Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel / 101 tips and hacks

Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel / all tips and hacks

In this post, I will share with you everything I know about solo travel. I compiled a list of 101 solo travel tips and hacks to help you have a fantastic backpacking trip. Although I am mainly aiming at backpackers and longer-term travellers, many of those solo travel tips will apply for any type of solo trip.

I still remember very well the first time I ever went on a solo trip. And it wasn’t as great as most of the ‘first-time solo trippers’ stories tell. I wasn’t hooked on solo travel from day one. In fact, the first one was so much of a hit and miss that I seriously considered not doing it again. But I did it again. Only this time I only booked a few days instead of a week I booked on my very first trip.

So what happened?

It was a Lanzarote trip. When travelling solo, you will inevitably spend a lot of time with yourself. Back then in 2010, I wasn’t the brave traveller I am today, so I mainly stayed near my resort and travelled around the island just a bit (It would be so much different if I was taking this trip now!)

My demons and issues travelled with me and on those quiet evenings, I didn’t enjoy my own company too much, as there was not enough action to cover it all up.

I very much enjoyed Lanzarote, and I fell in love with the Canaries, so next year I booked, shorter this time, trip to Gran Canaria. Again alone. Why? Because I love travelling and I don’t get easily discouraged. And none of my ‘at the time’ friends wanted or could afford the trip.

And this time it was great! I enjoyed myself and the travel. I loved dining on the sunny promenade and chit-chatting with waiters, taking long walks along the gorgeous stretch of the beach. One night, I even went for a salsa dance. I learnt that travelling solo can be quite enjoyable.

With every next trip I took, I have learnt something new. About myself, my limitations and how to push through them and how to travel to create the fullest, most incredible experience.

Finally, last year I did the unimaginable (at least for a few years younger me). I quit my job and went travelling full time. The best decision I have ever taken! Apart from the one when I decided to leave my home country. But that’s a different story.solo 

essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel

When I look at myself now, I see not only a completely different traveller but also a different person. Travelling solo changed me, taught me things about myself and my limits (or how to break them) and made me realise that the way we are, is not definite. We evolve, change, become a better, stronger and braver version of ourselves. Only if we decide to go outside of our comfort zone and seek new challenges. And travel is the most incredible way to achieve that!

I aimed to create a complete guide for you hoping that all your possible questions will be answered here. This is a full list of everything I know and learnt about solo travel.

To make navigation around this pretty long guide easier, I divided it into subchapters so you can go to one that interests you the most. Enjoy!

Getting Started

  1. Research, research, research.

Read, watch YouTube videos and read the blogs on the destination you are travelling to. Don’t believe those that never went there. Look for information at the source. 

Also, research your destination airport. Ideally, watch a YouTube video of the airport (arrivals to exit) to see how to exit properly. Airports in many countries can be very overwhelming and full of scammers. Be prepared. It will potentially save you money and make this part of travel much less stressful.

Find out how you want to get to the final destination (hotel, town) and search the internet or ask on travel forums. Don’t take the first taxi that is offered to you, nor the sim card or any of those golden offers. There is always an official taxi office or option to take a sharing ride like Uber. Often there is a great public transports system. Just do your research and act confident. Fake it if you need to lol. Scammers attack those who look lost and unsure. Pro tip – it gets better with time, trust me!

2. Ask locals on ex-pat forums or travellers’ FB groups.

Those groups are gold! Backpackers in South America, Thailand Travellers, Ex-pats in Colombia etc. Join a few before you travel. Ask questions or read other posts. Yet again, search for information at the source. Get information from other solo travellers.

3. Backpacking solo for the first time?

Choose a country where you will feel safe and comfortable. Know yourself and your limits. Don’t be a hero; there is no shame in starting slow. You can start with a domestic trip or a couple of weeks in Europe and build up from there. 

But if you decided to jump into the deep water (I am no stranger to these kinds of decisions, so I get you), then do your research. Thoroughly. Research the country you are going to, its safety, customs, culture, possible issues, transport and so on. But don’t get carried away. The majority of the locations are not as bad as some paint it. A reasonable approach goes a long way.

4. Set your budget. 

See how much can you spend and research the cost of travel in the destination country. Include accommodation and transportation (don’t forget the bus and train rides – those add up!) as well as all activities you are planning to do. Find out how much those costs, and plan ahead. You wouldn’t want to run out of money too early because you didn’t account for the price of travel between the cities or tours and activities you really wanted to take!

5. Decide on the length of the travel and adjust accordingly. 

Simple math. The budget divided by the number of days – will give you your daily allowance. You can do that weekly, too. This actually worked better for me as some days I hardly spent anything and other days more than I planned. One of most important solo travel tips is to always keep an eye on your budget. 

essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel

Before you leave - Essential solo travel tips and hacks

6. Make sure you have a backup!

Take at least 2 debit or credit cards, and store them in different areas. I travel with Revolut and Wise for affordable and easy transfers and exchange rates. I also have my regular bank card. One sits in my day bag or bumbag, and the other is hidden in my main bag. This is something you will have to look into before you get on that plane. 

7. Make copies of your passport, insurance and other documents you need for your solo trip. 

Also, take photos and send them to your mail. Bring spare passport photos. In case your passport gets lost or stolen, it is easier to apply for a new one when you have a copy. Also, in many countries, it is fine to carry a copy of your passport. You can keep the original safely stored in your hostel. 

8. Take some easily exchangeable currency like USD or Pounds.

Keep them in your main bag. In case you are stranded with no money and no ATMs around – there is always someone willing to sell local currency.

9. Sort out your life before you leave.

Cancel direct debits, visit the dentist and get your prescriptions. Anything that could cause you sleepless nights, or proved hard to be sorted while you are away. 

10. Bring a pen or two for the forms you may need for immigration.

And if they are given to you on the plane, fill them out there and then.

11. When researching sights you want to visit, pin or star them on Google Maps.

The same goes for recommendations. Whilst you’re walking around, you can pull up Google Maps and see what things you’re close to and head off in that direction.

12. Learn some local language.

Especially ‘thank you’ and ‘no, thank you’. Those are the most useful phrases, but I encourage you to learn a bit more. It will save you some frustration and locals always appreciate the effort. It will enrich your experience!

13. Download offline movies on Netflix.

Not only for those long flights but also for when you are out of Wi-Fi and on the overnight busses. Thank me later!

14. Unlock your phone. I have bought a local sim card in every country I travelled to. Local pay as you go tariffs are very cheap and you won’t have to worry about roaming charges. This way you will always have internet for ordering Uber and minutes to call your hostel or friends you have made. 

15. Purchase travel insurance.

Please don’t be one of those people that don’t get their solo trip insured and then spend all their savings on hospital fees. We live in crazy times. And from my experience – it is when you are not prepared that the ‘things’ happen. Please be prepared.

Are you Digital Nomad or Long Term Traveller looking for the best  Travel Insurance? Or are you just someone that is looking for flexible and reliable insurance that can be purchased and cancelled at any time?

I personally use and recommend SafetyWing especially for those nomads, backpackers and long term travellers among us. There is no need to specify the destination or the duration of travel. I personally love this feature as I never know how long I’m going to stay at the destination. And you can cancel at any time. 

Recently Safety Wing also introduced Global Health Insurance for remote workers and nomads which basically is like a premium health insurance you would buy at home but can use worldwide. For people like me who don’t have a permanent address and planning to stay on the roads for years to come – this is revolutionary. 

They claim this insurance is a ‘A fully-equipped health insurance made for remote workers and nomads who spend as much time abroad as they please. Full coverage in your home country, and no exclusions for pandemics.’

16. Plan, but not too much!

Be open to changing your ways and your plans. You will meet other travellers and they will tell you about that incredible place or hike you have to go on. You want to be able to change your plans so book your accommodation with free cancellation options and too far ahead. There is no need to book far in advance in most cases. 

Packing tips - Essential solo travel tips and hacks

17. Choose your bag wisely – If you are planning a longer trip or most likely will take all kinds of public transport, opt for a backpack, and as small as feasibly possible. The suitcase is great for resort holidays or city breaks. If you think you might jump on buses (some won’t have dedicated storage), take motor or water taxis – a backpack is your best friend! And remember, the bigger bag you’ll take, the more you’ll pack. There is no such a thing as: ‘I will just leave some room for souvenirs.‘ You will pack your bag to the brim, guaranteed! And then you will have to carry it all on your back.

After travelling for ten months with my trusted Osprey 55 litre backpack, I decided that for my next trip, I’m going carry on only (!!!!) I’m still shopping around, so if you have any recommendations, I’m open to any suggestions!

18. Pack versatile, light, quick-drying and non-ironable (is that a word?) clothes! But remember to take some of your favourites. Only because you are travelling doesn’t mean you should forget that you have a style and personality. But believe me, you will need much less than you think! Don’t forget that most people will see you once, twice at most! Who cares if you wear the same top 3 days later 🙂 

19. Take fewer clothes and wash them more often. It is surprisingly easy to wash clothes while on the road. There are laundrettes in nearly every town in the world. If not, there is always a way to wash it in a sink. Pack some detergent or soap (I found it really challenging to buy small versions when travelling) and a sink stopper! After sticking my socks in the sink to stop the water from draining, the sink stopper is the number one purchase on my list right now. 

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

20. Get yourself organized. Whatever that means for you. For me, it meant a dedicated electronics/cables/charges bag and packing cubes for my clothing. There are compressible packing cubes you can buy, also. For that one jacket and sweater you are taking (Just one!), consider a vacuum bag! Those are great. You can put them on the bottom of your bag and forget about them until it’s needed. 

Not everyone enjoys packing cubes. I love them not so much for creating more space but for general organization. For each location, I would repack the packing cube with clothes suitable for the weather and vibe and the rest would go to the other 2 cubes and got shoved to the bottom of the bag. This way I didn’t need to rumble around my bag and stayed semi-organized. 

essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel

21. Don’t take clothes or other items for ‘ Just-in-case.’ Take only what is necessary to survive if all shops closed for a month. Trust me. You can buy anything everywhere if you need it and often much cheaper! Dry shampoo in Colombia? Your favourite face moisturizer in Guatemala? If you are lucky! But seriously, I had no issues buying nearly anything when travelling. I also took few things just in case – none of them returned home with me. Just saying.

Things you should pack for your solo travel

As much as I don’t recommend you pack outfits for all days and stiletto shoes – there are some essential items that every traveller (not only solo) should have in their bag!

22. If you are planning to stay in hostels, pack a padlock. It’s best to take at least two – one heavy duty and one slightly thinner. You want to make sure it fits in all possible locks. Also, opt for a combination lock. If you have a light sleep, earplugs and an eye mask are a must. Also, consider packing flip flops for hostel showers and general walking around.

23. Headlamp – mine came in handy on so many occasions I was surprised. From early morning hikes and walking around in the darkness (even in the hostel) to reading in the dorm bed.

24. Pack a rain and down jacket. Make sure they are lightweight and pack small. Some travellers opt for a rain poncho I however find it too touristy and I like to blend in.

25. Travel adapter and travel extension lead. Research the electric outlets in your destination and make sure you take the right adapter. In some hostels you’ll find that the power outlet is located far from the bed – extension comes in very handy in those moments. Also, if you like using your computer or work on the road, the travel extension lead is a must.

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

26. Use silicone travel bottles for your liquid toiletries. Most of them are under 100ml so you can pack them in your hand luggage. What I used to do, is buy shampoo on the first day of arrival, use up some and transport the remaining to a smaller silicone bottle (or two) before I continued travelling. 

Silicone travel food bags are also great. This way you can transport your spare coffee, sugar, detergent or seasonings when moving from one place to another.

27. Pack versatile walking shoes. I travel with train runners which are a great fusion between hiking and walking/running shoes. This way I only needed one pair of proper shoes and the remaining two pairs were hiking sandals and lightweight rubber Birkenstocks which I used instead of flip-flops.

28. Also consider solid toiletries, especially if you are travelling hand luggage only. Carrying soap, shampoo or a conditioner in solid form can save a lot of space and they often last for much longer than their liquid counterpart. And it’s better for the environment!

29. Sunscreen – I know you can buy it in most countries but this is one item that often is more expensive overseas. In some countries like Thailand, for example, sunscreen will also contain a whitening agent. Also, consider the natural environment when purchasing one.

30. The hanging shower bag is awesome! You can keep your most essential shower items there and just grab one bag when heading to the bath. It makes it easier to stay organised as well. I will never travel without one ever again.

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

31. Bring a microfiber towel – many hostels don’t provide towels or charge for one. Microfiber towel packs small, is easy to wash and dries quickly. You can also use it as a beach towel, pillow on the bus or plane or even a blanket. 

32. Bumbag (or funny pack) – 2 weeks into my travel I realised I really needed one. I managed to get a great one while in Madeira and it was an essential travel companion for me for the next 1o months! You don’t always want to walk around with the day bag or a backpack. But you always need your money, phone, camera and often a passport on you. Choose a good quality bumbag that fits all your essentials and is easily accessible for you yet difficult to get into for the thief. Pack a bumbag and thank me later.

Read my long-term travel packing post for a more in-depth article.

essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel

My favourite Travel Resources 

 

  • For most of my accommodation management, I use Bookings.com and Hostel World. With both booking platforms, you will often get free cancellation and access to tones of reviews. Read them! You will also get the most extensive selection of all types of accommodation. I hardly ever look elsewhere. If you are travelling in Asia – Agoda is definitely worth checking out!
  • Make sure you download Google Maps and, on the first day, download an offline map of your location. This way, even without the internet or Wi-Fi, you will be able to get to your destination.
  • Moovit is also an excellent and very underrated travel and journey planning app. It works great in many countries and will show you all possible routes by public transport, including the timetables.

  • For busses, I mainly use Busbud or Omio and Flixbus to travel in Europe. 

  • 123Go — Great for tickets for trains, buses, ferries and charters in Southeast Asia! The best way to buy your ticket for the overnight Bangkok train! Rome2rio – Another great journey planning app. If your way of travel is mainly public transport  – you will use this app for sure!

  • For staying safe online and accessing streaming services like Netflix no matter the country I use a Surfshark VPN. Another great and high-quality VPN provider is Express VPN.
  • I carry two debit cards with me. Given I don’t have a permanent country of residence, Revolut and TransferWise work fantastic. In case one gets frozen, stolen or simply lost, I have a backup. The great thing about both cards is that you can freeze them straight from your phone and transfer money between them in case you need to. You will also get a great exchange rate and create separate foreign currency accounts. 
  • I booked most my tours via either Get Your Guide or Viator. I also use TripAdvisor when I spot a good deal. You can also book locally, but I advise you to ask around and follow the local recommendations. For cooking classes and workshops, consider checking out Eatwith

For more travel tips and recourses, visit Pati’s Travel Tips page!

Safety - Essential solo travel tips and hacks

The world isn’t as scary as the media and others tend to portray it. The same is true about solo travel. If we were listening to all the official travel advice, we wouldn’t go much further than some seaside resort in your own country. I always say – don’t believe what they say – go see!

But as you venture on that trip of a lifetime – remember that the safest way to enjoy it is to use common sense and educate yourself. That being said, it is important to follow some safety rules, both general and location-specific. If you do that, apply common sense and trust your gut – you will enjoy your solo travels and return home with great memories.  Here are my favourite safety solo travel tips.

33. Probably the most important safety tip – know where you are going. Read about the country and local safety tips, common scams and speak to other travellers. Ask in the hostel if it’s safe to walk around in the evening and which area you should avoid. Locals know best!

Watch the YouTube videos, read blog posts, ask on forums. Don’t be scared (it will show) just conscious.

34. On arrival, grab your hotel’s business card or write down their address and phone number. You can often get a local map at the reception – ask them to show you the best areas and those you should avoid. Also, pin your hotel’s location to your Google Maps.

35. If there is an Uber or other ride-sharing app – use it! Always ask the driver his name and take note if the licence plate matches the one on the app.

36. Don’t tell random strangers where you are staying. It’s ok to share your experience with other groups of travellers. We all do that. But refrain from sharing your location on social media until you moved to another hostel and generally be conscious of who you are sharing your location status with. If you’re tagging locations, tt’s best to post after you leave the location. You never know who’s following you.

I have heard stories of my female friends being stalked by weirdos in front of their hostel. You will find those all over the world. You don’t need to overshare with strangers.

If someone is a little too interested if you are travelling alone, say you are not and that you are meeting your travel companion later on.

This advice is important and relevant for both female and male travellers. Many guys shared stories of meeting the local girl in a bar, being drugged and waking up in the morning in their hotel room with all their valuables being stolen. Don’t think you are safe because you are a man.

37. Probably the second most important safety solo travel rule – Trust your gut. And I mean it. How often have you had a bad feeling but you did it anyway due to pressure, willingness to be polite or just because you didn’t want to listen to it? 99 per cent of the time your intuition is right. Listen to it!

Remember – if it doesn’t feel right – it probably isn’t.

38. Lock your valuables, or keep them on you. You can survive without the clothes if your bag gets stolen. Replacing passports, credit cards or phones can be very difficult and pricy. Split your cash and cards between 2 bags and always leave some locked at your hotel.

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

39. Keep your day bag at the front, especially in crowded places.

40. Consider having two wallets. One for storing the money and cards that you keep safely locked up in your accommodation, and another that is your ‘going out’ wallet, where you’d keep change for the day and just one of your bank cards. Then if you lose it or it’ll get stolen, you are not stranded.

A spare phone is also a good idea. Take it with you when heading to the party or some more shady areas. Keep your good phone in the hostel or hidden on your body. If you need to hand out your valuables, the loss will not be that bad.

41. Don’t flash big notes or golden credit cards. Carry a simple coin wallet with loads of change and smaller notes. In many countries, cash is a king anyway and many vendors are very reluctant to give change.

42. Try to blend in. It wasn’t always easy for me to blend in with my red hair yet in Colombia many would think I’m from Bogota, so I guess I didn’t do too bad. Try to look more like you live locally.

You don’t need to give up your style, just dress as you would dress if you would live in the town or village. Look confident and as you know, where you are going. Also, respect the local culture – if shorts are inappropriate, don’t wear them. It’s not about personal liberties. Remember you are the guest.

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel
Most Legendary Hostels in Colombia / Best hostels in Colombia / Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

43. Scan or photograph your most important document and email them to yourself and save them on the cloud. Also, keep some copies on you. Especially a copy of the passport. Where possible, leave your passport locked at the hostel and carry the copy instead.

44. Tell someone where are you going. If you are going hiking – let the hostel know. Share your travel plans with someone back at home. I permanently share my location on Google with my sister and one of my friends. I have nothing to hide and if something happens, someone will know where to look for you.

45. Avoid getting drunk in an unfamiliar location and far from your hostel. I know we are all adults, and we want to have fun. But safety should be your priority.

You will have many opportunities to enjoy the party in the hostel. If you decide to go out, try to do it with friends you met in your hostel, make sure they will not leave you alone and take Uber back home.

Try not to be a target.

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

Make the most of your solo travel

46. Do a free walking tour when arriving. It is a great way to get your bearings around the town, get some insider tips and find out about can’t-miss things to do, places to avoid as well as meet other travellers. They’re normally free, but a tip is expected and appreciated.

47. Talk to locals – get to know the local culture, talk to owners of your hostel, speak to street vendors. It’s an amazing way to truly get the feel of the place and it will be very much appreciated. 

48. Ask other travellers for recommendations. You will meet loads of other travellers in hostels, on the busses and tours. Ask for recommendations. Is this hostel really worth the hype? Is this destination worth the journey? How did you book this tour and how much should it cost? 

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

49. Volunteer! Volunteering abroad is one of the most incredible experiences! You can volunteer in a hostel in exchange for free accommodation or even food or volunteer in local charities or community projects. It’s an experience you will never forget.

50. Learn about the place you are visiting. Research the country and the town you are visiting. Learn about its crazy stories, upheavals, revolutions and troubles, people had to go through. Find out some quirky facts, typical dishes or interesting legends. This knowledge might give you some additional ideas on how would you like to spend your time. 

51. If you don’t fancy climbing an awkward ladder at 2 am, ask for a bottom bunk. You’d be surprised how often I have asked and my wish was granted. It’s not guaranteed, but worth trying. Send your hostel a message a few days before you arrive and try to arrive as early as you can to snatch the bottom bunk. 

52. Don’t be afraid of dining alone. I learnt to really enjoy a nice dinner out once in a while. You’ll find the server will want to start a conversation with you and people watching can be fascinating. If you feel awkward, take a book with you. Only because you are travelling alone or/and on a budget doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat yourself once in a while and have an evening out!

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

53. Take screenshots of your tickets and reservations. Whenever you book a transfer, bus ticket or reserve a tour – take a screenshot of the reservation. You will often be asked for a QR code, so there’s no need for printing hundreds of pieces of paper.

54. Make friends! Travel friendships tend to be so much more meaningful! It’ll be great to have a friend to drink tequila with or share a pizza. But I also noticed there is a strange lack of BS when talking to other travellers. And you will be surprised how easy it is to make friends when travelling solo. 

55. Try to learn a bit of language and use it. Don’t be shy! Locals will really appreciate you trying and no one will make fun of you! It’ll also make your life much easier. There are tons of language apps and YouTube videos you could utilise. 

56. Collect your memories. Whether in a form of photos, journaling or like me, writing a blog. Memories fade, even those most incredible.

57. Go on tours and trips. This is another great solo travel tip for meeting new people and enjoying your solo travel. If you are on a budget, choose one that speaks to you the most. Often tour guides are a well of knowledge and will give you insight into the location, history, or heritage. You’ll also meet other travellers and make great memories.

58. Stay healthy. I know it’s not always easy. But if you are travelling for a longer period, try to eat healthier food from time to time, be active, take your vitamins and sleep well. Carry a basic first-aid kit as well. You don’t need to go crazy, loads of things can be bought abroad. But pack some painkillers, anti-diarrhoea, motion sickness and allergy pills. Few plasters and safety pins might come more in handier than you anticipated too. 

59. Embrace your own company and become your own best friend (if you aren’t already). This is probably the most important solo travel tip. I know it’s not only easy, but it’ll get better with practice. Be kind to yourself, take your time, breath in the landscapes and look after yourself like you would look after someone you care about. Travelling solo will change you, for better.

60. Download Netflix shows and movies when you have access to Wi-Fi. You will really appreciate it on those long bus rides or on the plane when you won’t have access to internet. 

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

Budget solo travel tips and hacks

61. Stay in hostels with free breakfast. And with a communal kitchen. Cooking your own food can save you a lot of money (in some countries).

62. Eat street food. It’s not only cheaper but often so delicious!

63. Keep track of your expenses. Know your budget and give yourself a daily or weekly budget. 

64. Look for food and drink specials. In many countries, you will find lunch deals (especially in Latin America). Happy hour is your friend too!

65. Haggle. It’s an art in itself but really worth mastering. In some countries, vendors would be offended if you don’t haggle, for real! Find out on Google if it’s acceptable or even expected to haggle in the country you are travelling to, and if you’ve never done it before watch some tutorials!

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

66. Visit free attractions. There is always a free museum, hike or attraction available somewhere. In many larger cities, some museums or attractions have a discounted or even a free day. Real Alcázar in Seville is free on Mondays, for example. Do check before you book your ticket and try to arrive when the free entry is available. 

67. Before you get into a cab, ask your hotel staff what it should cost to take a local taxi to or from your desired destination. Then, confirm it with the cab driver ahead of time.

68. Travel off-peak or in the shoulder season. The accommodation and trips will often be much cheaper.

69. Book in advance. When it comes to rail or bus tickets – the sooner you book, the cheaper fare you’ll get. 

70. Use VPN to get a cheaper deal on flights. Prices often vary depending on which country you are booking from. Using a VPN on your computer can make it look like you’re booking from another country. Bulgaria is supposed to be a great country to set your location to. 

71. Shop at local markets. I love local markets – their vibe, smells, colours! It’s also the best place to get the cheapest and freshest produce as well as all the random bits and souvenirs. 

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

72. Stay away from tourist saturated areas. This really goes without saying. The more tourists, the more expensive the place gets. Travelling off the beaten path is so much fun and it will save you some bucks too!

73. Put your walking shoes on. Walking is free. If the area is safe – walk as much as you can. It’ll get you to where you want to get for free and will allow you to stay active and healthy.

74. Sleep on someone’s couch. Couchsurfing is a great way to save money and the hosts will often offer great tips on how you can save money around the town. You might even make a new friend!

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel
Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

How to Be a sustanable traveller

Remember to stay eco-conscious even when traveling. Even more, I would say! Be mindful of your actions and try to lead by example. You’d be surprised at how our actions affect others. 

There is no excuse, whether you are traveling or not. There are so many ways you can help the environment, support local communities, and stay sustainable while traveling.

75. Pack a tote bag. I literary swore by it and used it so much! Every time you go to the market, supermarket, or even walk around town. Want to pack those extra groceries when moving to another hostel? It will come in handy on many occasions!

76. Reusable cutlery. There are tons of fancy reusable bamboo cutlery sets you can buy. But you can also take a spoon and fork from your home, and who cares if only you do not end up using plastic cutlery. I have this cute spork from Decathlon and carry it in my pink mug I got in Colombia. It usually hangs on my bag, and if I have some seasonings left, sachets of jalapeno sauce, mayo, ketchup, sugar – it all goes in there. 

77. A water bottle is a no-brainer. Most hostels will now offer a free water refill station. Also, before arriving in the new city, ask if it is fine to drink tap water. In many mountainous towns, water from the tap will be healthier than that purchased in the plastic bottle! Also, consider a bottle with a filter. 

I have lost three while traveling. And after giving up on buying an expensive one every month, I did buy one bigger plastic bottle, but I reused it for as long as it seemed healthy. I know it’s not the best option, but I just couldn’t be buying a new water bottle every few weeks. There is always a way.

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel
My fav water bottle before I left it somewhere on the bus / Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking

78. Don’t be afraid of slow overland travel. Use shared transport as much as possible. Reduce your carbon footprint by traveling overland in buses and shared vans. And don’t be afraid – it is a more popular way of transport than you would have thought. It’s a way to save money also if you chose an overnight bus – one accommodation night less to pay! 

79. Recycle books. It’s even easier when traveling. Nearly every hostel has a book swap/exchange shelf. I even heard a few travellers adding a note at the back or at the front of the book stating where they picked up the book and where they left it. Great idea!

80. Support local communities. Shop locally, take part in locally hosted workshops or volunteer. There are so many ways you can give back when traveling!

81. Stay in one place for a while. You will of course help reduce the carbon emissions produced by your trip, but you will also save some money. There are so many benefits of slow travel that I have written a separate article on this topic. 

82. Use your own earphones on the plane. I can’t remember the last time I purchased earphones on the plane – it’s a small thing, but every small thing adds up. 

83. Use a reusable and collapsable travel coffee mug! I love those! You can make a coffee in a hostel and take it with you on the road or you can use it in a coffee shop as well! And after you are done you can collapse it and throw it into your bag or pocket!

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

Solo travel Recourses and Apps - Essential solo travel tips and hacks

84. Google Maps and Google Maps Offline. Luckily, the days we had to rely on paper maps are gone (how did we manage? LOL). Before your solo trip make sure you download an offline map of your location. This way you will always find your way even if there is no internet connection.

85. Maps.me – is a great alternative to Google maps and it often shows a lot more detail on attractions, tourist routes, and things to do. It is specially catered to walkers; you can also use it for hiking and works offline. I met many travelers who used it when they had no mobile data or access to wifi. , 

86. Google translate. Probably the best translation app out there! You can also translate via your camera (very useful in museums) or by speech. 

87. Currency exchange. I started using it in Colombia. I am normally fine converting currency in my head, but I was lost with all those thousands and millions of pesos. After that, this app became my essential companion. This app works offline, and you can check very quickly how much exactly are you being charged.

88. Uber/Bolt – or any local ride-sharing app. Many countries have their own ride-sharing apps, so ask around once you arrive.

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

89. Lingopie / Babel / DuoLingo – for learning some language basics.

90. Meetup – this is a great app to find local events and hangouts happening in the city where you’re at. You can search by city and filter events by their type, e.g., hiking or art events. There are options to join groups to become a part of a community that arranges regular meetups. It comes in especially handy for European trips. 

91. Happy Cow. The best travel app for vegetarian and vegan travelers. It helps you search for fully vegan restaurants or restaurants with vegan options, and since it has been in the game for a long time (1999!) it has an extensive vegan restaurant database. The app shows you a map-based view of the restaurants, cafés or bakeries near you. On top of that, the app shows reviews and ratings from fellow vegans. 

92. Eatwith is an experience-app for food lovers! You can explore thousands of food experiences around the world and find the social eating experience that is right for you. It allows you to dine with locals, in their homes, all over the world. Menus are posted for you to see, while hosts will typically list what they cook, the languages they speak, and any alcohol pairings they’ll be serving. 

93. And for trips and experiences, there’s is Withlocals – a travel company that connects travelers to local hosts who offer private, personalized tours.

94. All Trails – my favorite hiking app. The free version is awesome and I like the look of the maps. Very easy to navigate around and pretty accurate. I used it all the time during my lone hikes in Madeira. 

95. TravelSafe Pro – An essential safety app providing the number to every emergency contact in the world.

Essential solo travel tips and hacks for solo travel and backpacking/guide to solo travel Travellers and backpackers guide to solo travel

96. Omio / Flexibus / Busbud – all very useful apps which will allow you to book your bus tickets well in advance and often at a cheaper rate. 

97. For on the go accommodation booking – Booking.com and Hostel World. 

98. 12Go is a great app for booking transportation in Asia and Agoda for cheap accommodation in Asian countries. 

99. ExpressVPN is my recommended VPN platform for added security, cheaper flight deals and access to Netflix from all over the world. 

Final Solo Travel Tips

100.  Growth begins at the end of your comfort zone! Stepping outside of your comfort zone will not only take you places you’ve never been. It will allow you to grow and become a person you’ve never thought you could be, remember that!

101. Know yourself but allow the ‘self’ to expand, bend and change.  You need to know your likes, preferences, the type of traveller you are and what ticks your fancy. Don’t let anyone force or insists you should be something else – travel the way you want, it’s your own journey. But allow yourself some flexibility, expand your mind and allow new experiences. 

That’s it, my friend. Here are all 101 solo travel tips and hacks I have for you. I hope this will help you on your next trip!

Oh, and if you think I missed something important – add your own. You know, sharing is caring!

Until then, happy travelling!

 

This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you purchase the product or make a booking via one of my links, I will receive a small commission. Please know that I will never recommend or promote a product I don’t believe in or haven’t used. This way, you are supporting this blog at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

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Pati's Journey Within

Hi, I’m Pati. A traveller, photographer (aspiring), dreamer and hopeless believer in magic. I have caught the travel bug in my forties – and not planning to look back any time soon. I travel solo and on a budget and try to spend as much time and effort to truly immerse myself in the country I am visiting.

Whether you are like me and decided to change your life around a new dream or just wandering (because not all who wander are lost) – I am here to tell you that everything is possible. 

 

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