Mastering the Art of Solo Travel: Tips and Tricks for Solo Adventurers

NICOLE LOW recounts her solo travel escapades and shares all the tips and tricks she wishes she’d known to help you make the most out of your first-ever solo trip. 



Nicole Low
The UrbanWire Deputy Editor

Hype Issue #58

Published on
January 24, 2023
film vibes

Slide 1: Yes, I took that alone – by setting up my film camera on a random postbox on the streets of Sydney and running over to that spot before the timer ran out. Trust me, it’s worth it! Photo by Nicole Low.

Have you ever dreamed of travelling to a country but failed to do so because of clashing schedules between you and your friends or family? Don’t let that stop you from seeing the world, solo travel can be equally exhilarating and memorable as you’ll be able to tell with what I’m about to share below! With that said, it can be daunting for one to navigate and travel around in a foreign country – especially if it is your first time there.

Fret not, as this article will be your handy guide, providing you with tips and tricks that’ll help you to put those fears aside, save you from your anxiety, and keep you safe and grounded.

1. Embrace or Expand Your Comfort Zone

For your first solo trip, take it slow by acknowledging your relationship with the unknown. Are you someone who thrives on stepping outside your comfort zone, and finding thrills in the unfamiliar? If so, consider destinations that challenge you and offer a unique cultural experience. On the other hand, if the idea of leaving your comfort zone triggers anxiety, opt for destinations that align more with your comfort level for a more relaxed and enjoyable solo trip. Personally, I opted for Sydney as my first solo trip destination as there isn’t a language barrier and it’s pretty easy to get around the city on public transport!

2. Pick up the local language

Before embarking on your journey, take time to learn the language of the country you are visiting! It could be simple greetings, words to order a meal, counting from one to ten, or important phrases like, “Where’s the toilet?” These simple phrases will make you much more confident and could make your life much easier as you attempt to communicate with the locals. I’ll never forget the time I attempted a conversation with a Vietnamese stall owner in Hanoi; she was so excited to share her culture that she gave me a free bowl of noodles! Remember, the locals will always appreciate your effort to speak to them in their language!

3. Book Some Group Activities

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of options for activities thrown at you on your first solo trip, why not book yourself some group activities? With these group activities, you won’t have to stress over an itinerary as you’ll already have some of your days planned out.

Furthermore, you might bump into like-minded solo travellers in the process! If you love the ocean like me, why not give diving a go? Even if you don’t encounter others, the vibrant marine life and stunning ocean views make for great companions.

Nessa Anwar CNBC

Diving classes are one of the best activities for solo travellers. You will have tons of opportunities to socialise on the boat while relishing moments of serenity in the water, connecting with nature. Photo by Nicole Low.

4. Embrace ‘Yes’!

You’ll be in a place where no one knows you, take this as a chance to do something you wouldn’t normally do and make plans to immerse yourself in the local culture. Some of the most memorable moments from my past solo trips came about after I decided to say “Yes!” I have fond memories of heading to an impromptu jazz bar experience with an Australian couple that I met on a tour. So, go for that impromptu meal with a new-found friend or sign up for that flamenco dance class experience. Of course, don’t forget to trust your intuition and stay safe at all times!

Nessa Anwar

Join a group day tour and get to meet people from all over the world while you experience unique activities! Photo by Nicole Low.

5. Learn How to Say ‘No’

While it may sound contradictory to the previous point, a solo traveller needs to learn how to be assertive in rejecting unwanted advances. A solo traveller can be a target for scammers and pushy vendors. This is when clear rejection cues will help keep you safe.

Avoid looking lost and looking down at your phone while walking as that makes you stand out as a tourist. Make sure you learn how to say no politely in the local language while being firm. Trust your instincts and exit from situations or locations that make you feel uncomfortable as soon as possible.

6. Take Photographs and Journal

Take a snapshot of any moment that catches your attention and don’t forget to take photographs of yourself too. Photographs are a great way for one to look back and reminisce – I’m sure that you would never want to forget your amazing travel experiences. If you want to take this to the next level, stay present by journaling as you travel, reflecting on how certain moments made you feel. These physical notes and visuals will be even more precious as you look back after the trip.

Nessa Anwar

Capture photographs of yourself at random moments to reminisce about the trip afterwards. Photo by Nicole Low.

7. Do Your Homework and Plan In Advance

Planning in advance need not mean a rigid schedule and itinerary to follow daily. However, to have a great time in a foreign country by yourself, it is crucial to learn the country’s culture to avoid any misunderstandings or mishaps. For instance, play it safe by never walking backwards or hesitating when you cross the roads in Vietnam! Oh, and heads up – honking isn’t road rage, it’s just the locals saying “Hey, look over here!”

Ultimately, solo travelling is all about being in your own element and having the freedom to do what you wish to do. Despite the fact that it may be a little challenging at the start, I’m sure that like me, you’ll find the experience so rewarding that it will leave you craving for more!