Last updated March 11, 2022
Solo travel is exhilarating, freeing and a brilliant opportunity to discover the world and yourself.
Not only does it give you the opportunity to see new destinations at your own pace as well as meet new people, but solo travel also can also give you newfound confidence and skills that transfer over to all parts of your life.
Having said that, embarking on your first solo adventure can be daunting and a big leap from the travel you might already be used to.
It doesn’t have to be daunting, however, and most of the time even your first experience will end up being enjoyable, enriching and inspiring.
Here are 12 top tips that will make you a pro solo traveler in no time.
Let Go of Fear
If it’s fear that’s holding you back from booking your dream solo trip then the first step is to tackle it head-on. There are many ways to do this and the next few tips will help.
Start by trying to pinpoint what exactly you’re afraid of. Is it loneliness? Is it missing home? Is it being robbed and having all your money stolen?
Once you’ve found out where your fear lies you can begin to tackle it by addressing each potential situation i.e. staying in a hostel to allow yourself to meet people, calling home often and having backup funds.
Do Your Research
Planning is one of the best ways to avoid things going wrong. Doing thorough research of your destination will also give you more knowledge about it and confidence when walking around and avoiding danger.
You’ll want to read up about the best neighborhoods to stay in and the main tourist areas, where you’ll find the best food options, how and where to meet new people and also which areas and places to avoid.
I recommend using forums and Facebook groups for your destination to ask and read up on valuable, first-hand information from ex-pats and other travelers before you go.
Talk to Other Solo Travelers
One of the best ways to really know about a destination is to speak to travelers that have recently visited where you’re going. They’ll be able to give you the best advice and recommend hotels, restaurants and services firsthand that they’ve used themselves.
You’ll be able to find many different travel groups on Facebook again such as Solo/Single Traveller PH, Solo Female Traveler Network and Girls Who Travel where you can ask for travel advice or experiences other members have had at a particular destination.
Visit Places with a Developed Tourism Infrastructure
For your first solo trip, it’s often a good idea to make things easy for yourself and head to a destination that is used to seeing tourists.
In places where tourism is developed, locals will be used to dealing with visitors and many people will also speak English – a great help if you don’t speak the local language. It will be easy for you to book things to do, find a good standard of accommodation and meet other travelers.
Some of my favorite regions for first-time travelers include the US, Canada, parts of Mexico and Costa Rica, western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Indonesia.
Trust Your Gut
When faced with an out-of-the-ordinary situation, always trust your gut or the first feeling you have. If someone you meet or a situation seems a little ‘off’ from the start, trust that feeling and walk away. It might just save you from a bigger problem in the future.
Leave Your Valuables at Home
Depending on where you’re going, you might want to leave valuables at home, if wearing or using them at your destination makes you an unwanted target.
While you might need your new iPhone to travel, you probably don’t need every expensive item of jewelry you own. Choose wisely and try just to take when you need.
If it has great sentimental value, better still, leave it at home.
Try Not to Look Like a Tourist
Looking confident and ‘like a local’ on the streets of your destination will undoubtedly make you less of a target. Robbers most often target people who are weak, don’t want to make eye contact and are unobservant.
Instead, study a map before you leave your hotel and know where you’re going, at least for the first few blocks. Walk with confidence and make eye contact with people and most importantly be aware of your surroundings and anyone that might have appeared behind you.
Try not to study large maps in the middle of the street and avoid looking lost. If you need to, pop into a store to do so.
Split Up Cash and Credit Cards
When traveling—first solo trip or not—you’ll want to take a variety of debit or credit cards and a bit of cash but don’t make the rookie mistake of keeping everything in one place.
I always split up my cash and cards, keeping some in my main purse and some other cash and cards in my suitcase or hotel room safe.
If you lose your purse or you’re a victim of a local pickpocket you’ll always have some cash and cards left to continue your trip.
Don’t Get Intoxicated or Walk Around Alone at Night
This varies quite a bit depending on where you travel, but as a general rule, it’s not a good idea to get intoxicated or walk around alone at night or both.
When coming back from somewhere late always use a taxi or Uber and don’t drink so much you lose control of a situation.
Have a Plan-B (for Your First Solo Trip, and Always)
Sometimes travel doesn’t go to plan and you might have to change a few details. Your flight might get canceled and you might find yourself in an unknown city for a day or your Airbnb host turns out to not be around when you arrive.
Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, that’s what keeps travel spontaneous but make sure to have an idea for a plan-B in case this happens.
Do a Practice First Solo Trip
If you don’t quite feel ready to travel to a foreign country on your own, why not take yourself on a practice journey in your country for your first trip?
Test the waters in your own country where you know the language and how things work. Such a trip could really give you the confidence you need to book that ultimate solo trip that you’ve been dreaming about for so long.
Keep a Copy of Your Most Important Documents
If you lose your passport and you have a copy of it, the process is so much simpler than if you don’t. Before traveling always make sure to have a copy of your most important documents with you.
It doesn’t have to even be a hard copy, saving everything to a cloud and being able to access it when you need to is simple and free to do and can be a huge help if you end up needing them.