Solo travel for the first timer is often both a daunting thing and a choice made for many reasons.
The most common reason for deciding to venture out on our own is that our friends or family don’t have the same travel aspirations as us or that trying to organise them to travel can be like herding cats; difficult at least, but sometimes impossible. What inspires others may make your eyes turn back into your head. Whatever your reason for going it alone, solo travel will enrich your life.
Your friends and family may of course think you’ve lost the plot when you mention that you’re going it alone. Why would you want to go on your own? In most cases they are genuinely concerned for your safety rather than questioning your sanity.
If you’re ready to venture out on your own into the world, there’s a few things you can do to prepare yourself for what will be an experience you’ll never forget and one that is likely to have you addicted to travelling solo. Be careful you may never want to travel with others again.
Here’s a few things you can do to prepare to travel solo:
#1. Start small.
Take yourself away by yourself somewhere close to home. Get used to staying in an hotel, Airbnb or house sit by yourself, eating out alone and having no one to share the experience with.
#2. Go on a tour outside your country with other solos.
This will prepare you to meet new people, a skill you’ll need when you’re out on your own in the world. Often we have had the same people in our lives for many years and don’t realise how tricky it can be to form new friendships. You’ll also meet others on the tour that understand exactly how you feel and your desire to go it alone.
#3. Choose a place where you speak and read the language for your first solo destination outside your country.
Landing in a place where you not only don’t understand the language, but also can’t read what signs are saying is not only scary, it’s definitely not recommended for your first solo trip. I’ve been travelling solo for a number of years and it still gives me palpitations when I can’t read signs.
#4. Research your destination and ask others who have traveled alone there about their experiences.
This is the fun part of your planning. Remember though that how you experience the world is uniquely about you. Make sure you check your Government’s website about travel warnings.
Join us at our Facebook community where you can ask others.
#5. Book your accommodation before you go.
Make sure you know where you will be staying and book with a reliable booking site or talk to a travel agent. Make sure you familiarise yourself with the area you will be staying before you book. Sometimes cheaper options can have you staying in areas of places that you may not want to be on your own.
#6. Make sure someone knows your itinerary and has copies of your travel documents just in case.
Sometimes things happen that you can’t plan for. Expect the unexpected when you solo travel. Your country may also have a Government Department that you can register your travel plans with, just in case. In Australia you can register with Smart Traveller.
#7. Research appropriate clothing and the cultural nuances of your destination.
Wearing clothing that won’t make you stand out in a crowd is really important when you’re travelling alone. For example wearing runners in some places in Europe will make you stand out as a tourist where runners are for running and going to the gym. In Hong Kong you’re bound to stand out if you don’t wear runners.
Showing respect for the cultural norms of the country you are visiting will go a long way to helping you have a better solo travel experience.
#8. Organise some day tours.
Taking a few day tours on your solo travel adventure can give you the best of both worlds, time on your own and time with others.
#9 Take a taxi or book a driver from the airport to your accommodation on your first solo trip.
Taking public transport on your first solo trip abroad can be fraught with problems. Taxis at airports are usually accredited and a good option for your first time especially after a long flight. If your plane gets in late at night, it’s best to have a driver booked. Do not be tempted by a smiling face at the airport who will offer to drive you. You most likely will end up at your destination but these people are often not accredited drivers.
Once you get used to using public transport in other places this will become an integral part of your experience, but for your first time, don’t give yourself the stress.
#10. Make sure you have some back up money.
Travel isn’t cheap and you’re bound to find out that things cost more than you expected. Always make sure you have access to some extra funds just in case. That missed flight or unexpected expense might leave you stranded. Remember you are on your own when you solo travel.
#11. Make sure you have adequate travel insurance.
When travelling on your own it’s important to remember you have no one else to rely on. Travel insurance is a must have. You can’t leave home without it.
#12. Solo Travel – Just do it.
Solo Travel can be the best experience you’ll ever have. If you have the desire to travel on your own, what are you waiting for? Go for it!
Read about my first solo travel experience here.