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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
Best for: Being at one with nature
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.
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.
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.
Best for: Sub-tropic climes and clear-blue waters
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.
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!