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Hey fam! So, I belong to a TON of travel groups on Facebook and Pinterest, and I can’t begin to tell you how often someone will post to the group asking for tips or advice for first-time solo travelers. Multiple times per day!
I asked some of my blogger buddies what advice they wish someone had given them before their first solo trip – here it is! Take this post as the *gentle nudge* you need to take the plunge into the great big world all by your lonesome.
advice for first-time solo travelers
nitin of dreams taking wings
“I vividly remember how anxious and frightened I was the night before my first solo trip. I was afraid that if something goes wrong, I won’t have anyone to lend a helping hand. That I would have to deal with the situation on my own.
Dealing with pre-travel anxiety is the first, but most difficult, step one has to take to embark on the journey of self-discovery that is solo travel. Many people back-out at last minute because of anxiety alone.
First solo journey is not only about the destination and the experience you get but also about fighting the demon of self-doubt inside you who wants you to fail, who thinks you can’t fend for yourself. Here are the few small tips that can help in overcoming the self-doubt and anxiety:
1) Make all the bookings be it hotel or bus or train, way before the travel date. People are most relaxed (or I should say excited) when they are planning the trip. As soon as the travel date gets near, anxiety creeps in and is highest on the travel day. If you have already paid for the bookings, there is less chance for you to back-out at last minute.
2) Take a short trip close to your city. Since you have never travelled solo before, you don’t want to be alone 5000 miles away on a different continent for two weeks. Build-up your confidence by travelling solo for short duration, say weekend trip, to a neighbouring city or state. It will give you peace of mind that you are just a few hundred miles away from your family and loved ones, and help can be reached in hours if needed.
3) Go with a planned itinerary and share your plans and accommodation details with friends and family. Having a set itinerary gives confidence and a sense of security and also reduces the danger of any setbacks during travel.”
john paul of hangry backpacker
“First-time solo travelers experience a lot of anxieties and worries. Traveling alone to a new place, often far away with few plans, is a big step for travelers. Most first-time solo travelers worry about loneliness, boredom, or personal safety. These are important things to consider, but an often-overlooked and important factor to consider when traveling solo is food safety.
Food safety standards are not uniform across the world. What passes for acceptable food safety in remote, less-developed corners of the world may not come close normal practices at home. With tens of thousands of travelers falling victim to food poisoning each year, it is important for first-time solo travelers to prepare accordingly.
If you travel long enough, you will eventually get sick. Fortunately, there are simple methods to minimize negative side effects.
First, choose food wisely. The hotter the food, the safer it is to eat. The fresher the food, the safer it is to eat. Be wary of street food that appears less than fresh.
Perhaps most importantly, wash your hands. In places like Southeast Asia with unsafe water, I use hand sanitizer afterwards, too. Having the proper medicine can go a long way in a foreign country. Don’t depend on pharmacies abroad. Consult your physician before traveling.
I’ll try almost any new and strange food. I take these risks abroad because I love exploring the world through food, but I have paid dearly for it. As much fun as it is to expand your palate, being confined to a bathroom for a day or two is miserable.
Solo travelers must fend for themselves if things go awry, but that is no reason to stay home. Proper preparation and food safety awareness is an easy way to ensure that the first solo trip is a fun, successful journey.”
advice first time solo travelers
chelsey of the ninja gypsy
“You’re heading out on your first solo adventure! Congrats! Now that you are on your own, it means that you are fully responsible for your safety. Don’t panic! It is easier than it looks! I am here to share a piece of my ABC’s of Self-Defense with you to keep you safe; “A-Avoid Dangerous Places.”
Just because you are heading out solo doesn’t mean that you are entirely alone, and you shouldn’t be. Avoiding dangerous places, of course, includes sketchy back alleys, creepy bars, and houses of strangers, but it is more than that!
A truly dangerous place is somewhere where no one knows where you are; when no one knows where you are, they can’t help you if something goes wrong.
Are you heading out hiking, riding a motorbike to a new village, taking a tour with a company, or heading out to a new location? Tell someone you trust where you are headed and when you plan to be back/arrive. Message your mom or a friend back home, speak with your accommodation owner, or tell a friend that you made on the road. That way if something goes amiss, then someone can come looking for you or send help!
I know that you are traveling solo for a reason, but taking precautions against the unknown won’t take away from your precious solo time. Be smart about where you go and have a plan in case something goes wrong! Safe travels!”
dominique of dominique travels
“Solo travel is all about location, location, location. My first time travelling by myself was a bit of a dud. I chose to go on a road trip by public transport through England. My expectations were high. I had just finished two backpacking trips with friends, one through South East Asia and one through Central America.
This next comment might be a bit obvious to some of you, but for me it was a shocker. England is nothing like backpacking pearl and party destination Thailand. I thought hostels everywhere would have the laid-back vibe they had in destinations like Bocas del Toro, Panama and Vang Vieng, Laos. Needless to say, I was wrong, and I paid the price for it by thinking I wasn’t cut out for solo travel.
I ended the trip within two weeks rather than the planned two months, and ended up in Edinburgh from where my flight was leaving. Coincidentally, that’s also the destination I fell head over heels in love with. The added benefit was the hostel where I stayed, which had the vibe I found in other locations in the world. I decided to live in Edinburgh for a month, which turned my solo travel fail into a massive win.
The takeaway from my experience is this: it’s important to look at the location for your first solo travel trip. There are destinations where it’s easy to meet like-minded travellers, and there are destinations where you’re more likely to spend time by yourself. It depends on you what you feel like most.
Your preferences will change over time, but in order to have the best first experience consider your wants and needs, and pick your destination based on that. This trip is all about you after all!”
lauren of always find adventure
“Always let someone know where you are.
Before leaving for your trip, nominate one family member or friend back home be your ‘go-to’ for always knowing where you are. If you have the trip planned out in advance, give them copies of your accommodations, day tours, general plan, etc.
During your trip, message them daily. Each day, give them an address or general location of where you are going, what you plan on doing, and expected time that you’ll be back (message them when you return).
If you’re going out on a day tour, give that person the information of the tour company including name, phone number, headquarter address. When plans change, message that person to let them know as well. If you don’t have anyone at home you can message or if you have no access to Wi-Fi, leave a note with the front desk of your hostel, hotel, or even Airbnb host (if you trust them) so that at least someone has a record of where you went.
Choose a hostel!
If you are worried about being lonely and not making friends, an easy solution is to book a hostel. Hostels provide plenty of opportunities for making friends! Sharing a room with multiple people allows the opportunity for you to chat with other travelers like yourself.
Most hostels also have activities such as bar crawls, community dinners, free walking tours or even day excursions at a discounted price.
Even if you aren’t a social person, just knowing the fact that you are with a group of people that in the same accommodation as you might ease your loneliness and anxiety that much more! If you feel uncomfortable sharing a room with strangers, hostels sometimes offer private rooms. When choosing this option, you can still make friends by going to the daily events that the hostels host.”
Your first solo travel experience is undoubtedly going to induce some sort of anxiety! For some people it’s more safety-related, for others it’s about the social aspects. Solo travel and social anxiety, for example, do not exactly go hand-in-hand.
Regardless of the nature of your concerns, following this advice for first-time solo travelers (by these seasoned vets!) to get acclimated to being alone in a foreign land is definitely going to help make your first solo trip an enjoyable experience.