When I decided to solo travel in the UK, I did it as part of a larger trip where I was not alone for the first part. That gave me the confidence to travel by myself for the first time.
I was nervous, but as I had been to the UK before – I felt comfortable enough to branch out and explore further. Another benefit of choosing the UK for your first trip is the small size of the country, making it easier to see the it more thoroughly. After an amazing experience there, I can happily say I have solo traveled multiple times.
Here are a few things that drew me to the UK:
Solo Travel un the UK: Ease of Arrival
When I was contemplating a solo trip, I was immediately attracted to the small country of Wales. I had visited the U.K before – but never alone, so it seemed like a good place to start my solo travel adventures. It wasn’t difficult to find a flight from Lisbon (my previous destination) to a close and affordable airport – Bristol. In general, flights are frequently available to major cities in the U.K from all over the world. Wherever you are coming from, you can be sure to find a flight that suits your needs.
Along with the multiple ways into the country, the U.K offers a wide range of transportation, making it easy to move around the country. For solo travelers, the most convenient option is the trains. Train stations are normally well marked, and easy to navigate. While train travel can be a bit pricey, there are promotion tickets that allow you to travel for discounted prices.
I did this when I needed to travel from Bath to London. A word of advice though, arrive with plenty of time to the station when traveling on these types of tickets. On the way to London, I had to run with three pieces of luggage from my hostel to the station to avoid missing my train. Another ticket would have cost £100. The frequency of the trains also allows you to stay in one location, usually a major city, and take day trips – resulting in travel flexibility.
Another, more affordable option for solo travel in the UK is the bus. The drawback of buses is that they are not as frequent, but if you don’t have a tight schedule – then they are your best bet. For accessing more rural areas – if you can drive, car rental is another option.
However, if you can’t drive, such as myself, taking a day trip with a tour company may suit your needs. I did this when I wanted to see Stonehenge. Along the way was taken to small, beautiful villages I would never have stopped in because I didn’t know they existed.
Solo Travel: Friendly Locals
The lack of language barrier was another reason I settled on visiting the UK. If you don’t speak English this might not be true for you. However, as English is a major international language – it makes it easy to communicate. This led me to the ability to make local connections.
Dinner with Locals
The first encounter occurred when I was trying to find a place for dinner in the beautiful city of Bath. My hostel had no kitchen and I was traveling on a budget. I had been wandering around for a while when I spotted a delicious – looking Indian restaurant. Eyeing the massive line for takeout, I asked if I could dine in. The reply was “Sorry, no room.” I shrugged and turned to leave, hoping the grocery store was still open.
That’s when someone tapped my shoulder. “Do you want to eat with us?” Two middle-aged couples stood there, waiting for my reply. I hesitated. I was tired and didn’t really feel like socializing. But did I really want to keep walking in an attempt to find food? No.
They were curious about what had possessed someone to travel alone – as most people are. The usual questions ensued. How was I funding my trip? Why was I alone? What did my parents think of it?
Though the couples insisted I was probably bored, I was comfortable with them – more so than I would have been with a big group my own age. When they weren’t talking to me I eavesdropped on their conversation, enjoyed some curry, and then handed over cash for my portion at the end of the meal.
Riding the Tube
The second experience happened while doing a normal thing – trying to take the Tube in London. One of my favorite parts of traveling in London is taking the tube. While I know locals may wonder why this is – I found it quite fun as there is not a sophisticated metro system where I am from.
I was thankful for these experiences and it showed me that tales of meeting people when solo traveling weren’t just talk, it really does happen!
UK Solo Travel: Wide Range of Attractions and Budget Experiences
The UK holds something for every visitor. If you are a nature lover, you won’t leave disappointed. If you love history, even better! The bigger cities, such as London and Edinburgh, also have amazing shopping, nightlife, and food.
My favorite things to visit in the UK were all of the castles and ruined churches. The ones set among nature are an amazing, photogenic combination. Castles are a popular attraction, and there is a diverse range of them. Two of my favorites on this trip were Castell Coch and Blenheim Palace, accessible as day trips from Cardiff and London respectively.
Though your budget in the UK will depend on what country you are coming from, most cities and towns have some free and affordable attractions to enjoy. Churches and ruins tend to be free. Each town normally has a free history museum, with the ones in big cities such as London and Edinburgh containing amazing collections. It’s a perfect way to get an overview of the country’s history without breaking the bank.
One of my favorite free attractions during my solo trip to the UK was the ruins of a church atop Glastonbury Tor It’s a small ‘mountain’ (it’s more like a hill) said to be where the legendary King Arthur was buried. It was a great way to get exercise in, enjoy the scenery, and feel immersed in history all at once.
Whichever destination in the UK you decide on, and regardless of your travel interests, the UK will provide an easy and fun introduction to solo travel.
About the Author
Rebecca Heggs is a part-time English teacher currently living in Spain, who has been to over 20 countries. In her free time, she enjoys exploring her new home city of Madrid and writing about her travel experiences around Europe. You can follow her adventures at: introvertadventuress.com