Travelling solo in the UK and making friends (if you want)

Travelling solo can be one of the most incredible experiences of your life. It can be liberating and life-changing, to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You’ll tick some amazing places off your bucket list too!

But it’s not always as perfect as it looks on care-free Instagram accounts and aspirational travel blogs. In fact, many solo travellers experience loneliness during their trips. And that’s completely normal, but there are plenty of ways to tackle loneliness on your solo travels – like meeting fellow travellers. Because as of 2021, solo travel is up by 761.15%, and with more travel companies and cities becoming more solo travel-friendly, now more than ever is the perfect time to book a solo trip. 

So if you’re ready to bite the bullet and seek a solo adventure, our ultimate guide for travelling solo should come in handy. We look at the benefits of going it alone, how to plan for the trip of a lifetime, how to make friends on your travels (if you want to), and the friendliest places in the UK to travel to. 

Reasons why you’ll love travelling alone

Everyone should experience travelling solo at least once in their lifetime, but we know that the thought of going it alone can feel scary.


Safety concerns, loneliness, and boredom are all thoughts that would put anyone off giving it a whirl.


But all it takes is a little planning (which we’ll get into later) and you could discover these amazing benefits of travelling solo for yourself.

Complete freedom

Freedom to plan your own itinerary. No need to worry about having to factor in where your partner or friends want to visit during your trip. Think about where you want to go, what you want to see? All the focus is on you as this is your time to be completely selfish!


Meet new people 

The thought of meeting new people can be daunting but when you’re by yourself you’re actually more likely to talk to people you don’t know. Whether you’re in a hostel, on a group tour or at a nightlife event, without someone you know there to chat to, you’ll be more inclined to make an effort with others that are around you.


The guilt-free rest

It’s easy to cram your days full of activities and sightseeing, but if you’re travelling for a few weeks or even months, it’s important to take some time out too. And with nobody else with you, you don’t have to feel guilty for taking a nap or spending the day just lounging around your accommodation. 


It’ll improve your confidence

Travelling solo is one of the best ways to improve your confidence. Chatting to the locals, making important decisions for yourself or even just navigating on your own are all great ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone. 


You’ll get to know yourself better

During our busy day-to-day lives, we don’t get to carve time out for ourselves too often, so solo travel is great for some deep introspection. When you spend time on your own, you learn to love your own company. And with no family or friends around to influence your thoughts or decisions, you get to find out who you really are too.


It can be cheaper

Because you’re the only one deciding what to do, where to go and what to eat, solo travel can often be cheaper. You can budget your entire trip and avoid unexpected costs of a friend or partner suggesting an expensive attraction or restaurant that you’d rather not go to!

How to make the most out of travelling solo:
Seven tips for a stress-free trip




Straying away from home comforts and being by yourself for a long period of time can feel daunting, but do your homework before you set off and you’ll minimise those feelings of uncertainty in no time. 


Safety first

Safety is of course at the top of our list, but safety concerns shouldn’t stop you from heading off on a solo trip. Make sure where you’re heading somewhere that has a tourism infrastructure and is popular with visitors. Central locations are great for travelling around easily and to and from other destinations. 


Once you’ve arrived, keep your belongings close – any valuables should be out of sight of pick pocketers, and your bag secured and fastened to your body. And always check in with a loved one back home to share your location and what you’re up to that day.


Save money and budget for your trip

These might seem obvious, but it’s easy to get carried away at the beginning of your trip and spend all your money. Make sure you know how much money you have to spend and how long it needs to last. That’s why it’s a good reason to save as much money as you can before you set off, that and the fact there’s nothing worse than returning home to credit card fees and paying off an overdraft!


Plan your route

Planning your route is the best way to minimise that overwhelming feeling of not knowing where you’re going. You don’t have to plan each day – because there’s no fun in sticking to a tight schedule – but a little bit of planning means you know when to book travel and new accommodation. Our top tip? Arrive at each new destination in the daytime for easier access to transport links. 


Essential admin

It might sound like a bore, but doing these few things before you leave will make all the difference to your trip. Meaning there’s more time to enjoy the sights! Create copies of your ID, because it’s always possible to lose your original no matter how careful you are! Always take out travel insurance, choose a good policy that covers you for any travel delays, lost luggage or cash, and any accommodation cancellations. 


Book your accommodation

When you arrive at a new location, make sure you’ve got somewhere to stay for the first few nights. Booking this ahead of time will take some of the pressure off. There are plenty of solo-friendly accommodation types. Staying in a hostel is a great way to meet other people (if you want to), and avoid solo travel depression. Or try Couchsurfing to experience living as the locals do. 


Pack the bare minimum

When you’re carrying a backpack around, it’s important to pack light. We’ve found a handy packing list to help you with this. Of course, what you pack will depend on where you’re heading, so you’ll want to consider things like the weather and any activities you might want to get involved in. 


Use technology

Without anyone else to lean on during your travels, you can always rely on technology to help you out. For directions, download Google Maps. If you need to get around, Uber is a taxi app that’s available in most major cities. You can track your driver and see how much your trip will cost upfront, and you can even pay by card! Travelling to a new place by train? The Trainline App gives you real-time train times, including any delays, book train tickets, and even store them in the app. 



How to avoid solo travel depression



Even when you’re having the time of your life, exploring new places and trying new things, you can experience the travelling blues. And being on your own can often heighten these feelings. But there are plenty of ways to avoid solo travel depression, all you have to do is factor some time in for them!


Move your body

Whether that’s a gentle stroll, finding a nearby gym or having a jog around a local park, moving your body is the perfect way to shake off those blues.


Soak up the sun

The sun is perfect for getting your daily dose of the feel-good vitamin, vitamin D. It helps to regulate your mood and lift episodes of depression. Just don’t forget to apply some sunscreen!


Eat healthily

Filling your body with lots of fruit and veggies is a great way to lift your mood. Healthy foods can promote the production of serotonin and dopamine – chemicals in your body that regulate your moods.


Get some rest

It’s easy to forget about getting a good night’s sleep when the UK is your oyster, but miss out on a few hours’ sleep each night and it’ll soon catch up with you. Make time to hit the snooze button so you feel properly rested and ready for a brand new day.


Speak to someone

You might be travelling alone, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep your feelings bottled up. Thanks to technology, your loved ones are only ever a message or phone call away. Alternatively, get your thoughts out on paper and journal how you’re feeling. 



How to make friends while travelling (if you want to)



Your reason for embarking on a solo trip might be so you could do just that – travel alone. But if you’re keen to explore the world and meet some new people along the way, it’s not as hard as it seems. Because with plenty of other people doing the exact same thing as you, it’s easy to meet fellow travellers – you just need to know how to do it!


Choose a social accommodation

We don’t have to tell you that sitting inside a hotel room by yourself at night isn’t the best way to meet people. Choose a hostel or B&B with common rooms and communal eating areas so you can hang out with people throughout the day.


Book a tour

Whether it’s a walking tour or an organised tour that spans a few days, booking a tour gives you the perfect balance of group and solo travel. And you’ll get to meet people too! There are plenty of companies offering tours all over the UK. Try Intrepid Travel for sustainable small-group tours or book a tour with Tours by Locals to experience your destination like the locals do. 


Take a class 

A class is a great way to learn something new and be social. Chat to a local guide and find out what’s on nearby. If you love tea, you’ll love the tea mixology and tasting classes at Bird and Blend Co. Brush up on your photography skills and attend a lesson with professional photographer Alan Ranger, or why not try your hand at a new watersport with Into The Blue?


Embrace the nightlife

If you’re staying somewhere more social, take advantage of the entertainment. There are always people to meet at the bar. Local pubs where you’re staying are a great way to meet others too. You could even join a bar crawl and party into the night with your newly-made friends!



Meet fellow travellers by volunteering in the destination you want to travel to. You’ll meet lots of like-minded people and maybe even create some friendships for life! Worldpackers is a great website for finding volunteer opportunities. You can exchange your skills for a place to stay, or help out in schools or on NGO projects.


Use travel apps

Social media is a great tool for making friends while travelling alone. Join Facebook groups to arrange meet-ups with fellow travellers. Or use an app like UNBLND, a social networking app that lets you discover people nearby who share the same interests as you. Select your destination and add your travel dates to find travellers with Travel Buddy. You can review people you’ve met, organise trips, and even ask locals questions about the place you’re planning on heading. Meetup is also a great app to find group activities and tours that are happening in the area, search for everything from pub crawls to kayaking. 


Keep in touch with the people you meet 

Even though you or your fellow travel buddy might be moving on, be sure to take down their details in case your paths cross again on your future travels!



10 of the friendliest places in the UK to visit


Embarking on a solo trip in the UK is the best way to build up your confidence. You’ll be in a familiar country which always helps with nerves. And knowing you’re not too far from home gives you some comfort, but you can also travel far enough away that it feels like you’re going it alone too. 


To help inspire your trip, we scoured the internet to find the friendliest places in the UK  to visit. We’ve included some of the winners from CNN’s 2021 Readers' Choice Awards, and thrown some of our favourites in too. So get ready to book your next trip with our round-up of the best places to travel solo in the UK. 




Location: Scotland

Best for: Its lively and friendly atmosphere




The lively capital of Scotland is brimming with solo travellers from all over the globe. Its community spirit and culture are what make it such a great place to visit. And there are plenty of activities to add to your itinerary. Climb Edinburgh’s ancient volcano and enjoy the sweeping views from the top or join a guided Harry Potter tour around the city. If you do find yourself feeling lonely, soak up the atmosphere at a traditional Scottish watering hole, where you’re sure to befriend the locals or a fellow traveller!




Location: Devon

Best for: The perfect balance of urban and rural




Surrounded by miles and miles of countryside, visit the city of Exeter and you’ll get the best of both worlds. Known as Devon’s capital city, immerse yourself in the vibrant culture found in its theatres, historic pubs and Gothic high street, where you’re sure to rub shoulders with the friendly locals! Or find solitude rambling through wild open moorlands and over unspoilt craggy landscapes. The city is one of the oldest settlements in England, so spend your days in museums or on walking tours uncovering this ancient city’s deep-rooted history. 




Location: Oxfordshire

Best for: Exploring a city on foot




Attracting students from all over the world to its prestigious university, Oxford is definitely one of the friendliest places in the UK. Here you’ll find the perfect balance of solo travel and group activities. The city has some lovely green spaces and gardens to relax and unwind in, and plenty of coffee shops to stop off for a spot of lunch, where you can meet like-minded travellers. The best way to see this Oxfordshire city is to join a walking tour, where you can take in historic sights, including Bodleian Library and Christ Church. 




Location: Near Gloucestershire

Best for: Experiencing an iconic music scene 




Foodies will love a trip to Bristol. Located near Gloucestershire, its eclectic food and drink scene is a treat for the senses. From street food to Michelin-star restaurants, there’s something to please every palate. The best way to get involved though is to attend a small-group cookery class where you can whip up your own dishes. Its culture is like no other too, with a thriving underground scene, the city is known for birthing some of the world’s best DJs. Dancing until the early hours of the morning at Motion has to be on your list!


Lake District


Location: Cumbria

Best for: Being at one with nature


Lake District


Maybe your ideal solo trip is a relaxing getaway, free from jam-packed schedules that are bursting with sight-seeing plans and activities to get involved in? If that sounds like your idea of bliss, then head straight for the Lake District National Park. This beautiful spot in Cumbria is home to some of the country’s best hiking routes. Why not join an organising walking group like the Ramblers or SuMMit Good to participate in guided group walks. And if you prefer something quieter, all it takes is a quick Google search to uncover the less touristy spots, so you can find solitude amongst the majestic fells and enchanting lakes that make this region so incredible.




Location: Northern Ireland

Best for: Discovering the city’s deep-rooted history and heritage




History buffs will love the Titanic museums, Victorian architecture and historic landmarks that can be found around nearly every corner of Belfast. This cultural hub has an advantageous location on Northern Ireland’s coastline, so you can find some peace and quiet along the shore. But this must-see destination is above all else, a buzzing capital city that should be on everyone’s bucket list. The city is becoming much more cosmopolitan and has a great tourism infrastructure, it’s brimming with shops, restaurants, and of course, traditional Irish pubs. So grab a pint of Guinness and soak up this capital city’s vibrant atmosphere. 




Location: Pembrokeshire

Best for: A charming stay by the sea




Tenby is a quaint seaside town that is the perfect base for exploring the Pembrokeshire coastline, away from the hustle and bustle of some of the county’s more touristy spots. When your schedule isn’t filled with marvelling at Tenby Castle, visiting the holy Caldey Island or exploring the charming town centre, you can always laze on the gorgeous sandy beaches or watch the world go by from a seafront cafe. The people in Wales are known for being incredibly friendly too, so you’ll feel right at home.




Location: Sussex

Best for: Being one of the friendliest cities 




Brighton is one of the most popular beach destinations in the UK. But it’s not your typical seaside town, in fact, it’s far from it. Visit this Sussex city and you’ll uncover its quirky vintage shops, eclectic food and drink scene, and plenty of Victorian landmarks. Want to get away from it all for a while? Get back to nature at the South Downs National Park. Brighton has been named one of the friendliest cities in the UK on numerous occasions, so it’s the perfect spot if you’re looking to meet people. 


St Ives


Location: Cornwall

Best for: Sub-tropic climes and clear-blue waters


St Ives


This gorgeous fishing town is one of the most popular spots in Cornwall, and is buzzing with friendly locals. And with a charming working harbour and award-winning beaches, St Ives is a seaside getaway like no other. Stroll along the maze of cobbled streets, surf on the clear-blue waters or embark on the scenic South West Coastal Path. Whatever you decide to do, you’ll be spoilt for views of the breathtaking coastline and sweeping countryside. 




Location: London

Best for: Immersing yourself in a bustling capital city 




Visit London and you’ll notice people don’t smile back at you on the tube or appreciate your striking up a conversation, but it’s still one of the best places to travel solo in the UK. There are plenty of activities to meet people too. Why not take a cooking class, have lunch in a co-working cafe, or join a group fitness class. The city attracts millions of tourists every year, welcoming people from all over the world to its street. And it has superb transport links for getting around. As a capital city, there are historic landmarks, award-winning attractions, and some of the country’s most in-demand eateries everywhere you look.


We hope you’ve found our ultimate guide to travelling solo helpful, and maybe we’ve even inspired you to book your next trip. If you are feeling ready to venture out into the world on your own, don’t forget you can always bookmark this guide to refer back to whenever you might need to!






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