Embracing Solo Travel

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This summer I’m embarking on three weeks of solo travels, partly for work, but mainly for pleasure. This isn’t my first time travelling alone. In 2014, as my career was going down the pan, I moved to Australia for two years with nothing but a one-way flight, a backpack, and 5 days of accommodation booked. 

Then, last year, I went on a three week self-titled “break-up tour of Europe” to start to mend a broken heart. For me, travel is a tonic; it soothes my soul and restores my mental wellbeing.

Since moving to Birmingham, and joining the City Girl Network, I regularly meet fellow women with similar experiences and similar needs to run away from things from time to time. More often than not, there’s a fear of travelling alone and I’m often asked, “How do you do it?”

So, ahead of my next trip, here’s how. 

Stay safe 

Let’s start with the nitty-gritty. As a solo female traveller you can find yourself in a vulnerable position, and the basics here are obvious:don’t walk around with valuables on display and make sure you’re staying in a hostel or hotel that isn’t in a dangerous part of town. In these circumstances, don’t rent an apartment solo; hotels, hostels, and shared Airbnbs will more likely keep track on you and they can give you local knowledge and assistance. 

Additionally, make sure you know where you are. Rather than having your phone out on Google maps and looking lost, work out where you’re going and how you’re getting there before you set off. Even better, make sure your friends know where you are too.

There are a number of apps such as Find My Friends or the location feature on What’s App that allows you to share your location when you’re out and about. There are even features that alert friends when your phone is unexpectedly turned off. It may seem dark to prepare for the worst, but having the security and feeling of safety while overseas is a massive stress reliever. 

Build networks

You may be familiar with the six degrees of separation, a theory that everyone is simply six social connections from anyone in the world. The more I travel, the more I believe that is true. For longer trips, it’s nice to arrange some personal interaction at various intervals before you set off. It might be a trip to an art gallery, or a coffee, or a meal with a friend of a friend. 

When I first got to Australia, I went for lunch with my grandma’s neighbour’s daughter and despite the fact we had never met previously there was a strong sense of familiarity that was incredibly comforting. 

Why not start by asking friends whether they have any friends or family you could link up with, or even ask your professional network via LinkedIn? If you’re not going to be in the same place at the same time as any connections, look on Meetup, Facebook, or Airbnb Experiences for something you’d enjoy doing in a social environment. 

Planning

I absolutely love an itinerary, and even when travelling with friends and family I’m a natural organiser. Put simply, I will plan out each day, be aware of the budget, know where I’m staying, and know where I am eating—all to the letter. 

It can be difficult to know where to eat, sleep, drink, visit—and do so safely when alone, here is where Google is your friend. Try a simple search for ‘solo travel in X’ and you’ll be amazed to see how many results you may find. Or, if you’ve been inspired by someone else’s trip, ask them what they did, where they went and what they recommend.

On my own blog, dishingup.com, I tend to focus on where to eat and drink in cities I’ve visited but also where I’ve learnt something key, like how to get 4€ tickets to the Opera in Vienna. So use blogs, social media, your network and build an amazing trip. 

Embrace being alone

It wouldn’t be solo travel if you spend the entire time with groups or networks, so embrace that alone time. Got a book you’ve wanted to read for years, or a podcast, or not found the time to meditate recently? Then treat yourself to that time, it really is a gift.

I go into more detail about eating alone in my next blog, You can keep up-to-date with this summer’s travels in the UK and the USA on my Instagram. Keep in touch!


Written By Alice Louise Hargreaves