Want to Travel Solo? Here are 15 Tips for Taking your FIRST Solo Trip
15 Tips for Your First Solo Trip
1. Start solo travel at home
If you’ve never traveled solo before, it’s a good idea to start small and at home. Take yourself out on a date – head to a restaurant as if you were abroad and going by yourself. Being at a restaurant alone might be one of your biggest challenges! At home you speak the language, so challenge yourself by going somewhere new or trying a cuisine you’ve never had before. Is there a local park or garden in town? Practice researching all the information you’d need to go there – opening times, transportation (is there a way to get there without a car?), trail maps, etc. Then explore on your own once you’re all set! There are many ways you can start to practice traveling solo at home to grow your confidence.
2. Research before you go
Okay now you’ve practiced traveling solo with mini trips at home, now you’re ready for your first solo trip. Your first step – research! I’m a HUGE research fan, and the more you know, the more confident you’ll feel. Research may not be fun for some, but I find discovering all the possibilities of a new location, finding all the best photo spots, learning about food you want to try – it’s exciting! And even if you’re not a huge planner, make sure you at least have the big picture items figured out and SAVE everything to an app, offline-available Google Doc (my favorite!), an email to yourself or a loved one that you screenshot, anything. Have your flight info, public transit options, accommodation, etc, and make sure it’s all available offline. As you travel more, you can plan less, but at least always make sure to download a few helpful apps (more on that below!).
3. Choose a SMART location
When you’re ready to head out on your first solo trip, pick your destination wisely. Think about the language at your destination of choice – do you speak it? Could you learn some key phrases? Or do guides say many people know your language as well as their own? Figure out if it’s a tourist hub – that’s a great way to be sure to meet people when you are traveling solo. What’s the demographic of the people who visit? Retirees or spring breakers? You might want to pick somewhere you know young people flock to so that you can seek out other travelers to spend time with. Research (there it is again!) the safety of your intended trip location, especially if you are female, POC, or LGBTQIA+.
4. Plan out your first days
5. Let someone know your plans
When you are traveling solo, one concern that will keep coming up is safety. I like to make all my plans on a Google Doc (or Google Sheet) and then I share that document with someone back home. The doc is editable offline and you can keep it updated with your latest plans. That way, I can have planned check in times or a loved one / friend knows where I should be and where they can expect to find me in case they have any concerns. I also put any and ALL helpful information on it so everything I need to know is in one place!
6. Have a backup plan
I honestly don’t know that I’ve actually ever had a trip go 100% right. Having a backup plan for if somewhere is closed, you get lost, or anything goes wrong, can help reduce stress. You won’t be able to plan for everything that may go wrong, BUT this is a crucial time where you will start to develop valuable skills in problem-solving, flexibility, and creativity. As you travel more, things going wrong will scare you less, but if anything goes wrong, just remember to take a deep breath before doing anything else – it will all work out okay in the end, I promise! Be easy on yourself, especially with any first-time mistakes. Solo travel is a skill like any other, and you can and will improve at it!
7. Stay social – even when traveling solo!
Solo travel doesn’t mean you are completely alone – unless you want to be, which is perfectly fine too. If you are nervous about getting lonely or want a bit more socialization, book a room in a hostel or shared accommodation. Strike up a conversation with someone else who looks like a solo traveler. Sit at bar seating and chat with the person next to you. Go somewhere very popular or touristy. Sign up for a tour, like a free city walking tour or a paid planned tour – I ‘ve met tons of other solo travelers that way.
8. Make technology your friend
We have the power of a computer in our pockets with modern cell phones, and that comes in handy for solo travel. My favorite app I use on EVERY trip, even at home in the U.S. is Google maps, since you can select and download an offline map. This is huge for not getting lost and for being able to figure out where you are at any given time. Another favorite is Google Translate, which even has an incredible feature where you can point your phone camera at a menu/grocery food box/sign/etc and it will translate it in live time! I also will download Podcasts and make a special playlist on Spotify to listen to on my travel days. Any app that has offline features should definitely be a go-to! If you’re planning to stay for a longer trip, look into getting a local SIM card for your phone.
9. Pack light
On our first solo trip, you might be prepared for anything, or so excited for all the possibilities that you pack ALLLLL the outfits. But for your first solo trip you should try to pack light. Remember, you will be solely responsible for all of your things, and lugging around a too-big suitcase for the entire trip is NOT how you want to remember it. That being said, make sure you pack some essentials, such as a small travel first aid kit, all your medications, and possibly a second hidden wallet with some extra cash.
10. Arrive at your destination in daytime
Cheap flights aside, you might want to spend a little more to be sure you arrive in the daylight on your first solo trip. You will be tired, jetlagged, maybe a little lost. All of that happening in the dark can make the experience scary or more stressful. One time, I landed so late at an airport there were ZERO taxis and no other way to leave the airport. I was used to the U.S. 24/7 schedule and wasn’t prepared for how I’d get to the next place in the middle of the night. But if you can’t avoid arriving late, book your first night’s accommodation right by the airport.
11. Be kind to yourself and let yourself grow
Throughout the trip, you will be faced with so many choices and probably quite a few difficulties as well. You might feel stressed, lonely, or unprepared. THAT’S OKAY. It’s okay to feel all the things, it’s okay to feel lost. Take care of yourself if all else fails. Make sure you keep a good balance of rest and activity through the trip, stay hydrated, grab some fruits and veggies. Set some goals for yourself for the trip and circle back to those when you feel lost. It’s okay if you don’t achieve them, think of them more as intentions and a way to leave yourself open for self-growth. Any time you are faced with personal growth, it often comes with growing pains. Travel isn’t always glamorous or enjoyable, and sometimes things can downright suck. Be kind to yourself, and as always, remember to take a deep breath.
12. Have a game plan for when you feel lonely
Taking care of yourself and still not feeling well or stuck with feelings of loneliness? That is perfectly normal! Especially on your first solo trip. Schedule a time to make a phone call to a loved one or friend back home. Save some photos on your phone that will remind you of home or loved ones. Save some funny videos that you will know will cheer yourself up. Take a break – it’s okay to do that on a trip! Reach out to others – locals, other travelers, make some social time happen for yourself. Know that you won’t always feel lonely, and that some trips might be harder than others.
13. Be open to spontaneity
You’re on your trip, you’re feeling a bit more confident. You learn from a local of a cool spot you HAVE to check out – so do it! Leave room in your schedule for the unexpected. I’m always learning about new places while I’m on a trip, even if I think I’ve researched it thoroughly. You might also meet a new friend and they could suggest new things for you to try. Leave yourself open to new experiences, new cuisines, new spontaneous travels. Just be cautious to always keep your safety in mind and weigh pros and cons of going off-plan.
14. Take measures for your safety
Aaaand speaking of safety – keeping yourself safe is probably the number one fear that comes along with solo travel. If you’re a solo female traveler, regardless of your relationship status, you might try wearing a fake wedding ring, or if someone asks about your boyfriend, say they are waiting for you back at the hotel / back at the car. Feel free to mention friends that you have plans with, even if that is completely made up. And remember, NO is a complete sentence!
When you are out on your travels, act confident and walk with purpose. As you would at home, don’t walk with headphones in at night and be aware of your surroundings. As a solo traveler, be especially aware of where your things are. If you sit down to eat at a café or restaurant, you’re your backpack strap around your leg so someone can’t snag it on their way by. Keep your things in sight or be touching them. Remember, you can also always ask for help if you need it! I have found locals around the world are welcoming, kind, and generally want you to enjoy their beautiful home, as long as you are kind and respectful too.
15. ENJOY YOURSELF AND GO FOR IT!
My top tip for your first solo trip? GO FOR IT! The best part about traveling solo is that YOU get to be in charge of what YOU want to do. Enjoy every part of your trip, laugh off the bad things that happen, and search out activities and experiences that will bring you joy. Be “selfish”, treat yourself, and go enjoy it! And take pride in yourself that you are doing something not everyone is capable of – you have faced your fears, you have done things your way, and you had a great time!
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Hey I’m Rebecca!
I’m a travel & outdoors photographer, blogger, and content greator living in the US but you can find me adventuring around the globe! On this blog I share tips to help you improve your photography, inspiration and advice to explore the outdoors, destination guides, travel tips, and more to plan your own adventures!
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