I really want to encourage people to travel solo, especially if they haven’t done so before. So, I’ve enlisted the help of a few travel bloggers to give some advice for first-time solo travelers. What better way to get the courage to travel alone than to hear from people who’ve actually done it. Their advice will help you make the decisions you need to feel comfortable traveling the globe on your own. Who knows, maybe you’ll love it so much it will be the only way you’ll travel.
Becky of Becky the Traveller
Most of my friends and work colleagues think I’m completely mad when I say I’m off on another solo adventure. Travelling on my own has always been so much fun and I can promise you although you step foot on that plane on your own, you’re never alone for long!
Hostels are a great way of meeting like-minded travellers; I always remember my first hostel in Australia, a group was sat outside chatting and I was thinking wow that’s a big group to be travelling together. It wasn’t until I sat down and started a conversation that I realised pretty much everyone was travelling alone, ha ha if only I’d had travel bloggers sharing their stories when I started travelling.
Brigitte of Life and Times of a Duchie Abroad
My advice: Do not wait for anyone, just go! I went on my first solo trip in 2010, during my Erasmus exchange semester in Dundee, Scotland. Before that I had only been on three trips without my parents, all of them organized. It had never really crossed my mind to go on a trip alone, until both Erasmus friends I had intended to go on an end-of-the-semester Scotland trip with had to cancel last minute. Faced with the choice to either not travel in the country that I had come to love so deeply during my studies abroad or go alone, I went alone.
Scared as hell, but I survived and more: I visited so many beautiful places, met so many wonderful people and learned that I could perfectly manage on my own too. Had I waited for other people to accompany me, I would have stayed in Dundee. I would never have visited the Standing Stones and Skara Brae Village on Orkney (5,000 BC!), I would never have admired the views from Castle Duart and the colourful houses of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull and I would never have been to Iona, the Isle of St Columba, or Sterling Castle. I would have missed out on so much. Life is too short to wait for somebody to keep you company: just go out and explore!
You can follow Brigitte’s travels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Danielle of World Smith
Splurge on day tours. Sometimes, the fact that you happen to be in the same hostel or restaurant or bar as another person doesn’t mean you should be insta-friends. If you’re half as introverted as I am, you want your social interactions to have a little more depth and meaning behind them. Enter the day tour. I find it much easier to bond with tour groups because we share an interest beyond our destination. “What did you think of that last wine?” and “Have you ever used a loom before?” are way better ice breakers than “Where are you from?” And if for some reason, you don’t hit it off, you can part ways in an hour instead of being stuck in the neighboring bunk all week.
Ella of Wide-Eyed Wanderer
The piece of advice that I’d give to first time solo travelers, is to remember that just because you’re going on a solo trip, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be lonely. On the contrary, when you’re travelling solo you have even more opportunities to make friends wherever you go, because you’ll always be meeting new people and won’t always be with a travel partner from home. Whether you find them in your hostel, on the street, on an excursion or on the bus. Traveling solo gives you loads of freedom to either be alone if that’s what you want or to find a new friend wherever you may be. And if, for whatever reason, you’re not having a great time and you’ve not managed to connect with someone new – you still always have yourself. You’ll always be able to count on yourself for much more than what you currently know and sometimes your company is the only company you need.
Sophie of Solo Sophie
Priya of Glorious Sunrise
Most important point: Keep your documents safe. Passport and visa are the proof needed to show that you legally entered the country. Keep originals on your person where you cannot lose them. Keep copies back at your hotel and home.
Observe what others around you are doing. It might help you avoid being the odd-man-out in a place where you do not know the customs. Use common sense.
Always be cautious of your surroundings. Trust your gut. If you think someone is following you, they probably are. So, go to a crowded area as soon as possible or take any other safety measures. Better be safe than sorry. Do not stay out very late in strange places.
Less luggage is more comfort.
Kyntra of Beautifully Redeemed
Be bold. Talk to others! In my hostel in Costa Rica I met other travelers during free breakfast and talked to the people who bunked in my room. On my final day my zip lining trip was canceled and I ended up spending the day with a girl from Australia exploring San Jose. It was honestly my favorite day.
It’s okay to feel lonely, it will pass. I spent 12 hours traveling. I was so exhausted and just wanted to get to my hostel. When I got there, it was late and I found out I was going to be the only person in my 12 person dorm that night. I cried. I sat in my bed and cried. The next morning I got up and had breakfast with travelers and felt better. After exploring that day I knew I had made the right choice in traveling alone.
Be fearless. I was overly concerned with safety and theft. I guess I always kind of am when I travel, but more so when I solo travel. Be aware, but don’t be overly concerned. This led to me getting rides from locals and seeing beautiful sights at night.
Ted of Traveling Ted
Unplug at a national park. If you are about to embark on your first solo travel adventure, odds are you have been salivating over other traveler’s pictures on Instagram and Facebook for a long time. You are chomping at the bit to get out there and share your own adventures. Sharing your story can be as fun as the journey itself; however, I would recommend unplugging at least one time during your trip.
For a real adventure, find the most remote national park in the country you are visiting and get off social media for a few days. If you are going to Thailand check out Khao Yai and get out of Chiang Mai and Bangkok. If in Costa Rica leave Jaco behind for Corcovado. If you are in India check out a noted tiger reserve like Ranthambore or the Sundarban.
If you don’t know the most remote area in the country, just pull it up on google maps, and locate the largest green area. Find the name of the closest park and do some research. Visiting a national park in the United States is always an adventure, but visiting a foreign country’s national park is even more cool. You can always share your adventure when you are back online.
Craig of Stay Adventurous
There is certainly an art to solo travel, something to admire and appreciate. And for those first timers, I can certainly offer a few tips:
Don’t plan your entire trip. Of course, it is great to have activities planned prior to arrival, but make sure you also plan free space. I booked a Spanish school to start my first big solo trip, but only for the first few weeks and then left the rest of my time wide open. Going solo give you the freedom to adjust and change your schedule based on what you learn, whom you meet, and how you feel. Stay flexible.
Say YES more. Maybe you don’t except all invitations at 2am after a festive night out, but definitely say yes more often. You’ll discover most of the world is helpful, friendly and genuine. Saying “Si” paved the way to so many unique and amazing experiences for me including watching a sunrise on Templo IV in Tikal. Stay a yes (wo)man.
Prepare for Positive Transformation. There are many things I love about solo travel, but the main highlight is the opportunity to transform your life. Solo travel puts us in charge, challenges us, and keeps us wide awake. On this edge, a place where I like to call the stay adventurous edge, is where we understand our true self and our dreams. The we realize it is on us to create the person we want to become. Stay Transformed.
Find a healthy way to manage your anxiety. It’s no secret that I struggle with anxiety. Yes, travel relieves that for me, but when I am traveling alone, occasionally it creeps back in. Which is why I have found ways to help manage that anxiety both at home and on the road.
If you’re at all worried about your first trip, it’s a good idea to think about what helps you when you’re feeling afraid or lonely. It’s good to have a few tricks up your sleeve, even if you aren’t a super anxious person. For me, it’s a practice of yoga and meditation. While that isn’t what works for everyone, find what makes you happiest so that you can manage any bit of loneliness that may come up while you’re on the road. Other suggestions could be reading, coloring, taking a bath, or just going for a walk in nature. Sometimes, it’s also helpful to find time to just sit in your hotel or hostel and catch up with friends and family online. It may make you a bit homesick, but it’s also nice to know there are people at home who help and support you.
No matter where you decide to go on your first solo trip, this advice will help ease you into traveling on your own. As someone who never thought I’d travel alone, I now believe it’s something every person should do at least once in their lives. You’ll learn a bit more about yourself and grow in ways you never thought imaginable. Now that you have some tips and tricks to help you, there’s no excuse but to start planning your solo adventure!
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Did we forget anything? What advice would you give? Feel free to leave it in the comments!