Why you should start planning a solo holiday

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Out of the Hack listeners who’ve travelled solo, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t describe it as “the best thing I ever did”.

There are a few reasons why almost everyone who’s hit the road alone thinks it’s a life-changing experience. 

People usually point to the empowerment that comes with navigating international flight connections, a foreign country’s bustling food markets, or a complex train network as the most rewarding aspect of solo travel. 

On top of realising you don’t need anyone at your side to make it in the world, travellers also love the freedom that comes with being alone: you can do what you want, when you want it, and on whatever budget you want.

Travel writer Nina Karnikowski spends a lot of time on the road, and is a huge fan of setting out alone.

“You don’t have to make any compromises, you don’t have to negotiate,” Nina told Hack from Atlanta, Georgia. Skip Instagram Post

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Bella Conroy, a 19 year-old traveller, spoke to Hack from the quiet of a laundry room in her rowdy hostel in Switzerland, the last destination on her two-and-a-half-month solo loop around Europe. 

“Everyone at some point in their life needs to do a trip alone, even if it’s just a week or a few days,” she told Hack.

It’s impossible for it not to change your life completely.

“You’re just with yourself and your own thoughts, you have to deal with everything alone, and you meet so many people.”

bella travel

So, here are a few tips from the experts to help you plan your next solo adventure. 

Pick a good destination for being alone

Nina’s first tip is to make sure you’re travelling to a place where you don’t feel lonely without company. There’s nothing like being in Venice when you’re surrounded by honeymooners smooching in gondolas to make you feel like you’re missing out.

“Maybe a fun city, like New York, Paris or London. Japan and New Zealand are also great destinations,” Nina suggests.

Alternatively, if you’re travelling alone for personal growth, Nina recommends picking a destination that’s conducive to that.

“Maybe a more spiritual destinations like India or Indonesia perhaps, where there are lots of other solo travellers who are maybe trying to find themselves.”

Fairfax travel writer and host of the travel podcast Flights of Fancy, Ben Groundwater, thinks English-speaking countries are a good option for your first trip alone, to help with some of the communication and cultural differences.

“When you’re travelling solo, one of the hard things can be dealing with haggling to get a rickshaw, or figuring out language, and having the culture shock and dealing with that all on your own,” he told Hack.

Plan ahead

Being alone – especially for female travellers – means you’re usually more vigilant about safety. Nina recommends spending more time planning your accommodation and movements so you don’t get stranded. 

“You don’t want to be left at a loose end when you’re alone, standing around, that means you’re a target,” she says.Skip Instagram Post

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“Being a bit more organised in that way [means] you can be more confident.” 

Sit at the bar

Dining alone can be lonely, but if you sit at the bar you’re less conspicuous. 

When you’re sitting at the bar you’re also more likely to getting chatting with other solo travellers, or the bar staff, who will have great local recommendations. 

“If I’m sitting at the bar at the restaurant, as solo travellers often do, if you see another solo traveller you’ll strike up a conversation,” Nina says.

Stay in hostels or airbnbs

Ben Groundwater says hostels have a great social life and are the perfect place to make friends. 

“When you go and stay in a hostel you’re immediately thrown on together with really like-minded people who are going through a very similar experience and probably have a similar background as well,” Ben says. 

Another option is Airbnb, which is great for meeting locals to hang out with and get insider’s knowledge about your destination.

Go on a tour 

It could be a walking tour, a day trip, or a one-on-one guided tour, but jumping on a tour is a great way to meet other travellers and get your bearings in a new location. Skip Instagram Post

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Be confident

Travel writer Nina Karnikowski acknowledges you need to be bold when you’re alone. 

“You have to be really quite assertive sometimes because you don’t want to be seen as vulnerable.” 

But, she adds, gaining that confidence is also one of the most empowering parts of travelling alone. 

Stay safe

Travelling alone can be exhilarating but it can also make you more vulnerable than if you had a buddy. 

If you are lost or confused, it’s never a good idea to stand alone in the street with a map, so duck into a shop or cafe until you know where you want to go. It’s also important to pick accommodation that’s secure and not walk around unsafe areas alone. 

For other safety tips, hit up the Smart Traveller website.