I just completed by second solo backpacking trip through Europe.
Last year, I walked 140 miles across Spain on El Camino de Santiago and then went to Barcelona… all by myself. Youtube video and post for that here:
So this year, I felt Italy was calling me, so that’s where I went. 6,000 miles away from my home, I stayed in 10 different places in Italy… ALONE.
Here are my top tips for traveling alone! (For a video I made answering questions about this, CLICK HERE).
1. Fanny Pack
This may sound silly, but I always wore my fanny pack, even while sleeping. In it, I had my passport, phone, extra cash, and usually a map of where I was exploring that day. With all the pickpockets, trust me, you do not want to be wearing a backpack with an easily openable zipper!
2. Copies of your passport & extra hidden cash
Before I left for Italy and Spain, I made 3 colored copies of my passport and hid them in different pockets around my backpack and in my fanny pack.
I also exchanged some extra Euros from the bank at home before my trip and hid them too. This way, if I lost my passport, I’d have extra copies and extra cash
(I didn’t knock on wood!)
3. Hostel World & Train-line apps
The world is changing as modern technology takes over, and I recommend using this to your advantage!
I only book my hostels or bed and breakfasts through Hostel World because the app gives you rates, reviews, pictures, amenities, and even lets you book your stay right then and there on the app!
Train-line helped me so much in Europe because I could easily look up train times to the places I wanted to go. I even got my e-ticket right there in the app after purchase.
4. Don’t Walk Alone at Night
This may seem a little obvious, but it can be really tempting.
Especially in big cities, I often caught myself thinking: “I’ll probably be fine!”
But that’s just the thing… probably. Don’t take chances. Most places are safe, but just be smart!
5. Act Confident
Again, you may be thinking that is sooooo obvious. But in a new country, 6,000 miles away from home, I definitely do not feel confident most of the time.
So, I revert back to the advice my mom told me the first day of high school: Fake it ’till you make it!
Research ahead of time, before leaving your bed, where you want to go. Don’t walk with your phone out.
You are a foreigner, which automatically makes you a target.
Don’t put your phone in a zipper pocket in your backpack that someone could easily pick-pocket, and don’t hold your Euros around like it’s no big deal.
6. Read a book
This was a HUGE confidence booster for me. Traveling solo, here are my top two picks for self-help, self-love, and self-confidence books:
Braving the Wilderness: This book discusses, through really interesting stories and interviews, the importance of standing your ground and going solo all while striving for “true belonging.” It talks about the importance and ways in which to be true to yourself while not judging others so harshly, especially with politics. Definitely made me feel better about “braving the wilderness” of going on my solo trip!
One particular quote I took note of while there is: “People are hard to hate close up, move in.” Important messages like these helped me self-reflect about my life at home… which is really what part of going solo is all about!
You are a Badass: Although a little repetitive, the author tells us how we got this way, what society tells us to think versus what we should think, and how to fix ourselves to become the baddest version of ourselves! A bit repetitive, and I only read one or two chapters at a time, but still pretty interesting.
7. Ask people with cameras to take pictures of you
#1 Because they have a big, burly camera so you’d most likely easily catch them if they tried to runaway with your phone…
#2 They get it. They get that you want the aesthetic, artsy picture. They most likely know people’s angles, and how to get the background just right!
I hope this gave you some tips to travel on your own! Please know that it is an amazing, exhausting, liberating, confidence-building experience:)