I know the prospect of travelling alone for the first time can seem daunting. In fact, before my first solo travel experience back in 2016 it seemed like I had a never-ending list of questions – what should I pack? where shall I stay? what should I DO?
Whether you’re an avid adventurer or prefer to spend your time relaxing, these 25 fun activities to do while travelling solo will provide you with some strong foundations to help maximise the time on your trip. It’s my hope that this list of things to do on your first solo trip, not only empowers you to go it alone but EXCITES you for what’s to come.
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Table of contents
Best activities to do while travelling solo
1. Write a journal
One of my biggest travel regrets is that I didn’t begin to write a journal when I started going on holiday alone. Luckily, I have this blog to look back on. But it’s only a tiny fraction of the places I’ve been and an even smaller fraction of my thoughts and feelings at the time.
Even if you only do a weekly write up trust that in the months and years to come you will truly appreciate this handwritten time capsule of your life. Also, you know, when you begin to write your book and find someone to star as you in your biopic it makes things a lot easier…
2. Book an Airbnb experience
Since I discovered AirBnB experiences on a solo trip I took last year I’ve been absolutely hooked. In addition to providing the opportunity to rent rooms or other people’s homes, the platform has a whole other side dedicated to locals helping tourists explore their city. As a woman travelling alone they’re also a pressure-free way to meet other people.
In the past, I’ve done photoshoots, silent discos, city tours – you name it. To get the most out of your experience make sure to check the reviews beforehand and feel free to reach out to the host if you have any questions. If you haven’t used Airbnb before sign up using this link to save £44.
3. Go on a bike tour
As a non-driver (yes, I’m 26 and I can’t drive – bite me) cycling is one of my favourite activities to do while travelling solo. When you travel abroad alone it may take you a while to get to grips with the road rules of another country – so why not sign up for a bike tour?
I completed two with Fat Tire Tours in Berlin and they were by far the highlight of my week-long trip. On the second tour, I invited one of my Twitter followers to come with me. The small intimate setting made it the perfect way to get to know each other, and the people on the tour.
Although the tour groups vary in size all the guides are knowledgeable and make sure everyone feels included. Fat Tire Tours run a number of tours throughout Europe and a couple in the US too.
4. Attend a music festival
One of the best pieces of travel advice I can give you for your first solo travel experience is to remember that just because you’re travelling alone doesn’t mean that you’re limited in the activities you can take part in. You can still go clubbing or to events – you just have to get more creative about how to make it happen.
If you’d like to attend a music festival abroad but have no one to go with consider using FB groups like Girls Love Travel and Women Who Travel or event pages to find yourself some companions.
I feel like there’s this persistent solo travel myth that implies trips for women have to be very rigidly organised to be fun. Don’t be afraid to try something different. Saying YES to opportunities can lead to some unforgettable nights.
5. Try your hand at a cooking class
When travelling the world alone learning how to cook local cuisine is a brilliant, interactive way to absorb the culture. In fact, I don’t know about you but for me, food plays a HUGE part in my overall decision of where I’m going to travel to in the first place. If you can, sign yourself up for a cooking class and get stuck in. Then when you get home invite some friends round to show off your new skills!
6. Stay somewhere fancy
I’d like to describe my travel style as boujee on a budget. Don’t get me wrong I love to save money on travel – but I equally love just feeling like a fucking queen in my palace. Swanning around in a fluffy robe and drinking wine in the bath is just my happy place.
Going on holiday alone is the perfect opportunity to live out your fantasies (even if only for one night). I’m a big fan of using the app Hotel Tonight to score last-minute deals on 4 and 5* hotels. If you’re new to Hotel Tonight download the app and use code ESULTER to get an extra $20 off your first booking.
7. Spend a day alone (take yourself out)
What better way to embrace your solo trip than actually, you know, spending some time alone? Take this opportunity to treat yourself to a nice meal or to just wander around and take in the sights.
Going on holiday alone is an ideal way to take some time for R&R without the guilt that can often come with it. Make the most of having nowhere else to be and treat yourself like the queen I know you are.
8. Go on a date
One area that’s lacking in detail for women travelling alone is how to approach dating in a foreign country. I think often there’s this idea that women travelling solo can’t maintain a romantic life and see the world. But I say – why limit yourself?
When I first started travelling solo I was in a relationship. Since we broke up travelling has definitely been a great way to *cringe* get back out there. Of course take all the necessary precautions: tell someone you trust where you’re going, meet in a public place, look up their DNA history and ancestry, befriend their family members on Facebook, like all their old Instagram photos – you know the usual.
Once you’ve done that I see no reason why you can’t live your best life. Single women travel too!
9. Meet other travellers
Just because you’re on a solo trip doesn’t mean you’re going to be lonely. Even if you’re taking a trip alone don’t be afraid to reach out to others. Use your first holiday on your own to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to other travellers, or even locals of the area. If the idea of approaching someone seems intimidating why not try using travel apps to meet others online first?
Although at first, it’s a little nerve-wracking it’s just building up that muscle. Whether you’re travelling by yourself or just going through everyday life networking is an invaluable skill that can propel you forward in numerous ways. Also if you do fuck it up chances are you’ll never see that person again anyway so you have nothing to lose!
10. Become an audience member
Getting to take part in a live studio audience was one of the most memorable moments of my travels in 2019. Some people try for years to get tickets to see The Ellen Show, I applied once (around two months before) and scored tickets to TWO shows. Although LA is the main mecca for live audience shows there are loads of shows around the world you can apply to sit in on.
My top tips would be to pick something you know you’d actually enjoy – there is a lot of sitting around and cheering, upload a photo of you in brightly coloured clothing and give a convincing argument as to why you NEED to be part of the show. I think I mentioned something about being a huge Ellen fan all the way from Scotland and I think that may have had something to do with it. Also diversity quotas we love you.
I also managed to land an awesome seat for Harry Potter and The Cursed Child in Melbourne. I had to pay for that but I was happy to do it as I’m a huge Potterhead and it had been sold out for MONTHS! As a solo traveller, you are perfect for filling slots on shows that might otherwise be kinda awkward to fill.
11. Go on a food tour
Travelling to me is synonymous with all the food I know I’m going to eat. When there are so many delicious choices knowing where to start can be overwhelming. That’s why I love taking part in food tours. You have the benefit of a local guide taking you to all the best spots and can nerd out while learning the history of the dishes.
As a bonus eating is such a communal experience that you can’t help but strike up conversations with your foodie cohort. One of my solo travel highlights of 2019 was a progressive bike tour in Berlin with Fat Tire Tours. We cycled to each restaurant taking in the summer nights as the sun began to melt below the city. In addition to learning about food and the history of Berlin in the wall we managed to squeeze in some exercise in too. You can check out more city food tours through this link here.
12. Do something that scares you
Although it’s all well and fun to do crazy activities with your friends there’s definitely a whole new level of adrenalin that comes with doing activities while travelling solo. When travelling by yourself you have no one to talk you out of your thrill-seeking decisions.
Last year while solo travelling around New Zealand I completed my first bungee jump. And holy shit I’ve never experienced fear like it. What a lot of people don’t know about that is I had agreed to do it with a friend from uni. At the last minute, he realised he’d no longer be able to afford it. I decided to continue regardless and actually ended up bumping into someone I knew from Scotland THREE YEARS PRIOR. What are the chances? You can check out the video he took of me doing my jump here.
You don’t have to get as extreme as jumping off a ledge or out of a plane but endeavour to do AT LEAST one thing that gets your heart racing.
13. See a comedy show
Generally, as I travel solo around the world I don’t tend to have problems with meeting others. But I found on my trip to Japan that there just wasn’t the same hostel culture as I’d been used to. As such, I spent a lot of time wandering around alone. I was fine with it, but at a point, I did begin to miss having conversations in English so decided to head to a comedy show I’d seen on a notice board.
It was a hot spot for meeting ex-pats in Japan and I ended up spending the night partying with the comedians after the show had finished. Even if I hadn’t met anyone just getting the chance to LAUGH boosted my mood massively. I learned then that activities to do while travelling solo can simply be things you enjoy doing back home!
14. Jump on a free walking tour
Did you know most cities offer walking tours totally free? The tours are often run by locals hoping to improve their English or who just enjoy learning more about tourists. Donations aren’t always mandatory. Still, I would always advise giving one where it will be accepted.
I took part in a walking tour in Seoul, South Korea and at the end, they refused our tips and actually ended up giving US gifts for taking part. You’ll want to check the tipping customs of the country you’re visiting so you make sure not to offend anyone.
15. Try something new
When travelling the world alone you’re in a prime position to take part in just about anything you want (as long as it’s legal). If there’s something you’ve always wanted to give a go – now is the time to do it.
Similarly, if someone suggests something that you think sounds cool you don’t have to go between friends to get approval you can just jump in straight away. Travelling solo challenged me to try rock climbing, snorkelling, scuba diving and so many other amazing experiences for the first time. Just say yes!
16. Order room service
One of the best perks of taking a trip alone is being able to veg out with no judgement! If you do end up shacking up in a hotel you just HAVE TO order room service. Even if all you can afford is a plate of fries.
Before Uber Eats or Deliveroo ever existed (remember those days?) I recall being truly fascinated by the concept of someone bringing a whole damn meal to your room. Though I was only a child I decided at that moment that the best part about being an adult must be having the money to afford such a luxury. I was not wrong.
I wholeheartedly reject the notion that every holiday has to be an itinerary of 101 activities. Give yourself permission to go at whatever pace brings you joy.
Isn’t it crazy how much power a tiny little rectangle has over your wellbeing?
I don’t know if you’re like me but I often don’t realise how addicted I am to social media until I try to step away from it. Set yourself time with no social media allowed (although keep your phone on you cause safety) and instead take part in some of the other activities in this list to keep your brain occupied.
Although as a blogger and business owner it’s hard to step away for long, times when I do are a much-needed breath of smartphone free air.
18. Read a book
Taking a trip alone provides an ideal window of time to get stuck into a gripping story. Although I’ll always be an advocate for paper books (the smell alone makes them magical) a Kindle Paperwhite is a great option for storing multiple books in your palms. On top of hours of the hours of fun, you’ll leave your trip with your mind stimulated and your eyes open to new possibilities. If you’re stuck for book inspiration check out my favourite personal development reads!
19. Go to prison
Maybe this is a bit of a weird one but I find its fascinating to learn about a country’s take on capital punishment. Although for actual operating prisons you need to be on approved visiting lists, for prison museums you’re all good to go.
20. Check out local events
If you’re looking for cheap things to do on a solo trip events are a great option to explore. At any given time there are a TONNE of free (or cheap) local events taking place. You can find them through Facebook, Meetup.com (by searching for your location) or just good old fashioned posters. If you’re stuck for things to do on your first solo trip – why not give one a go?
21. Head to a local museum/exhibition
Museums have numerous benefits from helping visitors gain a deeper understanding of their surroundings to being the perfect hiding spot on a rainy day. Additionally, no two people will have the same interaction with a piece of art, which makes it the perfect activity to do on your next solo trip!
If admission isn’t free be sure to look up the museum website to see if they offer any concession prices on weekdays or student discount.
22. Send a postcard
It’s sad that technological advances mean that some art forms will be eventually forgotten. Writing on a trip while the travel memories are still fresh is a beautiful way to share your solo trip with the people who couldn’t be there. Whether it’s reassuring messages to your family or love letters to friends. If you’re feeling inspired – maybe a mix of both.
23. Learn some local phrases
For a long period of time, I was too embarrassed to use local phrases as I felt I couldn’t get the pronunciation right. Eventually, I got over myself and realised that people appreciate the intention even if it doesn’t sound perfect.
24. Allow yourself to get lost
I spend 50% of my trips in places I never meant to be in. Sometimes the best travel advice is the permission to shake things up every now and again. Wander without direction and follow anything that catches your attention.
25. Embrace being a tourist
Some people will give you solo travel tips on how to avoid looking like a tourist I say why avoid it? Ask loads of questions, take many pictures – of course, be respectful and keep yourself safe. You only get to be here in this moment once so bask in it. Be mindful of everything around you. Drink it in until you’re fit to burst.
Final thoughts on solo travel activities
It’s pretty easy to avoid boredom when travelling solo when you know how to get out of that funk. If you’ve been feeling concerned about what activities to do while travelling solo I hope you’ve managed to find some inspiration for things to do on this list.
Remember although this list only has 25 ideas – in reality, there are THOUSANDS of activities to do while travelling solo. I recommend adding to this list at every opportunity and downloading your FREE solo travel bucket list so that you’re never stuck for ideas!
What about you? What activities would you like to try? Let me know in comments!