So you’ve been doing all of this research on how to make your first solo trip the perfect experience. Let us add this list of essential tips to the things you should definitely consider when preparing and engaging in solo traveling. It is absolutely normal to feel overwhelmed by all the information you’ve come across, so this article is here to synthesize everything for you.
Plan With Depth
As far as the eye can see. Plan for every single day of the trip, every single activity of the day, down to the food stops and transportation options. Book all of your accommodations and transportation at least a week, if not more, in advance.
Your itinerary is going to be your best friend. Even if you are a spontaneous person, solo traveling is most efficiently done with a plan in mind and some form of direction. Each activity is meant to be an experience that symbolizes something important to you or will help you realize something about yourself.
So if you aren’t a planner, this is your warning call to really sit down and make a list of spots you want to hit on your trip. Solo traveling does take time but that time is also limited; it’s important not to waste it stressfully figuring out what to do next.
Plan With Breadth
Plans B, C, and D hopefully never have to happen. But they might, which is why they need to exist. Though they may be tedious to create on top of your Plan A, a more entertaining way to think about this is to pretend you are playing a Choose Your Own Adventure game.
For every choice you make, consider an alternative choice. Then proceed to create a plan from that. You can choose to make this an adventure with an entirely different end point than Plan A, or have it rejoin Plan A down the line. The point is to be able to play this game during your trip as you are confronted by each of these forks in the road. Maybe the attraction you were planning to visit was shut down during your stay; that’s okay, you’ve got a fully developed Plan B storyline to follow!
Pack Smart, Pack Light
Smarter, not harder. You will be responsible for carrying your own luggage, so pack as much as you are willing to lug around for several hours. Although the chances of you carrying ALL of your stuff for long periods of time is low (this will only happen if something happens to your accommodation), you should still prepare to do so as you are moving between modes of transportation to arrive at your destination.
Pack light. Research the weather during the time that you will be staying at the chosen location, and pack clothing that is versatile for the occasion. Bring comfortable shoes, preferably athletic ones – you’ll be surprised at how much walking you’ll end up doing.
Check out Globesister’s article on an in-depth list on exactly what to pack for your solo trip!
You’re alone but you’re also not. The friends and family that you left behind are still there to support you if you run into trouble during your trip. Even if you are heading to a remote location and the entire point of the trip is to disconnect from society, pack a device that will allow you to keep in touch with people nearby or people back home. A connection to the outside world could be your lifeline during emergencies.
This is optional but posting on social media is a great way for the greatest number of people to know where you are, which is also a great safety tip. Even if you don’t want to be public about it, let someone know where you’re headed or share your location with them just in case! Globesisters has a plethora of safety articles just for you, from safety tips to hostel tips!
Connections also come from the new people you are bound to meet on your solo trip. Globesisters already gets you in touch with one of our trusted local hosts who can show you the ropes of what it means to live in the neighborhood. In addition to that, consider activities that will get you closer to people.
Join a free walking tour, which nearly all cities have. Attend a local festive event, which is guaranteed to bring out locals and travelers from all walks of life. Take some classes – surfing if you’re on the beach, cooking if you’re a foodie, rock-climbing if you’re out camping, etc. If your solo trip is a long-term one, taking a part-time job helps you get to know your coworkers and the local customers in a natural setting.
There are plenty of ways for you to make friends on this trip. You never know who you’re going to meet and how they will inspire you!
Embrace the Culture
Every place has a history. From the smallest suburban town to the largest metropolitan city, there is a backstory to the destination that is worth exploring. Besides going to museums, look for historical sites that you can tour to gain an even more authentic experience. Missionaries, preserved architecture, dinosaur fossils, famous streets, and even the stories that locals have to share about a specific tree or intersection are valuable insights into how life evolved there.
You can’t go anywhere without food. Cities will usually have famous food courts or restaurants that typically show up on Yelp as must-have experiences. If you’re in a more rural area, try to avoid the convenience of fast food restaurants and support mom-and-pop establishments instead. And if you’re literally in the middle of nowhere setting campfires and pitching tents, roasting sausages and marshmallows is, in itself, a wonderful experience.
Remember what we just said about building an essential itinerary? Sometimes situations warrant throwing that all aside. Now, this isn’t to say that the itinerary is pointless. Again, it provides direction and backup planning. But when you’re actually there, in the midst of traveling, it is natural to have impulses to explore things that catch your attention.
In that case, go for it! Don’t be afraid to change plans and try something new or that excites you. Risks and challenges make life less mundane, and that’s exactly the point of a solo trip – to break the routine. In fact, treat it as another choice in your Choose Your Own Adventure story and see where it takes you.
Your instincts are your emotional impulses while your plans are your rational decisions. In a solo trip, it’s important to have both be your guiding lights to spice up the adventure.
Trust Your Instincts
Speaking of instincts, traveling alone makes you the only reliable indicator you have. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. That’s your cue to leave the situation immediately. Don’t dismiss your gut feelings because they might just save you.
Be extra aware of your surroundings and pay attention to the little details and actions around you. File them away in your cabinet of memories. All of this implicit information is what your intuition works on to send you signals that resonate as gut feelings.
For more information on tips to stay safe, take a look at our 5 safety tips for female solo travelers.
Enjoy Your Own Company
This is one of the primary reasons GlobeSisters believes you should travel on your own: it’s the quickest way to learn about yourself. It’s a chance to spend time with yourself, get to know yourself, and experience life without the judgment of others.
Still, it’s important to recognize there will be periods of loneliness. Not to fear! Bring something to distract you or even be productive during those phases. Journaling is a great way to pass time, so packing a blank notebook that you can write or sketch on can become a mental saving grace. Use these moments to reflect and record your reflection.
Later on, when you look back on those entries, you’ll be able to see how your mind was evolving from the beginning of your solo trip to the end. Use it as a metric to measure how successful this trip was, what you can change for your next trip, and what other part of yourself you’d like to discover next.
And remember: always stay positive. Don’t beat yourself over missed opportunities because not one moment of your solo trip is a miss-out!
We’ve covered a lot about safety on the GlobeSisters Blog, from tips to places you should avoid. Homestays themselves serve as a safety precaution too.
Everyone at GlobeSisters is a verified host or traveler, and all female to promote a trusting network. The connection you have with your hostess also means you have a guaranteed point of contact at your destination. They can be someone you share your location with or ask for advice on places to avoid or criminal activity to be aware of in the area. Homestays offer incredible support for your first solo trip because of the amount of on-hand resources they are equipped with.
GlobeSisters’ entire mission stems from safety and avoiding the dangerous situations that our founder experienced herself. Our goal is to prevent that from ever happening to a solo traveler. Read about her story here.
And that about sums it up. Here is the full list again:
Plan with depth
Plan with breadth
Pack smart, pack light
Embrace the culture
Trust your instincts
Enjoy your own company
There’s a first time for everything, so get ready, get set, and go!