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So you’ve decided to go on your first solo adventure? I am so excited for you! Your first time traveling alone can be a daunting experience, but with a bit of planning and preparation, it can also be rewarding and memorable. Solo travel can build confidence, teach you how to enjoy your own company, and give you the adventure of a lifetime. You might feel nervous taking this step, but don’t worry! This article will provide you with all the tools to travel with confidence. Here are 12 tips to help make your first solo travel experience a success.
1) Start Small
This may seem like standard advice, but it rings true. If it’s your first time traveling alone, consider starting with a shorter trip or destination that is familiar. Doing so will allow you to test the waters and build confidence for future solo trips. Instead of booking a short trip, start by doing activities in your town alone, such as eating at a restaurant or visiting a museum. It may feel strange if you are used to doing everything with friends or other people. However, it will help you get used to that feeling before your trip, so you can focus on more important things like seeing the sights and immersing yourself in a new culture instead of feeling nervous about the fact that you are alone.
2) Plan Ahead
Plan your itinerary, including your destinations, transportation, and accommodations, ahead of time. Planning will help you stay organized and make the most of your trip. It is also one less thing to worry about. Once you become more comfortable with solo travel, you can start making vague plans instead of detailed plans to allow for more spontaneous adventure. For example, I only planned a general route on my three-month solo trip to Europe. I bought train tickets and booked accommodations along the way. However, I only recommend doing this for your first time traveling alone if you are highly confident.
Use apps like Wanderlog, Visit a City, and Rome2Rio to help you plan!
3) Pack Light
Packing too much is the biggest mistake solo travelers make. They get so excited about their trip that they carry a big suitcase full of things they do not need, which is highly inconvenient. Make sure to pack only the essentials, as you’ll likely be moving around frequently and carrying your bags. Carry one pair of comfortable shoes and multiple tops and bottoms that match each other. If I could do three months in Europe with only a backpack, I promise you can go on your first solo trip without a giant suitcase. Having one smaller bag will also make it easier for you to navigate through airports and public transportation. I recommend buying this one.
Check out my list of top travel essentials for women for more packing tips!
4) Stay Connected
If you are traveling abroad, ensure you can stay in touch with family and friends while you’re away. It’s essential to have a way to contact someone in an emergency. I recommend buying this WiFi hotspot, so you can always connect to the internet no matter where you are. It is an investment, but it has saved me many times, especially as a solo female traveler. I love the idea of disconnecting on a trip, but that is not practical when it comes to staying safe, especially if it is your first time traveling alone.
5) Research the Destination
Learn about your destination’s local customs and laws, currency, and safety concerns. Though I don’t recommend traveling alone somewhere highly unfamiliar for your first time, learning about the area you are traveling to will help you navigate new surroundings easily. You can use apps like Geosure to research the safety ratings of different cities, which is extremely helpful. Choose a country or city with a high safety rating for your first solo destination. Some examples include Japan, Scandinavian countries, Canada, New Zealand, and Switzerland. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list, but these countries are known for being reasonably safe.
Check out my article on the top apps for solo travelers to help you research and plan your trip!
6) Be Aware of your Surroundings
Always be mindful of your surroundings and trust your instincts. If something or someone makes you uncomfortable, trust your gut and move on. Many women fall into the trap of feeling like they need to be polite. I have done this before, too! However, you do not owe anyone your time; safety should always be your number one priority. It is much better to rudely exit a situation than end up in a dangerous situation because you didn’t listen to your gut. I would rather look crazy running and screaming down the street than get hurt.
7) Meet Other Travelers
Traveling alone does not mean you have to be lonely! Hostels, travel groups, and social media are great places to find other travelers. I highly recommend staying at a hostel and meeting other like-minded travelers. I have made some amazing friends this way that I continue to keep in touch with years later! Be open-minded and approach people with a smile. Don’t worry if you go off-track from your original plans. After all, solo travel gives you the ultimate freedom to be as spontaneous as you want.
8) Get Travel Insurance
Make sure you have travel insurance, so you’re covered in case of emergencies or unexpected events. I hope for the best but plan for the worst. I did not intend to get a concussion during my last two weeks in Europe, but sometimes life happens, and you want to be prepared. SafetyWing provides a great flexible and cost effective travel insurance to stay covered while traveling abroad.
9) Make a Copy of Essential Documents
Make a copy of your passport, ID, and travel insurance policy. Leave one copy with a friend or family member at home, and carry another with you. Like the bullet point above, you want to plan for the worst. Pickpocketing is a genuine concern when traveling, and though you hope it will never happen to you, hundreds of tourists lose their important documents while traveling. Keep copies to make your life easier if that happens to you. I also recommend buying this anti-theft purse and these RFID-blocking sleeves to keep your belongings and credit card information safe.
10) Use VPN
This tip is especially essential if you use public Wi-Fi! A VPN (Virtual Private Network) keeps you safe from data breaches by establishing a secure, encrypted connection between your device and the internet. VPN – Super Unlimited Proxy is one app you can use to ensure your connection is secure when connecting to public Wi-Fi systems. It is easy to download and will keep your connection to public networks secure to thwart any hackers.
11) Be Mindful of your Budget
Make sure you have enough money to cover your expenses and keep an eye on your spending to avoid running out of money. Budgeting is a tedious but necessary part of traveling. Especially if it is your first time traveling alone, keep a stash of funding for emergencies. If your trip is not what you expected or you no longer feel comfortable, you can buy a ticket to head back home early.
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12) Ask your Hotel or Hostel Staff for Tips
Your hostel/hotel staff will have the best recommendations for activities, excursions, and, most importantly, restaurants! This is especially true for hostel staff. They also have the inside scoop on special events or walking tours that tourists would not usually be aware of. They will also give you tips on areas and scams to avoid, saving you from potential danger!
By following these tips, you can make the most of your first solo travel experience and create memories that will last a lifetime. Remember to stay safe, be open-minded, and enjoy the adventure! I know this feels like a big step, but you will be so happy that you took it.