8 Solo Travel Experts Share Their Best Tips

Find out why you should always buy postcards and stop booking tours in advance

solo traveler photographing in spain

Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images

We're dedicating our April features to all things solo travel. Whether it’s a soul-searching hike, a decompressing beach trip, or an invigorating urban getaway, tackling the world as a solo traveler has become safer, easier, and more empowering. Dive into this month's features to learn strategies for making friends while solo and the ways technology has changed the solo travel experience, then get lost in inspiring stories of bus journeys through Africaa voyage to Mount Fujia social experiment in South Korea, and a solo bikepacking birthday celebration.

Book a tour. Don't stay out too late. Have a charged cell phone. Pre-plan your transportation. We've all heard the tried-and-true solo travel tips—and while all these suggestions are great (and absolutely important), we wanted to go one step deeper with real solo-travel experts. These writers, photographers, and entrepreneurs have traversed the globe, from Machu Picchu to Morocco, and now we've gathered their top bits of wisdom to share with you.

Protect Yourself in Your Hotel Room

Abigail Akinyemi, the digital creator behind The Lady Who Travels, never leaves home with a doorstop, but she has a simple trick if you forget one. "Use two glass cups on the door handle," Akinyemi told TripSavvy. "If the glass cup breaks, you know someone was trying to enter your room."

Take a Tour at Night

Tours are a popular way for solo travelers to meet others and become acquainted with a new place, but lawyer-turned-traveler Jen Ruiz, founder of Jen on a Jet Plane, always recommends booking a tour at night. "I like to book tours to go out at night, like haunted walking tours or food tours," she explained. "This way, you feel safe because you're in a group setting, and if you want to stay out a little longer, hopefully you've made some friends along the way."

Book a Night or Two in a Hostel

Yes, even if you think you're too old. While we all reach a point where we're past the hosteling lifestyle, hostels do have some perks for solo travelers, as Sophie Clapton, the writer and photographer behind We Dream of Travel, found out on a solo trip to India. "After five days without meeting anyone, I found a hostel with excellent reviews and booked two nights there," Clapton said. "This simple change turned my trip to India into the best solo trip I ever took. At the hostel, I immediately found people that would become lifelong friends and who I went on to explore India and beyond with." (Even if you're not comfortable sharing a room, many hostels offer private rooms.)

Don't Book Tours in Advance

It might seem counterintuitive, but photographer and blogger Catherine Xu, who's been to 63 countries, learned early to stop booking tours in advance. Except for tours that often sell out, Xu prefers to find a local guide and agency shop once she's on the ground in her destination. "Once I arrive, I visit two or three tour agency offices to see what all my options are. Typically, many of these tours are not comprehensively found [online], especially in lesser-visited countries," Xu said.

Put Your Phone Down

While this advice could apply to any traveler, putting your phone down and living in the moment is even more important for solo travelers, argues Nate Hake, the blogger behind TravelLemming.com. "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," Hake explained. "But your phone is also a barrier telling other people to stay away from you, leaving you more isolated." Hake recommends the Forest App, a game that rewards you for taking breaks from your phone. 

Don't Pack More Than You Can Carry

Lydia Mansel, the founder of Just Packed, a site dedicated to helping travelers prepare for trips, just returned from a four-month solo expedition throughout the U.K. Her biggest takeaway: pack light. "This means carrying no more than two bags, preferably a backpack as one of the two," she said. "This leaves you with a least one free hand to navigate your way as you travel to and from locations. Since you're by yourself, you need to be able to move your luggage on your own—whether it's in and out of an airplane, train, cab, or bus."

Document Your Trip

While it's easy to take selfies and post about your trip on social media, solo travel can be quite personal, and you may find yourself wanting a more profound recollection of your journey after your return. Instead of traditional journaling, Dan Meyer, the founder and director of BACK&PACK, an experiential travel program for 18 to 30-somethings, buys postcards at each place he visits and writes a journal entry on the back about his experiences. "I have a stack of these from my solo trips," Meyer said. "There's a really special feeling when I pull them out every once in a while to read through."

Stay at a Casino Hotel

Even if gambling is low on your activity list, hear us out. Leslie Carbone, the blogger behind Sancerres at Sunset, always looks for a casino hotel when she's traveling solo. She explained that they’re safe, pointing out abundant cameras and security personnel and cost-efficient since rooms are often inexpensive or comped. Also, "there’s always something to do," Carbone added. "There are restaurants and bars, spas and pools, and lots of games."