We all know WHY you should travel alone—it’s awesome, you meet new people, the freedom is incredible, and you’ll discover things about yourself and the world you never would have discovered. How to travel is a different story.
Don’t be afraid to be alone. Embrace it! Do whatever you want to do.
Stay at hostels. If you don’t like shared dorms, get a private room. Hang out in the common area/kitchen and you’ll meet loads of people.
Go to places where the locals go. Make friends with them. They’ll take you places the guidebook would never list.
Bad fashion is OK. No one will ever know, except if you take selfies. So don’t.
If you’re in a foreign country and want to hear English, hang out at a café with an English-language book on your table. Someone will approach you.
Don’t be afraid to ask others if you can tag along.
If those you are tagging along with start to be less than ideal after a while, you can easily leave. You are under no obligation to anyone other than yourself. Remember, you are traveling solo for a reason.
Try new food all the time. Write down what it’s called and take a photo to remember. Even if you try to replicate it, you never can. But you can try, and tell everyone else, “It was even better from the vendor in that alley in Bangkok.”
Safety first (especially if you are a woman—sorry, it’s true). Pay extra for safer accommodations, taxis over buses/walking, and avoiding night buses/trains on certain routes.
Bring reading material for long, lonely transportation days. (FYI: My Kindle is a great space saver.) Staring out the window gets old after a few hours.
Teach your family how to talk to you over the Internet. (Your friends already know how.) It can be so wonderful to hear mom’s voice over Google Hangouts after a long crappy day of backpacking in the pouring rain to your destination. I love you too, Mom.
Have backup ATMs/credit cards hidden—not with your regular stuff. Monitor your bank account and credit cards.
Tell everyone back home you are not bringing home souvenirs. You’ll go crazy looking for the perfect things and lugging around 10 pounds of ponchos and blankets. If you really need to buy stuff, try to find a market to stop by close to the end of your trip. Duplicate souvenirs for all, or a bottle of the local liquor specialty is always a fun buy at duty-free.
When booking hostels, look for ones described as “social,” “lively,” and “with a common area.” Avoid ones that say “quiet,” “romantic,” and “family-oriented.” You’re less likely to meet other travelers in these places.
Learn how to apply sunblock on your own back.
Eat like a pig because no one else is watching.
Be careful when you drink—but you already knew that.
Organize your stuff (clothes, passport, important documents, etc.) because no one else will, and losing stuff sucks.
Be hyperaware of thieves on public transport. I like to sit next to little old ladies based on the belief that grandmas don’t rob, though I could be wrong.
Rejoice in that no one is annoyed that you are taking 500 photos of different spots in the same church or mad at the amount of time you spend picking out jewelry, or rolling their eyes when you insist the set lunch is delicious (and by “delicious” you really mean “cheap”).
Don’t act rashly, unless you are being spontaneous. Often towns and hostels improve, so give bad things a bit of time—but don’t give them too much time. Jump on exciting opportunities whenever they arise. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and you are on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.