Staying Sane While Traveling Solo

Hitting the road by yourself is something that everyone should experience at some point in life. I’ve been on the go for more than four weeks now, and I’m so glad I’m taking this trip solo. But, I’m an introvert. Here’s how to make solo travel tolerable for those of you who aren’t introverts:

  1. Take the free walking tour (available in most cities) as soon as you arrive. Many people on those tours are traveling solo, and it’s easy to strike up a conversation while meandering along on foot. I have really enjoyed meeting travelers from all over the world on these tours, but I also appreciate that I’m won’t be trapped on a bus with them for days at a time.
  2. Stay in a hostel. You don’t necessarily need to share a room or even a bathroom to meet people. Hostels are naturally friendly places, and the people who gravitate toward them are often outgoing and interesting people. Now, for an introvert like me, hostels are the 10th Circle of Hell. But for anyone more socially inclined, it’s a sure way to not feel alone when traveling.
  3. Eat at the community table. Unlike in the U.S., many restaurants in Europe have shared tables. I met a really cool woman traveling solo in Sofia just by sitting at the community table — a table that seats 12 but was full of singles.
  4. Travel by public transit. The train, the bus, the ferry. They all present opportunities to meet people and strike up great conversation. And since you’re going somewhere, you might get some tips on what to do once you arrive. I’ve added to my itinerary several times based on the transport chats.

Traveling solo allows you to get as much — or as little — social interaction as you’d like. If you thrive on meeting new people and it energizes you, your battery can always be at 100 percent. Or, if you’re like me, you can stick to yourself on days you can’t bear the thought of chit-chat.

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American expat. University professor. World traveller. Dog lover. Eating and drinking my way through the Balkans for 7 weeks.

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