I get asked a lot of questions around solo travel, photography, and everything in between. I love answering these questions and wanted to compile them into one post in hopes they answer some of your questions, too. Most of the questions I also asked myself prior to traveling to other people. We’ll go over destinations, tips, photo equipment, and more! These are the 5 most common questions I get as a solo traveler—answered!
1. Where is my favorite place I’ve ever visited?
I’ve probably answered this question 1000 times in 500 different ways. It’s really challenging to just pick ONE place because truthfully, I loved so many places for different reasons. They all sit a little differently in my heart. I go in more detail in my post The 5 Best Places to Live & Work as a Creative. Alas, here are some of my favorite places:
- Lisbon (for a city experience) go to Lisbon to immerse yourself in Portuguese culture fully. You’ll find the picturesque Tram 58, stunning hilltop vistas and rooftops, fado music, and street art. It’s a perfect place to start your Porteguese journey as a solo traveler.
- Porto (for a romantic experience) go to Porto for a romantic experience, the city is incredibly charming sitting on the Douro river. Try Port wine, take a day trip to the Douro valley wine region, and try traditional fish.
- Algarve (for a chill, beachside experience) i’ve visited twice, and can say it boasts one of the most stunning coastlines I’ve ever seen. Go for the dramatic landscape, to die for sunsets, relaxing beach-time, and surfing. rent a van and drive around, it’s van life-friendly.
2. Montreal (*in the summer)
I get SO excited when anyone ever mentions Montreal. My venus line runs through Montreal, also meaning so many fond heart feelings remain there. I recommend you go in the spring / summer as the winters are a different story entirely. However, I love Montreal so much for it’s European feel in North America, and all the outdoor festivals going on continually throughout the summer. I went last summer for a 2-week house sit and ended up staying the entire summer… because, why not?
Montreal has an enchanting park culture, like a full on picnic, wine and chill in the park for hours and enjoy the sunshine. And, there’s so many sub-neighborhoods of the city you can’t get bored. There’s the anglophone and francophone neighborhoods, but everyone speaks English (for better or for worse.)
From Little Italy, to Atwater Market and the Lachine Canal, there’s just so much to do outdoors. Not to mention it hosts the world’s biggest comedy fest, Just For Laughs, the International Graffiti Convention, Under Pressure, and Mural Fest where tons of artists gather for a week and make beautiful murals and paintings, to name a few. People are so lovely, and there’s a thriving 3rd wave coffee culture. It’s all-around a great place to spend the summer.
I LOVE MEXICO. Mexican culture is the most authentic, dynamic, passionate in the world. In my humble opinion. The people, the food, the sun. GOSH I’m getting a tan just thinking about it.
I’ve traveled a bit around Mexico and can recommend the entire country depending on the experience you want to have. For the real, real deal and not for the faint of heart, go to Mexico City. So much life, art, and energy in one place. Oh, and pollution, but that’s why I say not for the faint of heart. Go for the best Mexican food you’ll ever try in your life (street tacos galore) and the history that lies in the hundreds of museums.
If you want to beach and chill, head to Isla Mujeres (see my guide here) where you can be charmed by the most aquamarine water you’ve ever seen, and the most incredible beaches.
2. How do you know where to stay?
I first decide if I want to have a more social experience or space to myself while solo traveling. From there, I narrow it down to either an Airbnb or a hostel. For hostels, I go on hostelworld and sort by highest rated (anything over 9 for me). If it’s an airbnb, ill see what’s available in the neighborhood i want to stay in that’s affordable and highly rated!
Sometimes, i’ll google search blog posts for the destination I’m going and see if they have recommendations too. It’s important to make sure your accommodation is centrally located and suited towards the experience you want to have. Do your due diligence to make sure things are up to par like wifi speeds, kitchen access, and safety. I’ll always spend my times prowling the reviews to see what other people have to say!
3. What camera and lens do you use and who takes your pics?
You can take amazing travel photos with your iPhone, in fact, many of my best shots are taken with my iPhone X. However, I always bring either my Canon Powershot G7X ii or Sony A6500 with a Sony FE 35mm f/1.8 lens with me to capture the majority of my photos.
Consider bringing a travel-sized tripod this ones my favorite and getting a camera that has wifi capabilities, so you can use your phone as a remote to stage the perfect shot. This tripod comes with a bluetooth remote shutter so you can take photos with your iPhone. Honestly though, as a solo traveler I’ll usually just ask someone to take my photo whether it’s a friend or a stranger. People are generally happy to take your photo. You can always offer first, too!
Photo-tip: Move the screen to how you want the shot to be composed so all they have to do is hit the button. Set up the scene in your mind and decide where you’re going to stand before you give them the camera.
4. How do I edit my photos?
I use Lightroom, both desktop and mobile. I shoot either on my iPhone or camera, upload the photos from my mobile app on the go and usually edit on my iPhone. I use pre-made presets to set the mood how I want it. You can easily copy and paste the preset and adjust the exposure / contrast from there to get the perfect shot.
This isn’t a free program, it’s part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. I pay 29.99 a month as a premium user for all the programs but I believe you can get just Lightroom and Photoshop for 9.99 a month.
5. How do I pack smart for long-term travel?
Less is more. Seriously. I have chronic over-packing syndrome but like to think I’ve nailed it now after traveling for so long in a range of conditions. The reality is, we want to bring a bunch of belongings subconsciously thinking they’ll make us feel safer. But in actuality, it’s best to stick to the essentials, both in wardrobe and accessories/gear. I always end up bringing too many articles of clothing then wanting to go thrifting once I’m there, and making tough decisions around what to leave behind!
I have found a carry on backpack to be more than sufficient for all of my trips. Packing cubes are everything, and help you keep your clothes organized! I roll all of my clothes to minimize wrinkles, and sort them by type (tops, pants, underwear) and pack them away in my carry on.
I have been traveling with my Osprey Porter for the last 3 years and LOVE it. My first trip to Europe I brought wheeled luggage which I soon found out doesn’t fare well with cobblestone streets, ha. What a sight it was when my wheel came off.
Alongside my main backpack, I like to bring a crossbody day pack and a small foldable day backpack that fits in my big Osprey. So, three bags in total but I only carry two while in transit. The crossbody has my essentials like my passport, wallet, and essentials.
Inside, I have a little pouch for my in-transit essentials for easy access where I keep things like my supplements, earplugs, immune booster spray, hand sanitizer, an eye-mask, palo santo, and a pair of earrings to try and look presentable after that 13-hour flight glow 😂
You can shop my travel gear here:
So, I end up with three bags in total for practically every usage I’ll need. The small backpack I use (the Fjallraven kanken – it folds up nicely) when I’m working during the day and need to bring my laptop and notebooks and the day pack is ideal for going out at night or just needing to bring my wallet / kindle with me.
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These are the 5 most common questions I get as a solo traveler, answered. Hopefully you’ve learned something new from this post, and your travel questions were answered! If not, I’d love for you to leave a comment and ask any questions you may have about traveling, life as a digital nomad, or photography topics.