‘Solo travel’ has grown by over 761% according to recents trends and insights, and now’s the time to go. There’s nothing more rewarding than jetting-off alone and feeling that independence.
When I took my first solo trip to Switzerland, I was extremely excited but also nervous about the little details of booking, traveling, and meeting new people.
Lucky for me, I quickly learned that the key to solo travel is to be open-minded and willing to step out of your comfort zone. My first trip went off without any major problems.
Soon after, I caught the travel bug and have now ventured to over 31 countries.
If you’re asking yourself questions like:
Where will I stay?
How will I meet people?
Will I be safe?
What about currency?
Know that this is all very normal, and we’ve all been there too!
Always Research Before Your First Solo Trip
A clear mind will set you up for success on your travels. Especially if it’s your first time traveling alone, knowing what to expect is a good first step to take.
Do some research on your destination including: Entry requirements, passport info, restrictions, transportation options around the country, safety tips, scams to avoid, and recent news.
It’ll make your journey a lot smoother if you have all your ducks in a row before jetting off to your first spot! Even after years of traveling, I always make copies of important documents to keep with me when I’m traveling across borders or through airports.
Make a Schedule for the First Week
Once you’re a seasoned traveler, it’s perfectly okay to go with the flow. If you’re an over-planner like me, then you’ll appreciate a good list and a bit of structure.
So you have the basics booked, now what? Start making a schedule of everything you have planned. You’ll be surprised how much this helps to ease your stress.
- Where you’re staying (include the dates you’ll be checking in and out)
- Transportation details (how to get to your accommodations from the airport)
- Book a few tours for the first day (I always recommend free walking tours because they’re a great way to meet fellow solo travelers your first few days)
- Research a few bucket-list things you want to see nearby so you don’t feel overwhelmed by options upon arrival (trust me, it’s the worst)
Download Solo-Travel Friendly Apps
Anywhere you go in the world, safety should always be your number one priority. Whether it be Iceland or the United Kingdom, it’s important to remain street-savvy and don’t look too ‘touristy.’
We sometimes hate to admit it, but phones are generally with us at all times. If you’re going to use it on your travels, here are some useful travel apps to use (especially on a solo trip):
- Noonlight: it’s basically a panic button in your hand. If you ever feel unsafe, hold down the button in the app until you feel okay. If you’re unable to enter your pin on time, emergency services will drive to your exact spot to check on you. It even allows you to add contacts.
- Google Maps: there’s nothing more touristy than following your phone map around, so be sure to download an offline map in case you lose data. My tip is to always check your map before venturing out and about.
- Travel Smart: shows useful information such as currency conversions, weather, etc.
- Eat With: helps travelers find foodie options for meeting people! Think cooking classes, tours, and events to meet other solo travelers.
- Trip Whistle: has emergency numbers for around 196 countries worldwide, and allows you to make calls right in the app.
Decide How You Want to Travel
After years of travel, I’m a team carry-on through and through. Air Tags are useful if you’ve really overpacked, but there’s nothing worse than arriving at a new destination with no clothes.
If you can, invest in a carry-on suitcase or sturdy travel backpack. I backpacked Europe for 5 weeks with 1 bag: if I can do it, so can you! Choosing carry-on is also way less stress inducing. It allows you to breeze through the airport and get straight to your accommodations.
It’s also important to figure out when you’re comfortable arriving somewhere. Even now, I always choose trains, buses, and flights that arrive during the day. In my early 20’s I arrived in Madrid after midnight and was locked out of my AirBnB: so it’s safe to say I learned my lesson.
If you’re staying in a hostel or hotel, it’s also always nice to arrive during the day so you have the chance to explore, settle in, and meet other travelers before they’re asleep!
Choose Hostels on Your First Solo Trip
Hostels often get a bad reputation for many reasons. After staying in over 20 hostels worldwide, knowing what to look for is truly the key to success here. Below are the top things a hostel should have to ensure your solo travel trip is fun and successful:
- Lockers: for peace of mind, it’s always better to have your own space and lock important belongings away.
- Curtains: it’s not a deal breaker, but when you’re staying in hostels for weeks on end, it’s nice to have a little privacy.
- Weekly Events: if you’re booking through HostelWorld, you’ll often be able to see what each hostel offers under their description. To meet people, I only ever choose hostels with a good social scene and events for guests.
- Social Spaces: always look for a hostel with a kitchen, bar area, and even a co-working space. Sometimes the best way to meet fellow solo travelers is to just sit at the bar and chat!