So you’re about to book your first solo trip. You have a thousand questions and anxieties running through your body.
What will I do? How will I meet people? What if there’s an emergency? What will I eat? Where will I go?
First! Take a step back.
Breathe, it’ll be ok!
My first real solo trip was my study abroad in Madrid, Spain back in 2013. It was the first time I was traveling to a new country by myself. Luckily, I had a few others from my college that I would be studying with, even though I didn’t know them. This helped ease some of my anxiety, but I was still in a new country and knew no one.
That first week was one of the hardest I’ve ever had. I didn’t really know how to meet new people. I didn’t have any of the comforts I had at home. But as I got more used to the country, I grew more fond of it, the people, and the culture. I ended up staying in Spain for almost 3 months, and it was by far one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Since then I’ve backpacked through the Japanese mountains and cruised through the emerald waters of Halong Bay.
I encourage everyone I know to travel solo at least once. Here are 6 things you’ll need to consider if you’re planning your first solo trip!
Stay in Hostels & Meet New People
I know. I’m a broken record, but I love staying in hostels. As a solo traveler it allows you to meet new people very quickly. I’ve stayed in both hotels and hostels when I’ve traveled solo, and it’s almost night and day in regards to your experience abroad. People in hostels are looking to meet new people, are usually around our age, and have similar interests and personalities. When picking the right hostel for you, look for one that has a large common area, and a lot of activities. These hostels tend to foster the best community and you’ll be sure to meet many new people.
Feeling a little more adventurous and scrappy? Try giving couchsurfing a try!
Pack For a Solo Trip
Traveling solo requires you to pack differently than if you were traveling with friends or family. You’ll need to think about what to do in case of an emergency, and what benefits are available to you and where your emergency documents will be. You’ll need to think about how you’ll be traveling. If you will be taking trains, cabs, and walking a lot, which you most likely will, you’ll want to pack as lightly as possible. Check out my Packing Guide for solo travelers for tips and tricks.
I’m also a huge fan of photography, and always have a drone in travel baggage. Check out my guide on how to pick the right travel drone for your trip.
Eat Street Food Whenever Possible
As a vegetarian, I’ve certainly found it difficult to always be able to eat street food abroad. Especially when I traveled to Beijing for a startup conference and backpacking through Japan, but many countries have some amazing street food that’s easy to miss if you’re only looking at restaurants.
In Bangkok it’s easy to find Pad Thai, Spring rolls, and much more around every corner. Try something new and allow yourself to explore. In Mexico City, I ate street tacos at $0.50 a piece every single day. It was by far some of the best food I’ve had.
Don’t Plan Everything Out
This might sound a little counterintuitive, but if you’re looking to travel solo, don’t plan out your entire trip. While it’s important to know where you’ll be flying in and out of, and know where to go in case of an emergency, you don’t need to have everything planned out.
When traveling with friends or family, it can get exhausting when you have every minute of every hour planned out, and it becomes hard to deviate from that curated plan. For our 9 day European Family Road trip, we had ever hotel/airbnb, restaurant, and activities planned out for the entire trip. It was exhausting!!!
If this is your first solo trip, you’ll be meeting many new people during your journey. You may discover new restaurants or places to visit from the people you meet. Keep an open mind, and allow yourself to explore new activities and restaurants with new people. This becomes much harder to do when you already have everything planned out.
Be Flexible with Hotels, Flights, and Trains
This extends beyond just restaurants and activities. When I traveled to Bangkok, I booked a one way ticket and my hostel for the night. I had no plan for what I was going to be doing the next day, let alone the next month. I ended up meeting 2 people, one from the UK, and another from the Netherlands that had about the same amount of time in Thailand. We got to know each other really well and ended up traveling together for about 2 weeks, first heading up to the small northern town of Pai and cooling down with waterfalls and elephants in Chiang Mai.
It pays to be flexible with your travel plans when possible. Some of my best memories have come from last minute, spontaneous trips. Don’t let your plan hold you down. Check out my guide on how to find cheap last minute flights for your last minute travel.
Get Travel Insurance
Whether you get it through your travel credit card, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, or if you buy it through a third party. It’s absolutely essential that you have travel insurance. You’ll be traveling alone and you want to make sure you’ve packed accordingly in case of an emergency, and if one does arise, that you’ll not be paying out of pocket for something that could get very expensive.
While this isn’t an in-depth list of everything you will need to think about when traveling solo, it’s a starting point if you’re considering traveling by yourself. If this is your first solo trip, I hope this guide helps you as much as it’s helped me.
Have you traveled solo in the past? Anything I’ve missed? Shoot me a message and post in the comments below.