Tired of waiting on friends to be ready to travel? Tired of missing out on great flight deals because you’re nervous about solo travel? Whatever the reason is that you’re considering taking a solo trip, YAY YOU! Solo travel can be very daunting, especially the first time. It’s helpful to be prepared, mentally and otherwise for this new adventure. Here are 9 practical steps (that I used) to help you with preparing for your first solo trip!
I took my first solo trip to Thessaloniki in June 2018. I had found a great flight deal and no one to go with, so I decided to just do it! 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? I’m sure you have similar questions and this post should help address those!
1. Deciding on your Destination
Preparing for your first solo trip of course starts with the destination. You’re already doing this thing solo so no need to make things any more difficult! It’s super important you choose your location wisely. Think about what interests (and bores) you when you travel and pick your destination with that in mind.
Choose a destination where you either speak the local language or is ‘touristy’ enough that English (or whatever your language is) is commonly spoken. Choose popular destinations so that you’ll meet other travellers. And finally, don’t forget to check the news, safety stats, blog posts and so on.
2. Research Like a Pro
It’s SO important to research as you start preparing for your first solo trip. You feel more confident because you have an idea what you’re doing and what to expect. Use blogs, Trip Advisor, Culture Trip, Instagram, Tourism board websites and of course Google to understand what to do, what & where to eat, what to see, activities, etc. Leave no stone un-turned! Here’s a short list of things to research before your first solo trip:
- Visa & travel document requirements;
- How to get to & from the airport;
- What to wear, including culturally appropriate clothing;
- Which areas to stay in;
- Common scams;
3. Plan Plan Plan
Your first solo trip will feel extremely intimidating. It’s one thing to arrive in a foreign country but it’s a completely different thing to arrive in a foreign country all alone. Where do you even start? Where should you go? Who should you talk to?
It is important to plan out your trip and It’s pretty easy if it’s a short trip, which your first one will most likely be. Book accommodation, plan your way from the airport, book some group tours/experiences, plan your itinerary. Having an itinerary planned for your first solo trip is super important, so you never feel bored or lost!
4. Arrive before Dark
Plan your trip so you arrive before dark if possible. If you do arrive at night, consider getting a taxi to your accommodation for safety so you’re not wandering through streets alone with luggage. It’s scary enough arriving into new country alone, let alone after dark.
5. Get Insured
Travel insurance is probably one of the most forgotten things when planning a trip. It’s actually one of the most important things to get no matter how long your trip is, and most especially when you’re travelling solo. Depending on the policy you get, it can cover lost luggage, cancelled flights, falling ill, injuries or cutting 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!
6. Get Some Helpful Apps
Sure you’re solo but that doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself! Take advantage of some of the helpful apps available to make your trip much easier.
Download offline maps on both Google maps (iOS, Google Play) and Maps.me (iOS, Google Play) for directions. Google offline maps was particularly helpful before I left. I found the places I wanted to see and the 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 list. This meant I didn’t waste time trying to look for Wi-Fi to do searches!
You’ll save yourself so much time and effort by having these helpful apps at your fingertips!
RELATED: 9 Must Have Travel Apps
7. Trust Your Gut
Of course solo travel is all about stepping out of your comfort zone but don’t forget to trust your gut. Preparing for your first solo trip is all about putting safety first. Whether it’s someone walking behind you at night or some questionable looking food, be alert! You’ll only regret not following your gut, so if you ever feel funny about anything, get out of it as soon as you can!
8. Keep In Touch
If your parents or friends are anything like mine, they worry a lot about you, especially when you’re in another country by yourself! Try to make sure to update at least one person at home on what you’re doing. If you have an IPhone, the “Find my Friends” or “Find my IPhone” apps are great to use.
You can also share your itinerary with family so they have an idea where you’ll be. It’s also a good idea to leave a photocopy of your passport (Whether you;re solo or not), just in case! Also, if your trip isn’t quite going to plan, it’s always great to talk to friends and family for some comfort.
9. Always Have Vex Money
It’s so easy for expenses to add up. A little snack here, bus ride there, museum entry, this stuff adds up! Try to have “vex money” on holiday in case of emergencies. Always factor in a few extra pounds/dollars into your budget so you’re never strapped for cash, especially when you’re alone.
On my first solo trip, I carried some cash and my Monzo card (really recommend it) which came in handy. I got ALOT of insect bites, the bites got really swollen and I started to feel a little ill (Oh the joys of travel). I was able to use that “vex money” (as it was towards the end of my holiday and I was running out), to get some medication and ointments for the bites.
10. Keep An Open Mind
Preparing for your first solo trip is also about mentally preparing to have an open mind. Although we’re taught not to speak to strangers, being alone has a way of making you way more open 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!
Whether it’s an unexpected encounter with a Yoruba speaking Greek man by the beach or meeting a café worker that went to your university. You can have some pretty great encounters when you let yourself be open.
11. Take Some Downtime
Although you want to see the city in the few days you have, it’s so important to take some downtime and chill! I know I said earlier to plan but don’t overplan, leave room for the unexpected! Go to the beach with some snacks, drinks and a good book, watch the waves and sleep on the ferry ride back with the wind almost blowing your wig off haha). Or just treat yourself to a lovely dinner in a great restaurant.
Going solo can seem daunting at first 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!
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Until next time biscuits xx,