Travelling solo for the first time is terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. It is one of the best things you will ever do in your life.
Travelling solo at least once in your life is a must! Experience liberation and learn more about yourself than ever before.
Here are 25 tips you should know before embarking on your first solo travel adventure.
If you’ve never done solo travel before, stepping on a plane and going to a foreign place seems petrifying. You have no idea what anything will look like, how anything works, where to go to and who will be there. The list goes on.
This thought alone is enough to put most people off going on their first solo adventure.
But honestly going travelling on your own is actually not as scary as you make it out to be in your head.
You will find that everything you need is pretty easy to figure out. All you need to do is book your flight, make any necessary arrangements, like visas, pack your bags and get on that flight.
The rest will fall into place more effortlessly than you think. The scariest part is actually making the decision! The first few days might feel strange being on your own but you will get used to it.
You will figure it out and you will find a way to make travelling alone work for you!
Everywhere you go you can almost guarantee there will be other people who are travelling too. These people will become your new best friends. You may even start spending 24/7 together. This is especially true if you travel to places popular with backpackers and choose hostels or social guesthouses to stay in.
When you travel on your own you are more open to connecting with new people. You are also much more approachable. Just be friendly and open!
But at the same time if you feel like being alone and going on some adventures on your own you also have the luxury of doing this.
The ball is in your court!
This can be a big one for a lot of people in our society! Eating alone has this stigma attached to it. You’re made to feel as if you’re a loner and something is wrong with you if you are eating alone.
But please ignore those voices in your head. It is totally normal to eat out alone and honestly no one else is going to be looking at you and wondering why you are alone.
The first time you eat alone it can feel really uncomfortable and awkward especially if you are just staring into space with no one to talk to. I suggest bringing something with you to do like a book or learn to make a craft. This is a great way to pass time when all you have to do is chill in cafes!
Another option is to choose restaurants that are more communal and where the vibe is conducive to starting a conversation with the stranger next to you. You might be surprised that the best friends you’ll ever make may be from one of these encounters!
Travelling alone = total freedom!
It is the most empowering thing anyone can do. Every person should travel alone at least one in life so that they can experience this feeling of absolute freedom.
There is no one to answer to but yourself. You can be anonymous, therefore you can be whoever you want to be!
You will learn so much about yourself. When you are not with people you know your reactions and what you do are not influenced by anyone. This is why travelling solo is so life-changing for so many people.
Get lost to be found!
Airport anxiety is real. The fear of missing a flight or train can have you really worried. Especially when you are alone and aren't sure the best way to get there or how long it will take.
You only have yourself to rely on to get to where you need to go.
So just know that showing up extremely early is fine if that’s what you need to do to stay happy and calm.
As they say, better safe than sorry!
When you are arriving at a new destination alone make sure your flight, bus or train is scheduled to arrive during the day.
You don’t want to be navigating to your accommodation when it’s dark. It makes you much more vulnerable! You most likely won’t be in any danger but just feeling like you are is very unpleasant.
It is also much harder to get transport to your accommodation at night. Shops and banks will be closed so you might struggle to get cash out or buy a sim card, making it all the more stressful.
If you’re not one to plan much in advance (which you shouldn’t do anyway by the way!) just book your first night at the very least.
This means you know where you need to go and you will have a bed to rest. From there you can decide if you want to stay or go somewhere different.
You do not want to be aimlessly wandering around a new town or city trying to find somewhere to stay if this is your first solo adventure!
Do some research before you land so you know exactly what to do to get to your accommodation and how much it should cost.
It can be a really fun adventure to get public transport on your own to a new place (during the day!). But if this is your first trip it’s probably more sensible to take a taxi, Uber or just arrange for a transfer from your hotel or hostel. It may cost a bit more but for the peace of mind, it is worth it!
The next time you visit the same place you can be more spontaneous as you will know how everything works. Another great thing about travelling!
Having access to a smartphone with data is such a lifesaver when you are travelling on your own. It should be one of the first things you do!
You can research what to do on the go, use Google Maps and apps like Uber to get around safely. Plus you can play on your phone if you’re bored and on your own!
It’s also really handy for being able to stay in touch easily with your family, who are probably worried about you (at the beginning anyway).
Just try not to spend too much time on your phone and be present in the moment!
This point is more for countries where having cash is a must and ATMs can be unreliable like in India.
When you are on your own you can’t always borrow money off strangers if you find that you’ve run out and no ATMs are working. You really don’t ever want to be caught out with absolutely no cash!
To be safe make sure you find a working ATM as soon as your cash starts to get low. This way you shouldn’t run out. At the same time, you won’t have to carry copious amounts of cash on you which can also be risky.
It’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings no matter where you are. When you meet people who want to travel with you or talk to you always trust your gut instinct about whether you agree.
Most of the time it’s pretty obvious if you are in danger and you can make the right decisions accordingly.
Pretty much everyone you meet is going to be kind and genuine, as people are generally good not bad. But just keep your wits about you and follow your intuition.
It is usually right!
This is the best way to feel like you are never really alone. Hostels and sociable guesthouses will usually have a common area and a shared kitchen where you can hang out and meet other travellers.
You can find people to go on trips with, even longer-term travel buddies and maybe even your next love!
If you are put off by sharing a room don’t worry. Most hostels now have private rooms you can stay in so you can still get privacy and the social vibe you are after.
They are also usually always better value than staying at hotels! The same goes for local guesthouses.
Quite often some of the best places to stay will come by word of mouth, not a Google search. So ask around for recommendations from any friends that have been to the same place and post in groups on Facebook.
Sometimes you might just not be feeling a place. Maybe it is the people or the vibe of the city. Even if you planned to stay somewhere for a while but you don’t like it, just leave. You won’t regret it!
That’s the beauty of travelling solo. If you like somewhere you can choose to stay longer and if it’s not your thing you can move onto the next place freely.
Going on a solo trip can be exhausting, especially if you’re covering lots of places in a short amount of time. Meeting lots of new people constantly can also be draining!
So make sure every now and again you take some time to cuddle up in a corner, relax and be alone. Don’t feel guilty or fall into feelings of FOMO.
It’s important to look after yourself and make sure you are getting enough alone time even when you are travelling solo!
This is a really great way to kick off your very first solo adventure, especially if you are quite nervous about travelling alone.
By starting off in an organised group you know that there will be activities planned out for you, accommodation and transfers sorted and you will have a group of friends to make instantly.
After the trip is over you can reevaluate where to go next and with who. You might meet some travel buddies and you will absolutely get some killer recommendations of where to go next!
Some options include:
Do your research about local customs of wherever you are travelling to, especially if you are a woman. If you are dressed inappropriately in a country where you should be covered up, quite often no one will say anything to you they will just be deeply offended.
This is not how you want to make people feel in a country you are blessed enough to be able to visit!
Also, try not to do things that draw attention to yourself if you are alone on the street. This includes what you wear but also other behaviours like smoking and drinking alcohol in public or showing PDA with your new mates.
If someone asks if you are travelling alone you can lie and tell them that you’re travelling with friends. Do not feel bad, especially if you get a bad vibe.
Also if someone asks if you are married it is totally fine to lie and say you are married even if you are 100% single.
It’s kind of fun to be able to make up a life, especially if it makes you feel safe!
One of the biggest struggles on travelling alone is not having someone to capture all the amazing moments that you will have.
But there is a way around this! You just need to have some courage. Ask a stranger to take a picture of you. Most of the time they won’t hesitate. You can even offer to take pictures of them in return. It is very common for people to ask strangers to take their picture so don’t feel embarrassed.
Another way to get around this is to make some friends at your hostel and go on excursions together. Then you can all play photographer for one another and get some great pictures. Most people love having pictures of themselves to remember their trip by!
Safety first remember! Especially when you are travelling solo and might not have people around to help you out.
Get good travel insurance. World Nomads is great for long term travellers. You can start a policy from anywhere in the world and keep extending it. They have comprehensive cover too!
Make sure you have copies of your passport and visa on your phone and always carry a credit card in case of an emergency.
Also, keep in touch with at least one person. Let them know your moves and where you are planning on going so if something happens to you someone will notice!
Most popular travel spots will have their very own community inside a Facebook Group. A quick search on Facebook and you should be able to find them!
These groups are great for asking for advice, places to stay, things to do and ride-sharing.
This is also a place where people can post events and other things going on in that area that you will want to know about!
Most hostels will organise walking tours in cities or towns especially in Europe. This is a great way to meet new people, get your bearings and learn some cool stuff about the place you are visiting.
Most walking tours are cheap or just done on a donation basis.
It can be comforting to travel with a lucky charm or talisman! You can choose to have a traditional St Christopher pendant. St Christopher is the patron Saint of travellers and he brings luck and good fortune to your travels.
Off The Map Jewellery has a wide range of unique and high-quality sterling silver and gold travel jewellery and St Christopher pendants.
You can also get other pendants, rings, bracelets, keyrings and backpack tags to take along with you for luck; which you might want when travelling solo for the first time!
Having a special piece of jewellery means that you can cherish the memories of your epic solo adventures for life.
Accept the fact before you leave that you will probably get sick at some point on your trip. Whether it is food poisoning or you get homesick.
If you do fall sick make sure you tell people around you and they will 100% take the best care of you. Eating the way locals eat with help your stomach and immune system get stronger.
Homesickness is real and it can feel debilitating. Get a SIM card with plenty of data and call home every day or whenever you feel down.
The longer you go on your travels the less you will miss home. Home will always be there, it will never change and worst-case scenario you go home!
For some, this will be easy and others this will be hard. Travelling is all about embracing the present moment and crossing paths with new people and places. Not having a set plan gives you the freedom to change your plans, tag along with new people and visit amazing places that you may not of even heard of before you arrive.
This is where the true beauty of travel happens, when you open yourself up to be spontaneous you have the opportunity to make incredible life long friends and have experiences of a lifetime, which come to you completely unexpectedly.
One of the scariest things about travelling solo is the thought of the unknown people, places, and events ahead. It takes guts to leave home and venture out into the world to new places with different cultures on your own.
You may be concerned about your safety, your health or if you will make any friends. This list goes on. The challenges that come with travel push you out of your comfort zone and help you grow so much as a person.
Remember that no matter where you are in the world everyone you meet is a human just like you with a big heart. You will find help and support around every corner so there is no need to be afraid, everyone has your back.
Book that plane ticket, pack that backpack and get out there, alone!
You've got this.
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