It’s common for some people to find solo travel scary, particularly if it’s their first time traveling alone. Some people worry about being alone, some fear boredom, and yet others could be concerned about their safety.
All of these are good reasons to be hesitant, but traveling alone may still change your life and is something you should do at least once. So, to help you get ready for your first solo excursion whenever you’re ready, I’ve put together this detailed guide.
Traveling Alone for the First Time? Here’s What to Do!
#1 Understand that you are not alone
Like I said, it’s okay to feel anxious about traveling alone or at least have your concerns. In fact, I used to be like you!
YES! I wasn’t born a solo traveler and I was trapped in one hell of a comfort zone. I thought I couldn’t enjoy my own self’s company, I had an overprotective family, I wasn’t financially independent, and I used to be a bit more uptight and uncomfortable when put in new, unknown situations. So what happened?
Well, if you’re new here, then you’d probably want to read the story of how I started solo traveling (if you’re curious enough). To cut a long story short: It was love at first sight. It just took me a few months to figure out how I can spend the rest of my life doing this once I realized this was what I wanted.
But the very first step you need to take to gain the courage to embark on your solo adventure is to understand that you’re not alone. It’s completely natural to feel hesitant or intimidated and it shouldn’t make you feel like a coward. Even frequent, veteran solo travelers like myself still feel anxious sometimes.
#2 Define your obstacles
So, you want to start traveling solo, right? But what’s stopping you? We each have different cases and obstacles and I like to believe that to every problem, there’s a solution. But don’t we need to define the problem first in order for us to be able to solve it?
Let me help you do that. Here are the most common 3 obstacles that prevent people from traveling alone: fear of boredom, safety concerns, and parents’ disapproval.
#3 Address your concerns and conquer your fears
Once you define what are the reasons hindering you from solo traveling, it’s time to work on the solving part. Here are some possible solutions to each of the common obstacles that I’ve previously mentioned.
FEAR OF BOREDOM
“Will I get bored? Will I feel lonely? How am I going to have fun on my own?”
These are all questions I constantly get whenever someone learns I’m a solo traveler. And you know where’s the irony? It’s that even though I’m usually traveling alone, I never ever felt lonely.
Traveling alone makes you way more flexible and open to meeting new people, unlike when you’re with a group of friends when you tend to be more closed off.
You may ask, “but what if I’m shy, an introvert, or socially anxious/awkward?” Well, I have just the reads for you. The following eye-opening blog posts address (and solve) common problems like beating solo travel boredom, making friends while traveling alone, and overcoming solo travel anxiety. In these reads, I’ll let you in on my top tips on how to approach and meet others on your trip, even if you’re an introvert or if you get anxious, as well as ideas for how to stay entertained.
“Is it safe for a woman to travel alone? Is this destination safe for a female solo traveler?”
I’ve heard these questions countless times.
Female solo travel and safety concerns always come hand in hand whenever any woman, who happens to travel alone, brings it up. Be it fear of sexual harassment or crime, it’s always the women who have to worry about the safety bit.
Traveling, in general, is not always rainbows and butterflies. There are mishaps on almost every single trip. That’s completely normal. It’s part of the package – that’s part of everyday life. And honestly, my main advice to you is that a little bit of common sense would do. Anywhere.
Practically speaking though, there are various safety precautions that you could take to stay (and feel) safe while traveling alone for the first time (or 100th time).
Another thing you need to understand is that there are so many stereotypes about so many countries out there. Don’t believe everything the media tells you. Travel with a positive mindset, and open heart, and a whole lot of common sense. And most importantly, don’t let the mishaps or negative experiences stop you from enjoying your trip.
If you have the time, check out the blog post below and read about a group of badass female solo travelers and their experiences in “so-called unsafe destinations”.
“How do I convince my parents?”
Well, this one’s the trickiest. Every parent is different, so I honestly can’t guarantee you results for this one, but read along in case I might be able to help.
If your parents are overprotective out of fear for your own safety, that’s completely normal. All that you have to do is prove to them that you can depend on yourself and that they can trust you.
Check out the blog post below for a useful read to all the gals who’d like to start solo traveling. There’s a section dedicated to that parents’ issue with some ideas on how you can earn their trust.
On the other hand, if your parents are just totally strict just for the sake of it, that’s a bit of a sticky situation. The previous read might be able to help you (or not). Y’all know your folks better. But it doesn’t hurt to try, right?
I honestly would have never thought I’d be where I am today. I grew up having an overprotective mom so traveling with my friends was always an issue, let alone traveling alone! I went from that to full-time travel blogger, but how?
- Earn your parents’ trust and prove that you could depend on yourself.
- Become financially independent.
#4 Choose a destination
If you’ve reached step number 4, I’m assuming you’re now determined and ready to try traveling alone for the first time. Taking the first step towards solo travel could be pretty scary, but let me tell, it’s not as scary as it seems. It’s all about taking that leap of faith – once you take it, you’ll feel much more confident. Trust me on that!
Now, you’ve got to choose your destination and since this would be your first solo trip, I highly advise you to go easy on yourself. So, here are my tips for choosing your first solo destination:
Going somewhere that’s somehow familiar kind of makes things easier. You don’t want to throw yourself into a completely different culture or worry about the language barrier when you’re all new to this.
Even if you haven’t visited the destination before, it being local still makes it familiar to you. At least you have an initial understanding of how things might be and what to expect.
I still remember my first-ever solo trip like it was yesterday. I went to a Nubian village in Upper Egypt, I got incredibly sick for my entire stay, but the lovely Nubians took great care of me, and I hung out with awesome people (when I had the energy). Despite how awful that trip might sound, it was actually one of the turning points in my life. I learned a lot on that trip and it was one of the main triggers that lead to the conception of Curls en Route. Nubia now has an extra special place in my heart.
CONSIDER LANGUAGE BARRIERS
You can still choose an overseas destination for your first solo trip – there’s nothing wrong about that. In this case, it’s always better to choose a country where a language you’re fluent in is spoken widely. Communication can make or break a trip, so you want to be able to communicate easily in a language you’re comfortable speaking.
GO SOMEWHERE FAMILIAR
A good call would also be traveling to a country with a similar culture to yours – one that shares some cultural factors like native language or traditions and norms. Or maybe you can go somewhere where you’re least likely to experience culture shock. If your destination of choice happens to be where a friend or family member lives, it might also be a good idea.
BONUS TIP: You can start off by joining a group tour organized for solo travelers. It’s a great way to get out of your comfort zone while not being a 100% on your own. It’s also perfect for making friends.
#5 Start planning your trip
Now that you have your destination picked out, it’s time to get down to business – PLANNING your trip! Start by looking up flight tickets – you want to book in advance to land good deals. You should also search for accommodation options in parallel as this is usually the second largest bulk in your budget.
Afterwards, you want to put together a rough itinerary for your trip. I like to note down all the places that I wish to see and all the bucket-list-worthy experiences I’d love to have in my chosen destination. However, I also like to leave some room for spontaneity and change of plans. Most of my best memories made on trips were the result of spontaneous decisions!
Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance!
Travel (solo or not) isn’t always rainbows and butterflies – things might go down south sometimes. You might fall ill or lose your luggage, and that’s when you’ll thank me for having your back covered with travel insurance.
SafetyWing offers different travel insurance packages, tailored to your needs, but their Nomad Insurance is my favorite option.