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Samantha Brown’s Best Tips for Traveling Alone

There are a lot of perks when you travel alone.

For starters, you get to set the pace. Not into museums? Guess what? You don’t have to go! Enjoy browsing local boutiques? Take all the time you want. Nobody’s sitting on a chair in the entryway, nodding off while holding your bags. It’s liberating!

I personally love traveling alone. If it’s your first time tackling a solo trip, I have a few tips. First, it’s probably best to go somewhere where you speak the language. That doesn’t mean you can’t travel internationally, but if you speak english, it may be easier to visit Ireland, Australia or the UK.

Another thing to consider? Whether or not you want you’d like to visit a big city. If you’re not a city dweller, navigating New York, Chicago or Washington D.C. might make you nervous. However, I think they are ideal places for solo travel. Lots of people in big cities do stuff on their own, include going to movies, visiting museums and even dining alone. Plus, the streets are usually bustling with people, which makes it safer for you.

Of course safety is a concern when you’re traveling without a partner or group. Never feel obligated to tell people you’re alone. A white lie here is 100 percent a-okay. In fact, I don’t think there is anything wrong with sporting a fake wedding band. I know, I know. I wish that wasn’t such an effective deterrent, but it really is.

All that said, don’t be afraid to engage in conversation. People often feel compelled to chat up the person eating dinner alone. Ask for recommendations on restaurants, shops, and fun things to do. That’s the exact kind of thing that will make your trip even more memorable.

Do you ever travel alone? What are some of your best solo travel tips?

There are a lot of perks when you travel alone. Here's how to make the best of a solo trip, plus tips for staying safe.

This Post Has 30 Comments
  1. Do your homework and try to plan ahead. If you are a single guy (like I used to be) and you meet some fabulous woman who wants you to go home with her and it appears to be too good to be true, it probably is.

  2. Traveling solo is great for a weekend or just a few days, but any longer and I get really depressed and lonely. I long to share my discoveries with someone I know. What I’ve found that has worked the best in recent years is to travel with a friend or two. While we may all be excited about a new city or country, it’s usually for different reasons. So, while we enjoy exploring many sites together, we also plan some solo hours or days into our trip where we go our separate ways and see those things that are more interesting individually. It gives us a break from each other, time to really indulge and relish our personal interests, and something new to talk about at dinner that night. It’s also comforting to know, that if I don’t show up at my hotel that night, someone will miss me. We may stumble on to something in the course of that day, that the others might enjoy too. When that happens, it’s a happy surprise and we go back another day as a group. There’s also value in going along (pleasantly). I’ve learned new things and enjoyed experiences I wouldn’t have sought out otherwise.

  3. I travel alone quite often now …. after living abroad. But one thing I always do is check in with the same person everyday….be it by email, text, or a phone call. This person has my itinerary and knows where I should be.

    It takes part of the “I’m alone” out of traveling alone.

  4. I used to travel a great deal and I’ve lived in Europe whilst otherwise working. While abroad I just lived my life as I always had but for the notion that I was “new in town.” That being the case I let the locals tell me what I should see/do/explore/experience with greater authority than a dogeared brochure tossed on a hotel desktop. Oh, and one more thing: I always asked the bartender to serve me the local brew (it seems there always is one). Great conversation-starter and a great way to occupy an evening at the local pub. That and talking food. And varieties of whiskey. And dogs for some reason.

  5. I’ve been traveling alone for years, initially for business (as well as the fact my husband hated to travel), and now its because I don’t want to travel with anyone. I go all over the world, traveling at my own pace, going where & went I want to. I’ll generally stay in major cities at major hotel chains (due to safety factors), but will use public transportation to get to other areas. I’m pretty careful about walking into sketchy areas, and use my internal radar’. Sometimes I’ll pull out my cell phone and pretend to be talking, but I’m always aware of my surroundings. I’m not concerned about eating alone, and while I’ll have something to read with me, I will readily engage in conversation with others, and thus will look to eat at a bar, as opposed to a table for one. I’m a woman in my 60’s, still working full time, and see no end to my travel adventures. Next month I’m off to Madrid &!Bilbao and in Feb it’s the South of France????

    1. I have a ‘real’ camera and a mini tripod and used it to take ‘selfies’ long before that term was coined. Mine has a velco strap which means I can also wrap it on poles or branches to get a shot I want . Also, depending on where you are, you can usually so a picture swap, taking pictures of couples who normally only get one of the in a photo and they will usually reciprocate.

    2. I’ve never been turned down when I asked someone to take my picture … but I always offer to return the favor. For the best results, look for someone with a “real” camera (not a cell phone) who looks like they know how to use it. They are usually happy to take a photo of you. Also, waiters are usually happy to do “one more favor” for a customer.

  6. For 2 years I’ve done 2 trips and will do another in 2018, because I’m really happy all day long. I think it’s the most selfish thing I do because everything is whatever I want, at whatever time, and I eat that way too, never lonely, and eating is a real highlight of my trip, as well as photography. You just intensely get into those things because it’s just you, by yourself. My retirement trip took me to Venice, for Carnival, and then a week in Florence. It was just a terrific 2 weeks. In 2017, it was tiptoeing thru the tulips in Holland, & getting to really feel at home in Amsterdam, where I stayed in a rented apartment for 2 weeks. That was also a perfect visit.. I think that if you enjoy your own company, have a little vein of a contemplative nature in yourself, and are use to retreating, you’ll be fine traveling alone and loving it.

  7. Hi. I am a middle aged woman and i travel solo a lot of the time. When i stay at hotels i always ask for two keys, one for me and one for my husband who is arriving later because of a missed flight. I never tell anyone i sm solo and check in with my husband at home every day

  8. I travel solo a few times a year and love the freedom to do and see whatever I want at my own pace. Safety is my top concern and I use some of my training as a retired flight attendant when staying at hotels. I too ask for two keys, always throughly check out my room including ensuring the windows are locked no matter what floor I am on, and lastly, I always leave a note on the dresser that states where I will be that day. This way, if for some reason I don’t return, the note will let someone know where I was planning to be that day. I use the room safe but wipe off the key pad once I have closed the safe w my passcode. I am not paranoid, but have heard so many stories over the years that I am just very aware of things and have also learned to trust my inner voice. I have also found cruises to be one of the safest ways to travel and there are so many options and itineraries plus the possibility of no single suppliment.

  9. I love traveling alone. France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland. I wear a fabulous fake wedding band. I use caution, but enjoy meeting new people.

  10. I have had so many say I am brave to travel alone, and maybe that’s true. I decided I need to do it alone, or not do it at all. My alone trips have taken me to about 12 cities in Europe. Once in Prague, I wondered what I was doing there alone! Everyone was having so much fun and there I was with no one have wine with, laugh with, to eat dinner with. That’s the hardest part! Not being able to share all the wonderful things I see is also difficult, but if my husband was along, he would be standing outside waiting for me. I have had a few times that brought me to tears and also some wonderful experiences. So again, I will be traveling soon, alone, and seeing the sites I want to see. Life is short!

    1. Carolyn, Try signing up for a one-day cooking class where you prepare — and get to enjoy — a delicious dinner complete with wines and dessert with your fellow classmates. I did this in a village in Tuscany and it was a highlight of my trip. Next I want to try taking a drawing or watercolor class and I’m sure there are lots more options. Happy travels!

  11. When I was 20, I traveled alone to Scotland. I have always been a Mary, Queen of Scots fan. This was such an extraordinary trip. I was young, but so many folks in country looked out for me. I didn’t mind being alone at all. There were so many interesting people to talk to, who wanted to know what In was thinking ab out their country. At that young age, it was pretty heady stuff.

  12. I want to do a solo trip on my motorcycle just haven’t come up with a destination. I did live in Europe and did check some areas on my own. GERMANY, Austria, France and Italy. I agree with interacting with people is fun no matter if there is a language barrier you can still do it.

  13. First, I just want to say how delighted I am that Samantha Brown is back on TV…I really missed her absence. I watched her on the Travel Channel for years, but now that she is on PBS and has a great website, I enjoy her all the more.
    I have traveled solo around the world for many years, and prefer to travel on my own, for many reasons. The joy that comes from new discoveries, the autonomy, freedom, and the opportunity to make new friends. I also am very independent and prefer to make my own decisions when things go wrong and I have to recalibrate my trip, or I just want to change my plans. I have never felt fear or loneliness, and trust my instincts if I have unknowingly wandered into a bad neighborhood or met an unsavory person. I highly recommend cruises for solo women travelers. There are also numerous women’s solo travel groups online for asking questions or offering your own advice to other women. travelers.

  14. I like to do group tours solo. It’s the best of both worlds. You have safety, always someone to talk to if you want, but also free to do what you want.

  15. I do as much research as possible so if planned activities don’t go as planned, I have good plan B’s. And C’s. I join tours and meet tons of people usually from many different places in the world – and the conversations help me plan out future trips! And in some of those future trips, free places to stay! If I’m going to a place with a different language, I will learn enough to get around so I’m not lost (or being taken advantage of). Plus, learning their language goes a long way in how you are perceived and sometimes treated by the locals. By learning your surroundings and some of the language, you won’t stick out too much as a tourist – which can usually help in feeling safer!

  16. I love solo travel because of the drama-free autonomy — you know what I’m talking about! But I disagree about being safer in big cities. I’m a small town girl and love settling into life in a small village in Tuscany or Burgundy or Ostfriesland (that’s not on the usual tourist group itineraries) for a week or more where I can meet the lovely people there and experience village life.

  17. You share the info about traveling is very helpful. Solo traveling is not an easy but you create the well plan and go. It’s a very enjoying traveling. Great tips you share with me. Thanks!

  18. I prefer traveling solo. Last year I spent five weeks in the UK and four weeks in Alaska, The Artic Circle and Washington State. Oh, and I saw my first Broadway show in NYC (The Greatest City in the World . . . . YES, my first Broadway show was HAMILTON!)
    I will travel solo to Hawaii next month, and have a flight booked back to the UK (so much more to enjoy there) for at least four weeks.
    I’m a 68 year old widow. I don’t like the ‘Tours’ by bus, don’t enjoy being pushed in with other tourists on a group tour or on a cruise. I don’t want to pay the $olo Premium (50% + more – ridiculous) and I don’t want to share a room with a stranger.
    AND, if I don’t feel like getting up at 5 AM to get stuffed into an early-call tour bus, I can sleep in at my farm-stay or B&B and have a lovely breakfast served to me at a normal hour, then mosey around the countryside on my own time.
    I DO enjoy driving, enjoy the experience of meeting others while eating solo at a nice restaurant, I often book stays last-minute (when it isn’t summer in Europe or the UK), and have overcome many of my previous fears about ‘driving on the left’. I’m quite good at it now!
    RECOMMENDED: Traveling takes PLANNING. You can wing where-to-sleep and hope for the best, or you can book an entire trip’s hotel/B&B stays, OR you can do a combination, or your own style. ME? I have lost a LOT of money by booking ahead on anything – so I don’t do it now OR (RECOMMENDED) I will have a HOME BASE, and drive small trips out from that one place. Why? Because I’ll get interested in a certain place, love feeling the history or the local people, and frankly – would rather lose the $$ from far-away reservations than to miss the WOW moments where I sit.
    So, now I book ahead when I’m in London or Edinburgh or any big city during The Season and stay at that one place for all the days I’m there. However, it is very probable that rooms are going for CHEAP off-season. Again, Plan Ahead. Ask around and call for a booking by 3 PM so you won’t get antsy.
    NOTE: IRELAND and much of SCOTLAND do not have B&B’s or hotel’s everywhere. In Ireland, there is a contingent of FARM-STAYS, which are absolutely not-to-miss. There are lists in booklets about, or get online. I highly recommend FINDUS HOUSE (Michael and Mary O’Sullivan run it) near Kilnamartyra, Macroom in West Cork – and enjoy the great crepes with fruit and other treats in the mornings. You can take in so much of the history of the country while using Findus House (or any other place) as your ‘hub’. PLUS, the people – oh, my. Wonderful.
    Renting a car (book ahead for an AUTOMATIC TRANNY, folks) allows me to put my (lightly packed) bags into the car, and I can drive into the little villages where the trains don’t go, and I don’t have to walk a lot if I don’t want to.
    PEOPLE ARE WONDERFUL most everywhere in the UK and much of Europe. If you’re in trouble, someone will help. Be. Smart. Keep your personal space and your own Radar ‘on’ when you’re in a crowded area, and do not be totally alone at night on the street. (I’m so worn out by night-time, it’s a joy to veg and plan the next day!)
    Shlepping luggage at ANY age is a pain in the back … you don’t need much to have thrilling moments and memories as you travel. I PROMISE. I’ve been known to give away half my clothes and items packed for an extended trip – then I visit the local thrift shop if the temperature drops and I need a heavy coat. I ALWAYS bring a wide, colorful scarf/pashmina or two to dress up my casual, travel-black. Last year, I used it as a picnic blanket in Princes Street Garden in Edinburgh. Fantastic! I don’t pack jeans – too heavy and not comfy enough.
    The hardest thing of all for me is souvenirs. I’m a sucker for wanting to get things for my grandchildren or to collect little Christmas gifts in advance. SO! I go to the nearest post office, get a Priority Mail box (just like in the states) and stuff the heaviest things in it so I don’t have to carry them throughout my trip. Expensive? That depends on the weight of the box. Convenient? NO DOUBT. Worth every shilling.
    I use 3 different methods of money – local currency, and a credit card in my passport holder (that is around my neck, tucked into my shirt and covered by a scarf), plus a credit card and cash in special hidden zip-areas in my suitcase back at my farm-stay or hotel. I divide my limited daily cash into three different places and when I carry a purse, it is with the strap across my body, just like you’ve heard many times.
    Enough. I could go on and on. I made these comments here to let you know that, YES, life is wonderful as a solo traveler. Try it! Start with going to another state, just YOU with YOU. You will start to develop more confidence and independence – and realize that you enjoy traveling with just yourself!

    1. Linda

      I love all of your comments, sorry we haven’t met on the ROAD!! LOL! I have no trouble going alone and enjoy it very much, but it is nice to share memories.

      My first trip to Europe I did a motorcoach tour from the UK all over Europe and back for 30 year olds and under. Made a ton of friends mostly from Australia and New Zealand. Proud to say nearly 35 years later I’m still best friends with 4 of them – 2 in Melbourne and 2 in Sydney. When I travel to Australia I spend a few weeks with each. My Melbourne pals and I meet up every year in Hawaii (half way – ha) and spend several weeks hanging out.

      Travel is fun, its educational on so many levels and having Samantha Brown’s insight is invaluable!

  19. Solo travel is wonderful. I started when I was still a teen. Gives you a lot of self-confidence! Some stand out trips are: going across Canada by train in February, joining a park ranger led day hike in Glacier National Park with folks from all over the world, seeing Europe with a first class EurailPass – more interesting people! Now I’m 70 and getting into cruises now that a lot of new cruise ships have studio cabins for solo travelers, NCL and RCI mostly. Speaking of cruises, on Ebay you can find DVD’s of Sam cruising on several ships. My favorite is Sam on RCI’s Freedom of the seas. Watching Sam try to master the Flowrider is a hoot! Hope you got extra pay for doing that Sam!!!

  20. Learn a few key phrases and a few other words in the language of the country you are visiting, and you will open up a lot of other very interesting conversations. Because you go out on a small limb to try and speak their language, you will find that many speak very good English and are very happy to talk with you.

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