There is a lot of information on the internet aimed at solo female travellers. After all, 85% of solo travellers are women. But there is very little information about male solo travel. I thought it was about time that I shared the reality of what it is like traveling alone as a man.
In this article, I will lay out the 15 expectations that you probably have about traveling alone as a man. Then I will reveal whether or not those expectations are true.
I’ll also share my top five tips for male solo travellers. These are not your ordinary travel tips. They are raw and real – things that I’ve learned as a man traveling alone around the world.
Learn about male solo travel from a man that’s done it for 5+ years – only on Nomadic Yak!
Traveling Alone as a Man – 15 Expectations and the Truth
1. You will meet lots of single women
But that doesn’t mean it is weird for a man to travel alone. It just means that he will meet lots of single women during his trip.
In fact, for every solo male traveller, there are about 3.3 solo female travellers (source).
More than 75% of men have sex when backpacking and travelling alone. You may even form a romantic bond with some of these women and choose to travel together for part of your trip.
Be sure to always remain respectful. And be warned – it can hurt to say goodbye to your female travel companions at the end of your adventure together!
2. You could easily catch an STD or cause a pregnancy
Whilst it’s great to meet lots of single women and enjoy a healthy sex life when traveling alone as a man, there is also a chance that you could easily catch a sexually transmitted disease or get someone pregnant.
To reduce the risk of an STD or pregnancy, be sure to include condoms on your solo travel packing list for males. However, be warned that condoms cannot provide absolute protection against STDs and pregnancy.
The best way to prevent an STD or pregnancy is to avoid having sex altogether whilst traveling alone as a man. However, I appreciate that this isn’t a realistic expectation for everyone.
Delve into my 30 secrets about travel hook ups and backpacking sex!
3. You will endure uncomfortable journeys
Coaches and trains are the most popular way for solo male travellers to get around in developing nations (i.e. Asia, Africa, and South America). Be warned that some of these journeys can be extremely long and uncomfortable when traveling alone as a man.
The quality and comfort of these coaches and trains can range from cramped mini-buses to modern coaches with beds for each passenger.
You will often be riding with a mix of both locals and other travellers. Journeys can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
I’ll never forget the time I was on an overnight sleeper coach in Vietnam. I mistakenly thought that I had the single bed to myself for the entirety of the journey. You can imagine my surprise when another man jumped on at 2 am and snuggled up beside me.
Always try to scope out how comfortable the coach or train is before booking. Look for online reviews if possible.
How I Sleep Through Painful Journeys
4. You will make a tonne of friends
There are many advantages and disadvantages to traveling alone as a man. But one of the main benefits of solo male travel is how many new friends you make.
On average, I make one or two new friends each day of my trip.
In hostels, it’s easy to make casual conversation and befriend other female and male solo travellers. You will meet new people in your dorm room, in the kitchen, around the lounge areas and when doing organised activities such as pub crawls.
Solo male travellers can also make friends when visiting tourist attractions, restaurants, bars and riding on planes, trains and coaches.
Break the ice by chatting about your shared interests: travel, your destination and your home countries.
You will also befriend locals as a man traveling alone. Some of the best friends I have made overseas have been my tour and day guides in places like Cambodia and Morocco.
Become a popular pilgrim with my Ultimate 9-Step Guide to Making 100s of Friends When Travelling Alone!
5. You will drink a lot (and probably do drugs)
If you drink at home, then you’re going to drink even more when traveling alone as a man. This is because it is one of the easiest ways to make friends with fellow travellers.
On average, most of the solo male travellers that I have met drink a few beers each night.
Drinking culture is particularly popular amongst backpackers staying in hostels. Backpackers will often gather at night for drinks or go on a bar crawl around local pubs and clubs.
In saying this, you do not have to drink alcohol to make friends and enjoy yourself. I have met plenty of solo male travellers who do not drink at all.
Besides alcohol, there is also a likelihood that you will partake in drugs as a man traveling alone. This is particularly true if you already partake in drugs at home.
Drugs are most popular amongst young travellers and backpackers.
The most common drug is marijuana but you will sometimes also be offered party drugs such as cocaine and MDMA. On rare occasions, you may even be offered psychedelics such as mushrooms, LSD and opium (sold in some parts of Asia).
Disclaimer: Whilst drugs are somewhat common amongst travellers, I do not recommend partaking. If you do partake in drugs, you take full responsibility and do so at your own risk. Possession and the use of drugs can carry dire legal and health consequences.
6. You will party most nights
Is travelling alone fun? It is if you like to party!
In particular, young men and backpackers staying in hostels will do a lot of partying when traveling alone.
You are more likely to party when visiting big cities and popular tourist destinations. This is because the streets are normally lined with bars and clubs aimed at tourists.
When visiting smaller and quieter destinations, you might not go out at night. Instead, you may have a few drinks with your travel buddies in the comfort of your accommodation.
How much you party will also depend on the atmosphere and cultural norms of your destination. For example, in Europe you will likely go clubbing and drink alcohol; whilst in the Middle East, you may instead visit a shisha lounge and drink tea.
Partying is one of the reasons why you should travel alone in your 20s!
7. You will smoke and vape a lot
If you smoke or vape at home, you will likely smoke or vape even more when travelling.
You smoke more when traveling alone as a man because it is an easy way to befriend people. You will often smoke with other travellers around your accommodation, bars, restaurants and during rest stops on long journeys.
You will also be tempted to smoke more if you are travelling to a destination where cigarettes are inexpensive. Just try not to overdo it and carry gum with you to prevent smelly breath.
8. You will feel like an outsider sometimes
There will be times when you are traveling alone as a man that you will feel like an outsider. This normally happens when you arrive at a new destination and don’t know anyone.
For example, when you arrive at a new hostel, you will find that many of the travellers already know each other and have formed friend groups. You might feel a bit awkward until you join one of those groups or form your own social circle.
As mentioned above, the best way to break the ice and make friends as a man traveling alone is to discuss your common interests: travel, your destination and your home countries.
You will also meet people that you don’t like during your solo male travel. I met several people that I found to be loud, obnoxious and rude to the locals. All you can do in this case is try to avoid those people and prevent an argument.
9. You will get into dangerous situations
Both men and women ask me, is solo travel safe? When you travel alone as a man, you are likely to get yourself into at least one of two dangerous situations.
During my solo male travel, I have found myself in the following sticky situations:
- Having my phone die and getting lost in the streets of Bangkok at 3 am.
- Running out of cash and being stranded on the outskirts of Istanbul.
- Getting off at the wrong stop in a small Moroccan village (a friendly local ended up driving me for an hour to Casablanca).
- Puncturing my scooter tyre twice on the first day of my ride through Vietnam.
- Falling victim to different street scams and being overcharged by merchants.
I got myself into these dangerous situations because I was a young, naive and inexperienced male solo traveller. You can avoid most of these dangers with my solo travel safety tips.
This Tool Has Saved Me 99 Times
- Cut, twist or screw your way out of any problem.
- Must-have if you plan on riding a motorbike or driving a rental car/camper.
- Must be packed in checked luggage (not carry-on).
10. You will pack more than you need
The most common mistake that a man makes when traveling alone is overpacking. Stick to this solo travel packing list for males and don’t take anything that you’re unsure about.
Generally, you will wear the same 3 – 4 tops and 1 – 2 pairs of shorts when traveling alone as a man. But be warned, this may mean that you stink a little (see our next point).
If you do find that you’re short on clothing, it’s often better to buy it at your destination. This is particularly true when visiting developing nations, where clothing is relatively cheap to buy.
11. You will stink
Given that you will repeatedly be wearing the same outfits throughout most of your trip, you will stink at times when traveling alone as a man.
Whilst most men aren’t too keen on doing laundry, it’s recommended that you try to wash your clothes at least once per fortnight.
If you are going to be spending a few days at your destination, use the washing facilities at your accommodation or find the closest laundry.
And don’t forget to keep up your basic hygiene. Shower at least once a day and keep reapplying deodorant.
How to Stay Handsome in the Wild
12. You will spend a lot of time on your phone
Throughout your travels, you will be constantly snapping photos and wanting to update your social media. You will also be tempted to pull out your phone whenever you feel lonely or bored.
Try to limit the amount of time that you spend on your phone each day. The best time to be on social media when travelling is often before bed or during long journeys on coaches and trains.
Don’t be the guy that’s sitting in the hostel or at the bar on your phone all the time. If you do, you’ll find it a lot harder to make friends and you’ll miss some special moments.
13. You will get scammed
You will almost certainly get scammed when traveling alone as a man – whether you know it or not.
Scams come in many forms. And often, traveling alone makes you an easier target.
Some of the ways that I have been scammed during my solo male travel include:
- Paying a scooter taxi in advance to pick me up the next day (they never returned).
- Being wildly overcharged for water, food, taxis and souvenirs.
- Being hassled into playing the infamous ‘cup game’ on the streets of Europe (I never actually fall for this one).
- Having street merchants give me something for ‘free’ and then later demand payment.
You will meet many amazing locals whilst travelling and they will offer you tea, food, rides, cigarettes and more. Most of the time, these offers are genuinely generous. However, other times, they are duplicitous.
The trick is learning to discern between genuine kindness and fake kindness. The more you travel, the more you will understand this and the less often you will fall victim to street scams.
14. You will get injured or ill
Men like to take risks. This means that you are likely to get injured or ill when traveling alone as a man.
Some of the most common injuries and illnesses that I see among solo male travellers are:
- Food poisoning
- Scratches and scrapes
- Burns (particularly from motorcycle and scooter accidents)
- Split nails
- Sunburn and heatstroke
Most of these injuries occur accidentally during adventure activities and there is not a lot you can do to prevent them. For example, I once had my hand crushed by an elephant in Thailand because I unknowingly put myself in a silly position.
Remain vigilant and do your best to avoid injury.
You may be able to heal minor injuries yourself with the help of the staff at your accommodation, a travel-size first aid kit and some rest. For serious injuries, report to a hospital (that’s why it’s important to buy travel insurance).
15. You will rarely be alone
When traveling alone for the first time, some blokes worry: is travelling alone lonely?
Although you’re traveling alone as a man, you will rarely find yourself alone.
In fact, most of the time you’ll be surrounded by other travellers that you’ve befriended. Or you may be travelling with a romantic interest. Or maybe some of the locals have invited you to hang out.
However, if you ever do feel lonely, you should make a video call to your friends and family back home. If that’s not possible, head to the communal area in your hostel or a nearby bar and try to make some new friends.
For 30 more solo travel socialising tips, see my guide on how to travel alone and not be lonely.
Finally, don’t be afraid of loneliness. Instead, use your alone time for reflection and mindfulness.
5 Tips for a Man Traveling Alone
Be inconspicuous when gifting locals
When traveling alone as a man, you will often befriend locals in the street. Many of them might invite you into their home or business for tea or food. And many of them won’t expect anything in return – they will do it out of sheer kindness.
However, there will be some situations where you feel tempted to gift money. In particular, children and beggars in developing nations may press you for money.
It is up to you whether or not you gift them anything and how much you give. However, if you do give out money, try to do so in an inconspicuous manner.
I have seen many generous tourists swarmed by hordes of locals after trying to give money or a gift to an individual. Obviously, in developing regions where the local people struggle to support themselves and their families, this reaction is only natural.
Pack a set of flip-flops
You never know what people have been getting up to in the shared bathrooms in hostels. All sorts of nasty germs and body fluids may be lining the floors and walls.
Be sure to include a set of flip-flops on your solo travel packing list for males. It will help to protect you from warts and other germs.
These Simple Sandals Take Me Around the World
- My go-to shoe when walking the streets in summer.
- Breathable, comfortable and looks good with pants or shorts.
- WARNING: Painful for first 3-4 weeks. Buy now and wear-in before travelling.
- Wear in the shared shower, beach, pool, river, etc.
- Waterproof – unlike the Birkenstocks.
Read about the drug laws
If you do decide to partake in drugs whilst traveling alone as a man, make sure that you understand your destination’s drug laws. Some countries impose extremely harsh drug laws that could see you imprisoned or even sentenced to death.
You should also be aware of the health consequences. Apps such as Know Drugs and Know the Score may be able to provide you with pill testing results and safety information. However, the safest option is to abstain from drugs altogether.
For more information about the drug laws in certain countries, see our destination guides.
Carry a bum bag or fanny pack
When I first began traveling alone as a man, I used to carry a backpack with me on day trips. However, I now prefer to carry a smaller and lighter bumbag (fanny pack) around my waist.
The benefit of a bumbag is that it makes you more manoeuvrable and is less bulky. It is also harder for pickpockets to steal from a bum bag because it is worn around your front.
In my bumbag, I carry a few essentials:
- Phone charging cable
- Power bank
- Coins and cash
- Lip balm
- Some form of ID (not my passport)
- Keys to my accommodation
- Hand sanitiser
Lumpy Pockets are Lame
- Worn close to the body. Can’t easily be snatched.
- No more walking around with bulging pockets.
- Heaps of storage: I can easily fit my iPhone X, Airpods, wallet, passport, charging cable, and sanitiser.
Don’t hook up in dorm rooms
When you’re traveling alone as a man and surrounded by beautiful women, your hormones will be pumping. But that doesn’t mean you can do your business willy-nilly in the hostel dorm room.
If you think you’re going to get lucky, hire a private room at your hostel. Even if you’ve already booked into a dorm, you can always ask reception to upgrade you to a private room.
The same goes for playing with yourself. If you try it in the dorm room, the chances are that you’ll be heard or caught by someone else walking in unexpectedly. Hire a private room occasionally to take care of your blue balls (and don’t do it in the shared bathroom either)!
See my guide to travel hook ups and backpacking sex for 32 more secrets about getting lucky while travelling alone!
Summary – Traveling Alone as a Man
Traveling alone as a man comes with pros and cons. Solo male travellers can expect to make new friends, meet single women, party a lot and enjoy an amazing adventure. However, solo male travellers can also expect to endure uncomfortable journeys, get into dangerous situations, get injured and occasionally feel lonesome.
Find More Solo Travel Tips on Nomadic Yak
You now have a solid idea of what to expect when traveling alone as a man. But you can find more solo male travel advice on Nomadic Yak.
Nomadic Yak helps solo travellers to plan journeys that are adventurous and authentic.
Every article is written by me, Harry Dale. I’ve travelled to 40+ countries over the last 5 years – alone.
On Nomadic Yak, I’ve shared everything you need to know about male solo travel.
You’ll also find 100s of solo travel tips on how to save money, make more friends, build a social media following and much more.
Plus, you can use my solo travel destination guides to discover international sights and attractions that few other travellers get to witness.