If you're young, free and ready to mingle, there's no better way to see the world than to travel solo. Of course, it can be daunting at first, but with a few tips up your sleeve, you'll be off exploring foreign lands on your own terms.
Here are ten things to keep in mind when traveling solo for the first time.
1. Do your research
When you're traveling alone, you can't rely on someone else to do the planning for you. That means it's up to you to research your destination, figure out where you're going to stay for the first days, and plan out your itinerary. This might sound like a lot of work, but it's worth it. There's nothing worse than being halfway around the world and realizing you have no idea what you're doing. So do yourself a favor and do your research before you go.
Sure, it might be fun to show up in a new city and just see where the wind takes you (#YOLO). But when you're traveling solo, there's no one there to catch you if things go wrong. So unless you're okay with getting lost, sleeping in a park, or going hungry, do a bit of planning for the first few days of your trip.
2. Stay in a hostel
Hostels are great for solo travelers because they provide a social environment where you can meet other travelers. It is a game changer if you want to socialize and have some fun. In addition to being more affordable than hotels, they also offer the chance to interact with travelers from all over the world.
Some hostels may fit the stereotype of a "party hostel," but many modern hostels feature private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, making them as comfortable as a budget hotel. So whether you’re looking to save money or meet new people, staying in a hostel on your next solo trip could be the right choice for you.
3. Join group tours and day trips
One of the best things about solo travel is that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. But sometimes, it can be easy to feel isolated, so it's nice to have some company. That's where group tours come in.
Joining a group tour is a great way to see the sights of your destination while meeting new people. Plus, you won't have to worry about getting lost (or being bored) because somebody else will be doing the planning for you.
Travel tip: make sure you ask about organized group tours at the front desk of your hostel. Next time you feel lonely on your travels, sign up for a group tour.
4. Be alert and stay safe
While traveling alone, be mindful of your surroundings and take safety measures. Be sure to research the safety precautions for your destination before you go. Choose a destination known to be safe for solo travelers. Once you've picked your spot, familiarize yourself with the area and make sure you understand how to get around.
Another safety measure is to let someone know your travel plans so they can keep tabs on you if necessary. When you're out exploring, trust your instincts - if something doesn't feel right, move on. And finally, don't forget to enjoy yourself! Solo travel can be an incredibly rewarding experience, so go out there and make the most of it.
5. Connect with other travelers
It can be easy to feel isolated when you're solo, so reach out to other travelers and connect with them. Whether you strike up a conversation with your bunk bed neighbor or make friends with someone you meet on a walking tour, there's no reason to be shy. In fact, learning how to chat with strangers can be a great way to connect with people from all over the world. Here are some pointers to get you going:
First, take the initiative and start the conversation. You never know who you'll meet if you don't take the first step. Second, be friendly and open-minded. Don't be afraid to share a little bit about yourself. And finally, don't forget to listen. Give everyone a chance to share their story; you never know what you might learn.
6. Get a local SIM card
When you're traveling solo, it's important to stay connected. Get a local SIM card so you can have access to data and make calls. This will allow you to stay in touch with your loved ones back home and keep up with your travel plans.
If you're planning a solo trip, there are a few apps you should make sure to download before you go. First, there's Google Maps or Maps.Me. Even if you're the best navigator in the world, it's always good to have a backup. These apps can also be really helpful if you find yourself in an unfamiliar place and need to figure out how to get back to your hostel.
Another app that can be useful when traveling solo is Bumble BFF. That’s right, this app is not just for dating, it also has a mode for meeting new friends! Whether you're visiting a city for the first time or want to connect with people who share common interests, try it out for fun!
Finally, make sure to download a currency converter app so you always know how much money you're spending. With these apps, you'll be prepared for anything that comes your way on your solo trip.
7. Go local
If you're looking for the best travel experience, forget about tourist traps. Instead, focus on immersing yourself in the local culture. Go to events that are popular with locals, and take the time to sample the local cuisine. Visit local hangouts like bars and coffee shops, and shop at places where people from the neighborhood hang out.
By making an effort to connect with locals, you'll get a much richer travel experience. And if you really want to go all out, learn a few words in the local language. It's a great way to break the ice and make new friends.
8. Pack light
When you're traveling solo, it's important to pack light. This will make it easier to move around and won't weigh you down. Plus, packing light will leave you more room in your backpack for souvenirs!
Unless you're planning on spending your entire trip holed up in your dorm, there's really no need to bring more than a couple of days' worth of clothes with you when you travel solo. Not only will this lighten your load, but it will also make packing and unpacking a breeze. Remember, you'll have to carry your backpack around with you everywhere you go, so pack accordingly. And don't forget, you can always wash your clothes while you're on the road.
9. Be flexible and have an open mind
When you travel solo, you have the luxury of changing your plans on a whim. If you want to stay an extra day in Krabi or wander off the beaten path in Guatemala, you can do so without worrying about coordinating with someone else. And since you're not beholden to anyone's schedule but your own, you can say yes to more opportunities and experiences. This allows you to make the most of your trip and see everything that you want to see.
Of course, there are also challenges that come with traveling solo. But ultimately, the freedom and flexibility of traveling solo are worth it. So next time you're planning a trip, keep an open mind and consider going it alone - you might be surprised at how rewarding it can be.
10. Get travel insurance
Solo travel can be a great experience—you get to see the world your way and do things on your own schedule. But remember, you're also more vulnerable when you're traveling alone. If something goes wrong, whether it's lost luggage, an illness or an accident, you won't have anyone to help you out.
That's why it's so important to purchase travel insurance when you're traveling solo. With travel insurance, you'll have peace of mind knowing that you'll be covered financially in the event of an emergency. So don't take chances, contact a soNomad agent to get travel insurance before you head off on your next solo adventure.
Bonus: Have fun!
When you travel solo, you don't have to worry about things like finding a seat on the bus or scoring the best table at a restaurant. Instead, you can strike up conversations with the people you meet along the way. This can be a great way to get local insights that you might not find in your guidebook.
So next time you're planning a trip, don't be afraid to go it alone. You may just find that it's one of the most rewarding experiences you've ever had. Embrace it and have fun! Remember, you might travel alone, but you won't be lonely. These tips will help you make the most of your solo travel experience.