Solo travel is almost a rite of passage for some. Armed with only your wits and a sense of adventure, it is a life changing experience – clichés aside – and definitely worth the effort. Ready to take the leap but you’re not quite sure where to start? Here are my top tips to prepare yourself :
1. Pick A Place
First step, of course, where do you want to go? What kind of a solo traveler are you? For the bold, I’d say you have free reign, but for those nervous starting out, focus on countries that are travel-friendly, easy to navigate, and are predominantly safe enough for a first-timer on their own.
2. Figure Out An Itinerary
Yes, the idea of backpacking your way through Europe, whimsically jumping on a train with no actual idea of where you’re going next can be very romantic. But, if it’s your first time, create an itinerary. Trust me, it takes a load off of your mind and lets you enjoy your visits even more.
3. Live The Hostel Life
On your first time solo, loneliness can be an enormous factor that threatens to ruin the adventure. If the idea of a grubby hostel doesn’t appeal to you (I don’t blame you), check out the new line of ‘luxury’ hostels hitting the travel market. A fantastic way to meet people and have some sightseeing company, I would recommend these to anyone traveling alone, regardless of whether you’re on a tight budget.
4. Join A Tour!
Whether you’re joining a tour for the entirety of your trip or join up with a tour for a day trip, these are a fantastic way to meet people, and almost relax as a part of your trip gets planned for you. Trafalgar, Contiki, Viator are some great options to research.
5. Take A Book To Dinner
Yes, the ultimate fear of dining alone, requesting a ‘table for one’ is very real. Most countries are welcoming to solo travelers, and in my experience, no restaurant has ever minded if I’ve taken a book to dinner.
6. Eat On-The-Go
That said, when you’re out and about during the day, grab your meals on-the-go and enjoy them with a book or some music by say, the canals in Venice or the lake in Zurich.
7. Be Safe
Often overlooked in the spirit of adventure, this NEEDS to be mentioned. Have a great time, but be mindful of your safety. For example, as a girl alone, I’d rarely go out late at night unless I was in a group.
8. Be Insured
A technical nitty-gritty but one that can’t be ignored. Take insurance!! Health, travel, accident – the works. The last thing you want to be stressing about is a ton of extra cash you need to shell out if you lose a booking or need medical treatment. Traveling solo is fun, but make it convenient so you aren’t constantly sweating the small stuff.
9. ENJOY yourself!
I know this feels like a lot to process, but odd as it sounds, you do need to remember to have fun. Don’t sweat a little extra cash, or calories – you’re on vacation, AND you’re doing it alone – give yourself some credit for that. Take a ton of pictures – and yes, ask random strangers if you want more than a selfie, it’s a great conversation starter!