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How to travel alone for the first time

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Natasha Weiss

In the last few years, the popularity of solo travel has grown rapidly. Going on adventures just by yourself can be a life-changing experience. Not only can it bring you more confidence, but it is also an excellent opportunity to learn more about yourself and the world around you.

If you have never wandered around the globe on your own, it may seem like a scary thought, but don’t let that discourage you! In this article, you will find tips and tricks on how to travel alone for the first time.

Choose a generally safe country

Once you have decided to go on a solo adventure, the first step you have to take is to pick a suitable destination. If it is your first time traveling alone, it is best to choose a country with high tourism industry. That means locals are more used to foreigners, and the infrastructure is catered more to the needs of travelers.

Another reason why visiting a country that has thriving tourism is better is that you will have the opportunity to meet other adventurers. Solo travel doesn’t mean you have to experience the destination independently. It is actually a wonderful chance to gain new friends.

Of course, you can always plan a trip to a less touristic country, but keep in mind that you may have to face additional challenges. In destinations that don’t receive a lot of travelers, you will most likely stand out amongst the crowd, so be prepared. While heading to a less popular destination involves some difficulties, the overall experience can be even more rewarding.

So which countries should be on your list? For a solo adventure, consider going to Spain, Portugal, Iceland, Slovenia, Switzerland, or New Zealand. There are lots of activities available, plus the environment is generally safe. Here you can take a look at fun things to do in Spain, while here, you will find an exciting itinerary for adventuring in Portugal.

Take into account your language knowledge

The same way it is important to choose a safe country, it is also a good idea to consider which languages you feel comfortable speaking in. If it is your first time adventuring solo, you will spare yourself many challenges by heading to a place where people speak the same language as you. For example, booking a trip to China may not be the best option for English-speaking people.

Later on, when you feel more comfortable with a language barrier, you can explore other places. Of course, most people around the world have at least a basic level of English, so you can also pick a country where it isn’t the mother tongue.

Create a plan (and stick to it)

While being spontaneous is fun, for your first time traveling alone, it is best to be as structured as possible. Going on a solo adventure can be intimidating and even scary. Making a plan in advance can reduce much of that stress because you will have clear directions on what you should do next. 

Start by booking your transportation. After that, choose comfortable accommodation and figure out how you will get to your chosen hotel or rental. If you wish to have an experience that involves no stress, a great option is planning your vacation through a travel agent. They will organize everything in your place.

However, those who prefer to the planning themselves should make sure to have a plan that is as detailed as possible. Do your research! It will pay off.

Pack light

If you are somebody who is used to bringing at least three suitcases and two backpacks on every adventure, the idea of packing everything in just one bag might seem impossible. But if you wish to know how to travel alone for the first time and have a pleasant experience, packing light is crucial. 

When you are adventuring solo, there won’t be anyone to carry your heavy bags. Plus – having too much stuff adds to the stress when you have to check it in the airport or figure out how to move around. 

Don’t stress too much about packing every necessity. In case you do forget something, you can always purchase it.

Get a navigation software

Before heading on your solo trip, download a map (for example, in Google Maps)  for your chosen destination. While there is some beauty in simply wandering around, it is important to have a reliable map. If you download it, you will be able to use it even if you don’t have internet or connection. Thanks to GPS, you will see your location at all times.

If your phone dies, remember that you can always ask locals for advice. Sometimes it can lead to interesting conversations and memorable experiences!

Opt for shared housing options

Staying in a hotel can sometimes be expensive and also lonely. When traveling alone, choosing shared housing options is usually better. By staying at hostels or Airbnbs, you will have more opportunities to meet new people and make friends.

Ideally, opt for accommodations that only have a handful of rooms or guests. Places like these feel more like home, which can make connecting with others much easier. After you have spent a day exploring and adventuring, it will be nice to come back!

Use the opportunity to challenge yourself

Although it is important to be in a generally safe environment and plan ahead, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t challenge yourself during the process. When traveling with family or friends, you may not always have the chance to do or try activities you would like to. 

This is your opportunity to experience those crazy, bucket-list-worthy ideas you have always dreamed of! Whether that is trying a new sport, tasting unusual food, or even learning a new language, there is no better time to do it than on a solo adventure.

Sign up for activities

Unless you want your solo travel to be all about getting away from everything and everyone, traveling alone is the perfect way to meet new people. Of course, as you get older, it becomes more challenging to just simply make friends. This is why you should sign up for walking tours or group activities, like cooking classes, snorkeling, or surf school.

In our 7-day Kenya Safari Itinerary, the Maasai Dances are an excellent opportunity to get to know other travelers and local people.

What mistakes to avoid when traveling alone

Picking poor accommodations

You may have the temptation to save a bit of money and opt for a cheap hotel, but your accommodation shouldn’t be the place to skimp. While it is important to be comfortable and safe on any adventure, it becomes even more vital when traveling alone. 

Before booking a stay, find out whether your chosen accommodation has a front desk with 24-hour security. You should also have a safe to store your valuables. However, that doesn’t mean you have to break your bank and only stay in five-star hotels. Nowadays, there are many fabulous hostels that offer these perks too.

Not being cautious

Always take your safety seriously! When you are on your own, there won’t be anyone else to look after you. That means you are responsible for your well-being. Ensure your accommodation is safe, keep your eyes open for any warnings, and find out which areas and neighborhoods you should avoid. 

Also, don’t give out your information to complete strangers. Although it is fun to party abroad, you shouldn’t have more than one or two drinks, so you are always alert to your surroundings.

Not being prepared for emergencies

Accidents and unexpected troubles can happen even with the most experienced travelers. The pandemic, in particular, has taught us that you should always be prepared for unforeseen events. Make sure you have an emergency plan in case something goes wrong.

It is a good idea to write your entire itinerary and leave it with your family and a couple of friends, so they know your whereabouts. In this article, you will find valuable tips on how to create a travel itinerary. Don’t forget to regularly check in with them and give heads up in case your plans change. Purchasing travel insurance is a ‘must’ too. 

Running out of money

The worst thing that can happen when traveling alone is running out of money. One of the most important rules on how to travel alone is to think about your budget wisely. Of course, spending all of your money in the middle of a trip would be problematic for anyone, but, in solo adventures, it becomes a bigger issue. 

Know that most things will cost more than what you expected. Ideally, you should always have extra money.

Final notes

Traveling on your own will require you to step out of your comfort zone, but that is what makes the experience so magical. Go wherever you want, do whatever you wish, and spend time with people you like – on solo adventures, you get to be your own boss. 

If you follow these tips on how to travel alone, you don’t have anything to worry about!

Natasha Weiss

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