So, you’re planning a trip to a new city, tickets booked and your friend drops out at the last minute! Your heart drops to your bum at the thought of going alone but you decide to brave it anyway, can’t waste that ticket money and you need a break from work. Or you’re just tired of waiting on friends to be ready to travel and you decide to take the plunge by yourself. All I can say is a massive well done on taking the first step! Dance party!
A variation of the first scenario was the beginning of my first solo adventure to Thessaloniki in June 2018. As I took my first steps into uncharted solo travel territory, I had a lot of questions! Is it safe to visit as a woman? How do they feel about black people? How am I going to get any pictures? Will I be lonely? Here are some practical tips (that I used) to help you with preparing for your first solo trip!
Where to go
Preparing for your first solo trio of course starts with the location. Now mine was already picked and it turned out to be perfect for a solo travel. Your experience is the most important part of the trip, beyond even the destination because hey, you’re already doing this thing solo no need to make things anymore difficult! So do research to ensure you pick a place you’ll be comfortable in. Check the news, safety stats, blog posts and so on. My first solo jaunt was a 3 day trip and I would fully recommend a similar amount of time for a fellow first timer. Enough time to see the city and also get your feet wet with solo travel in a comfortable way.
Plan Plan and plan some more
Once again, research is so important when you’re preparing for your first solo trip. It makes you feel so much more confident because you pretty much know what you’re doing and where you’re going. Plan your trip so you arrive before dark and if you do arrive when it’s dark, get a taxi for safety so you’re not wandering through unknown streets with luggage. I stayed in an Airbnb because they were so much cheaper than the hotels for a single person (damn you single occupancy surcharge). If you can, stay in an Airbnb with a female host (it’s sad we have to think like this but it’s the world we live in). I did a ton of research on what to do, what & where to eat, what to see and actually came up with an itinerary for those 3 days so I never felt bored or lost. I’ll share this in one of my upcoming posts.
Travel insurance is probably one of the most forgotten things when planning a trip, mainly because we think most likely nothing will happen. It’s actually one of the most important things to get no matter how long you’re going away for and most especially if you’re travelling solo. Depending on the policy you get, it can cover lost luggage, cancelled flights, if you fall sick or injure yourself overseas or need to cut your trip short because of an emergency.. It’s also very affordable; I got mine for £3.15 for my three day trip to Greece, approximately £1 a day!
Get some helpful apps
I downloaded offline maps on both Google maps and maps.me. Google offline maps was particularly helpful because before I left, I found all the places I wanted to see and best places to eat, saved and labelled them on the map so I could see them all at a glance! When I got hungry, I would whip out the map and look for what was nearest to me from my saved options. This meant I ate the best Greek food ever and saw the most amazing sights and didn’t waste time trying to look for Wi-Fi to do any searches! In case you missed my previous post on must have travel apps, definitely give it a read here.
Trust your gut
Of course solo travel is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and seeing the world at your own pace and doing whatever you want but it’s also so important to trust your gut. Preparing for your first solo trip is all about safety, so whether it’s being alert when someone is walking behind you at night or some questionable looking food, be alert! You’ll only regret not following your gut, so definitely better safe than sorry. If you ever feel funny about anything, get out of it as soon as you can!
Keep in Touch
If your parents or friends are anything like mine, they worry a lot about you, especially when you’re in a strange country all by yourself! Try to make sure at least one person at home always knows that you are okay. You can also share your experiences on social media while you’re out and about but be careful about tagging the restaurant or bar you are in at that moment for your own safety. Also, if your trip isn’t quite going to plan, it’s always great to talk to friends and family and get some comfort.
Always have “Vex Money”
It’s so easy for expenses to add up on holiday, a little snack here, bus ride there, museum entry, this stuff adds up! I always try to carry emergency money or “vex money” on holiday for emergencies. This time, I carried some cash and my Monzo card (definitely one to get) which came in handy when I got bitten by a whole load of flies, the bites started to swell and I felt a little ill (Oh the joys of travel). I was able to use that money (as it was towards the end of my holiday and I was running out of money), to get myself some medication and ointments for the bites. Always factor in a few extra pounds/dollars into your budget so you’re never strapped for cash on holiday, especially when you’re alone.
Preparing for your first solo trip is also about preparing mentally to have an open mind. Although we’re taught not to speak to strangers (unless you want to turn into goat haha), being alone has a way of making you way more open to talking to doing just that and it can lead to some pretty memorable experiences. I met a few other solo travellers through a walking tour and when asked to hang out after, I said yes and had a great time with people I just met! This is also super important when it comes to mentally preparing to ask strangers to take your pictures, which you’ll be doing a lot of haha!
Whether it’s an unexpected encounter with a Yoruba speaking Greek man by the beach (check out my Thessaloniki highlights on my Insta/IGtv for the video) or meeting a café worker that went to your university, you can have some pretty great encounters when you let yourself be open.
Take some downtime
Although you do want to see the city in the few days you have, it’s so important to take a bit of downtime and really chill! That doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in your hotel/Airbnb all day doing nothing. It could be getting the ferry to the beach with some snacks, drinks and a good book to truly relax, watch the waves and sleep on the ferry ride back with the wind almost blowing your wig off (which is what I did haha) or just treating yourself to a lovely dinner in a great restaurant. It’s so important to take some time to invigorate and refresh yourself so you return home with a new lease of life.
Going solo can seem daunting but I hope I’ve been able to ease some of your fears when preparing for your first solo trip. Would any of you try travelling solo? If you have, share your experiences in the comments!
Until next time xx,