Your first trip all by yourself can be intimidating. Will you get bored? Is it safe? What do you even do all day? It’s normal to feel some trepidation when planning your first solo travel experience, but that payoff is so worth it. When you travel with a companion, their preferences and interests naturally contribute to your experiences. This can be good or bad, but traveling alone offers an opportunity for serious self-discovery. There’s a reason Wild and Eat, Pray, Love were both wildly transformative and featured solo female travelers!
Even if you aren’t at a major crossroads in your life, traveling alone can be totally self-indulgent and feel like more of an adventure. It also forces you to interact with your environment more. When I travel by myself, I’m more likely to strike up conversations with locals or bond with other hotel guests. You might be surprised at all the interesting people you meet when flying, dining, or touring alone!
Learn how to make the leap and plan for your first solo travel experience with these tips:
Pick the Right Trip for Solo Travel
Some kinds of trips are even better alone than with a travel companion. Channel your inner Cheryl Strayed and look into a hiking trip, or visit a country that’s known for being perfect for individual travelers. New Zealand and Norway top this list!
Volunteer trips can also be a great way to make fast friends with your fellow travelers. You’ll be pouring energy into a cause and connecting with likeminded people. How about a yoga retreat in an exotic destination? It’s a great way to enjoy some personal time, focus on your practice, and reflect. If an all-inclusive resort is more your style, a solo vacation where you have to make virtually no decisions could be a way to truly relax.
Cushion your Finances
While I’m all for occassionally throwing caution to the wind and jumping on a plane ASAP, having a plush bank account eases my mind before taking a trip alone. If you find out your hotel is in an unsafe neighborhood, run into an emergency, or just cure homesickness with a little retail therapy, throwing some money at the problem is valid practice. Learn how to save for travel (and still have a life in the meantime) here.
Become a Savvy Traveler
Traveling alone is majorly empowering because you get to solve every dilemma on your own. The down side? You get to solve every dilemma all. On. Your. Own. I’ve met more than one solo traveler having an airport meltdown because of an unexpected fee or flight delay.
Eliminate the chance that a silly mistake will add stress to your trip – brush up on those travel hacks, buy the guidebook, learn the language! No matter where you go, you can make your trip infinitely better with these tried-and-true tips from a bunch of ladies who have done lots of solo travel.
Prep Like a Pro
If the thought of exploring a new city alone is intimidating, counteract your nerves by planning your perfect trip. One great thing about solo travel is that you get to make all the decisions. Research the best restaurants, quirky shops, and activities you really love and add them your plans. Graffiti class in London? Museums all your friends would find boring? Perfect! You can create a custom Google Map to save all the places you want to see and then wing it, or get detailed with a full-on itinerary.
Get Amazing Pictures While Traveling Alone
Every time I travel, someone asks me how I get so many photos. The simplest answer is: I ask someone to take them. If you evaluate the crowd, you can usually find someone who is a decent combination of safe and skilled. The absolute best person to ask is someone who looks like a legit photographer, obviously. If they have a nice camera, that’s a good first clue (but not always a sure thing – sometimes it’s just a person who likes shiny new toys).
If I scan the area and don’t see a photographer, I look for young people. Trust your gut when handing a teenager or twenty-something your phone or camera. I’ve never had an issue, but there are definitely individuals I have screened and avoided. They might be in a hurry, but most people this age have some experience with Instagram or visual content via social media and have naturally picked up some tech ability. My last resort is older couples. They are often the nicest people, but generally not so tech-savvy.
Give your new photographer direction on the shot you’re going for – “Try to include the entire building, please” or “just my head and shoulders,” for example. Encourage them to take 5+ for the best chance at a usable photo!
(P.S. I’m working on a massive blog post with more tips on taking photos alone – stay tuned!)
I hope you get the chance to travel alone, and if you do, I hope you have the courage to jump right into the experience. It’s unlike any other. So now that you know the basics…what is your first solo travel destination going to be?! Let me know in the comments!