It can be overwhelming to start planning your first solo trip. There’s so much to consider from choosing the destination to finding the money for flights, accommodation and food, plus the added worry about personal safety.
Then there are the endless doubts;
- Are you going to be lonely?
- Will you get bored?
- What if something terrible happens?
While a solo trip can seem daunting I’ve got lots of advice for you that will make planning and executing your first trip alone a little easier.
Keep in mind that people around the world from all walks of life travel solo frequently and they’re doing just fine. If they can do it, why can’t you?
6 Tips To Plan Your First Solo Trip
1. Choosing a destination
Remember, the destination isn’t as important as the journey itself, especially for your first solo trip. If you’re really nervous about travelling solo why not pick somewhere that’s fairly close to home to ease yourself in?
You don’t have to start with a 5-month backpacking trip through Nepal. If you’re in the UK, you could make a short jaunt across the channel to France or cross the Irish sea to Ireland. Or why not fly to Germany, Italy or Spain? These destinations are all different enough to offer you something new while being reassuringly close to home.
If you’re in the States or Australia, why not visit a part of your huge country you’ve never visited before? Or if you’re feeling more adventurous, consider popping over to a close neighbour such as Canada or New Zealand. Although I say “pop over” in reality this means travelling several hundreds or thousands of miles and crossing a border, but it won’t feel alien because of the similarities in culture and language.
So the trick to planning your first solo trip is to start small and just stretch your solo travel legs. Your first trip alone doesn’t have to be your dream vacation but a chance to learn from the experience and get used to the process of travelling alone.
2. Figure out where to stay
You’ll want to make sure you spend a lot of time researching this topic so you don’t find yourself standing outside a scary-looking hotel or scrambling for a place to stay in the early hours of the morning. So, knuckle down and do some research.
First, decide what kind of accommodation you’re comfortable with (and what your budget will allow).
- Do you prefer hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, or a home-from-home via websites like Airbnb?
- Are you happy to stay in basic lodgings with shared facilities or do you expect more privacy and a higher standard of accommodation?
Be flexible because you may find you need to spend a little bit more to ensure you’re going to be in a safe place. Check reviews on websites like Booking.com and TripAdvisor and see what other travellers say about the destination and accommodation you’re considering. In particular, pay attention to the reviews of regular contributors more than one-offs.
Another tip is to make sure you schedule your flight and transport so you arrive at your accommodation before it’s dark. No one wants to be lost in a city at night, especially alone.
3. Find affordable flights
Also, not all flight search engines are created equal. Some search engines consistently inflate prices (because they get a cut of sales). Sites like Expedia may not be your cheapest options so use alternatives like JetRadar, TripAdvisor or SkyScanner instead as they compare the market for you. This article has more in-depth tips for finding flights.
Other things to consider are:
- Which days of the week are cheapest to travel?
- Is there a location relatively close to your destination that costs less than others?
- Can you split your journey rather than flying direct?
- Can your local travel agent get you a better price than a website?
- How far in advance do you need to book?
4. Plan your itinerary
Even if you don’t follow the itinerary exactly, it’s good to have a general idea of where you’re going on which days and what activities you’ll be doing. You can choose guided tours, special events, take a trip to the theatre, see a musical or even go to a live gig, all the while choosing restaurants along the way.
Your trip will be less daunting and stressful if you’ve got a plan. Keep it loose though so you can change things up as needed, but be sure to schedule a few things so you get to see some sights and attractions. It’s also a good idea to share your schedule with loved ones back home so they know where you’re going to be, just in case.
5. Save money for the trip
After you’ve figured out your destination, flight, accommodation and activities, you’ll have an idea of the budget to shoot for. Now it’s time to start saving money for your trip!
Unless you have enough money squirreled away already, you’ll have to save up the money for your solo trip gradually. One idea is to take the total cost of your trip and divide it by the number of paydays you have until you leave.
If you lack the discipline to save or think you may forget to put money aside, think about setting up an automatic transfer from your bank account to a separate savings account. This way the money will leave your account and you won’t have to think about it.
However, if you can’t afford to take any money out of your salary, consider cutting back on your bills. Do you spend a lot on eating out? If so, start cooking at home and put the money you save into your savings account. It’s surprising how quickly it adds up.
And what about your other bills? Have you switched energy provider recently? Shop around and see who’s offering a better deal and change if it makes sense – you could save hundreds over the course of a year, all money that can go towards your holiday.
Another idea is to cancel your cable television package and downgrade from your super fast super-expensive broadband to a cheaper service. Or you could cancel it altogether and use the library’s wifi or visit a local coffee shop for a few hours as and when you need to get online.
But if none of these suggestions work for you, you may have to look at boosting your income via a part-time job.
Cut backs and compromises like these don’t have to be long-term. But if you want to realise your dream of taking that solo trip then you’ll have to either save some money or make a bit more each month.
6. Keep safety in mind
It’s important to remain alert and keep yourself safe, but that doesn’t mean that you should feel scared. There are plenty of people who travel alone who don’t have any bad experiences. Just be aware and make sure you stick to the safe parts of town.
You can make quick work of planning safe destinations by researching on Google and reading other travellers’ experiences and recommendations on sites like TripAdvisor.
Most importantly, though, is to trust your instincts. If you don’t feel safe somewhere, leave as soon as you can. There’s a reason you get hunches so don’t ignore them.
I hope these tips help you feel more confident about planning your first solo trip. Sure, the thought of travelling on your own can be scary, but you can do it! Don’t let your dream of seeing the world die just because you’re going to do it alone. There’s no time like the present to start planning your first solo trip.
Are you making plans to travel solo soon? Where are you going and what has your experience been so far? If you’re a seasoned solo traveller please share your tips to help others in the comments below.