Solo travel: What to do at night when you’re travelling alone
April 17th 2017
We’ll be the first to encourage anyone to travel alone, but it does have it’s difficult moments. Those social hours in the evening can be a lonely time, especially if you’re in a quiet place without a nightlife scene. Follow these tips to make the most of your evenings and keep the adventure going after dark.
Rule number one is to get out and about. You’ll feel even more lonely if you shut yourself away and don’t at least mingle around other people. It could be something as simple as popping downstairs to the bar at your hotel – as long as you’re out your room you’ll feel less isolated.
// Related: 6 things they don’t tell you about solo travel
Go for a walk
Many cities around the world are beautiful by night – in fact, some look better than ever after the sun goes down. Go for a walk before or after dinner to swoon over lamp-lit streets and listen to the buzz of busy tables outside bars. Park yourself up on a bench or at a cafe and people watch by night, one of the best times to do so. Gaze around at couples walking by hand-in-hand or friends catching up over cocktails. Notice the way they move and interact, it could teach you a lot about local culture and customs.
If you’re not travelling in a city, it’s of course not a given that you can go for a walk at night. We’re by no means suggesting you wander off into the middle of no where through darkness, but even a local village could prove entertaining for a stroll. Do some research about potentially dangerous neighbourhoods to avoid at night and ensure you stay safe.
Find some great food
Most unforgettable evenings revolve around unforgettable food, and just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a fantastic meal somewhere. Go out on that walk with the intention of finding delicious food along the way, letting yourself be led by the smells you encounter as you wander. Focus in particular on local cuisine so that you both try some of the regional fare and learn about how people in your destination eat and enjoy food together.
If you eat at a restaurant, chat to your waiter about what’s best to try on the menu and ask them questions about the local delicacies. Night markets are another great way to combine food and exploration, and the more chaotic the night market the less chance you’ll have of feeling alone.
Take out a notebook
When travelling alone and out at night, it’s natural to be self-conscious and think people are looking at you, especially if you’re giving solo travel a shot for the first time. The trick to shaking off that feeling is to radiant confidence, and act like you’ve eaten out in restaurants alone a hundred times before.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to take a notebook out with you and jot things down as you wait for your food to come out or as you’re sitting at a bar having a post-dinner tipple. People then tend to be intrigued by you in a more positive way, admiring your tenacity or presuming you must be in town on business.
Furthermore, you might find that people will ask what you’re writing, providing a simple segue into conversation. That’s not to mention the other benefits of writing as you travel: putting memories on paper and helping you to pay more attention and note down the world around you.
Catch a show or movie
If you’re perfectly happy to be alone for the night but crave some entertainment, head to a cinema or theatre and see what’s on. There’s something pleasing (and undeniably romantic) about going to these places by yourself, as it allows you to be completely absorbed in the production.
What’s more, you don’t have to compromise on your selection; you can watch whatever you want, at whatever time you want to fit around your other plans for the night. Revel in the uncompromising nature of solo travel and create your perfect evening on your own terms.
Join a night tour
In destinations across the world companies run tours by night to show travellers the best things to see, eat, and drink, or a particular attraction that is best seen after sunset. Do some research prior to leaving to see if these are run in the place you’re visiting and book yourself in. Look especially for small group tours for the extra social factor, and those that last a few hours, keeping you busy for an entire evening.
Not only are these tours often more unique than standard day trips run, they also provide an easy way to meet people. Sharing that experience with strangers gives you something to talk about with them, and it’s not uncommon for people in the group to go for drinks or stay out after together after the tour has finished.
Fearlessly sit in a bar and chat to people
When you’re yearning to find someone else to share the evening with, you need to push yourself to start chatting to strangers. This isn’t so hard if you’re staying in a hostel or AirBnB accommodation, but if you’re in a hotel this becomes a little more difficult.
Find a quiet place to get a drink nearby and sit at the bar. Location is key here – if the music is too loud it will make talking to someone new a little cumbersome, but if it’s too dead there’ll be no one to speak to in the first place. Try somewhere that has a few people dotted around, that’s not romantic so it won’t be full of couples wanting privacy, and where it’s easy to get chatting to the staff or other people around the bar.
Strike up conversation by mentioning you’re new to the area and need tips on where to eat or what to do. This takes a lot of courage, especially if this kind of behaviour doesn’t come naturally to you. However, once you start you’ll realise that most people are quite friendly and happy to help a stranger settle in.
The beauty of solo travel is that you don’t have to answer to anyone. This comes in especially handy when you’ve had a long day of exploring and don’t fancy doing anything in the evening. That’s fine – you don’t have to. If you want to have an evening of chilling, catching up on a couple of TV shows or reading a book in your hotel room, you absolutely can, unapologetically. We all need nights like that sometimes, often especially when we’re travelling.
What are your tips for solo travel by night?
What do you get up to in the evening when you’re exploring alone?