10 Things No One Tells You About Solo Travel

Solo travel is without a doubt one of the most enriching experiences you can have! You learn so much about the world and grow as a person. I whole-heartedly believe that everybody should experience traveling along at one point in their life.

There are, however, things that nobody tells you about solo travel. But no more! This article is going to highlight ten things no one tells you about solo travel. It will also give you some tips, so you can make the most of your solo travel adventures.

1. You’re Going to Cry at Some Point (Especially if it is Your First Solo Travel Experience)

You read that right. You’re going to cry even if you never ever cry when you’re at home. This is what surprised me the most when I first started solo travel.

The first time I travelled alone I went for three months. Before those three months, I could remember the last time I cried. I cried at least five times in those three months.

Crying just happens when you’re first starting out as a solo traveller and often happens to experienced solo travellers as well. It is normal, and if you ever meet a solo traveller that claims they haven’t cried, either that person is an absolute anomaly or, more likely, lying.

It makes sense that people cry when they travel alone. You are in a new environment, often in a country where you don’t speak a language, and your constantly under stress. Add in the exhaustion that comes with long-term solo travel, and you’re bound to have a good cry session or two. Own it. It’s cathartic, and you’ll feel so much better afterwards.

St. Jame's Park London England solo travel

2. Hostels Don’t Magically Make You Social

You always hear about how people are always making new friends in hostels and that you’re never really travelling alone. Well, the truth is hostels aren’t magic. They don’t magically make you friends and give you new experiences.

You have to put yourself out there and be social when you’re in hostels if you want to meet new people and have new experiences.

I’m a hardcore introvert. I love being alone and find it incredibly difficult to socialize at the best of times and even more difficult when I’m around people I don’t know.

But I read all these articles online about how hostels makes everybody social, so I expected the same when I when on my first solo trip. Well, it didn’t happen because I rarely put myself out there.

You have to engage in hostel events, get to know your dorm mates, and hang out in the common room if you want to have the hostel experience that you read about online. It isn’t easy. It is uncomfortable and awkward at times, but it really is worth it.

I met one of my close friends while staying in a hostel, and it is all because I got to know one of the people in my dorm. It really is worth it to push yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time.

I am by no means telling you to be social all the time. As an introvert, I know that is an unreasonable request, but you should try at least once or twice on your solo travel adventure.

3. Eating Alone Isn’t Scary

Eating is seen as a social even, and a lot of people ask solo travellers how they can possibly handle eating alone. As if eating alone is the most terrifying thing and anybody that manages to do it is a hero.

Well let me tell you that there is nothing weird about eating alone, and people do it all the time.

It can be a bit awkward when you’re not used to it, but you get used to it quickly. I love eating alone, and trying local cuisine has become one of my favourite parts of solo travel.

If you’re nervous about eating alone, here are some tips to help make it less awkward:

  • Bring a book to read while you’e waiting for your food
  • Ask to sit at the bar, so your back is to the other diners
  • Go to a restaurant with wifi, so you can text a friend back home while you’re eating
  • Eat at off-peak hours when the restaurant isn’t busy

These tips makes eating out as a solo traveller a less awkward experience. I promise you will get used to it once you’ve done it a few times.

Chengdu China Street Food

4. You Better be Damn Good at Reading a Map

Or using GoogleMaps because, let’s admit it, that is what we all use nowadays.

You are fully 100% in charge of navigating when you solo travel. You have to figure out how to get from the airport/bus station/train station to where you’re staying, your way to all the tourist sights you want to see, and figure out how to get back on track after you’ve made a wrong turn.

And you with undoubtably make quite a few wrong turns along the way, but that is how you learn!

You need to become familiar with how to use GoogleMaps and how to use it when you’re offline. Being a GoogleMaps expert is part of being a solo traveller. It is an essential skill to learn.

5. Get Used to Small Talk

You participate in a lot of small talk when you solo travel. Whether it is introducing yourself to people in your dorm, going on a free walking tour, or running into people on the bus, train, etc. who are decide to start a conversation, you will be doing a lot of small talking.

The small talk gets tiring really quickly, but it never ends when you’re travelling alone. You can come up with some talking points or questions to ask the other people as a way to change it up. Your fellow travellers will appreciate you asking them an interesting out-of-the-box question when you first meet them rather than the standard where are you from, where are you travelling, how long are you travelling for? Yawn.

You will have a lot better conversations if you’re prepared with an interesting topic to discuss or question to pose. You will also avoid the monotony of small talk that way as well.

Dire Wolves Game of Thrones Ireland

6. Your Relationships at Home Will Change

This is one of the sadder parts of travel. You’re gone for a long period of time exploring the world and learning new things while you’re friends and family are back home doing the same thing they always do.

You change when you travel, and you will have new perspectives. Sometimes that means the friendships you built before you left are different when you come back. Not all friendships change, but some do.

You don’t think when you leave to travel that life at home will change. It kind of feels like you’re putting life at home on pause and doing something else, but the people you know at home are still living their lives and growing just like you are on the road.

Technology definitely helps keep relationships strong while on the road. It is so easy to send a quick text to a friend to check in and see how they are doing.

It is so easy to get caught up in the joy of solo travel that it is easy to forget to check in on what is going on at home. But it is important to do so.

Even if you come home and find that your relationships have changed, that doesn’t mean they haven’t changed for the better. While some friendships may not be as strong as they were, others will be stronger.

7. You Will Get Homesick

Just like crying, it is inevitable that you will get homesick at some point in your solo travel journey. You will long for your bed, your friends and family, and how easy everything is at home.

And that’s completely normal.

I still get homesick and miss the comforts and convenience of being at home when I’m on the road- especially on days where things aren’t going my way. It would be so easy to give up my travel lifestyle, go home, and life a typical life.

But that’s not solo travel junkies are made for! The feeling passes, and you’ll be back in love with traveling quickly.

Here are a few tips to help you when you’re feeling home sick:

  • Schedule a Skype call with someone back home
  • Book a nice hotel or Airbnb that makes you feel like you’re at home in your own bed
  • Go on an epic adventure that you would never be able to do at home
Xi'an China

8. You Will Have a Bond with the People You Meet While You Travel Solo

Travellers understand other travellers. There is an unseen bond between them. This is especially true for people who travel solo. It takes a certain type of person to be addicted to solo travel.

You will automatically understand another traveller and their experiences when you meet them, and you will have a unique bond or friendship with them even if you don’t know each other that well.

I still consider someone I met for 48 hours in Kotor a friend even though we only had a few conversations and shared a dorm room for a few nights. It is a weird thing travellers do.

Embrace being understood by a stranger and connecting about something you both love.

9. The Photograph Conundrum

One of the advantages of travelling with another person is that you always have someone to snap the perfect picture of you wherever you are.

You don’t have that luxury as a solo traveller, so you have to figure out a way around it. Selfies are the most obvious workaround, but sometimes you want a proper photograph of yourself.

You either have to get comfortable asking a stranger to take your photograph for you or live without getting that photograph.

I personally don’t care for selfies, so I have very few photographs of me in different places I’ve been to. It would be nice to have more, but it is one of the sacrifices I have made to travel solo.

It is super easy to ask someone to take your photograph, and they are always willing to help you out! And it does get easier to ask the more you do it. You may feel a bit weird at first, but if the picture is important enough to you, you will ask.

There are definitely other methods of getting a photograph of yourself like using a tripod, but most solo travellers don’t bother with that.

London England United Kingdom Solo travel

10. You Will Get Bored

Yup., you read that right. You will get bored while travelling alone- especially if you’re travelling for a long period of time.

Not every city you visit will captivate you, and sometimes you will be bored and be itching to move on. Sometimes you may even be bored with travel in general. It happens.

You will soon enough find yourself in a new city that ignites your passion for travel, and you’ll wonder how you could have ever been bored.

The evenings, in particular, tend to be when people who solo travel tend to get bored. The after-dinner evenings can seem to drag on and never end, and it can be a bit awkward to explore the local nightlife on your own.

I have spent many a night in a hotel room watching Netflix just waiting for an appropriate time to go to bed. Having spare time is just something that comes along with travel, and when you don’t have a travel companion, the time can drag on.

How to Combat Boredom in the Evenings When You Travel Solo

  • Get tickets to a local play or ballet
  • Go on a free walking tour in the evening
  • Take a ghost bus tour or a haunted tour
  • Hang out in the common area of your hostel or hotel

Watch the Video!

Conclusion

Solo travel is incredibly enriching and one of the best experiences a person can have. There are, however, some things that no one tells you about solo travel. People tend to gloss over some of the less pretty details of solo travel and make it sound exciting and exhilarating.

Which it is!

But it is only fair to know everything that comes with solo travel before you embark on your first solo travel adventure. You will be better able to prepare for your trip when you know exactly what to expect.

You will also be better able to handle some of the situations that come up when you know that they can happen before you leave.

If you thought hostels would make you automatically social, you can come prepared and have a deck of cards for the common room to break the ice. Or you can have a game plan on how to get the perfect photograph of yourself at a destination you’ve been dreaming of visiting your entire life.

Knowledge is power, and now you know all the insider secrets about solo travel. It isn’t as glamorous as it can seem, but it is well worth it. I have never met another traveller who regrets their time on the road. It can be difficult to travel for an extended period of time- especially alone!-, but it is worth it. Every. Single. Time.

Don’t let the fear of travelling alone stop you from going on an epic adventure.

10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

Europe is the perfect destination for solo female travellers. No matter how experienced of a traveller you are, you will be able to navigate most of Europe with no trouble.

The Schengen Area makes it extremely convenient to travel between countries in Europe. If you are travelling from one country in the Schengen Area to another Schengen country, you don’t need to show your passport when you cross the border.

The only countries on this list that is not part of the Schengen Area are numbers 1, 6, and 7. But you shouldn’t rule them out just because you will have to get your passport stamped. I mean who doesn’t love getting a new passport stamp?!

1. England

England is a great place for first-time solo female travellers. You will most likely go to London if you are exploring England for the first time. London is an extremely easy city to navigate for solo female travellers.

London has 5 major airports, so it is a hub for people arriving to Europe. This normally means a shorter and somewhat cheaper flight to Europe, so that is a huge plus!

London itself has enough sights that you can spend 7-10 days there and still not see everything. It has a mixture of free and paid sights and sights that will appeal to you no matter what your interests are. There are also a lot of day trips you can take from London. Bath is a very popular choice!

It has dozens of world class museums, churches, theatre, palaces, parks, markets, trendy neighbourhoods, movie filming locations, and oodles of history. If you’re in London in the summer, you can even tour Buckingham Palace!

London is an easy place for solo female travellers to explore because everybody speaks English. You don’t have to worry about not understanding what people say to you or reading any of the signs or restaurant menus.

The city also has an incredible Underground transportation system. You should get an Oyster card to save money on public transportation in London. For solo female travellers that have never used a public transportation system and are nervous to do so, the Underground is a great place to start because it is extremely user-friendly and there are lots of people who can help you if you have questions about where to get off.

London has a reputation for being expensive. While it can be an expensive city, it doesn’t have to be.

There are plenty of tourist attractions, restaurants, and hotels that are budget friendly. For example, most of the museums in London are free. This is incredible because most of the museums are world class. You will definitely want to check one (or more) out while you’re there.

PS- Learn all about wifi in London (it isn’t as easy to access as you might think)

Tower Bridge London England 10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

2. Germany

Germany is a great country for solo female travellers because it has a lot of different areas to visit, so it will appeal to everybody. The country has countless historical and cultural sights in every major and minor city. There is so much history in Germany that you don’t want to skip it!

Nearly every German young and old speaks English, so you don’t have to worry about a language barrier. This makes it easier for new travellers to navigate the country with ease.

The transportation system in Germany is extremely user friendly. Whether you are travelling to the heart of the city from the airport or between cities, you will easily be able to navigate the train system.

If you’re going to one of the major cities like Munich or Berlin, you should consider taking a day trip to a smaller town. Germany has so much to offer outside the major cities that it is worth budgeting some time to explore smaller parts of the country as well.

Places like Neuschwanstein Castle, Cologne, and Rothenburg ob der Tauber should be on everybody’s bucket list. You can also take a day trip from Munich to Dachau to tour the concentration camp and learn more about how the camp was run. It is an emotional day, but it is important to learn about and remember the past to stop it from happening again.

Wherever you choose to go in Germany, you will have a great time as a solo female traveller. The entire country is traveller friendly, the people are extremely nice, and the food is delicious!

Castle Neuschwanstein Munich Germany 10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

3. France

France is a popular destination for solo female travellers. It is full of iconic sights, is tourist friendly, and, like London, is a European hub. It is also centrally located making it easy to travel from one country to another from France.

If you’re going to France, you’re most likely stopping in Paris. It has so many bucket list sights to see from the Eiffle Tower, to the Louvre, to Notre Dame, Disneyland Paris, and countless others. It is easy to spend 7-10 days (or more!) exploring Paris alone.

Paris has a lot of amazing day trips, so you will want to make time to go on one or two. Most day trips are a short train ride from Paris (like Giverny that is less than an hour away), so it is a great way to explore more of France!

There is truly something for everybody! From historical sights like Vimy Ridge and Normandy a train ride away, wine tasting, world class museums and churches, and a food lover’s dream.

Paris has a great public transportation system, so it is incredibly easy for you to get from one tourist sight to another!

Paris does have a lot of petty theft and pickpocketing, but it is very safe as long as you keep a close eye on your purse when at tourist sights and restaurants.

Parisians have a bit of a reputation for being rude to tourists. I personally have only had great interactions with Parisians. They are nice and willing to help if you need it.

Parisians appreciate when tourists make an attempt to speak French, so it is helpful to know a few basic phrases before you leave. Knowing how to say hello, goodbye, and thank you in French will help you a lot!

Menus, signs, and tourist attractions are all in English, so you will be able to read everything you need to. Nearly everybody speaks English as well, so communication won’t be a problem when you’re travelling in Paris.

PS- read my full post on solo travel in Paris

Eiffel Tower Paris France

4. Poland

Poland is one of my favourite European countries. There is so much to see and it is inexpensive compared to Western European countries, which is the perfect combination for solo female travellers.

Krakow is the most popular Polish city to visit. It has an adorable old town, and you can visit Auschwitz from Krakow. There is also a salt mine that is worth a day trip as well!

While Krakow is the most popular tourist destination, the country has so many other cities that are worth visiting. Warsaw, Gdansk, and Wrocław are some of my favourites. Each city has its own WWII history and story as well as a vibrant modern history.

Poland has an impressive train and bus system that makes it easy to get from one city to the next. The high-speed trains are quite expensive compared to how much other things in the country cost, but regular trains and buses are very affordable.

Poland is also a very safe country and has a very low crime rate. This means as a solo female traveller, you don’t have to worry about feeling uncomfortable or unsafe while on vacation.

English is widely spoken in Poland- especially in the tourism industry. You won’t have a problem communicating with people while you’re there. Even small, family-owned restaurants have an English menu for you to order from.

One thing that Poland does better than any other country I’ve been to is free walking tours. They are incredibly informative and well-organized. Free walking tours are especially beneficial to solo travellers because you get to interact with other people while learning about a city from a local and seeing sights you may not have known about before.

Gdansk Poland 10 Best Countries for Solo Female Travellers

5. Denmark

Denmark is a great country for solo female travellers that only have a short vacation. It is compact, modern, and sophisticated. Like many of the other countries on this list, you will probably be visiting the country’s capital city: Copenhagen.

Copenhagen is a modern city with a variety of sights to visit. There are historic and modern palaces, museums, restaurants along the water, and an amusement park right in the heart of the city.

Denmark has a great rail system to get you to other cities within Denmark or to Sweden. It is easy to take the train to Malmo for a day trip, and I would recommend you doing so. You will need to take your passport even though you are going to another Schengen country. Sometimes Swedish customs go through the train to check everybody is allowed in the Schengen Area.

Denmark does have a downside though. It is probably the most expensive country on this list, so it isn’t friendly for budget travellers. You can find hotels for $100/night but most will cost you $200+/night.

Denmark is a very safe country for solo female travellers. There is a very low crime rate. Even if you’re walking home later in the evening after Tivoli closes, you will be and feel safe.

The Danes are very well educated, and most of them speak perfect English, so you won’t have a problem with translation or communication. Menus and signs are all in English, so you will have zero problem understanding what is going on around you.

Overall, Denmark is a great place for solo female travellers looking for an upscale European vacation in a country that is very safe and has a lot of different sights to see as well as a relaxed vibe.

PS- take a day trip from Copenhagen to Sweden!

Copenhagen, Denmark

6. Romania

Romania is an EU member, but it is not a Schengen country. This means you will have to show your passport and get it stamped when you enter and exit the country. If you are a citizen of an EU country, you can use your national identity card rather than your passport to enter the country.

Now that we have that bit of technical information out of the way, let’s talk about why you should visit Romania.

Romania is a gorgeous country. It has natural sights, castles, museums, amazing food, and stunning architecture. It is also inexpensive, so it is perfect for solo female travellers on a budget.

Romania is accessible by bus or train from many Eastern and Central European countries. It also has a number airports, so you are able to fly into the country as well. Flying will require a stop over or two because many of the airports are small, so you will most likely fly to Bucharest then onto any other city you are visiting.

If you are travelling within Romania, taking the bus or train is your best option. The buses and trains are affordable, clean, and normally direct, so you most likely won’t need to transfer when going from one city to another. Taxis are also affordable if you’re going short distances.

Romania has many different cities worth visiting. Timișoara is an amazing city in the eastern part of the country near Serbia. It is picturesque with lots of trees and a beautiful river. But is also has an important history. The Romania revolution and communist uprising was started in Timișoara. It is the perfect city for history buffs.

Be sure to visit Transylvania!

Transylvania is the most well known part of Romania. This region of Romania is associated with Dracula because of Bran Castle (a short day trip from Brasov).

Transylvania is, in my opinion, the best region of Romania. It has breathtaking mountains, lots of history, amazing food, and one of the best castles I’ve ever visited.

Brasov is the perfect home-base while exploring Transylvania. It is centrally-located, and you are able to take day trips to some of the best sights in Romania. Peles Castle and Sighisoara are my two favourite day trips.

Just like every other country on this list, Romania is very safe, English is widely spoken, and it is friendly to solo female travellers. You won’t have any issue navigating your way through the country!

Peles Castle Brasov Romania 10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

7. Scotland

Scotland is an amazing country. It has so much history and natural beauty to offer tourists that it should be on everybody’s bucket list. It is perfect for solo female travellers because English is the primary language, so you don’t have to worry about communication, translation, or any other anxiety related to going to a country where English isn’t the primary language.

The only downside to Scotland (and why it is so low on this list) is that you have to rent a car to see anything outside the main cities. It is more difficult to navigate driving in a new country alone than it is with someone else in the car.

Even if you don’t rent a car and only stick to the main areas, Scotland has a lot to offer. It has a unique terrain and natural landscape that you will be able to snap spectacular pictures. Scotland also offers castles, monasteries, modern royal sights, and museums.

If you only go to one city in Scotland, it should be Edinburgh. Edinburgh has the most to offer for sights, is the most bustling city in Scotland, and it has a better public transportation system than Glasgow.

Scotland also has a lot of royal sights, so it is a great place for people who enjoy the royal family.

Scotland can be expensive, but it isn’t any more expensive than England, France, or Germany. You are able to find affordable hotels, food, and things to do. Solo female travellers should definitely consider Scotland when deciding where to go on their next trip.

Dunnottar Castle Scotland 10 Best Countries for Solo Female Travellers

8. Estonia

This small Baltic country packs a pretty big punch. You can easily spend 2 weeks travelling throughout Estonia and still not see everything.

Estonia is often overlooked by solo female travellers (and travellers in general), but is shouldn’t be.

It is a great option for solo female travellers because it is less expensive than many countries on this list, is very safe, English is widely spoken, and a good inter-city transportation system.

Estonia is so much more than Tallinn and its old town. Parnu and Tartu are worth a visit as well! It is easy to get to both cities from Tallinn via bus. There are direct buses to both cities, and you are able to walk to your hotel from the bus stop.

If you’re going to Estonia in the summer, Haapsalu is a great option. It is a resort town with a stunning lake and great summer activities. I was there in the winter, and I would not recommend going at that time of year. However, it should be on your to-so list if you’re Estonia during the summer (and can easily be a day trip from Tallinn).

Everything in Estonia is affordable, which makes it perfect for solo female travellers on a budget. You can easily get a nice hotel for $75/night and meals for $10-15. You can go on a nice vacation without being worried about overspending!

PS- be sure to visit Tartu if you have time! It is my favourite city in Estonia

Tartu Estonia 10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

9. Italy

Italy is on nearly everybody’s European bucket list. It is a great place for solo female travellers because Italy is so used to having tourist from all over the world that it has built a great tourism infrastructure.

Italy has a well-designed transportation system that makes it easy to travel throughout the country, iconic historical sights, and delicious food and wine. Everybody speaks English because of the tourist industry, so you won’t have a problem communicating with locals.

Venice, Florence, Milan, Rome, and Northern Italy are the obvious cities to visit in Italy, but you should take the time to visit smaller towns as well. Smaller towns like Cortona have a lot to offer and are often more authentic and less touristy than the major cities. Visiting smaller towns will give you a more authentic Italian experience than staying in major cities the entire time.

Even though Italy is a major tourist destination, it is an affordable country. Food is reasonably priced, and you are given large portions (leftovers!). The one thing that is consistently more expensive in Italy is the price of a train ticket. Trains were by far my biggest expense in Italy so make sure to budget a little more for transportation.

Italy is a safe country for the most part. Similar to Paris, you have to be aware of pickpockets. You should always keep an eye on your personal belongings when in public.

There are also a number of scams in the larger cities like Rome. Never buy your tickets from someone on the street. Buy your tickets either online in advance (recommended) or at the authorized ticket office. This way you will never fall victim to overpriced or counterfeit tickets. Use your common sense, and you will be fine!

PS- check out these overrated cities in Europe

The reason Italy is so low on this list is because it is such a popular destination. There are a lot of people, and the experience doesn’t feel as authentic as it is in the other countries on this list.

Venice Italy 10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

10. Ireland

Last up is Ireland. This is another country with native English speakers, so it is perfect for solo female travelers.

Ireland has an interesting history with its separation from the British Empire and The Troubles. You will learn a lot about Ireland’s history no matter where in Ireland you go.

Ireland has a lot to offer. It has a number of great museums, castles, and natural sights. There is a good bus system in Ireland, so you will be able to take the bus from one city to the next.

Ireland is a great choice for solo female travellers that enjoy beer and learning about it. In Dublin, you are able to tour the Guniesse Factory and learn about how the iconic beer is brewed. After that, you can go to Temple and sample a pint or two (just don’t drink too much because that becomes a safety issue!).

Ireland can be expensive, but it isn’t more expensive than any of the other Western European countries on this list. Hotels are by far the most expensive part of your Ireland trip. Hotels in the centre of Dublin can be extremely expensive, so you may want to consider staying outside the city centre and taking public transportation.

Ireland is a safe, easy to navigate country that has English as its primary language. These factors combined with the array of sights it offers is why Ireland is a great European country for solo female travellers.

Galway Ireland 10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

You Need to be Internet Safe

It is important to be internet safe every time you travel, but it is even more important when you’re a solo traveller.

You do not want to deal with your personal information (especially banking information) being stolen just because you weren’t internet safe.

You have no choice but to rely on public wifi when you travel, and this puts you at risk of being hacked.

Anybody who has access to that network can access your personal data if they know how and want to.

Scary right!

The only way you can be internet safe is by installing a VPN on your devices.

This makes a public wifi network as safe and secure as your personal home wifi system where only you know the password.

It essentially puts a forcefield around your device that keeps unwanted prying eyes out of your personal information.

My philosophy is that if you can afford to travel, you can spend a few extra dollars to instal a VPN on your devices and protect your online data.

There is no excuse!

Watch the Video!

Conclusion

Europe is the best continent for solo female travellers with little to no travel experience. It is extremely easy to navigate between and within countries.

Most Europeans speak English, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with a language barrier while travelling. This makes it so much easier and less stressful for novice and experienced travellers alike.

Each of the countries on this list are accessible, have great transportation systems, and offer a number of unique tourist sights. This makes them ideal for solo female travellers.

Travelling solo as a female is a great experience. It allows you to travel on your terms, do what you want when you want, and it helps you learn about yourself and build confidence. Solo female travellers are badass, so pick a country on this list and go out and explore the world (you badass).