Travelling on your own can be very exciting. Especially when it’s your first time. Will I enjoy the trip and will I meet (enough) people to have fun with? Some tips for your first solo travel!
First thing first:
- Have you already decided how long you would like to travel?
- What is your budget?
- What places would you like to visit?
If you don’t have any idea of where to go and how long, look at your budget and see what the possibilities are. For some countries is can be expensive to get there, but cheap to be there. Talk to friends who’ve travelled before for tips and you can go to a travel agency to get some information.
When you’re planning a trip voor 2-3 weeks, you can consider to go with a group tour via a travel agency as well. And of course, you can decide to start with this to kick off your journey. There are group travels for single travellers as well, that might be even more interesting when you do not want to be around with only couples.
When you decided to go by yourself and the country/countries are chosen, get a travel guide to help to plan your trip. The fun of travelling is the freedom you have, so don’t plan your whole trip and don’t book too many things in advance. But decide for yourself what you would like to see and do and make a sketch of your route.
If you’re not confident to do a lot by yourself, look for countries which are more popular for backpackers, like Australia, Thailand and Brazil compared to for example Iran. Of course in every country there are spots where you can easily meet new people and spots where you can barely find anyone. But you can make it yourself more convenient by picking an ‘easier to travel’ country. Because in places where you can find more travellers it is also often easier to travel because most of the time it will be easier to find locals who speak English and more hostels to stay.
After you picked your destination(s), prepare yourself how to communicate in those countries. I met a couple who started travelling around the world without knowing any English word. They hated their first month. Luckily for them they were together and learned the language very quickly, but you are making it yourself pretty hard if you cannot make yourself understandable.
Other things which are more important when you are travelling alone
- Write down a couple of important of phone numbers, in case of losing your phone, so you can still contact your loved ones.
- While I was on a half year trip, I had a spare phone with me. I didn’t know why by then, but it was in my drawer and I put it in my backpack, just in case. During this trip, someone stole my phone and I was so happy that I had my spare phone. At that moment I was on an island and the plan was to go island hopping for a couple of weeks. Not only could I let my family and friends know that I was still ok, but I also used my phone to backup my photos and to navigate.
- Always have some food and water with you in case you are getting dropped off in the middle of the night while you should arrive in the morning, or when the bus breaks down etc.
- I always have 50 US dollars with me in case the ATM’s doesn’t work or hard to find.
- Be happy, be grateful, not everyone has the chance to travel!
As a female
If you are a woman, it can feel different to travel alone compared to men. The advise I can give is: follow your instinct. In some places I felt comfortable walking on my own during the night, but on some places I didn’t wanted to go outside alone by day. In some places it can be common to get invited by locals to go to their home, while it can be in other places it is a scam. What I’m saying is there is no right or wrong. Don’t be afraid, but be aware.
Try to wear the same clothing as local women, sit next to the bus driver in the bus or to another woman. I used the app maps.me to navigate a lot. Especially when I got into a tuktuk, so I could see on my app where I was and if the tuktuk driver is driving me to the right place.
Don’t forget that many people are travelling solo as well. They are happy to meet you and be your companion! My experience as travelling solo isn’t travelling solo at all. Well ok, I got in the plane by my own, but I already met people to hang out with when waiting on my luggage at arrival. I can count on one hand how many times I had dinner on my own during a half year trip. I loved my freedom to go whereever I want. Especially in hostels I met a bunch of people to hang out with but also in buses. Most of the time I met people at the destination, did some sightseeing together and split when we leave that certain place. And sometimes you see eachother again in another place! I also met a few people I travelled for a longer period with. Which was fun, but after a while I was excited to be alone again as well.
In large cities I found it more difficult to find people to go sightseeing together, as often then people have other plans or use it as a transition place. But it didn’t really bothered me as I enjoy doing things by myself as well.
And of course, there will be days you will miss home. But you will be fine!
Have you travelled solo before? Share your experiences!