Daniel Brown shares five of his best tips for the adventurous lone traveller. If you’re heading off on a solo journey soon, read on. Here we cover trip planning, keeping your important documents and valuables safe, battery power and tech, dining solo and more…
Even though the trend of solo travelling is becoming more popular, it is agreeable that venturing alone without a companion is daunting. Luckily, there are clever tricks anyone yearning to be a lone traveller can make use of to feel more comfortable along the way.
I believe everyone can benefit from trying on the ‘lone traveller’ hat at some point in life.
Many swear that travelling solo can be likened to experiencing religious enlightenment!
Not only are you able to fully rely on your own judgements and ideas, but as a lone traveller, you can do whatever you please all throughout your journey.
A pretty liberating thought!
Of course, with all the freedoms of being a lone traveller, come the drawbacks. Some of these, concern safety and overall wellbeing.
To make things easier, following are my practical tips which will empower you to book your solo trip.
You might also enjoy our feature in Get it Magazine on how to choose your own solo adventure, including interviews with two of our fave bloggers. Read it here
The very first tip after you have decided to venture out solo, is to remember to take some time and extra effort to plan the whole trip as thoroughly as possible.
Spontaneous travel is great, but when a co-pilot is not there to help you out, you will want to have a plan to fall back on.
Make a list of all the must-have items you cannot travel without. But remember, you’ll need to pack light. Heavy bags and luggage will slow you down, and it may be uncomfortable to carry extra through a crowded airport or bus station.
Next, double check the bookings, such as the taxi, the means of transportation and accommodation.
Something I was taught is to try and memorise maps as accurately as possible. It’s helpful so you don’t have to be reading a map in public (potentially looking lost), or if Google Maps fails, as sometimes it does.
Plan, book, and get ready for the time of your life. You inevitably make friends, whether you’re heading off on long term travel, a wellbeing retreat or city tours.
Make copies of your documents
The most important thing you should bring with you when travelling is a case which contains all your personal documents. These will include your passport and photo ID. It is certain that there is nothing as stressful as getting your documents lost or stolen.
To make sure that your most important documents are safe and easily accessible, it is recommended to scan them before leaving home. The best way to do this is to make copies and store them online, for example, in Dropbox. Make sure your connections are safe though. In another article we talk about using a VPN to make sure your privacy is protected when travelling, surfing the web and accessing personal files.
If you know where document back-ups are, you can rest assured that in the worst-case, there is a quick solution to save the day.
It’s important to invest in quality equipment to keep you connected and safe on your journey. Don’t forget local power adaptors for the places your’e visiting, a portable WiFi hub can be helpful, and back-up battery power is essential.
A new favourite of ours is the slim and sleek Zippo HeatBank that doubles as a hand warmer in cold weather. Pretty neat, and lasts for ages (choose three or six hour packs).
Keep your valuables safe
Another common fear when travelling alone is getting your belongings stolen. No one can fully relax and enjoy time swimming, for example, without letting go of the fear that a stranger will slip away with your personal possessions.
You could carry with you quality waterproof containers that can go into water. These double as food containers when you’re travelling and saving on buying out all the time. Alternatively, you can leave your money and valuables in the hotel room, but use a safety deposit box if possible.
With hotels, it is important to take extra precautions. It is not uncommon for things to be lost even when they are in the drawers, seemingly safe. A smart tip to ward off thieves from your room is to hang up a “do not disturb” sign after leaving your room.
Also, by leaving the television turned on, anyone is able to trick potential thieves into thinking that you have not left in the first place.
The best bet to keep your money and fancy jewellery safe is to only carry enough money with you for food, taxi, accommodation and tours. Leave all the luxurious bling-bling behind.
As a matter of fact, it is best to not put on fancy necklaces, rings and earrings. Don’t attract unnecessary attention – better safe than sorry.
Do not be afraid of solo dining
Many people are anxious to dine alone. It’s common to feel like sitting solo in a restaurant makes you seem desperate or ‘sad’. But, it’s not uncommon to witness people sitting by themselves, enjoying a coffee or a meal and reading a book.
We’ve previously talked about great attributes coworking cafes have. As freelancers and digital nomads ourselves, we’re always on the lookout for coworking cafes that offer key ingredients we need for a productive day away from the home office.
The best coworking cafes we frequent all look great and offer a nice, comfortable space to work in, the sound is just right, as is the vibe. And of course a coworking cafe needs decent WiFi and power outlets.
Cooper and I have always mostly hung out in north / east London, and we’ve got a few of our favourite coworking cafes in this part of the city to share with you here. Of course, if you suggest others, please do let us know in the comments.
Our favourite coworking cafes in east / north London
Mare Street Market, E8 4RU (London Fields)
My cool friend Rosie introduced us to this lovely east London destination. I’ve never seen anything like it! Mare Street Market is nothing short of what you’d expect from the excellent area that is Broadway Market and London Fields. The space here is huge, with a stylish bar in the centre of it all, and smaller counters or stores around the edge of the space, including a podcast studio, florist, record store and café.
Mare Street Market offers long benches for working on, and an ambient outdoor area. The food and drink selection is great.
Downsides of this coworking cafe space is that it can get very busy later in the day on weekends or when the sun is shining, and there’s not easy access to power supply. For an hour or two full of good cheer and stylish environment though, we love this place.
Tip: time your trip here with breakfast on Saturday morning, and a wander around Broadway Market, our favourite London market.
The Last Crumb, N16 0AS (Stoke Newington)
This is a lovely little coffee shop – bright, airy, dog friendly, and conveniently positioned in the heart of Church Street, Stoke Newington. The Last Crumb is a reasonable size and has spacious tables to work out, with some access to power sockets. The coffee and snacks here are good too.
They offer the space up for events too, so keep an eye out for networking opportunities or local activities that may inspire further creativity.
Barber & Parlour, E2 7DP (Shoreditch)
This is typically cool Shoreditch, with a delicious menu and great energy always. We’ve spent hours working at Barber & Parlour, mostly on Sundays. The vibe is relaxed, there’s plenty of space and different options for seating. Cooper and I have always found a spot by a wall with a power socket, and there’s internet here.
As for most good places, it does get very busy as the day draws on, so we usually get here early, do a bit of work and head off around lunchtime.
Barber & Parlour is positioned in the middle of Shoreditch, not very far from Spitalfields Market, so there’s plenty to see and do in the area, including the graffiti walk if you want to fill your Instagram feed.
Dudleys Organic Bakehouse, E8 2LQ (Dalston);
We’re sorry this wasn’t around when we lived in Dalston – Dudleys is a new addition to the high street, not far to walk from Dalston Kingsland overground. It’s a fabulous space with excellent snacks, coffee, tea, Wifi and nice atmosphere.
We love the vibe here. Sometimes the music could be turned down just a smidge, but as far as coworking cafes go, this is one of our new favourites!
UPDATE: now also a lovely little cafe on Stoke Newington High Street, open Monday to Sunday 8am to 5pm, right near The White Hart pub.
Google Campus London, EC2A 4BX (Old Street)
We discovered Campus Londona good few years ago, prior to moving over here. This is a fabulous place for start-ups, freelancers, solopreneurs, tech and creative minds who want to learn, network and develop ideas together.
Campus London has a huge cafe dedicated to remote working. The whole place is pretty inspiring, and while I’ve not been there for a while, it’s always in my mind. You can sign up to access the facilities and their events. Find out more here. The slogan, ‘come start something’ says it all – so if you’re in the same frame of mind as us, let’s have a coffee here and make things happen.
Husk Coffee and Creative Space, E14 7LW (opposite Limehouse station)
This is a lovely, spacious spot, designed as a coworking cafe. Husk offers a variety of seating options including couches, small tables and benches. Food and beverages are aplenty; there’s an events calendar here too, and they host English practice get-togethers. A hive of creative energy!
Really keen to know what you think makes a great coworking cafe, and importantly where do you suggest, in London or the world? Let us know in the comments…
If you’re a freelancer, digital nomad or telecommuter, you’ll appreciate the value of a great coworking cafe. Not to be mistaken for a coworking space (which we’ll look at soon here on the blog), coworking cafes offer the best of a coffee shop but with work-friendly benefits.
The flexibility of working from home or remotely is, well, brilliant. But sometimes we need to get out into a place where there’s other people. This can be because ‘home’ (wherever you call it) is noisy, or lonely. I’ve done some of my best work immersed in ‘the zone’ in a fave coworking cafe discovered around London, Vancouver, even Cairns in North Queensland.
The line between a coworking space and a coworking cafe is blurring, as some coworking cafes around the world are really set up very well for working in. Fresh Cup magazine has written about these trends happening in the USA that we found interesting.
If you have a favourite coworking cafe I’d LOVE to know about it – please drop details in the comments below.
Attributes of a great coworking cafe
We seek work-friendly spaces everywhere we travel, from Ibiza to Lisbon, the Gold Coast to London. What distinguishes a normal café or space where it’s technically possible to work, from a fabulous coworking café space that’s free, motivating and easy to work in?
In our experience, a cool coworking cafe has:
Space and cool design elements
Our very favourite coworking cafes in London and around the world inevitably offer a sensory and design experience that we can’t get in the home office. In fact, it’s recognised that coworking cafes and coworking spaces of the future that are to attract the most clientele, will boast cool design. We want to be creatively inspired, and it starts with the architecture and interiors of the places we’re working.
Hotel cafes and bars often do this really well. The Hoxton in Holborn and W Hotel’s Perception Bar in Soho London, and Room Mate Aitana in Amsterdam are great examples.
Essentials in a coworking café also include comfortable seating and a nice amount of space. Various options for working such as bench space, tables, seating at different heights and maybe even some sofa areas are also preferable.
Our favourite coworking cafes are bright, inspiring, interesting but ultimately cosy. They’re convenient, with easy access to transport and other amenities in a city we’re visiting or working in.
Delicious coffee and food (fuel!)
There’s nothing quite like the tantalising smell of fresh food and coffee while you work. I especially like it when I’m not having to cook it. That’s just me though.
A coworking café should offer great coffee and a range of food, from treats to lunch. Preferably at reasonable prices.
Energy and ambience
There’s a fine line between ‘just right’ and ‘too much’ in cafes targeting freelancing or digital nomads. Cooper and I need to find a place that plays agreeable music. This obviously might differ person to person. The best type of work soundtrack for me is smooth House or world music like Buddha Bar. I don’t want music blaring, but I’d like to be able to hear it and enjoy it.
Similarly, if the crowd in the café is too noisy, or there’s kids running around, I can’t work effectively.
My best experiences in coworking cafes are when the energy is buzzing and there’s other people working in there. Sometimes you can catch the right level of background activity like food prep, conversation and background noise that makes it easy to focus on the task at hand.
Dog friendly is always a bonus!
Easy access to decent tech
We’re talking about ‘working’ after all, and there are some basics that all remote workers will agree on:
Stable, quick, reliable internet
Inexpensive internet access (if not free)
A secure connection is preferable. That said, we have recently purchased a VPN to keep our networks private when we’re working out and about. Reputable firewalls and virus protection should also be implemented on your machines. For more on safety for digital nomads take a look at this helpful piece from Traveling Lifestyle
Plenty of accessible power outlets – the scramble for the only corner in the room with an electrical socket is never fun.
Know a spot that fits the criteria? Also keen to hear about what other elements you consider are crucial in a work-friendly coffee shop. Do please share in the comments.
Travelling to beautiful destinations is an inspiring activity for everybody, but if you are a content producer chasing wanderlust, there are some places that stand out.
Here’s a list of the best travel vloggers and bloggers Euro destinations, courtesy guest contributor Rebecca Brown.
The best travel vloggers and bloggers’ destinations in Europe – 7 faves
There is something to say about every new, and even old place you visit, since sometimes you see things you’ve already seen in a different way.
However, some places are better than others.
Portugal has many hot spots, and its beautiful capital is definitely one of them.
Perfectly combining the new with the old, Lisbon welcomes all kinds of creative travel vloggers and bloggers.
Nostalgic and romantic writers can find inspiration while exploring the city’s beautifully arranged streets and admiring the mesmerising landscapes from the many viewpoints strategically located throughout the city.
Foodies have the chance to indulge in memorable culinary experiences without having to empty their pockets.
There are many affordable restaurants and cooking classes a passionate blogger can enjoy while in Lisbon. Cervejaria Ramiro is one of the locals’ favourite gathering places that recently became famous among travellers as well.
Bloggers who are passionate about travelling and history can’t miss seeing Berlin, one of Germany’s most interesting and intriguing cities.
The number of museums and historical monuments is fantastic, giving history enthusiasts the thrill they are looking for.
Art, great architecture, as well as shocking stories from WWII and other crucial moments of Europe’s past are also present everywhere in Berlin.
Do you want to share stories about sunny days, splendid beaches, cocktail recipes, and mouthwatering dishes, but you are also interested in cultural and historical places?
Then, visit Mallorca.
The island is paradise for travellers who dream about being caressed by the sun, enjoying water adventures, and having real island fun.
But culture and history aficionados are also welcome in Mallorca.
Palma, the capital city, as well as the great number of castles, fortresses, and historical monuments are always a delight for curious visitors. And the Palma Cathedral is definitely an inspiration for all bloggers and Instagram users who love sharing their travels through amazing photos.
Since we are talking about islands, Croatia is worth mentioning because it has many special pieces of land where passionate bloggers can spend memorable holidays and write great posts.
Hvar and the little, beautiful Pakleni Islands amaze the eyes of all visitors with spectacular landscapes and a multitude of secluded beaches surrounded by crystal-clear waters filled with thrilled snorkelers.
Whether you are interested in romantic walks, want to indulge in some of the world’s most interesting cuisine, or dream about following the steps of famous artists, Paris is the perfect destination.
The city was an inspiration for many great minds, and just wandering around its small alleys can give you enough beauty for your articles.
But if this is not enough, enjoy an artistic adventure at the Louvre Museum, climb the famous Eiffel tour, visit the imposing Notre Dame Cathedral or get in touch with your childhood at Disneyland.
Portugal is one of the best travel vloggers and bloggers’ countries, not only thanks to its fascinating capital, Lisbon, but also because it has so much natural beauty.
The Algarve is a region that should be at the top of your list if you love writing about your adventures.
Not only will you find some of the most beautiful beaches in the world here, but the Algarve promises to amaze you with breathtaking landscapes, small, picturesque villages, and authentic cities.
Tavira is a place you shouldn’t miss if you want to catch a glimpse of the village culture, and Lagos is a great city to observe daily Portuguese life.
If nature is your cup of tea, make sure you explore the Ria Formosa National Park, and if you are interested in spending some time by yourself and admiring the surrounding beauties, check out Ponta da Piedade and Cape St Vincent.
These are just seven of the beautiful European destinations a blogger should visit, but there are many more places waiting to be explored and added to your travel posts.
About the author
Guest contributor Rebecca is an expat and translator by day, and a traveller mostly at night. She is an expert on living with jet lag – and packing in tiny suitcases. You can read more of her exploits at RoughDraft.
…11 top tips on how to travel the world, and all you need to know about tech, travel and clean underwear on the road! Discover more with world-explorers, Ryan Morgan and Denyka Roberson
This past Christmas, Sarah and I decided to visit the coolest city on the Nordic block, Copenhagen. The Danish capital is a clean and dynamic metropolitan city infused with modern architecture, stunning palaces, narrow streets, canals and beautiful homes.
To make our Christmas experience in Copenhagen even more exciting and homely, we were joined by my young cousin, Ryan and his fiancée, Denyka, who for the better part of 11 months have been travelling the world, bouncing from one country to the next, across South East Asia, America, Canada, Europe and the UK.
The last time Sarah and I were experimenting on how to travel the world in a similar capacity, we didn’t have the luxury of staying in an Airbnb, or utilising the over-abundance of apps and devices available to locate economical accommodation and flights, compare currencies, and more importantly, make the overall organisation of travel less stressful.
Over a few festive drinks, (at an Airbnb, of course), we had a chat to Ryan and Denyka about all they had learned on the road, since packing up in Australia last January (2015).
Here’s the cream of what we learned from our pair of innovative, adventuring millennials.
How to travel the world – 11 top tips with Ryan Morgan and Denyka Roberson
The magic number of underwear to carry is 10! Yep, while this is an amusing piece of advice (which was passed onto them on Facebook by another world-explorer before they travelled), they’ve tried, tested and found it to be true. You can live in one pair of jeans for a week but this rule doesn’t apply to underwear, and this number keeps you going for a few days, even when it’s a challenge to get your washing done.
Over 90 per cent of their travels (and when friends have not been able to host), they’ve chosen to stay in an Airbnb – an accommodation brand name that, as travellers know well, has really come to the forefront of the industry over the past year or so. They say the quality, variety, location and price of accommodation Airbnb offers is incomparable. Two of their favourite Airbnb accommodations were in Iceland, and both offered experience as well as a roof over their heads.
One was an old van converted into a room with a double bed and a very warm heater. The scenery was exquisite, and they were positioned uniquely in front of snow-capped mountains with stunning views of the Icelandic wilderness. The other, a barn converted into comfortable accommodation set right in the middle of an Iceland horse farm. The host openly welcomed guests to feed and play with the beautiful animals, all included in the standard price of the listing.
Airbnb is based on trust and reviews. Guests and hosts are both reviewed by one another. Treat the host’s home with the utmost respect, leave it clean (like you hopefully would your own space) and communicate openly and honestly. A bad review could prevent you being invited to stay with an Airbnb in the future.
For booking the cheapest mode of transportation with the best rates they like Skyscanner, Google Flights and Rome 2 Rio.
Skyscanner – an airline comparison site featuring plenty of airlines around the world, some you probably have never heard of. Skyscanner brings them all together on one convenient space and allows you to compare based on the most important factor, price.
Google Flights – another airline comparison site with a very helpful, unique feature which allows you to view the prices of nearby cities of the region you are flying to. A slight variation in your journey can help you save hundreds, or maybe thousands of dollars off the cost of your next trip.
Rome2Rio – used to search for all types of transport; buses, trains, car rental and flights. Rome2Rio makes suggestions like flying from Dublin to Bristol then catching a bus to Cardiff which was three times cheaper than flying direct Dublin to Cardiff!
Communication and Technology
Before heading off on their grand adventure, Ryan and Denyka chose to arm themselves with two different top-end smartphones (Samsung Galaxy S5 and LG G3). They decided on this route so that, for example, they could get a better response in situations where one phone’s WiFi works and the other doesn’t; the cameras work in different ways in varying situations.
Also, sometimes one phone will attract a better SIM card deal around the world than the other, or provide technical compatibility that another device cannot. All in all, this choice has helped with cost-efficiency, security, communication and image/video capture.
Ryan and Denyka will not live (or travel!) without access to cloud storage. At around $10 a month, they have unlimited Dropbox storage to safely backup everything – documents, photos, video – to the cloud. Their advice is to plan for all of your belongings to be stolen e.g. passports, visas, personal documents and photos – that’s worst case scenario. If you’re fine to access it via any computer in the world, then your worries are greatly alleviated.
Don’t get complacent about password-protecting your devices and software. They’ve had personal experience at being surprised about what thieves can gather out of the smallest bit of information that can be garnered from anything from your text messages to emails and logins. If it has the ability to be secured, lock it up!
On the other side of this, Denyka and Ryan have found that it’s really easy to ping locations back to family using functions on apps like Google Hangouts, Viber and Whatsapp. This is a terrific idea, we think, because when you’re travelling around a country indefinitely and with no set plans, it’s important that someone at a home base has a good idea where you have been and where you are. This goes beyond just checking-in on Facebook!
Making friends on the road
Their top tip? Join a local pub crawl everywhere you go! This surprised me at first, but I realised it makes total sense, because mostly people joining in are fellow travellers and soon-to-be international friends. Also, don’t be afraid to go and talk to people when you are out, because let’s face it, most people are lovely once you get chatting. They have made a lot of friends joking about aeroplane legroom, suggesting ride-shares, and even asking locals on the streets for recommendations on what to do in their hometown.
It’s not just for business people! Start and maintain WhatsApp groups as you travel, and share photos with your new friends (but do this privately, out of courtesy).
Because Ryan and Denyka have cleverly stayed in touch on Whatsapp (and also Facebook), they’ve been invited to stay in exotic places around the globe. Their new friends love seeing them again, and are proud to showcase their homeland to this friendly pair of Aussies.
They have actually based travel destinations solely on catching up with new friends they have met on the road. One thing they are looking forward to most on returning home to Australia is having their international mates come and visit.
They reminded us to prioritise what you need, and organise important belongings into one bag; that is, toiletries, clothes for the day or week. Keep your most-needed belongings at the top. Also, they split their belongings so that if a bag was to go missing, they both still have some clothes and essentials to share. Pack light, you do not need to travel with five pairs of jeans.
Over the past year, the contents of their bags has completely changed – from singlets and shorts in South East Asia, to warm coats and jeans in Europe. Remember, it’s better to pack light than regretfully over-pack it. If you desperately need something in particular, never fear, if you can purchase it during your travels.
Staying in touch
Denyka and Ryan use Facebook to search for people who live in places they are planning to visit, and have found it to be a really easy way to find friends who are either there when they’re visiting, or friends who have just been and who can share travel tips.
After all this talk about tech, what are their must-have apps (aside from Airbnb, Whatsapp and Dropbox, as mentioned above) for on the road?
1. Google Maps – Ryan and Denyka use this app religiously as it provides detailed information about an area, as well as specific directions from one location to another. Important when trying to find an Airbnb in an unfamiliar city. Thankfully the app also offers aerial and street views of properties. How many arguments do you think this prevents!
2. Maps.Me – the offline equivalent of Google Maps. Although nowhere near as many features, it will still get you back to your accommodation in a pinch. Country maps are downloaded while on a WiFi connection, to be used later while offline.
3. XE Currency – allows comparison and conversion of currencies on-the-go. They found this helpful particularly when purchasing groceries, souvenirs and the odd beverage, and is critical when you’re sticking to a budget.
4. Uber – connects drivers with passengers directly, unlike hailing a taxi or booking through a centralised service. The pair find Uber to be significantly more economical than a taxi. Also, the app tells you how many cars are in your area, and the cheapest, fastest route to a destination.
5. Tripomatic – allows users to choose attractions they want to see and creates a day-by-day itinerary for any journey. Travel books are too heavy to carry, this app is the perfect replacement.
Sarah and I collected magnets of our favourite destinations around the world. Ryan and Denyka’s tradition is a little more physical – they take photos of themselves doing handstands in front of iconic landmarks and buildings!
If you’ve found this helpful, have a tip or story to share, please let us know in the comments below.
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper, and here we share our advice and stories about expat living in the UK; pet and house sitting around the world; wellness travel and creative living, no matter where on the planet you are. We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for 20 years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. We hope you find value in our content. Please do connect by leaving a comment or find us on social media.