The exhaustion was unavoidable as I began settling in after a draining 24-hour plane ride from my solo trip to Bali. Hence, unpacking was not a priority as I made a beeline for my bed.
You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t nestling into a large white cloud as I slipped between my comfy sheets and snuggled the multitude of pillows that lay atop the fluffy white comforter. This was perfection I exhaled and that’s when the phone rang.
Since I wasn’t in a talking mood it was definitely a voicemail kind of day. But that call was soon followed by a text, a second, a third and so on until I reluctantly turned to see multiple texts from my friend Thalia.
I should have known as she has always been a ‘multi-texter’, but this was a bit excessive. The texts went a little something like this:
“Are you back yet?”
“I want to hear all about it!”
“I bet you got some great pictures, can’t wait to see them.”
“Let me know when you get back so we can get together and discuss. Ok?”
“How do you even have the courage to make trips like that alone?”
Besides wondering why she never simply put everything in one text, I wondered if the last question was the one she really wanted an answer. She had always wanted to take a solo trip but didn’t know where to start.
That was also the question I had no immediate answer for because being raised an only child and a self-professed loner, I’ve never had a problem doing life alone. I’ve done all the things alone, from buying a home, moving to a new state where I knew absolutely no one or traveling the world, going solo just feels natural.
With more and more people desiring to not wait for others to live their lives, solo traveling is becoming quite popular. Want to become an expert at traveling alone? Want to get over the fear that often comes with solo travel? Then these 11 tips for first-time solo travelers will help you do just that!
1. Fight the fear
The first thing you will have to do is to recognize and overcome any type of fear you have against going it solo. Don’t get me wrong, I get scared when I think about the dangers of traveling solo. About a week prior to my trip to Bali a volcano erupted, there were multiple earthquakes and there was talk of a tsunami. I almost canceled a couple of times but realized that this destination had been on my list for years and I wasn’t going to allow fear to stop me.
You just have to realize that the majority of those are just thoughts in your head. Michel de Montaigne said: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.” In an article by the Huffington Post, they state that about 85% of what people worry about never happens and of the 15% that the things did occur, 79% of people discovered they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or that it served to teach them a valuable lesson.
Action Step: make up your mind that you’re going to do this and there is no other option. Embrace that you have some fears around solo travel but that you aren’t going to allow that to stop you from forging ahead with your trip.
2. Start Small
If the thought of doing anything by yourself scares the heck out of you start by going out in your own city.
Go to the movies, a concert or dinner alone because you will be doing so a lot when you start traveling solo. If you’ve been wanting to take that trapeze swinging class but have no friends that share an interest then make it happen by yourself.
Action Step: Start doing things solo in your own city
3. Choose a destination
Research areas with a lot of activities and events that you enjoy. Do you want a place with a great beach or awesome mountains to hike? Search on TripAdvisor and Yelp for reviews locations.
If you are extremely apprehensive about traveling alone make sure to pick somewhere close until you gain the confidence to branch out to further locations. Don’t make your first solo trip a 24-hour plane ride away, instead try for a distance of no more than a couple of hours depending on what your thing is.
Action Step: Research and make a list of the places that excite you
4. Do something
Make it a point to do something, anything that is actionable towards going on your trip.
That could be placing a plane ticket on hold for purchase, purchasing travel gear, booking a hotel or buying tickets to that event you’ve been missing year after year.
Action Step: Make a move towards your goal
5. Have a well mapped out plan
Once you’ve decided where you want to go and make actionable steps to get there, start planning out what you’ll do once there.
Get a feel for your hotel area and map out nearby shops and restaurants. Look up activities, check out websites that give you the top things to do in that city and look on ticket sites for any upcoming events you may want to check out.
Your plan should include how you will get to and from your hotel and how much it will cost. Once you start traveling more on your own you can wing it a lot of times once you arrive by hopping in an Uber or simply getting shuttle once you get there, but I wouldn’t advise this on your initial trip.
Even if you choose to deviate from the plan once you get there, at least you one just in case.
Action Step: Map out a plan for when you’ll get there, plan everything from start to finish.
6. Have a safety plan
While 85% of the things that scare us in our thoughts don’t happen there is that small 15 percent that does. So make sure you take precautions when you’re traveling.
While you will most likely have an amazing drama-free trip, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Action Step: Gear up for safety, you can check out my travel safety tips here and start your safety plan
7. Don’t go it alone
While you will be traveling solo, there’s nothing wrong with enlisting the help of a travel agent to make your solo trip that much smoother. With the popularity of solo trips rising there are a plethora of agents that cater to this crowd.
You always have the option of finding an agent that is familiar with planning for the solo traveler if you aren’t comfortable planning your own trip.
Action Step: Speak with a travel professional to help you plan (optional step)
8. Get social
There are tons of solo traveler groups on social media. Start joining and communicating with other well-traveled people. You can find them by typing in solo travel group on Facebook or searching the hashtag or Instagram. Ask plenty of questions as people are usually eager to give advice on where to go and what to do once you get there. Also, if you are nervous say so you’ll get plenty of ideas about overcoming that hurdle as well.
Action Step: Join solo travel groups and start talking to others. Make sure to join our Facebook group, Grils Who Go! (yes, that was a shameless plug for our Facebook Group)
Girls Who GoPrivate group · 2 membersJoin Group
9. Let others in the loop
Let others know where you will be going and if you really want someone to be aware of your whereabouts you can download apps like the family locator Life360 that allows others to view your real-time location if they are in your circle
Action Step: Research and download apps that allow others to know your location or at least make sure someone has your itinerary
10, Get ready to speak to strangers (A Lot)
At this point, you should be pretty set for take-off. Since you will be going it alone you will most likely be speaking to strangers a lot more than you usually do. So, if this is something that bothers you take the time to get used to it. Many times, I find myself asking others questions and sometimes to take photos of me.
Action Step: Get used to meeting strangers
11. Get out
Once you’ve made it to the beach, mountains, spa or wherever you decided to travel. Don’t get there and then spend all of your time cooped up in your room because you’re afraid of getting out.
If you don’t want to go it totally alone while there book a well-rated tour if the thought of venturing out alone scares. But make sure you do at least one thing by yourself!
Action Step: Enjoy yourself!
I hope these tips help with planning your first solo trip, let me know if they do! I’m going to email it to my friend Thalia now!
Where did you decide to go? Let me know in the comments