Here are 10 tips you need to know for your first solo trip! I’m here to tell you that if you’re reading this because you’re thinking of booking a solo trip or because you’ve already booked a solo trip, both of these are massive steps and you should be so proud of yourself. Solo traveling is daunting and scary and for most people, it’s completely out of their comfort zones. However, the world is too big to be waiting on friends to join you when you’re itching to explore. I feel so lucky and grateful that 99% of the time, I have friends, sisters, or my boyfriend who are just as interested in traveling as much as I do. However, that isn’t always the case.
My first solo trip
I did my first solo trip last November. I was working for myself which luckily meant that I had the money and the time to travel. However, everyone surrounding me had work or other commitments. I could have just scrapped my desire to book flights to Lithuania, a country I was eager to explore, but I didn’t. I went ahead and book a week’s work exchange in Vilnius, Lithuania. To book this trip, I used Worldpackers. Worldpackers is a company that organizes exchange programs around the world. On these exchange programs, you offer a couple of hours of work a day in exchange for free food and a place to sleep. The reason I did my first solo trip as a work exchange was the ease of knowing I had a safe place to stay and also that I could communicate with the host before I began my work.
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Is this you?
You’re heading away for the first time by yourself and want to feel more at ease, comfortable, and prepped? Here are my top tips for feeling organized, prepped, and overall at ease and excited to jet off independently!
1. Safe City ( Possibly the most important of the 10 tips you need to know for your first solo trip)
My first tip and possibly one of the most important ones is to start with a safe city. You might be rolling your eyes at this because most cities are notorious for pickpocketing etc and let’s be honest, a lot of cities aren’t famous for being particularly safe. However, most backpackers lean towards exploring busy cities. The more backpackers in an area, the more likely that hostels will be busy and you’ll have no trouble making new friends and finding fellow solo travelers to explore with! It’s important to remember that safe cities that attract a lot of backpackers will naturally be more expensive. I personally think that’s a small price to pay if it means you’ll feel safer and overall more excited about your solo trip.
2. Chose a destination close by
My next tip is to choose a location that is close to your hometown. Not to choose a destination that is 20 hours and 3 flights away from where you’re currently living. Why? If you’re not enjoying it you can make your way home quickly. Personally, I find it much more comforting to be closer to home. Of course, no one wants to be booking an unexpected flight home, but if you’ve never solo traveled, taking small steps is much more feasible than booking something completely out of your comfort zone.
3. Pre-book your airport transfer
This third tip is a small one but can make such a huge difference. They say first impressions are massive and so important. This is also the case when booking all of your trips. Picture this; you land in a new country, by yourself, feeling nervous and anxious about what’s ahead, and then you’ve to figure out what bus/train/taxi to get to your accommodation. Why add another controllable worry to your list? If pre-booking your transfer from the airport takes a weight off your shoulders it’s a no-brainer. Of course, in some cases, it’s as easy to jump on a train then it is to pre-book a taxi, that’s absolutely fine but I would highly recommend figuring out beforehand how you’ll travel to your hostel/hotel.
4. Choose the right hostel/hotel
My fourth tip is to choose the right accommodation. I’m aware that choosing the right place to stay is absolutely not as easy as I’ve just made it out to be. So to begin, make sure that the hostel is central and has good reviews. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that booking the right accommodation can make or break your trip.
It’s hard to put into one paragraph how to choose the right hostel for you so I’ve made a full post on it, here are my top 10 tips for choosing the right hostel. I highly recommend checking out using Hostel World and reading previous reviews from guests who have just stayed in the same place. Hostel World also has a really cool feature where it shows where future guests are coming from so you can pre-connect with them. Another thing to note is that some hostels do female or male-only dorms, if this makes you feel safer it’s definitely worth looking into.
5. Check the time zone of your location
This tip sounds random, but it’s really important. We all get homesick at different stages and some of us way worse than others. If you travel to a country with a similar time zone to yours you can contact home more easily. No one wants to ring home at 4 am scare their family or friends. If you choose a country that works at similar times it’s way easier to connect with loved ones! This is another reason why I chose to travel to Lithuania. I was only 2 hours ahead of Irish time which meant that I could reach home more quickly.
6. On that note, check the currency!
This one may come easy to some of you and if it does I’m very jealous! For some reason, different currencies absolutely throw me and my brain feels like it stops working. I find converting money so confusing. If you’re similar, I recommend traveling to a country that uses the same money currency as you. I also always make sure to have a currency converter app on my phone! Similarly to what I’ve said above to some people, these are tiny little steps but to those who find traveling stressful, choosing countries that are similar to your own can be really helpful.
7. Consider the time of year that you travel
This tip has its pros and its cons. It’s so important to be mindful of the time of the year that you solo travel. The pros of traveling during high season are there’s a high chance that there will be quite a lot of backpackers traveling the same route as you at the same time. There is also a higher chance of better weather.
However, the major con of traveling during high season is that naturally, it’s much more expensive. My first proper solo trip was during low season and I learned from my mistake that it was just too quiet. I was working at the hostel and met friends through this but I can see how traveling during quiet seasons could make it harder to make friends.
8. Are there free activities in the hostel?
This tip is key if you’re looking to meet other people when traveling. Before you book a hostel, check to see if it offers free activities such as pub crawls, volleyball, or yoga classes. Some hostels even run language engagement evenings where you meet people speaking other languages and learn new cultures. I always use Hostel World when booking social hostels, as mentioned above it has so many cool features to help to choose a room easier.
9. Do little things to put your mind at ease (the most important of the 10 tips you need to know for your first solo trip if you struggle with travel nerves)
This tip looks so different for everybody. It could be as small as paying for an aisle seat on the plane so that you’re not stuck beside people you don’t know. It could be booking a bed in a female-only dorm. It could be making sure you’ve good music downloaded for the plane. Ask yourself what makes you feel a little more at ease and apply this to your travels. Find what makes you feel safer, more comfortable, and at ease, and make it a priority to make sure to honor it.
10. Make sure you’ve packed properly
This last tip is possibly the one that causes the most stress for people. I totally get it. It took me years to master how to pack properly and even at that I wouldn’t say I’m an expert. I do know that you can learn from my mistakes. Here are 10 things that I always carry in my backpack. There have been trips where I’ve forgotten to pack some of these things and it’s completely thrown me. Making sure to pack properly is vital for your first solo trip!
10 tips you need to know for your first solo trip:
It’s so so important to be open-minded to meeting other people. More often than not, you’ll be surrounded by people in the exact same situation as you. It’s extremely common to travel alone these days. On this trip to Vilnius, I worked in a hostel and only met two people who were traveling together, everyone else was alone.
Lastly, try to accept that plans will change and things can go wrong. It’s easier said than done, but don’t panic, there’s always a solution.
I hope this helps a little. let me know in the comments what you do when booking a solo trip.