Those of you who have read my previous posts on solo travelling know how much of an advocate I am of taking trips on your own: the benefits and how to do it effectively
But what does it take to do a successful solo travel adventure, particularly for someone who has had no experience of it whatsoever?
Fortunately I’ve been there done it enough times to provide a few pointers 😉
Here’s my beginners guide for first time solo travellers:
1. Research, Research And Research!
The very last thing you’d want on your first solo trip is a margin for error. Yes – plans change due to weather, cancellations etc. Find out where the best restaurants are to. Look up the best mode of transport to use to get round the town/city. Are all the attractions within walking distance of each other? Is the city you’re in notorious for pickpocketing and possibly need to be take more safety precautions?
The more research you do ahead of your trip, the more knowledge you have and the more prepared you’ll feel for your first solo adventure.
2. Start Small
Obviously travelling alone is a daunting activity and at first can take a lot of inner courage and strength to book that train or plane ticket and head off to somewhere abroad you’re probably not familiar with. Sometimes you wish to find ways to ease yourself into the practice of solo travel.
Maybe begin with a city/town in your home country. With domestic travel where you’re at least within a culture you’re familiar with, the people speak the same language as you (albeit with different accents and dialects) and the biggest hotspots are not as foreign.
If you still have the inner confidence to travel abroad but not enough for a perhaps start with a day trip to get a feel for exploring a new place alone and having all the time and attention to yourself in the world.
3. Learn some of the country’s Language
Language is such a staple when it comes to a country’s culture and way of life. For learning the language of the place you’re visiting, It’s not expected you be fluent and become bilingual overnight. That’d be like asking a dog to talk like a human or asking an actor to play in a UEFA Champions League final for a full 90 minutes a day before the final. Impos-iii-ball!
But just read up on the basic words and phrases such as hello, good morning/evening, how are you, goodbye, have a nice day etc. Practice saying the words in the right accent and pronounciation. It shows you make more of an effort to understand the natives and also take in an aspect of their culture.
As you go on more solo trips and learn other languages it becomes second nature. Being a native speaker of an international language it can be easy and tempting not to bother with a foreign language. However I don’t wanna take it for granted and try and take the easy ride lets say. It’s a valuable skill to have and valuable thing to put down on your CV ultimately.
4. Take Safety Precautions
As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest worries solo travel brings about is the general welfare and safety of the traveler.
The safety tips I give below in bullet may be overboard but a traveler’s safety and wellbeing is priority no.1
– Take extra documents with you just in case. Leave originals at home apart from maybe your passport.
– Write down the country’s emergency contact number.
– Attach padlocks to luggage and backpacks
– Don’t keep valuables in loose pockets.
– Avoid empty/dark alleyways and streets with no lighting.
– Always walk on main roads where you’re in the public eye instead.
There’s often stories reported by the media of young travellers from the UK going missing and being murdered. It’s always tragic and heart-breaking to hear when someone young losing their life living their best lives. It’s a constant reminder that no where is exactly safe. You never really know who and what’s out there.
However those are rare in the grand scheme of things and shouldn’t deter one person from enjoying solo trips. The majority of solo travelers end up returning in one piece more often than not.
5. Keep Loved Ones Back Home Updated
A follow up to tip #4. Since it’s your first trip by yourself you wanna make sure you’re regularly letting your friends and family know what you’re up to. Share photos of yourself next to the best city attraction. Text one or two when you’ve reached home or gotten up from bed or about how great the food.
It makes things easier for yourself as much as it does for them. Build trust and rapport with those who were very hesistant about letting you go on a solo trip in the first place. Keep doing all of the above and you never know; you may be the one to inspire them to travel solo too.
From personal experience, the more I have solo travelled the easier it has gotten. My parents have [slowly] gotten used to the idea of me travelling. Of course, they’ll always worry. You can never stop them from doing do but you can still make life easier for them.
Image Credit: Bplans Blog
6. Interact with locals & other tourists/travellers
One major benefit of solo travelling is meeting new people and making new friends potentially. Your travel bestie might be waiting our there!
Ask the locals for any hidden gems around the city/town you’re visiting. They know a lot more compared to tourists like yourself. You never know. You may even bump into other solo travellers too. If so, feel free to ask if you can join them on their excursions. It helps with the safety side of things also and you can both bond on your adventures.
All in all, engaging with like-minded people and people who know the area you’re in very well enriches the travel experience.Image Credit: Canva
You may find out that solo travel is not for you – at least during that phase of your life. That’s fine! It’s a learning experience that you’ll take a lot out of and one worth doing at least once in your lifetime.
How was your first solo travel adventure if you’ve been solo travelling? What’s been your favourite solo travel experience? Is it a goal to do more of it this year?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below. You can also read another post of mine on more general tips for travelling alone. Feel free to follow the blog or my socials (below) to stay updated on more content.
Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures