Have fun as a solo traveler!
Often the first thing that comes up when I tell someone that I love to travel solo is how I manage to stay safe. And then, it’s how on earth can I possibly have fun if I’m all by myself? We’ve covered safety (in two parts), so now let’s focus on the good stuff—FUN! Not only can you have fun as a solo traveler, but I am of the view that you can have more fun traveling by yourself than you can with others.
You are going to feel like a badass, because this is some super empowering stuff. Fasten those seat tables, Buttercup, because we’re going on an adventure!
Think of a solo trip as an absolutely fantastic solo date
If you’ve never taken a solo trip before, think of it a bit like a solo date, but instead of taking yourself out for dinner, you’re taking yourself out on vacation. It’s the same skills when you think about it, as the ones we build when learning to enjoy our own company.
You get to do whatever you love to do, all day, every day, for days (weeks?) on end. Want to go to as many flea markets as humanly possible? No one is going to get bored on you. One of your dear ones can’t stand/is allergic to your favorite food? Indulge. Want to see what’s around that corner? Why not?
Doesn’t that sound fun?
11 tips to help you have FUN as a solo traveler!
Here are 11 ways I’ve found to help me have fun as a solo traveler. I’d love to hear yours in the comments!
1. Have enough of a plan
Solo travel allows you to do what you want when you want to do it. Having said that, it helps to have at least a bit of a plan. Solo travel lends itself perfectly to a loose travel itinerary that will allow you to get in everything you wanted to do, but at a time when it works for you.
Personally, I think it’s a blast to have the world as my oyster each morning and to pick out the exact perfect thing I want to do with my day. Having a list of things to choose from helps.
2. Enjoy the solo traveler journey
Especially this summer, the actual getting from point A to point B part is not always fun. However, there’s something to be said for that space in between that solo travelers can really lean into. My mind relaxes when I don’t have to worry about talking with a companion. I’m one of those people who gets to the airport or train station a bit early to minimize stress.
I people watch (pro tip: make up interesting backstories for strangers crossing your path), eavesdrop sometimes (need to confirm my backstories!), and hang out at one of the bars or restaurants. It’s this weird time and space, and I find it fascinating. Most of the time. Sometimes, I’m just a crankybritches, but I do find that it’s definitely more fun when I’m traveling solo.
3. Get an apartment instead of a hotel room
I’m team apartment over hotel room, especially when considering fun as a solo traveler. Having an apartment, as opposed to a hotel room, as a home base while you travel solo will help you to not view downtime as wasted time.
What’s more fun—sitting on the sofa one evening with a glass of wine and snacks that you bought from the local market, enjoying new surroundings or staring at a giant flatscreen and getting mediocre, expensive room service? You’ll get a little taste of local life, and usually a lot more room to spread out.
4. Play a little game
One day when you’re out and about, make a little game for yourself. Look for a certain color (or outfit—the middle-aged man in salmon trousers in the summer is fun), a style of door, or try to visit every bookstore, or make it your mission to find the best coffee, etc.
Snap photos and document your progress. It will be your little secret (unless that poor guy in the salmon trousers catches you snapping a photo of him), which is fun in and of itself.
5. Do something out of character
If you’ve traveled to someplace you’ve never visited before, and you’ve traveled solo, guess what? No one there knows you. No one has any expectations of you. No one is going to know if you aren’t acting like your usual self.
Traveling solo presents you with a unique opportunity to step out of character. Are you normally shy? Maybe vacation you isn’t? Do your friends assume that you don’t like something? Maybe try it? Maybe you don’t normally wear a certain style, but vacation you totally does?
Do something a bit out of character. You just might find that it’s so fun that it changes your life.
6. Go exploring
What’s around that corner? What’s that tree over there? Where are all those people headed?
Answer those questions that pop into your head while you’re walking around a new place. Traveling solo allows you to explore to your heart’s content. It’s one of my favorite ways to have fun as a solo traveler, and how I have happened upon some of my most treasured experiences.
Embrace your inner kid and go check it out.
The sun hits the river just so, and you are loving that light. Or, the world walking past your café table has you in a reverie. Have dessert. Sit and stare at that painting.
If you’re loving where you are (and you aren’t causing a nuisance—don’t make your server hate you), linger. This is how your soul has fun. Enjoy it.
8. Splurge on dinners
If you’re like me, one of the first things you look for when you’re figuring out what to do at a destination is restaurants. This goes double for when I’m traveling solo, because going out to dinner, especially on the later side is one of my favorite ways to get out in the evening.
Taking yourself out to a fancy dinner just feels so indulgent. You can focus on the food, the wine, and the surroundings. Do it right, and you might be the most interesting person in the restaurant. In my post on taking yourself out on solo dates, I described my dinner at Onyx in Budapest (at the time, a 2-Michelin Star restaurant), which was one of the more luxurious solo dining experiences I’ve had.
At El Baqueano in Buenos Aires (which has since moved to Salta, Argentina), my server took a little more time explaining the unique dishes (the chef specializes in native Argentinian ingredients) after seeing how interested I was in what was going on. The star dish was grilled rhea steak, a bird similar to an ostrich, wreathed in smoke, but my favorite dish was a simple indigenous tomato and melon dish, that the server was delighted I enjoyed so much, because it was her favorite, too. She also gave me a little more Argentinian wine.
9. Do that touristy thing
Maybe you have friends or a significant other who would rather die than get caught being a tourist, but you secretly love it. Well, have at it!
Personally, I love a good Ferris wheel, and if it’s not going to cost me a kidney, I’m doing it. And I often get to skip some of the line, because it’s just me, and I don’t have to wait for the family of five to be able to sit together.
10. Talk to strangers
You might also meet interesting people and wind up talking into the night. My very first night on my first trip to Paris, I made a dinner reservation for 11, something impossible to do in Boston. While the food was excellent, the atmosphere was a bit more relaxed, and I got to talking with the table next to me. Our conversation lasted well beyond dinner, and we stood outside talking and laughing into the wee hours. I’ve had many similar experiences.
11. Or don’t talk to anyone at all
The other evening, a friend of mine and I talked about how we love to be in crowds but not talking. She described a recent work trip where she stayed over a weekend. She went to museums, she sat in cafés, and went to lovely restaurants. Other than the essentials, she didn’t say a word to anyone, and it was one of the best weekends she can remember.
I’ve had similar experiences. There’s something to be said for being in a place where I know nothing more than pleasantries and having absolutely no conversation. Sometimes not talking is exactly what we need.
How do you have fun as a solo traveler?
What about you? What’s your best trip for having fun as a solo traveler? Let us know in the comments!
This post is part of the Happily Single series. Check it out, and if you’re looking to get more comfortable with having fun on your own, check out these posts below.