Solo Travel Tips for a Safe, Affordable Trip

  • I’ve been a solo traveler for five years and have made my fair share of mistakes along the way.
  • I always store emergency contact information on my phone’s lock screen during my trips.
  • I also recommend researching English-speaking doctors and purchasing an eSIM before traveling.

I’m currently in my fifth year of solo travel, but began my nomadic lifestyle with an eager attitude. However, that initial naivety certainly got me into some tricky situations.

Had I been more experienced, there are certain steps I could have taken to make my experience less stressful and, at times, less isolating.

To ensure you avoid making the same mistakes I did, I’ve gathered some simple and practical tips every solo traveler needs to know.

Store emergency contacts on your phone’s lock screen

An iPhone note with emergency details, including " Name: Dan Ginn, Conditions: Celiac, Emergency contact: mom, dad."

I like to screenshot important emergency information and save it to my lock screen.

Dan Ginn

Although you can create a digital Medical ID on most smartphones, accessing this information can be challenging, especially when the device is locked.

That’s why it’s best to write all your essential medical information and emergency contact details in the notes app, take a screenshot, and save it as your lock screen.

This will ensure easy access to important details in case of an emergency while traveling.

Research doctors who speak the same language as you before you travel

Accessing healthcare in a foreign country can be stressful, especially with a language barrier.

Speaking from personal experience, you don’t want to spend three days on an IV drip trying to understand your diagnosis when you and your doctor don’t speak the same language.

Before I travel, I seek out English-speaking doctors, which are available in many cities but can be tricky to find.

It’s worth doing some preemptive research for doctors who speak your language before you travel in case you find yourself ill.

Purchase and activate an eSIM before arriving at your destination

An iPhone with Uki Mobile and Merhaba eSims displayed on the screen.

eSIMs can help ensure your phone will work abroad.

Dan Ginn

Getting online as quickly as possible is a must for any solo traveler navigating a new location. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to purchase a local SIM card prior to traveling, so it’s a good idea to use an eSIM instead.

An eSIM functions the same way as a physical SIM card but is completely digital.

I use Airalo to purchase eSIMs and buy data through the app before I travel. It automatically starts working when I arrive in another country.

Although eSIMs tend to be a little more expensive than local service providers, they’re worth it for the peace of mind they provide.

Use social media to your advantage

A large part of the beauty of traveling is getting outside and experiencing the world. But before you turn your back on social media completely, there are some advantages to having it on hand.

Facebook groups are gold mines for useful information about almost any place in the world. They’re also a great way to meet new people and involve yourself in social events.

Digital nomad groups are great for short and extended trips alike.

Talk to locals to gauge what prices should look like

A flaky pastry filled with two layers of cream and topped with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

I recommend checking prices online to ensure you’re paying the correct amount for a meal.

Dan Ginn

Unfortunately, both at home and abroad, I’ve found that some vendors take advantage of inexperienced travelers when it comes to the cost of local services.

On more than one occasion, I’ve paid double the normal asking price in restaurants and bars.

Whenever you arrive somewhere new, speak with the locals to gain an understanding of what prices typically look like. Also, look at Trip Advisor and Google reviews to learn menu prices before you go anywhere.

Always be aware of your surroundings

I’ve been guilty of assuming I will always be safe while traveling. However, solo travel can definitely open you up to vulnerable situations.

If you’re out late at night, I recommend taking a taxi or rideshare back to your accommodation instead of walking.

You should also avoid burying your head in your phone and being alone for too long in isolated areas.

Have Google Maps available on your phone

A hand holding an iPhone with Google Maps displayed on the screen.

I’ve found that Google Maps is most reliable when traveling.

Dan Ginn

Apple Maps has made a lot of improvements in the US. Abroad, however, Google Maps is by far the better option. This is even more true if you’re traveling to remote locations.

Google Maps typically has better routes to follow and more accurate location data, which is ideal if you want to avoid getting lost abroad.

In my opinion, the app is the best option for using offline maps when hiking or spending time in rural areas where coverage isn’t always available.

Don’t let pride get in your way

Solo travel is as liberating and character-building as you would imagine. But it can also be painfully lonely and extremely challenging. If you’re struggling with being on the road alone, don’t let pride keep you going.

Make a plan to be around friends and family, or, if you’re able to, see if someone you know can meet up with you during your travels.

It will do wonders for your mood and mental well-being, and you can always get back to riding solo when you’re ready.