Ready to Travel Solo? Here Are Some Essential Tips For Taking Your First Solo Trip!
So, you want to travel solo?
I’ve spent the past few years traveling the world solo and I’ve had the most incredible experiences along the way. However, I still remember how frightening it was to take my first solo trip. After all, solo travel is quite different from traveling with loved ones. When it came to planning, I had no idea where to start.
What kind of place should I book?
How would I get from the airport to my accommodation?
Should I plan everything out or go with the flow?
Let’s just say, I didn’t know the first thing about planning a successful solo trip. Thankfully, I’ve picked up plenty of tips along the years to make my solo travels go alot smoother! If you’re ready to give it a go, then there are 12 essential tips for taking your first solo trip:
1. Plan Out Your First Few Days
Your first solo trip will feel extremely intimidating. It's one thing to arrive in a foreign country but it’s a completely different thing to arrive in a foreign country all alone. Where do you even start? Where should you go? Who should you talk to?
It's going to feel overwhelming in the beginning, so it's important to plan out your first few days. Book your accommodation, arrange a few tours, schedule your airport pickup, do plenty of research, and take the necessary steps to make things easy on yourself in the beginning.
2. Utilize Technology
Solo travel is all about self-reliance, but that shouldn't stop you from using every resource you have. Don't be afraid to utilize technology when necessary. There’ nothing wrong with pulling out your phone in times of need.
If you struggle with directions(like me), then use Google Maps. You can even use these maps offline when you don't have wifi/service
If you struggle with the local language, then use Google Translate. You can download the offline version!
If you struggle with converting currency, then use XE Currency. You can download the offline version of this app too!
You’ll save yourself alot of time and stress by taking advantage of every resource at your fingertips!
3. Research As Much As Possible
Solo travelin' ain't easy, so it's important to research before you go. You'll feel more prepared and less overwhelmed if you have an idea of what to expect. Scour blogs, articles, books, and Facebook groups for 'need to know' info on your anticipated destination. It’s easy to overlook key details when you’re planning everything by yourself. Here are some things you should research before your trip:
Passport, visa, & travel document requirements
How to get to & from the airport
What to wear, including culturally appropriate clothing
Best & safest neighborhoods to stay in
What to do when you arrive!
Check out Lonely Planet, Culture Trip, Trip Advisor, Destination specific websites, Instagram, and personal blogs are great resources. Google is my go-to resource!
Ask for advice in travel-focused Facebook Groups - Girls Love Travel, Women Who Travel, and Solo Female Traveler Network are great resources for first-hand knowledge.
4. Set Intentions
Honestly, anything could go down during your first solo trip. In order to make the most of it, set intentions or goals. Ask yourself what you want out of the experience! What do you want to learn? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to meet? What kind of challenges do you want to face? What do you want to do? How do you want to feel?
When you set intentions, you set the pace and direction for your trip. You’ll start your trip with more clarity and purpose. As a result, you’re more likely to have a successful first solo trip - whatever that may look like to you.
5. Sleep In Social Accommodation
It’s no secret that the scariest part of solo travel is the SOLO aspect. It’s easy to be alone when you’re out having fun during the day, but the world seems to get quieter at nighttime. If you want to meet people, go out, and be in a social setting, then consider booking a hostel or private room in an Airbnb.
Hostels aren’t for everyone, but they’re the easiest way to meet people as a solo traveler. Hostels usually host day tours, pub crawls, family dinners, and other events to keep up a social atmosphere! Check reviews on Hostel World!
If you book a private room in an Airbnb, you’ll have a local host. You’ll get privacy, but you won’t be completely alone. In many cases, your host might be willing to show you their local way of life! Be sure to check reviews!
If hostels or Airbnb’s just aren’t your thing, then consider booking hotel with a social setting. Look for hotels that have pools, common area, and events!
6. Choose Your Location Wisely
It's crucial that you choose the right location for YOU. You're more likely to be pleased if you visit a location that suits your interests. Avoid beaches if you find yourself bored after a few days of lounging in the sand. Avoid big cities if crowds overwhelm you. Here are a few tips for first-time solo travelers:
choose a location where you speak the local language, otherwise be prepared for a language barrier(download Google Translate)
choose a location with an established tourism infrastructure
choose a popular backpacking location so you'll meet plenty of other travelers
choose a centralized location to avoid isolation and long commutes
7. Let Go Of Expectations
Like I said somewhere above, anything could go down during your first solo trip. ANYTHING! Try to go in with no expectations, while doing your best to stay positive. There's no way to predict what will happen or what a certain destination will be like, so a positive mindset is crucial.
8. Keep The Balance
With all this newfound freedom, it may be tempting to do everything you've ever wanted. Hold the phone! Over-planning can be as bad as a lack of planning. Plan out a few 'must-do' activities, but leave room for spontaneity. There's no need to do all of the things or push yourself too hard. You'll discover that quality beats quantity when it comes to solo travel. Give yourself a chance to take it all in!
9. Do Your Own Thing
There’s no right or wrong way to travel solo, so do you boo! Your solo trip doesn’t have to look like mine or anyone else’s, for that matter. This is all for YOU. In this day & age of social media, it’s easy to compare your trip to the next persons. Throw out the checklist and do what you want to do. The joy of solo travel is that you have the freedom to do whatever you truly want to do. If you’re unsure of what you want to do, then this is the perfect time to discover that. If you discover that you hate museums, then there’s no need to visit anymore. If you love people watching, then there’s no shame in spending the whole day people watching at a cafe. Toss out the arbitrary list of ‘must do’s’ and embrace the freedom you have!
10. Pack Light
Carrying your own bags is one of the worst parts of solo travel. You'll have to carry that bad boy with you everywhere you go and it's a bit of a pain. There's no way to prevent this, but packing light will make things easier for you. You'll thank yourself later. Trust me.
11. Arrive During The Day
During my first international solo trip, I made the mistake of arriving at 1am. In hindsight, this was a really bad idea. It’s scary enough arriving into foreign country alone, let alone at nighttime. It’s alot easier to gain your composure, arrange transportation, and stay safe during the daytime.
Try to ensure that your flight arrives before it gets dark outside.
12. Smile And Be Proud Of Yourself
Congratulations! You were brave enough to book a flight to a place you’ve never been. You were brave enough to step outside of your comfort zone and walk into the unknown. You should be proud of yourself. There may be moments where you feel scared or unsure, but this is a normal feeling. Everything may not go exactly how you planned, but that’s okay. Choosing to go is a courageous act in itself and it’s not something that you should take lightly. It sounds cliche, but it’s truly about the journey(not the destination)…so enjoy every moment!