How to… get photos of yourself when travelling alone

One thing that people ask sometimes about travelling all your own is:

When you’re a solo traveller, how do you get photos of yourself?

A couple of years ago, Buzzfeed published an article called We Asked 17 Travel Pros For Their Best Advice on Traveling Solo And Here’s What They Said and I realised this was the number one question in the comments – “if they’re travelling alone, where are the pictures coming from?” I sat and stewed over this for a while, because the implication in the question is that these people are lying about travelling solo.

I go off on my own and pictures of me exist – where are they coming frm?

There are three main methods that I know of and use. And it’s not just for solo travellers – what if you want a group photo with every group member in it?

    • 1 – Selfies

This is my least favourite method but it’s the simplest. I can never get the background I want and my nose always looks enormous but you can do it all by yourself anywhere you like. Another downside is that you tend to dominate the picture rather than the scenery.

Selfie at Schynige Platte in the rain

Selfie at Geysir

Selfie in Tallinn

  • 2 – Use the timer on your camera

This one is dependent on you either having a tripod (not a thing your casual point-and-snap tourist tends to cart around) or something in the area where you can prop the camera. Lava formations and fences are good for this. You also have to know how the timer on your camera works. It’s not rocket science but I know plenty of people who can’t figure it out. And finally, you have to get in position within the ten-second countdown, so it sometimes takes a few attempts. But you can get some really good pictures with the timer.

A variant on the timer is the remote shutter release but I don’t have one so I can’t say anything about it.

Timer selfie (failure) at Landmannalaugar

Timer selfie (triumph) at Landmannalaugar

Timer selfie in the Blue Lagoon

  • 3 – Give the camera to a passer-by

Some people don’t like this method. Some people really don’t like collaring a stranger and handing their camera over to them. I’ve never been afraid for my camera, though, and I’ve never been refused either. The results can be a bit hit-and-miss but by and large, it’s the best way of getting good photos of yourself. I find the best people to pick are either families with teenage sons (the camera will inevitably end up in the hands of the teenage son, who is usually the most capable of using it), women around my own age travelling either alone or in pairs or a man on the further side of middle age who has a DSLR hanging around his neck – these three flavours of people are all trustworthy and usually able to take a half-decent photo.

A stranger takes my photo at Trakai Castle

A stranger takes my photo on a glacier

A stranger takes my photo with a waterfall


Like it? Pin it
How to... get photos of yourself when travelling solo |