The thought of travelling solo is pretty daunting for a lot of people and, unfortunately, this fear often stops them from giving it a go altogether – which shouldn’t be the case. Travelling on your own, especially for the first time, is a nerve-racking yet exciting and hugely rewarding experience everyone should experience at least once in their life. And it’s not as difficult as it seems, I promise – the hardest part is actually making the decision to go.
If you’ve been thinking about venturing off alone and need some tips on how to prepare for – and get the most out of – your first trip, here are my top 9 tips!
1) Do your research
One of the best things about travelling on your own is not having to adjust to anyone else – you have the freedom to do and see whatever you want, whenever you want. You’re in charge of your own itinerary, which means you can change your plans any time you want. There’s no waiting around for your friends or family, or having to drag yourself through another museum because your travel companions want to be there, when you’d much rather be at the beach or climbing another mountain – and vice versa. Being able to do what you want and when you want, is exhilarating.
But it also means there’s no one else for you to fall back on. You have to find your way around airports, bus terminals and train stations, find your accommodation, and navigate the city… on your own. The idea of not having anyone there to help you (especially if the locals don’t really speak your language) can be intimidating at first, but a bit of pre-travel planning will give you a peace of mind.
Before you go, I’d suggest:
- booking your accommodation
- doing a bit of research about your destination: how are you going to get from the airport to your hotel? What public transport options are available? Check what route you’ll need to take and how long it takes to get there.
- downloading a tube / bus map to help you navigate the city
- creating a tentative itinerary / a list of all the things you’d like to see
- checking relevant TripAdvisor forum threads for any last minute advice on unsafe areas, local customs, or any tourist scams you should be aware of.
2) Start small
My first ever solo trip was a long weekend in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital – and although it was only 2 nights, it turned out to be the perfect length for a first trip on my own. 2 days might seem very short, but it was enough for me to explore the city, and yet not long enough to get hopelessly lost, desperate, or for homesickness to kick in.
If you’ve decided to pluck up the courage to embark on your first trip, I’d say start small. Go somewhere for a long weekend or a couple of days, and choose a destination where you know you’ll feel comfortable and there’s no – or little – language barrier (if you need some tips on where to go, Kiersten from The Blonde Abroad has some great tips here).