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The Ultimate Solo Travel Guide: 16 Secrets From Experts

You can get the most out of your trip for one by following these simple tips.

Going on a trip with friends, family, or a partner can be a great bonding experience, but there's something equally special about exploring a new place without any companions. A solo travel experience can make it easier to lean into the moment, embrace spontaneity, and dive into the passions and unique experiences that make hitting the road so special. But of course, choosing to go it alone comes with its own set of challenges that are important to plan for once you book your flight. Read on for the ultimate solo travel guide with all the secrets from experts that will make your journey an unforgettable one.

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Pick the right destination for you.

young woman sitting on bench and taking a selfie with Tower Bridge in the background in London on a sunny day

When you're choosing your solo destination, experts say that it's vital to be realistic about how safe it is. This is likely something you think about when you're planning any travel, but worth some extra research if you're hitting the road alone.

"I would recommend ensuring that you're visiting a country that has a track record of safety and a low crime rate," Louise Walker, managing editor of Aglaia Magazine, tells Best Life. "Unfortunately, there are some countries that simply are not safe or recommended for solo travel, especially female solo travelers. Carry out your research before you book and make a shortlist of countries and cities that are suitable for solo travel and ensure you get recommendations from friends who have already been."

First-time solo travelers should also pick a destination that's relatively easy to manage and/or will help them build up their comfort level.

"Consider starting local—for example, a day trip or a short getaway to a nearby town is a fantastic way to dip your toes into solo travel," says Pamela Holt, travel expert and host of Me, Myself & The World: The Art of Solo Travel on Amazon Prime. "If you're setting your sights abroad, consider visiting an English-speaking country or a destination where you're familiar with the language."

She adds that first-time solo travelers might want to prioritize destinations with easy-to-navigate transportation systems. "These considerations can help ease you into solo travel and make your first solo journey a positive experience," Holt explains.

Rethink how you book.

woman sitting on floor with laptop in her lap, looking at a travel booking site.
Sitthiphong / iStock

There's definitely a difference when making arrangements for one person versus a group. And in many cases, it can work in your favor to change up how you plan.

"Book your flights and accommodation separately, instead of relying on travel agents or package deals," says Matt Hapgood, travel expert and founder of "Solo travelers have the opportunity to look for different types of solo deals, and often you find the best deals on your own."

The order in which you plan your trip might change, as well. According to Hollie McKay, travel expert and VP of communications for HotelPlanner, you may get a better rate if you reverse-engineer your trip.

"Start by deciding what kind of travel experience you want—like far-flung, hidden gem, major city, the beach, or a mountain town—then search 'Anywhere' on Google Flights or Skyscanner to see the cheapest flights from your hometown airport," she suggests. "Be flexible with your dates and locations and be willing to book a flight immediately if there is an attractive rate. Then book your hotel and develop your itinerary."

Make a plan to check in with a trusted friend.

man leaning against truck standing against stark landscape at dusk

Having a travel companion can mean splitting lodging costs and having someone to pass the time with while exploring. But the fact is that they also become your most immediate support system while on the road—especially if you're abroad. One of the most significant issues solo travelers face is ensuring someone can raise the alarm if something goes wrong. That's why experts say it's important to designate someone who can keep tabs on you from afar.

"Before you leave, pick someone you trust and make a plan to communicate on a regular basis over text, emails, or voice calls," Frank Harrison, regional security director of North America and the U.K. for World Travel Protection, tells Best Life. "Give your contact person your itinerary and make a point to check in regularly as you arrive at new destinations. If you don't check in at a planned time, this person should call the local authorities at your last known location."

He adds that you should also be prepared for all the unexpected bumps in the road: "To make sure you can always check in as planned, carry a small USB emergency mobile device battery recharger."

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Carefully consider your accommodations.

Woman standing with arms raised in the window of a hotel room
Soloviova Liudmyla/Shutterstock

Choosing the right place to stay can be challenging. But while convenience and comfort will always be a factor, traveling alone makes it especially important to consider your safety. Because of this, experts advise budgeting to stay somewhere reputable and trustworthy.

"Pick a hotel or accommodation that's centrally located and in a well-lit area," says Jessica Parker, founder of Trip Whisperer. "You can gather this from reviews and based on 'top sights to see' are nearby or main transportation lines."

She also says you should think about bypassing the short-term rental option when you're out there by yourself. "I am all about Airbnb, but you might want to pick a hotel or something with a reception that has someone keeping watch 24/7 when traveling alone. The peace of mind and reliability are worth it," she says.

Consider also this surprising travel hack that experts swear by.

"Stay at casino hotels," travel expert Leslie Carbone of Sancerres at Sunset tells Best Life. "Casinos are great for solo travelers: They're safe [because] cameras and security staff are everywhere. There's always something to do—bars and restaurants, spas and pools, and of course, the gaming action. And the rooms are often inexpensive or even comped—and not only for high rollers but sometimes just for using the casino brand's credit card."

If that's not available at your destination, there's still a relatively easy way to find a good place to stay. "I like sites like TripAdvisor and Google Reviews because they allow you to search through the reviews at different accommodations," says Jen Ruiz, travel expert and author of 12 Trips in 12 Months: Make Your Own Solo Travel Magic. "I always search for key terms like 'solo,' 'safety' and 'hairdryer.'"

Don't jam-pack your schedule.

woman looking over nyc's skyscrapers

Traveling with friends and loved ones may result in cherished memories and fantastic experiences. But solo travel remains popular because it allows for a special kind of introspection you can't get while on the road in groups. Experts say it's important not to lose sight of this when putting together your itinerary.

"Don't over-plan. It's important to have a general itinerary so that you make the most of your time wherever you're exploring and so that your loved ones always know where you are, but give yourself the flexibility to be in the moment!" says Allie Albanese, travel journalist and founder of Parched Around the World.

"If you're solely focused on sticking to an agenda and striking items off of your to-do list or must-have Instagram shots, you might miss the magic that comes from breathing in the beauty of the moment and fully being present with yourself," she points out. "Travel teaches us so much about culture and people and places and traditions, but solo travel teaches us who we are as individuals within those things. So allow time for unexpected conversations. Let yourself follow your own curiosity. Feel free to change your mind. Give yourself permission to do absolutely nothing."

"The greatest part about traveling on your own is that it's up to you and you alone to decide what to do at any given time! So take advantage of that freedom and use it as an opportunity to get to know yourself a little better," she suggests. "You may be surprised at the transformation that occurs within you when you give into the moment and allow that special shift to happen!"

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Use AI to help sort out an itinerary.

woman with arms raised sitting with laptop on her legs on a beach at sunset
Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock

One of the benefits of planning out an itinerary with a group is the collaboration that happens with your fellow travelers. If you're feeling stuck for ideas for an upcoming trip, why not use modern technology to get started?

"In these scenarios, I'll turn to AI for some inspiration," says Holt. "I love using ChatGPT Plus to offer some personalized trip recommendations and I'll fill in the gaps with my own research and recommendations from friends to build a well-rounded itinerary."

The biggest caveat with using AI for travel is that it's important to provide specific prompts and feedback to get the best results that are catered to your travel experiences. "It's also important to understand the limits of AI," says Holt. "It's only as accurate as the data it's pulling in, so it also helps to double-check recommendations against other sources and verify prices and flight paths before booking any travel."

Put your social media connections to good use.

Close up on man's hand holding a smartphone

Travel recommendations from those you trust almost always beat out the advice of strangers you come across online or in books. Thankfully, social media has made it easier to reach out to people before your trip for tips and possibly even a temporary companion or guide.

"Facebook and LinkedIn aren't necessarily the hippest of the social media channels, but they both have search functions that allow you to find your contacts—and even contacts of your contacts—in a specific city," Lauren Gonzalez, principal of L&L Hospitality, tells Best Life. "Before you travel to a city on your own, check your networks because you might already know someone there. If not, maybe a close friend of yours does."

Just make sure you keep in mind that your schedules might not always sync up. "Do be respectful of these loose connections' time," she says. "A person in a major metropolis might have some fatigue when it comes to out-of-town drop-ins, but it doesn't hurt to at least ask for a couple of city-specific recommendations."

Heading someplace that's an entirely friend-free zone? You can also join a solo traveler Facebook group or subreddit to get pointers or arrange meetups during your trip.

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Find group activities at your location.

group of friends sitting in a circle on the beach and eating pizza

Solo trips start as a one-person affair, but nothing says you can't make friends along the way. In fact, experts say that linking up with other travelers when you arrive at your destination can be a great way to break up the trip with some socialization.

"I typically suggest that solo travelers link up with group tours. It's a great way to connect with other travelers in your area," Mandy Picchiottino, owner of travel planning company Land and See Tours, says. "Food tours are my favorite, along with pub crawls. You will meet a lot of other people with similar interests and who share your love of travel."

It can still work when costs matter. "If budget is a concern, you can link up with many free walking tours hosted all throughout the world. There is no cost to join the tour, but just leave a generous tip at the end. It's another great way to meet other people traveling just like you," she suggests.

Try to cut down on screen time at least a little bit.

young woman standing near ledge holding a map and looking at a beautiful view

It's an understatement to say that smartphones have revolutionized the way we travel. The portable device in your pocket can help with navigation, translation, sending messages, and finding information no matter where you are. Still, being glued to your phone will take away from your trip in a big way.

"When you are traveling solo, it can be super tempting to always have your smartphone out. It can easily become something of a social safety blanket, a way to make ourselves feel comfortable in public situations," says Nate Hake, founder and CEO of Travel Lemming. "But your phone is also a barrier telling other people to stay away from you, which ends up leaving you more isolated. And it really distracts you from living in the moment and enjoying what is around you—which is kind of the whole point of traveling in the first place!"

Pick the right seat when you're out on the town.

Two young patrons chatting while seated at a bar

For many travelers, the whole point of hitting the road is to enjoy new cuisines and have authentic dining experiences in new places. But for those traveling alone, it can also be an opportunity to get great advice. Experts also say you can save money if you plan your meals correctly.

"Dine during happy hour," Carbone suggests. "I love traveling solo, but I hate eating alone at a restaurant table. Sitting at the bar is a great opportunity to chat with other people. Happy-hour specials provide a chance to sample local food and drink favorites. And a good bartender can fill you in on the off-the-radar fun things to do in the area."

Try to get off the beaten path a bit.

young man hiking with a backpack on

Safety is always paramount while traveling, whether solo or in a group. But if you have the opportunity, experts say you can get the most out of your trip by being more mindful when choosing where you'll spend your time once you arrive.

"While typical tourist destinations are bound to be a part of your itinerary, I highly recommend carving time out of your trip to go where the locals go, get off the beaten path to immerse yourself in the local culture, and go deeper in your solo travels to connect with others, whether it's a neighborhood café, a street festival, or a sporting event," says Holt. "Doing so will allow yourself to grow and you learn new perspectives and meet people with different lifestyles, but also allow you to see how truly similar we all are."

Those out for an authentic experience will especially benefit from this kind of strategy. "Events made for locals rather than for tourists will always be a more successful endeavor," says Noël Wolf, live language teacher and cultural expert at Babbel. "Try local foods, participate in local traditions, and learn a few phrases in the local language. This can enrich your travel experience and help you connect with locals. Just be sure to be respectful of local customs and etiquette to avoid offending the locals."

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Have a backup plan for cash and cards.

Man putting his wallet in his back pocket

Solo travel makes it a lot easier to follow your own schedule and make decisions in the moment, but it can present new challenges when something goes wrong. That's why experts suggest splitting up where you store the cash and cards you'll need throughout the course of the trip to help ensure that you don't end up in a mid-trip pinch.

"Consider having two wallets or purses to store your money: One is for going out, and the other is for storing money or cards that you keep safe in your accommodation," suggests Anna Krizova, travel blogger at Camino Adventures. "This is also excellent for staying within a budget."

Try to learn some of the local language.

woman standing on european street, holding a language book

Communication is key to a successful trip. It can only benefit you to pick up a little bit of the local lingo ahead of time.

"Before your trip, begin learning the basics of the local language through apps, language classes, podcasts, or YouTube videos," says Wolf. "This preparation will help you navigate the basics like greetings, directions, and ordering food."

And of course, there are other benefits. "Often, conversing a bit in the local language—or at least making the effort to—tends to unlock more opportunities to make friends abroad as can lead to some really unique and authentic experiences, rather than the tourist-centric ones," she says.

Invest in some travel safety devices.

Rear view of tourist in the hotel room pulling the curtains to see the view

Most travel experts agree that you should only pack what you absolutely need. But for those hitting the road solo, a few extra items might make you feel safer while you're exploring.

"Use an AirTag in your personal bag," advises Kristin Lee, travel expert and author at Global Travel Escapades. "While most people know to use one in their checked luggage, I recommend putting one in your carry-on bag and personal bag. This adds an extra layer of security and allows for someone to immediately know your location, even if you get separated from your phone."

Others swear by another must-have device. "One of the easiest and most inexpensive safety tools for solo travelers is a portable door lock which can be placed on the door at your hotel, Airbnb, or apartment rental. Many rentals in vacation destinations do not have a deadbolt, which can be a safety threat for unwanted visitors and overnight intruders," Allison Sicking, a Mexico-based travel blogger at Viva La Travelista, tells Best Life.

"For peace of mind, purchase a portable door lock, which is a small metal insert that can be easily installed on the door to prevent unauthorized entry. This inexpensive and compact safety tool can be purchased on Amazon for less than $20," she says. "It's definitely worth the investment as it can be a real lifesaver and put your mind at ease when traveling alone to unfamiliar destinations."

Plan transportation for when you arrive.

An airport shuttle bus parked at a terminal

A long flight is rarely the last step in actually getting to your destination. That's why experts advise researching your post-airport travel options ahead of time.

"Always plan your airport transportation when you arrive," says Ruiz. "This is when you're least oriented to the location and likely to get scammed. Once, this happened to me when taking an airport taxi and paying with cash, where the driver gave me change for a smaller bill than what I had handed him."

Now, she researches and prepays for transport whenever possible. "Your best option varies and depends on the city. It might be taking a train, a shared shuttle service, or a ride-share service," she says.

Try not to overpack.

Cropped shot of an unrecognizable woman packing her things into a suitcase at home before travelling

One of the joys of jetting off without companions is the flexibility it affords you. That's why it's important not to literally weigh yourself down with the items you're bringing along.

"As a solo traveler, you're in charge of your luggage," says McKay. "Opt for clothing that offers versatility, allowing you to mix and match different pieces for various outfits, and refrain from carrying anything you don't absolutely need."

This story has been updated to include additional entries, fact-checking, and copy-editing.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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