I love travelling on my own; I can go where I want, eat what I want, hang out with who I want – I can even sleep off a hangover in the middle of the day if I want! There’s no rush to fit in with other people’s plans, and I have the the freedom to travel at the pace that suits me. That being said, taking that leap into your first solo trip can be daunting, so here’s some top tips to help you out…
Book a mini-break if you’re unsure
You don’t have to jump straight in with a six month voyage to the middle of nowhere; if you’re not sure that you’re going to like being a solo traveller, or you’re keen to reassure family and friends that you’re not going to get abducted and held for ransom, try a long weekend first to test the water – you can see whether you like your own company or whether it’s just not for you.
Research where you want to go
Cities in Spain for example have lots of English speakers if you’re worried about dealing with a language barrier on your own, Ireland is quick and easy to get home from if you need to and you can get the Eurostar to France or Belgium if you’re nervous of flying without a familiar face to look after you. There are some places that are better for solo travellers than others and sadly, this does apply more to solo female travellers. Yes, girls can and do travel all over the world, but use your common sense – if you’re not going to feel comfortable travelling through Afghanistan, don’t force yourself to go just because someone on the internet says you should. Your travels are exactly that, yours.
Find a social hostel
I love staying in hostels as you meet so many people who can make your trip amazing. I didn’t know what to expect when I booked my first ever hostel, but I instantly met fantastic people who I loved exploring the city with. Check if the place offers activities like walking tours or bar crawls as they are perfect opportunities to talk to people if you’re on your own, or look at reviews to see if there’s a common area/kitchen – they’re ideal places to get chatting to people. Some even offer group dinners, where you’ll soon forget that you’re actually on your first solo trip! If you’re still not sure, check out my verdict on the top hostel myths and my top tips on choosing a hostel.
Pretend you’re on your first solo trip at home
This might sound strange, but try and get used to your own company before you head off on a trip. If you’re used to always being with a group of people, doing little things on your own like going for a coffee, going shopping or going for a walk can give you a clue as to what travelling alone will be like. Go on an overnight stay in a city or head to the coast for a day or two. If you’re not used to doing things like asking people for directions, start doing it now when you speak the same language so it’ll just feel normal when you have to do it on your actual trip… and you WILL need to do it on your actual trip!
Don’t let people put you off
I admit, I failed at this first time around; I had this great idea that I was going to go to Poland, and my parents were not keen on the idea. I’m an avid blog reader so I knew that it wasn’t half as unsafe as they seemed to think it was – I couldn’t be bothered to argue though so I put my plans on hold. A year later I went to see my friend in Bratislava, then headed to Budapest on my own. They saw I coped perfectly fine, got back in one piece (despite the palinka/cancelled flights/day from hell trying to get home/being invited into a crack den… this sort of stuff always happens to me though!) and made new friends in the hostel, so they didn’t bat an eyelid the next time I said I was off on a solo trip.
If family at home are concerned, put a contact plan in place so everyone knows how much or little contact everyone else wants. If promising a text a day will put their minds at ease, it’s a small price to pay to make life a lot easier…
It doesn’t matter if you change your mind
If you do your research and decide that actually you’re not sure solo travel is for you, that’s fine! We’re all different and have different travel styles; some people swear by Couchsurfing whereas I’m not sure about it, and what I do on a trip might not appeal to others. There’s no right way to travel, and there is certainly no shame in deciding that you’d rather take a trip with friends or family.
Off on your first solo trip or a seasoned solo pro? Leave me a comment and let me know!