Solo travel is one of the most liberating experiences. With the following top 15 solo travel tips, you will go from being anxious and nervous to joyful and content, starting with the taxi ride to the airport right up to your taxi ride home. With the proper planning, you will feel more than confident venturing off on your own.
Travelling alone can be intimidating, but it can be gratifying, and we should all do it at least once! If you’re getting ready to embark on a solo adventure and feel a little scared, please know that you’re not alone. You’re about to do something way out of your comfort zone. Let those nerves bubble to the surface and use them to keep yourself safe, but don’t let them stop you from exploring the world.
1. Reserve your first night’s accommodations ahead of time.
Even if you plan on having the most spontaneous of adventures, I strongly advise you to book your first night of lodging on your solo vacation. Solo travel around the world can be exhausting, and when you add in jet lag, you’ll be ready to relax when you arrive.
Save yourself the worry and time of trying to find somewhere on the spur of the moment by having everything ready ahead of time. Recharge those batteries and get your trip off to the best possible start. I learned this the hard way when I jumped on a flight to Cancun with no hotel booked. Not speaking the language of the country you’re visiting can really complicate matters.
2. Do your visa research and have essential notes on hand.
We want to prevent landing in a strange place, not speaking the language, with no working sim card/data, and no copy of your accommodation’s address. The most minor issues can cause immense stress, and that’s no way to start a trip.
Ensure you’ve applied for the correct visa (if one is required) and know what documentation you’ll need when you arrive. Do you need a copy of your outbound flight? What is the duration of your visa? Do you need cash to pay when you arrive? If you’re a solo female traveller, it’s even more important to be prepared. Here are a few ideas of what you may want to write in a notebook.
- the location where you’ll be staying (for customs forms and to tell the taxi driver)
- any useful numbers (emergency/accommodation) in case your phone dies
- local terms that may be useful to you, such as how to find the restroom, how to communicate with a taxi driver, and how to welcome locals
- Will you need to purchase a sim card if you need to sort your roaming data with your network provider? They are very inexpensive and will save you a lot of hassle.
3. Bring a portable charger with you.
I understand that travel is about going out there and learning to fend for yourself. But when I was solo travelling, knowing that I had my phone and battery was quite reassuring. Keep it in your day bag so that even if you’re out all day, you won’t be without power or assistance if you need it.
4. Purchase a local SIM card with data.
This, like the last point, boils down to personal reassurance and a sense of security. There’s nothing like jumping on the wrong bus in the Mexican countryside and trying to find your way back. Thank you, Google Maps!
There’s a delicate balance to be struck here. You don’t want your phone to get in the way of taking it all in with the locals, and asking for directions is a great way to immerse yourself. If you’re travelling alone and scared, having a phone with data can help.
5. Carefully select your destination and take a mini trip first.
Don’t dive into the deep end of solo travel right away, especially if this is your first journey alone. Or, if you do, be prepared for some awkward moments. If you’re concerned about doing it alone, try a solo weekend close to home to get a feel for it. Allow yourself to ease in.
Then, when planning a more extended vacation, think about how you’re feeling and how far you want to push yourself. For example, as a first-time backpacker, travelling to Southeast Asia or Australia is a popular choice. My first time was on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. As a solo traveller, you’ll be surrounded by others doing the same thing. There are, however, some places where you’ll feel a little more alone and out of your element. So do your homework and make an informed decision!
6. Check in with your loved ones
It’s not only you that is apprehensive… it’s often the family and friends back home! There’s bound to be someone in the group who’s feeling a little out of control and worried about your solo travel adventure, so checking in regularly is a good idea. There will always be times when you need a little reminder of the love waiting at home while on your solo travels.
7. Recognize your fear and push through.
It’s all about getting out of your comfort zone and going on an adventure. These are the experiences that mould and define us. My first solo trip was incredible, but there were plenty of times that I was scared. Especially the first few days. When things get tough, dig deep! You’ll be amazed at how much you grow. You can do it!
8. Create a self-care routine that you can stick to.
There is no denying it. It’s easy to become fatigued when planning, navigating, cooking, learning, and adapting. You will most likely burn out several times during your journey. Make sure to take a day off for self-love and self-care.
Consider the following:
- Take a walk to your favourite coffee shop in the morning.
- Write in your journal if that’s your thing.
- Sleep in and enjoy a day with no plans.
- Book a few nights in one location, so you don’t have to move your bags all the time.
- Heal your body and get plenty of rest and eat nutritious meals.
9. Keep a second bank card and credit card.
Nothing is more frustrating than losing your card or having it stolen and being unable to get cash or make payments. I’d recommend having a second card and keeping them separate so that if you lose one, you’re not stuck. And make sure you have all the phone numbers handy if you have to cancel a card.
10. Carry a fanny pack or money belt to keep your valuables safe.
Pickpocketing and theft are widespread in some places, so you’ll want to minimize your risk as much as possible. Wearing a bag in front rather than hidden behind your back is one way to do this. If you get a small one and wear it under your clothes, even better. Use it to store items like your credit card, passport, and phone.
11. Try to blend in as much as possible.
Don’t bring anything that would break your heart if you lost it. Leave it at home if it isn’t essential. Not only will you have less to worry about, but you will be less of a target. Don’t bring anything too valuable with you!
You don’t want to bring attention to yourself by dressing like a tourist. Respect the local customs, dress code, language, and habits, and don’t give anyone an excuse to pick on you.
12. Trust your gut instincts!
I can’t say this loud enough! While it’s great to smile and be friendly, there may be times that your spidey senses start to tingle, and you just know something isn’t right. If your smile isn’t working, it’s ok to be assertive and get yourself out of an uncomfortable situation.
13. Make sure you have travel insurance.
This is an absolute must! Getting travel insurance before you leave is extremely important, whether you are backpacking around Australia for six months or enjoying a weekend trip with your pals. You don’t want to leave a country with a mountain of medical costs hanging over your head!
14. Invest in a lock.
If you’re going to be bringing a day bag with you, a lock will keep your items safe. Whether you’re napping on the bus or enjoying a show with a crowd, you’ll feel safer with your goods locked up.
15. If you’re lonely, sign up for a group tour or activity!
I won’t lie, solo travel can be lonely! You may need to make a special effort to meet people and socialize. Group excursions can be very social, and they are an excellent way to meet other travellers.
You may do one or two group excursions, or you could make your entire solo trip as a group. You’ll be visiting the same destinations, staying in the same hotels, and dining at the same restaurants. However, you will still be solo. This might be a great way to get your feet wet.
Solo travel is a trend that is expected to grow in 2022 and continue to grow in the years to come. If you’re interested in learning about other travel trends, read my blog post Travel Trends for 2022 and Beyond.
Now that you’re armed with some great advice, where are you going on your first solo trip? Let me know in the comments below. Or, If you would like some assistance planning your next solo trip, let’s connect.