Taking Your First Solo Trip
Taking your first solo trip can be scary and overwhelming. Having someone to travel with you feels like a safety net, so when you decide to go on your own, that safety net disappears. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can find other ways to feel comfortable and enjoy traveling solo. Here’s everything you need to know about your first solo trip.
Benefits of solo travel
First I’d like to remind you about some of the benefits of traveling solo. Yes, traveling by yourself can be frightening, but it can also be empowering.
Traveling by yourself teaches you how to rely on yourself. This builds confidence and shows you that you’re stronger than you thought you were.
It’s also wonderful to travel alone because you decide how to spend each day. You choose where to eat and what activities to do.
You don’t have to compromise like you would with a travel partner. The flexibility of solo travel is a great benefit.
You’re actually more likely to meet other travelers when you’re traveling by yourself. It makes you more approachable, and you’re more likely to approach others.
When you have a travel partner, you probably won’t feel like reaching out to talk to someone new, but when you’re on your own, it’s much more appealing.
Where to go on your first solo trip
When you start planning your first solo trip, one of the first steps is deciding where to go. Is there someplace you’ve always dreamed of, that pulls you in more than any other destination? This might be a good start.
Planning a trip to your dream destination is great motivation to follow through with your plan and actually take that trip.
Having a goal or purpose to your trip might help motivate you, too. Take a look through these great ways to travel with a purpose.
Also think about what locations are easier than others. A country where they speak the same language as you, or one that has a lot of tourist infrastructure is a good choice.
You might even start closer to home with a destination within your home country that you’ve never been to before.
How to prepare for your first solo trip
For your first solo trip, I recommend planning things out ahead of time. Planning things out will help you feel more in control.
Research your destinations so you know what part of town to stay in, and book your accommodations.
If you’re going to more than one place, find out how to get from one place to the next, and book tickets if possible. Search for public transportation websites.
Read up on the attractions you’re interested in so you’ll know when they’re open and how much they cost. Knowing more about the activities available will help you get more excited about your trip, too.
Consider booking yourself a day tour or two. They’re a great way to explore a new city because you’ll have a knowledgeable guide to tell you about the history and culture, plus you’ll have a few other people to hang out with for a few hours.
You don’t have to map out every single detail of your trip though. Leave some room for flexibility and spontaneity so you don’t feel so constrained when you arrive.
It’s good to know what you want to see while you’re there, but you don’t have to schedule it all out. You can decide while you’re there which sights you want to see each day, or if you just want to hang out at a cafe one day.
Don’t pack too much. You won’t have anyone to help you carry your things. Having too much to lug around with you can also add to feeling overwhelmed. Remember, you don’t need as much stuff as you think you do.
How to stay safe on your first solo trip
Despite your fears, traveling solo isn’t really any more dangerous than traveling with someone else. Almost all travel safety advice applies whether you’re traveling by yourself or with someone else.
It’s true you won’t have someone there to look out for you, but realizing you can look out for yourself is powerful.
Always keep a business card from your hotel with you. If they don’t have business cards, have the name, address and phone number written down on a piece of paper. If you ever get truly lost, you can find a taxi to take you back.
Don’t drink too much alcohol, and know your limits. If you drink too much when you’re with a friend, you know they’ll take care of you, but you don’t have someone to look out for you on a solo trip. It’s a good idea not to get too drunk in any new place, solo or not, but it’s especially important when you’re on your own.
Always be aware of your surroundings. If you feel uncomfortable, turn around. If you feel like someone is following you, go into a shop or restaurant where there will be other people around. But please remember, things like this rarely happen, so try not to be paranoid.
Check in with someone at home every once in a while so they know you’re safe and having a good time. A quick email does wonders to ease the fears of family and friends at home.
Overall, use your common sense. What would you do at home to keep yourself safe?
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How to not feel lonely on your first solo trip
Make an effort to talk to other travelers, whether they’re solo travelers or not, though other solo travelers might work out better for you. Even if you’re nervous about approaching people, remind yourself that you never have to see these people again, so who cares what they think?
And they might turn out to be really fun, interesting people. New friends, even just a friend for the day, can make the best travel memories.
If you want to meet other people while you’re traveling, consider staying at a hostel. Usually hostels have a social atmosphere, making them a great place to connect with other travelers.
If hostels don’t appeal to you, check out MeetUp.com. MeetUp has tons of groups based on interests, and one of them might be perfect for you in the city you’re going to.
Another option is or Couchsurfing.org. Couchsurfing also hosts gatherings in different cities, and you don’t have to crash on someone’s couch to participate. Even aside from their events, some people on Couchsurfing say in their profiles that they’re happy to meet up with travelers and show them around.
You can also look for all kinds of different groups on Facebook based on interests or activities. Many cities have expat or English speaking groups where you might be able to meet people.
Booking a day tour is also a good way to minimize loneliness. Spending a few hours with other travelers who want to learn about the city or try a new activity or cook a tasty local meal gives you an instant connection since you’re experiencing the same things together.
If you really get along with someone in the group, see if they want to meet up for dinner later that day.
Pay attention to when you feel most lonely. Some people feel less lonely when they keep themselves busy, while others actually feel the opposite. Listen to your gut and plan accordingly.
What to expect on your first solo trip
If you’re not used to so much alone time, expect to feel a little awkward at first. You might feel like you stand out for traveling on your own, but I promise you’re not the only solo traveler out there.
Eating in restaurants by yourself might feel a little weird if you’ve never done it before. In some restaurants, the employees might say, “Just one?” Respond with confidence, “Yes, just one.” Even if it’s fake confidence.
In other restaurants, they might not bat an eye. I find that the more casual restaurants are easier to deal with as a solo traveler, but don’t let that stop you from going to a fancy restaurant if you want to.
If you’re worried about sitting there for the length of a meal with nothing to do besides eat your food, bring a book. Or sit at the bar, if there is one. That way you can chat with the bartender or other people sitting near you.
You have to eat, and after a few meals, you won’t feel quite so awkward sitting by yourself. You’ll even realize that no one is looking at you or even cares that you’re eating by alone. They’re too busy enjoying their own meal.
You might have days where you don’t want to leave your hotel room because it feels too overwhelming. Push yourself out the door and give yourself permission to sit in a square or at a cafe or at a park. Read a book, enjoy a coffee or a soda, and just relax and watch the city go by.
Hopefully after a few days, you’ll start realizing it’s not so hard. That it can feel really liberating to be on your own. That it doesn’t matter what other people think. That traveling by yourself actually shows strength and confidence, not weakness.
Small things that seem easy at home will feel bigger and harder while you’re traveling by yourself. Acknowledge those accomplishments.
Towards the end of your trip, treat yourself to an ice cream or a nice meal or a special souvenir to celebrate this awesome thing you’re doing by traveling alone.
It will slowly start to sink in that it’s not so scary to travel by yourself after all. A whole world of possibilities will open up to you because suddenly you’ll realize you CAN do this. You no longer have to wait around for a friend or a boyfriend or girlfriend to join you on a trip. You can travel solo.
Taking your first solo trip might even be the catalyst to a new travel obsession.
9 Tips for New Travelers ebook
11 Mistakes to Avoid on Your Next Vacation ebook
My detailed carry-on only packing list
November 2, 2019 @ 1:20 pm
I have planned to go solo trip. As a girl i was thinking whether it is safe or not but after reading this article, it made me even more confidant and courage. Thank k you so much for this article and you gave us a great tips and ideas.
November 4, 2019 @ 11:37 am
Glad to help, and enjoy your trip!
October 23, 2019 @ 11:37 am
This article has really helped me; it contains very helpful tips. I’ve just booked my first solo trip to Lake Garda. Im just a bit worried because I wear a headscarf so hopefully I dont get targeted or anything esp since I am on my own…
October 24, 2019 @ 2:27 pm
Hi Rubina! There are a fair amount of women in Europe who wear headscarves, so hopefully it won’t be a big deal to anyone. I don’t have any firsthand experience with that though unfortunately, but I live in Berlin and travel around Europe a lot and I definitely see women wearing them occasionally. I hope you have a great time, Italy is lovely, though I have never been to Lake Garda.
July 30, 2019 @ 4:24 pm
The thing I find more restrictive for me about travel when I go alone is not fear about being someplace unfamiliar but the cost . Almost all places base the rates on double-occupancy . Do I need to expect and accept being charged several hundred dollars more just because I haven no one traveling with me ? It can change how I feel about going someplace if the price goes from $ 2100 to $3000 just there is noon e in the next bed .
August 2, 2019 @ 12:38 pm
Hi Charles! Yes, that part is frustrating. Some hotels have single rooms, which helps. If you’re up for trying hostels, that can be a great way to save money as well as meet other travelers. You could also try Airbnb where they have an option to rent a room in someone’s apartment, so the apartment residents are still there but they’re renting out their spare bedroom. A friend of mine is doing that right now while traveling around Europe, and it’s not only saving her a lot of money, but she’s meeting interesting locals.
Américo dos Santos
January 23, 2018 @ 3:08 pm
Actually I think I’m shooting high! lol
I’m about to do my first solo travel and this is the first intercontinental flight I’ll experience. So I am gathering all information about it and your blog is being really handy for me now. Thanks a lot!
I’m going from São Paulo – Brazil to Berlin – Germany and to be true I’m very anxious and looking forward for this to happen. It’s been a dream travel by myself (started to think about Berlin in 2006 at their World Cup!) and finally I’m about to do it!
The main thing that bugs me off is the commonly mean security check operators but I’m not thinking about that too much in order to spoil everything. 🙂
One of the main reasons I am doing this is to learn more about self confidence. I’ve managed to do many things solo but there something (like travel) that’s still brings me some chill on my spine.
Again, thanks a lot to share all this useful information to us.
Cheers from Brazil!
January 25, 2018 @ 12:18 pm
I’m so glad my blog has helped you! Travel is great for gaining confidence. I think you’ll enjoy Berlin, lots to do, lots to eat, many people speak English, and it’s pretty easy to see some touristy things and some non-touristy areas. I hope you have a great trip!
October 11, 2017 @ 10:48 pm
Great article! I took my first solo trip two years ago and loved it! Eating alone was by far the hardest thing to overcome, but eventually I got used to it. So many great tips in here for newbie solo travelers 🙂 Keep em coming!
October 13, 2017 @ 3:52 pm
Thanks Julia, glad you could relate!
September 23, 2017 @ 3:57 am
Do you have any tips about Norway?
I usually travel with travel agencies, but I can’t find any in my area offering that destination. However, there is a regular bus line to Oslo and I was thinking about going on my own.
I would need the following things:
1.) a reliable and non-expensive hotel to book online (it’s my first time, so what would be the best way to do it?);
2.) a way to organise a taxi service once I reach the bus station;
3.) a local travel agency where I can hire a tourist guide to show me the city (maybe with a larger group of people).
September 23, 2017 @ 11:51 am
Hi Sanja! I haven’t been to Norway, but for hotels, I’d start by looking at TripAdvisor and see which ones have good reviews and are located near the center. It looks like Oslo has a decent system of public transportation, and you can get a local bus or tram from the Oslo bus station. Another option, if you really don’t want to do public transport, is to ask your hotel if they offer a pick-up service and can get you from the bus station. And it’s highly likely that there will be taxis at the bus station. For tours, I like Viator because they connect you to tour companies all around the world. Look for Oslo tours here and you can book a couple that sound interesting. I hope that helps, and enjoy your trip!
May 13, 2017 @ 9:05 pm
I’m planning to take a solo international trip in the next coming months and this article has been by far the most encouraging and helpful one to read!
I’m so nervous and scared but I really want to do it! Thanks for this wonderful piece.
May 14, 2017 @ 3:41 pm
Glad to help! Just focus on all the positives, all the great places you’re going to see and interesting things you’re going to do. Being nervous is totally normal, but you can do this!
February 27, 2017 @ 3:32 am
I am taking my first solo trip to Sint Maarten in May and I am so excited. Your article has eased some of my anxiety about going alone. But I had a window of opportunity and took it. Alone time on those beaches is what I need. Thank you.
February 27, 2017 @ 9:25 am
Thanks Jackie, I’m glad to help! Sounds like you have an amazing trip planned, and I hope you have a wonderful time!
February 15, 2016 @ 8:48 pm
I’m planning on solo travelling the end of the year / beginning of next and I was definitely thinking about backing out and waiting for a friend to say they wanted to do it but this article just changed my mind 🙂 now I’m really excited again!
February 18, 2016 @ 11:18 am
Lisa, that’s so exciting! And I’m so happy I was able to help! It’s completely understandable, normal even, to be nervous about solo travel. I still get nervous before traveling by myself sometimes. But it’s a great experience and I love the feeling of getting out there and handling everything on my own. I’m sure you’ll have a fun trip!
January 11, 2016 @ 11:30 pm
Hey!I am thinking to start traveling the next year.but i do not know how much money I must save.I will be a spa therapist..could I find a job while travelling for a few weeks perhaps??light me up please!!!!I am so jealous of your adventures!!!
Looking forward for your answer!!!!
January 14, 2016 @ 4:02 am
Hi Nickie! How much you need to save for your trip depends on so many factors, like how long your trip is, where you’re going, what kind of accommodations you stay in (luxury vs budget hostels, etc.), if you eat at fancy restaurants or not, if you stay at places with kitchen access so you can cook to save money, if you plan on flying a lot or taking buses, what kinds of activities you’ll do…. So I don’t have an easy answer for you there! I’ve done long and short trips, some middle-of-the-road (comfortable hotels/guesthouses, but not fancy, not bare-bones budget) and some trips were more towards the budget end of things. I usually track my expenses, so you can look here for some of the budgets from some places I’ve traveled to.
It’s really hard, if not impossible, to find a job in a foreign country for just a few weeks. Working in another country requires a visa, and in most cases the company hiring you would have to sponsor your visa in some way, and they won’t do that for you to work there for a few weeks. If you’re really looking for ways to save money, sometimes you can find a hostel willing to give you a free room in exchange for cleaning rooms or something, though that depends on what part of the world you’re in. Some countries have work-travel visas which allow you to get a job there, but again, most companies won’t hire you for just a few weeks. Australia and New Zealand are popular options for this (I think you have to be under 30 or 31 years old) because it gives you a full year to explore and the opportunity to get a job to help finance your time there.
Other money saving options include couchsurfing, renting apartments from Airbnb so you can cook instead of eat out (plus sometimes the prices are cheaper than hotels), travel slower to cut back on transport expenses (plus you can often get good deals on renting an apartment for a month instead of just a few days or a week), taking long distance buses instead of flying (also depends where you are since there are some good low cost airlines out there), if you like museums, look for free or discounted days.
Take a look at my travel spending page I linked towards the beginning, and then do some Google searches for travel budgets involving countries you want to go to. This post on researching a travel budget might be helpful too. How to Travel the World on $50 a Day by Matt Kepnes comes highly recommended, though I haven’t read it myself.
I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!
July 6, 2015 @ 7:27 pm
i wish i had read this before i did my first solo trip. but none the less.. i did consider many of these on my first and will consider the added points you gave on my third next year.
it is an absolutely liberating and wonderful experience to observe and experience new cultures and landscapes at your own pace… and even change itinerary if you like.
July 7, 2015 @ 10:37 am
Thanks Candice! Sounds like you’ve had really great experiences traveling solo, I’m so glad! Enjoy your trip next year!
May 1, 2018 @ 1:22 pm
I’m thinking of going to somewhere I can relax,rest but I’m worried as I don’t eat food I’m fed through a machine with bags of feed so I just want a beautiful holiday likecmaldives to chill but not inclusive and I’v nevervbeen alone???
May 3, 2018 @ 11:47 am
Hi Karen! I’m so sorry you have to deal with that. I can’t even imagine being in your situation. I think it’s best you talk to your doctor and understand your requirements for traveling. Someplace like Europe might be better since you’ll have easier access to doctors and hospitals if you needed something, but I don’t really know enough about your condition to understand what would work for you. There are plenty of relaxing islands in Europe…Greece and Spain come to mind. And they might be easier to find a nice hotel or resort to relax in that isn’t all-inclusive.
October 24, 2014 @ 11:30 pm
Too many people are afraid that they won’t make friends on the road, but it’s funny how I always meet more people when I’m by myself versus traveling with a group!
October 25, 2014 @ 9:43 pm
So true James, thanks!
October 14, 2014 @ 10:46 pm
There are a lot of great tips here for the first time solo traveler. Getting out of your comfort is never easy, especially for people like me who suffer from social anxiety or better put, severe disabling shyness.For some reason, once I am on that plane and those wheels lift into the under-carriage upon take off, something changes within me and I find that I can talk to people a whole lot easier. I think it has something to do with being anonymous in that I don’t feel so conscious of being judged by other people. That said, hostels, although I’ve never used them would be an ideal first place for a new solo traveler to use as accommodation in the sense that you’ll meet people who are on the road just like you.
October 15, 2014 @ 9:44 pm
Yes, exactly! I’m the same way, nervous before any trip, and as soon as I’m on my way, it fades. And I get what you mean about not being so self-conscious. I always worry what people think of me (which I know I shouldn’t do) but when I’m traveling, I let that go because I know it doesn’t matter. Traveling solo showed me that, and it spills over into my at-home life. Which is why I think I’m due for a solo trip soon! And yes, hostels are great for first time travelers because they make it easier to meet other travelers. Thank you for this comment Matthew, totally agree with you!