After countless hours of wondering what the best ways were to accomplish a vacation on my own, I have found the top advice for first time solo travelers to enjoy a safe, adventure-filled trip solo.
Here are a couple of pieces of wisdom I picked up during my search for the top solo travel tips for women and men. Make sure to check them all and get our free printable travel planners before heading out into the world alone!
Forget All Your Original Worries and Doubts
After hours of conflicting advice, I have come to the conclusion that their truly no right way to travel the world solo. Therefore, make sure to have fun and do whatever you want. You do not have to worry about what others are expecting you to be doing, because, it is your vacation! Everybody is different and will experience something completely unique on their trip.
If you want to spend the day laying by the pool, go for it. If you don't want to go see the world-renowned monument, you really don't have to. Nothing bad will happen.
No one, including someone like myself writing a blog about solo travel, can tell you how your adventure is going to turn out. Thus, try really hard to forget the horror stories and forced beliefs about solo travel before leaving for your journey.
Prepare to Be Uncomfortable
As a solo traveler, you will be forced to be vulnerable. I am not meaning to scare you, however, you may see yourself becoming extremely self-aware of your biggest insecurities and awkwardness.
Being alone in new places and experiences can be frightening. Learning how to stay safe during solo travel is very important advice for first time solo travelers, but you do not need to obsess over the worst scenario possible. Also, you might come across new and unique people from around the world who may be speaking a different language than what you know!
Thus, you need to remember your "why". Why did you decide to go on vacation alone? Once you remember this large decision, you will internally comfort yourself. Your reason you wanted to tackle solo travel will remind you that you in fact can do this if you are actually going through with it.
Bring Extra Cash
It is probably important to note that solo traveling does not always come at a cheap cost. Thus, make sure to stop at the bank before you leave and fill your wallet in case of urgent emergencies (and not so emergent wants). At the end of the day, you want to always keep more cash on you than you estimate you will need.
Also, make sure to keep a little in your backpack, some in your wallet, while having a stash in your car (or suitcase). Make sure to never keep all your money in one spot so you don't have to rely on someone to bail you out if you misplace or lose your money.
In addition, you never know when you will need to convert more money in a foreign country. Many countries will only accept cash for payment, therefore, make sure to bring more than just your credit cards.
A perfect piece of advice for first time solo travelers is that you do not want to pack more than you can carry by yourself. You are going to be responsible for all your belongings from the minute you leave your house until you head back on the return flight. Thus, you need to plan for packing in realistic, comfortable luggage that you can carry all at once.
You want to be able to comfortably carry your suitcase, backpack, and any other bags when on your vacation. Whether you may be walking up three flights to your hotel room or taking public transportation, you do not want to rely on a stranger to watch while you make multiple trips. Also, you never know if you are gonna want to switch up your plans and hop on a train for a spontaneous trip to a neighboring city.
Journal. Journal. Journal.
Another great piece of advice for first time solo travelers in journaling. Once you depart for your adventure, you will quickly realize that your journal is your best friend. Journaling is a great way to jot down any thoughts and memorable journeys you went on while you were away. Plus, it is a great way to get out a rant or some worries about your travels as you will be by yourself.
You may find yourself in areas that are remote and therefore no one to take your picture to document your visit. Thus, you can remember these trips to attractions through your journal for when you get back home. At the very least, journal on the flight to your vacation and on the flight back. This way you can see the vast difference in mindset over the course of your adventure.
Check Out the Local Walking Tours and Hostel Events
An easy way to learn the ins and outs of a new place is booking a local walking tour on one of your first couple of days. Walking tours are a crucial piece of advice for first time solo travelers and are typically free and are a fun way to see the city and potentially meet other solo travelers you can see other attractions with. While you are trying new things, stop into one of the numerous hostels, and check their calendar.
Many hostels will host events like pub crawls and large community dinners for travelers from around the world to enjoy. While enjoying the hostel events, you can also check the community board. Here you will typically find other travelers looking for some company on random day trips around the area. Find someone that you feel comfortable exploring with and tackle the city together!
Random Packing Items
Solo traveling can require different items to pack than if you were to travel with your family or friends. For example, you should make sure to bring some Ziploc bags. This simple item will become your best friend as you can save stubs or tickets, secure your phone during a rainy hike, or store your toiletries within these bags.
This advice for first time solo travelers will remind you will want to also remember to pack a lock. You do not know when you will want to have extra security around your valuable items or when you will be provided a locker, so make sure to pack a lock just in case.
Also, it may help to bring a deck of cards and your favorite book. Cards are a fantastic way to get to know fellow travelers. A good book will be your best friend during solo meals, at the airport, at cafes, and pretty much anytime you are feeling lonely.
When packing for your adventure, try to lean more on the practical side. While it may seem like a good idea to pack your cutest pair of sandals, you will be sad when you break them or cannot use them on your journey. You also are not going to need several pairs of shoes, but make sure to include a comfortable pair of walking shoes in your luggage.
Bring along a practical day-pack (many backpacks work just fine) equipped with zippers and pockets so you can store everything safely with ample storage. Plus, you should store any additional travel-sized, must-need toiletries you might have in this day-pack so you can throw them out or leave them at your destination.
Try Reaching Out to Strangers
One of the top pieces of advice for first time solo travelers is the you have to remember before you leave that people are inherently kind. While they may boast a completely unknown language or seemingly unusual lifestyle, most people are willing to help if you just ask. Talking to strangers can be quite a terrifying feat, but bring your cards and talk to that group of people. An easy way to meet fellow travelers is in those hostels I mentioned earlier.
Make sure to maintain eye contact, smile, and be aware of your body language to guarantee friendliness. Try to initiate conversations when your gut is telling you to do so. If you see a social event on some random attraction's calendar, try it out. The worst thing that could happen is that you did not attend. With all my experience in talking to strangers, people are likely to be kind back to you nine-out-of-ten times.
Talk to the Locals
If there is anything you take away from this advice for first time solo travelers, this is it. Talk to the locals. I cannot stress this enough. Even if it's the old lady who works at the town's grocery store when you're buying a beverage, asking locals for the secret, must-see spots is a must. They will more than likely give you tips that you will not find on some blog or website before you leave for your vacation.
It may also be a perfect way to learn about the fascinating culture of the area you are traveling to. Ask locals about their stories-- How has the city changed over the years? How long have you been living here? These simple questions can make your adventure a lot more personal and change your view of the world. You will directly learn so much about the history and culture of the region by talking with the people who live there.
That completes our list of the top 10 pieces of advice for first time solo travelers to take with you on your first solo adventure.
Make sure to trust yourself throughout your journey. You have prepared for this moment and are equipped with everything you could ever need. With your strength, intuition, and desire for adventure, you will turn this solo-travel fantasy into your marvelous reality!