Whether it’s a post-uni adventure, a break from the 9 to 5 or simply to discover somewhere new, solo travel can be an extremely rewarding form of getting away.
Research from London Stansted revealed a fifth of all of their passengers were travelling solo in 2018, with European cities like Copenhagen, Barcelona and Faro, and more than three in five women have embarked on a solo adventure, according to travel company WeRoad.
So, to discover just how to make the most out of your next lone adventure, Cosmopolitan UK asked experts about their top tips, tricks and advice for the planning the best solo trip possible.
While solo travel can be about spontaneity and freedom, sometimes having a plan in place can make you feel more at ease. Lindsey Mutch, Global Head of Operations at Topdeck Travel, says: "Travelling solo provides the freedom to explore new destinations at your own pace. However, it is still important to ensure you have done your research prior to jetting off and have a plan in mind, even if you don’t stick to it completely."
Justyna Chlopecka, solo travel expert and manager at WeRoad stresses the importance of planning ahead for safety reasons, too. "Make sure you send your travel itinerary, reservations and planned activities to friends or family, so they know where you are if anything goes wrong," she says.
BE OPEN TO MEETING NEW FRIENDS
One of the best things about travelling solo is the people you meet and friends you can make! Solo traveller Julia Rampen says: "Even if you enjoy your solitude, it's worth saying hi wherever you can. You never know when you're going to fall ill with food poisoning and need someone to take you to hospital, or lend you a phone when yours falls in the sea. At the same time, be street smart and don't automatically trust everyone who's friendly."
You can use apps to connect with like-minded people, or even join an organised group through a trip provider. "This allows you to take advantage of knowledgeable trip leaders," says Lindsey, "and the reduced costs that are associated with travelling, eating and staying with a group."
LEARN THE LINGO
If you're going to a country where you don't speak the language, it can be very useful to learn a few phrases to help you get by feeling a little less lonely. "Being able to ask for directions, call for help and even politely decline an offer will all help you get by with ease while travelling," says Justyna.
"If you can access WiFi or have a mobile phone provider that offers international data, you can use translation apps to help you get around. Who knows, maybe a local will help you find the greatest experience of your life!"
BE AN EARLY BIRD
You know what they say about early birds catching the
worm sunrise. "When staying in a new destination, exploring the culture alone at night can feel a little scary," says Lindsey. "Instead, set your alarm early to get out and explore your new home."
Consider starting your nights a little earlier too to feel a bit safer. Darryl Newby, co-founder of Australia-based travel company Welcome to Travel, says "this way you’ll be able to enjoy all of the joys of the nightlife without the darkness and, in turn, not feeling quite so vulnerable."
EMBRACE HOSTEL LIFE
Staying in hostels is a bit like marmite, you either love it or hate it. But, it's one of the best ways to meet people on solo trips and cheapest ways to travel. Simi Kullar has travelled to over 6o countries alone and is all over where to find the best hostels. "Hostelworld.com, word of mouth, speaking to other solo travellers, reading travel blogs, female only dormitories.
"Some hostels are very social such as hosting organised dinners and activities which makes the solo experience a lot more sociable. There are even “poshtels” which are fancy hostels!"
Youth group travel company Contiki says: "When it comes to accommodation prioritise those rated highly on communication, with 24-hour help desks. Whilst booking on price is tempting, consider accommodation with access to nearby transport links and local amenities. It’ll save you money in the long run."
We know it's tempting to chuck all your clothes into a rucksack and hope for the best, but you'll regret bringing your whole wardrobe when you're trekking it around in your backpack. George Patient, solo traveller and editor at Merch Mates, says: "Choose versatile clothing that can be layered and easily mixed and matched. Make sure to pack essential safety items such as a whistle, flashlight, and first-aid kit.
"Additionally, keep digital and physical copies of important documents, like your passport, travel insurance, and emergency contact information."
ENJOY THE TIME YOU SPEND WITH YOURSELF
While it can sometimes feel a little lonely, relish the independence solo travel brings - it's a real opportunity to ~find yourself~ and create new memories. As Lindsey advises, "Travelling alone can sometimes be a daunting experience. Remember to throw yourself into each and every experience you come across on your adventures and avoid spending time scrolling on your phone when you have downtime. This way you’re more likely to reap the rewards of your life changing adventures."
Above all the fun and games, never compromise on your safety. Sam Willan, vice-president at youth youth travel marketplace Student Universe recommends holding fire on social media posts until you leave a location, avoid looking lost by planning ahead, being aware of local scams like 'broken' taxi meters, investing in travel insurance and always trusting your gut. "If something doesn’t feel quite right, then chances are it probably isn’t! Don’t be afraid to leave a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable," he said.
15 large suitcases for all your holiday needs
Large suitcase - Eastpak
BUY NOW £175
You'll love Eastpak's 79cm Tranverz suitcase if you're short on space at home as it packs away flat when you're not using it, but still comes with all the features you want from the best checked luggage: a telescopic handle, hard-wearing wheels and compression straps so you can pack more into the case when you need to.
Large suitcase - Marks & Spencer
BUY NOW £65
At a budget-friendly £65, this hard shell suitcase from M&S is a great buy for travellers looking to save on their next holiday. Whether you're travelling solo or as a group, the sleek four-wheel case will help you fit all your essentials in, with its 76.5cm height. it comes with an integrated lock to keep your belongings safe and it's lightweight too, at just 4.5kg.
Large suitcase - Away
BUY NOW £335
Away's cutting-edge suitcase in The Large offers one of the most stylish ways to travel. Loved by celebrities, from Meghan Markle to Margot Robbie, the luggage comes with 360-degree spinner wheels, leather details and a hidden laundry bag.
Large suitcase - Briggs & Riley
BUY NOW £629
When it comes to soft shell luggage, Briggs & Riley's Large Expandable spinner gets our vote every time. The large suitcase is sleek, practical and goes the extra mile to ensure you're a happy traveller. Its expandability is a dream, providing you with an extra 2.5 inches of zippered expansion depth when you need it - trust us, this is a godsend when you can't decide between two pairs of shoes or five! Its clever features also include a Smartlink strap for connecting another case to it and a roomy outer pocket to stash your jacket when you reach the other (warmer) side.
Large suitcase - Etsy
BUY NOW £169.95
Personalise your case with this chic white marble number from Etsy. You'll stand out from the crowds and look like a VIP with the 78cm large luggage. And there are cabin and medium sizes available if you want the whole set.
Large suitcase - American Tourister
BUY NOW £157.25
Go loud and proud with a bright yellow suitcase to give your Insta followers luggage envy. American Tourister's Soundbox 77cm luggage comes in a few colours but it was this sunny hue that caught our eye. It's expandable too, so you can easily pack in all those souvenirs in.
Large suitcase - Kono
BUY NOW £79.99
Amazon shoppers love this 75cm large suitcase from Kono that they says is "very sturdy and so easy to manoeuvre". It's light when empty, has a built-in lock so you don't have to dig out your old padlock and the 360-degree spinner wheels make moving around easy, even when you've overpacked. It's purse-friendly too and you won't miss the white case at the baggage carousel.
Large suitcase - Dune
BUY NOW £134.10
For a pretty suitcase you'll never miss on the baggage belt, look no further than Dune's Olive case in gorgeous unicorn colours. It's 77cm in height and comes with gold details for a luxe finish. The additional side handle, four wheels and lined interior with pockets makes it super-functional, too. Plus, it's lightweight at just 4.4kg.
Large suitcase - Antler
BUY NOW £229
For a trusted luggage brand that offers function and style, look no further than Antler. Its soft shell Prestwick case in 83cm is not only lightweight, classic in style and robust - it's water-resistant too (one of the important things to look out for when buying soft shell luggage). We like the khaki case's four wheels offering effortless manoeuvrability, as well as the thoughtful padded top handle for your comfort.
Large suitcase - Tripp
BUY NOW £65
An excellent pick if you're after a case for under £100, Tripp's 76cm Horizon case is lightweight, practical and stylish. It comes in an eye-catching aubergine shade and offers all the features we want in a functional large suitcase, from the four wheels to the integrated combination lock. It weighs just 4.5kg and inside, you'll find a zipped compartment and a second compartment with compression straps.
Large suitcase - Delsey
BUY NOW £449
We love this vintage-style case by Delsey that embraces all the retro glamour of traditional trunk-style cases with modern features. It comes in a chic brown and cream hue, with hard-wearing features including a handle that's made three times stronger than standard handles and Delsey's patented Securitech closure system. The 76cm large suitcase from the French brand has two interior compartments with compression straps so you can fit as much as you need into it.
Large suitcase - Samsonite
BUY NOW £469
An extra large suitcase at 85cm, the C-Lite Spinner from Samsonite is one of the best you can buy. An excellent all-rounder if you're after a hard shell case that lasts, it's eco-friendly, lightweight, durable, stylish and comes with a 10-year warranty. We love the off-white shade for an usual colour to the standard black.
Large suitcase - Antler
BUY NOW £229
We've always been fans of British brand Antler's luggage and one thing we especially love about its large suitcases is that they come larger than the standard 72 to 76cm large size. At 80cm in height, they're perfect for travellers in search of an extra-large suitcase. Ideal for ski, shopping and family trips, Antler's Clifton case is strong and has an expandable zip so you can pack even more in. It's also colour-fast which means any scratches will stay true to its shell colour.
Large suitcase - Horizn
BUY NOW £520
Engineered in Germany and comprising smart features for a sleek large suitcase that gives you more, Horizn's H7 is perfect for trips of two weeks or longer. Inside the beautiful olive case, there's a compression pad so you can fit more in and the five-year warranty is proof this luggage is built to last.
Large suitcase - Sara Miller
BUY NOW £189
This 77cm large suitcase from Sara Miller London is an excellent alternative to plain black and navy cases. Its colourful nature print is visible inside and out for a striking piece of luggage you'll enjoy packing. It's super-light at 4.3kg and features a durable matte shell. Inside, there are two zipped compartments with zipped pockets for you to easily store small essentials.
8 things you should always do when planning a solo travel? ›
“Travel only with thy equals or thy betters; if there are none, travel alone.” “The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” “There are some places in life where you can only go alone. Embrace the beauty of your solo journey.”How do I prepare myself for solo travel? ›
- Share Your Travel Plans With Trusted Family or Friends and Stay Connected. ...
- Make an Emergency Plan. ...
- Secure Your Valuables. ...
- Avoid Reckless Behaviors and Use Common Sense. ...
- Do Your Safety Research and Choose Wisely. ...
- Get Travel Insurance.
- Choose your destination and book your accommodation.
- Prepare but not too much.
- Prepare yourself mentally.
- Pack cleverly according to your destination.
- Provide a plan B for transport.
- Talk about it with those close to you.
- Do some research on your destination and solo travelling.
“Travel only with thy equals or thy betters; if there are none, travel alone.” “The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” “There are some places in life where you can only go alone. Embrace the beauty of your solo journey.”What to avoid when traveling alone? ›
- Never be unprepared. ...
- Don't over-schedule. ...
- Don't make rigid plans. ...
- Don't avoid locals. ...
- Never run out of money. ...
- Don't feel lonely. ...
- Never fight your spontaneity. ...
- Don't stop yourself from going with the flow.