alone or in a large group of people, holidays always present heightened risks. Foreign countries are unfamiliar territory. Travellers often don’t speak the local language, aren’t aware of some cultural practices and can’t identify signs of danger as easily. Yet, travelling in a group does provide some extra protection—safety in numbers. Consequently, solo travellers will need to exercise a greater level of precaution. But this shouldn’t be a deterrent to solo travel. Remember that regular travel isn’t exactly safe either, and that most destinations are safe for tourists.

Is travelling alone awkward?

It certainly can be. But it doesn’t have to be. It can feel awkward being alone in tourist-friendly locations, but most of that feeling is imagined, stemming from our own preconceived notions that being marked a tourist is some humiliating feat. It isn’t. Most locals in large cities are accustomed to high numbers of tourists, and if you’re visiting a particularly well-known attraction, there’s bound to be swaths of far less conspicuous tourists everywhere you look.

For another solution to the awkwardness conundrum, I’ll turn to a personal anecdote. A few years ago, I desperately wanted to see parts of South-East Asia, my friends didn’t. I grew tired of drafting out carefully curated travel plans, pitching them to potential travel buddies and being shot down time after time. Eventually I made the jump by booking a month-long trip, beginning in Vietnam.

To mitigate some of the expected awkwardness, I decided to spend the first half of the trip doing volunteer work while staying at a hostel with other volunteers. In addition to giving me something to do almost every day, it also allowed me to meet new people with whom I could visit touristy locations and while not feeling like a total tourist.

You don’t necessarily need to volunteer and stay at a dingy hostel to meet new people while on holiday, but being open minded and willing to expand your horizons will help minimise the risk of awkwardness, loneliness and boredom.

Lost In Translation | Focus Features

What are the benefits of solo travel?

A lot of this article has been dedicated to proving why solo travel isn’t so bad, but it actually has a number of benefits too. For one, having no one else around means you have the freedom to do as you please. Feel like eating at a dodgy street food restaurant? You can. Want to spend a day hiking up a mountain? No one’s going to stop you.

Being alone is also a great opportunity for introspection. Solitude brings great clarity of mind, and exposing yourself to new cultures will always allow you to see things from new perspectives.

Finally, there’s the obvious benefit of being able to meet new people. Booking a tour, staying in a hostel and even simply venturing out to bars, clubs and restaurants all offer the chance of meeting someone you’ll connect with, potentially make lifelong friends in the process.

What are the best places to travel to alone?

First things first, you can solo travel to any destination. That being said, some locations are more solo-friendly than others. At these holiday hotspots, it’s either easy to meet people, find solo attractions to visit, or enjoy a little time to yourself.

Southern Europe

While the Mediterranean region offers plenty of reasons to visit, there’s particular appeal for solo travellers due to the prevalence of Contiki tours and other similar group holidays. There might not be a better way to make new friends than sharing a room with 4-10 people.

South-East Asia

A slightly biased selection here based on personal experience. While much of South-East Asia is very tourist friendly, outside of resort towns, English proficiency is lower, and very few tourists will know more than a few words of the local language. As such, tourists tend to band together and naturally gravitate towards guided group tours of major attractions.


Stoic forests, towering mountains and the full scope of nature’s vastness, Scandinavia is the ideal destination for a traveller looking to centre themself and find clarity of mind.

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