My solo trip to Spain was not the first time I’ve traveled by myself, but for some reason it seemed to create the strongest connection between me and my Instagram fam. Maybe that’s because this was my first time sharing a solo trip via insta-stories instead of just snapchat, but whatever the reason I was completely blown away by the amount of amazing direct messages that I received from both girls and guys. A lot of you said that you felt inspired to take a trip by yourself and I think that is incredible! Some of you have even messaged me WHILE you were away on your own solo adventure thanking me for the extra push. It’s such a surreal feeling to see how inspiration works. I was
inspired by one of my close friends a year and a half ago and since then have traveled to 4 countries (7 cities) on my own. Now my travels have inspired some of you to do the same and yours will inspire someone else. That’s a beautiful thing.
With solo travel comes many what ifs, especially for female solo travelers. There is a lot more to think about when you’re going at it on your own. I started to receive so many questions and thought it would be a great idea to create a Q&A post so that I could answer everything here in one place. The first 3 questions are the ones that I got the most so I tried to answer these in greater detail. Hopefully my answers are helpful to you and maybe will even give you that extra push to experience this for yourself one day.
DO YOU EVER GET LONELY WHEN TRAVELING BY YOURSELF?
IF SO, WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU FEEL THAT WAY?
I would be lying if I said that I have never felt lonely while traveling. It’s natural to feel that way, especially when you are thousands of miles away from home and by yourself. Loneliness has never been one of the main emotions that I experience during solo travel though. It comes and goes at certain moments, but it honestly doesn’t linger around for too long. I can vividly remember two main times where I felt it pretty strong. One was in Paris at night when I was sitting on the grass looking up at the Eiffel Tower and all around me were couples and groups of friends. The other was at the beach in Barcelona when I seemed to be one of the only people there alone. Whenever I do feel lonely, I try my best to turn that into more of an empowering type of feeling. Yes, I’m there completely by myself, but look how far I have come. I remind myself of where I am and how I got there on my own. I made my dream come true and checked another place off my bucket list and I did it by myself. Altering my way of thinking and having a different perspective definitely makes a huge difference. It makes me feel good about myself. The truth is that I feel lonely here at home more than I do when I’m traveling. I have my family and my friends, of course, but everyone is married, engaged, living with their boyfriends or has children. I’m literally the only one who is this free spirit running around on my own. If I am being completely honest, I think sometimes that pushes me even more to venture out by myself. A few other things you can do when you feel lonely is to let that motivate you to be more outgoing. Meet people and start a conversation. The best way to start is with your servers at every restaurant you go to. I always make friends with them when I am by myself. I notice a lot of them will look after me even more. Have a glass of wine or whatever and loosen up a little bit! This helped me get out of my own head a lot. Also, sharing the trip on insta-stories helps too. I shared the experience and that started conversations with all of you, so it made me feel like you guys were there with me, even though you weren’t.
HOW DO YOU TRAVEL WITH ALL THE CRAZINESS GOING ON IN THE WORLD?
DO YOU EVER GET SCARED TO TRAVEL ALONE?
YES, of course I do. I am not fearless by any means, but I think that my motivation to go and explore the world is greater than the fear. Fear does different things to everyone. For some, it’s extremely crippling. I’ve seen it happen to my father, my mother and my sister. I just can’t live my life that way because then I’m not really living. Everything that is happening in our world right now is terrifying, devastating and heart breaking. There is no way of knowing when or where something is going to happen, so yes, when you travel alone it is a risk but traveling with friends or a group is a risk too. The unfortunate truth is that something can even happen right here at home. Back in November 2015 a few weeks before I left for Ireland, the attacks in Paris had just happened. I remember for a few moments I debated on whether or not I should cancel and stay away from Europe. It might sound stupid, but since I was going for my father I felt safer. I went and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. When I was in London last July, I found out about the attack in Nice just two days before taking the train to Paris. I started getting a bunch of messages telling me to be careful and to consider not going. I was nervous and worried. I decided to go to Paris though and I’m really happy that I did. And now, there’s been more attacks and they’re getting more frequent. Trust me, I understand the fear to travel right now. So yes, I do get scared at times. I worry and I get a little nervous. I somehow find the courage within me and I go anyway. While I can’t control whether or not something like that will happen, I am always very alert and cautious. I refuse to let fear dictate my actions or prevent me from living my best life. Friends and family might try to convince you not to go, but I am a firm believer that you have to do what makes you happy. My mom definitely gets nervous for me, but we have a deal that I will check-in with her daily. She always ends up telling me that she’s so happy I went and did it and gets to experience part of the world through me.
WHO TAKES YOUR PHOTOS WHEN YOU’RE TRAVELING SOLO?
I get this question all the time and the truth is I ask strangers! I usually have to ask more than one person to get a good shot, but I have no shame in standing around the same area to ask someone else. The best places to get your photo taken are in all the tourist spots. I typically ask people who have their own cameras. I’ll sometimes offer to take their photo first and then ask if they can take mine. I try to start a conversation as well so that I’m not just throwing my camera in their face. I always make sure to have the lighting and settings adjusted first. Some people are amazing and will take 10+ photos for me. A few girls I asked literally did a mini photoshoot for me and it was great. Other people will snap 1 or 2 quickly and that’s it. For the most part though, everyone usually asks me to check and see if I like or want more. Very rarely will someone refuse to take my photo. I think the key is just feeling out who you want to ask. If you are totally against asking strangers, you can try setting the timer on your camera and placing it on a ledge. I know of people who do this and manage to get great shots. At Plaza España in Sevilla, I saw a woman do this. She placed her camera on the ground and ran into the frame to get the shot. I’m so curious how it turned out. I want to try this the next time and see what happens!
WILL I BE SAFE TO TRAVEL ALONE?
Before booking any of my trips, I always do a little bit of research. I love to search for blog posts and articles on solo travel for the particular place that I want to go to. I always find this so helpful as it mentions safety and what to look out for, if anything. For example, Barcelona is known for pickpocketing so I was 100% aware of this before going. Like I mentioned above, things can happen anywhere at anytime. There’s never going to be a safety guarantee, however there are definitely things that you can do for yourself to help you feel more safe. Here’s a few tips that I’ve learned:
Never walk alone late at night on dark, empty streets.
Always wear a cossbody bag and keep it in front of you.
Don’t put your bag on the back of your chair or on the chair next to you.
Don’t bring all your money/valuables out with you.
Stay alert and cautious. There’s no need to walk around paranoid, but just be aware of your surroundings.
I like to take note of where exit signs are wherever I am.
I aways let the front desk at the hotel know where I’m headed at night.
Don’t get drunk! I’ll have a glass or two of wine at dinner and that’s it. You won’t find me partying at night alone. I did go to a few local pubs near my hotel in Galway, but other than that I kept it very low-key.
Always trust your instincts.
Leave a social media trail. Posting photos, check-ins and sharing on insta-stories are all great ways of letting family and friends know that you are OK.
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT CHOOSING HOTELS/ACCOMMODATIONS THAT ARE SAFE, CLEAN AND IN A GOOD AREA?
I usually start out by asking friends for recommendations on my personal Facebook and then I typically ask over on Instagram too. I’ve stayed at some little gems just by finding out about them through friends. Then I research, a lot. I read other travel blogs. I’ve found out about a few hotels from other bloggers. I say this all the time, but I use Trip Advisor to check out hotels and read reviews too. You can filter reviews specifically from other solo travelers and this helps me out so much. Did they feel safe here? Any theft? Did the rooms have bed bugs? Were the rooms quiet? These are some of the things I check for. I always look for safety, location, cleanliness and affordability. Those are the 4 main things that I care about. You don’t have to stay at a crappy hotel. You can definitely find affordable options that are nice and clean. I stayed at a one star hotel in Barcelona that was recommended to me, but it got AMAZING reviews and I loved it so much. It was my favorite hotel out of all the hotels I stayed at in Spain. Figure out where you want to go/what you want to do and map it out from the hotel you are considering. Is it within walking distance? Are there metro stations in close vicinity? Bus routes? These are some of the things that I look for too. So my biggest piece of advice here is to ask for recommendations, do some research, check out travel blogs (like mine! lol) and weigh out your options.
DO YOU BOOK GUIDED TOURS AND IF SO, WHICH SITES DO YOU RECOMMEND?
Not always, but tours are definitely a great way to meet people when you’re on your own. I used Viator to book my Cliffs of Moher tour when I was in Ireland. I met so many people on the tour, including one girl who I still keep in touch with to this day. I also used Viator to book the champagne experience on the London Eye. That was so much fun. Food tours are another great option and such a good way to experience more of the culture. I used Devour Tours to book a food tour while in Barcelona. It was a small group, but I made a few new friends! Some of the top sights have guided tours that you can take. There’s usually some walking tours in each city too, some of which are free. You can easily come across these by doing a quick google search. I definitely recommend Viator as well as Trip Advisor. Also, you might want to consider doing the hop on hop off busses as these are a great way to take you to the main attractions.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR TRAVELING SOLO OVERSEAS?
Always research the country that you are visiting before you get there. Check for safety, tipping customs, the best locations to stay in, travel routes, state of affairs, weather, top attractions, etc. You want to make sure that you have a very good understanding of where you are going and what to expect. I love reading other blog posts about this. It’s always a good idea to learn a few basic words to help you communicate if there is going to be a language barrier. Make sure to go to some local spots and not just the touristy areas. I love feeling like a local when I am traveling alone. Download the map for the country and city on maps.me while you’re connected to WIFI. This will help you navigate without an internet connection. Use Trip Advisor as a resource for the best places to stay, eat, visit, etc. The reviews are always helpful, especially for solo travelers. Exchange your money at the ATM at the airport when you land. I’ve always found this to be the best way to exchange my money. Always make yourself memorable to your hotel, hostel or airbnb hosts. They can become a good support system when you’re away on your own. Get yourself an outlet converter. I have this one and I swear by it. It can charge up to 4 things at once. Speaking of charging, make sure you bring a few portable chargers with you. You always want to be able to use your phone in case of an emergency. Oh and try not to overpack! Lugging your suitcase around on your own from airports, to hotels and train stations can be a struggle.
MANY SOLO TRAVELERS STAY IN HOSTELS, BUT I’M LEARY OF THIS.
DO YOU HAVE TIPS ON CHOOSING PLACES THAT ARE SAFE?
Recommendations and research are always the best way to start when it comes to finding a place that is safe. I have never stayed at a hostel, but I know people who swear by them as they are the cheapest way to travel alone and they can also be a great way to meet others. I know that some hostels offer private rooms with private bathrooms so that you don’t have to share bunkbeds with a bunch of strangers. That might be one route to take. I think it really depends on which hostel and which place you are traveling to. There is also the Airbnb option if you don’t want to do a hostel or a hotel. I have’t yet done this either, but I have a friend who just traveled solo to Portugal and did Airbnb. There are also bed and breakfast type places that will give you a safer and more cozy type of feel. My other friend did this in South Africa. I think it’s just a matter of personal preference, but you definitely have different options!
IS IT BETTER TO DO PACKAGE DEALS OR DO YOU BOOK HOTEL & FLIGHTS SEPARATE?
This might not be the best way, but I always book separate. I’ve never used a travel agent and I just personally prefer to do it all on my own. I always book my flights first and then later on I decide which hotel is best for me. I think I’ve gotten pretty good at scouting out the best deals and websites. Besides Trip Advisor, I use sites like Kayak, Agoda and Booking.com. I also like to reach out to hotels for media rates in exchange for social media and/or blog coverage. Sometimes I am able to get a discounted rate and other times I’m not, but it doesn’t hurt to ask!
These were the most common questions about solo travel that I received. If you have any questions that I did not cover, please do not hesitate to ask. I love creating conversations with you all, so please leave your thoughts below. As always, I hope you find this helpful and thank you so much for taking the time to read it! P.S. You can check out more of my solo travel posts here. Where to next? ✈️