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9 Tips For First Time Solo Travellers

Embarking on your first solo trip can be both thrilling and nerve-wracking. You might be here because your group travel plans fell through or because you've been inspired by the countless solo adventures you see on social media. Regardless of what brought you here, taking that step to travel alone is a significant and empowering decision.

You might be wondering what solo travel is all about and if it’s truly for you. The idea of exploring new destinations, making new friends, and experiencing the world on your own terms can be incredibly enticing. Yet, the uncertainty of what to expect can also feel overwhelming.

In 2018, I took my first solo trip to Bogotá, Colombia, and it was a transformative experience. Through the highs and lows, I discovered invaluable lessons that made me a seasoned solo traveller. To help you navigate your own solo journey, I've put together nine essential tips that I wish I knew before I set off on my first adventure. These insights will prepare you for the road ahead and ensure you make the most of every moment.

1. This Is Your Main Character Moment

Travelling solo for the first time can be daunting. It’s natural to doubt yourself and feel a bit scared. Stepping into the unknown is never easy, but it’s a vital part of the journey.

This trip is about you – your dreams, your desires, and your growth. Take this opportunity to focus on yourself, to prioritize your happiness, and to truly enjoy the experience. Embrace the freedom of making decisions based solely on what you want. Revel in the independence and the unique moments that solo travel brings.

Essaouira, Morocco

As you navigate this journey, remind yourself that it’s okay to put yourself first. It’s okay to seek out the experiences that excite you, to indulge in the activities that make you happy, and to take the time to reflect and grow.

This is your main character moment. Seize it with both hands, and make the most of every single experience. You’re the hero of this adventure, and it’s going to be an amazing ride.

2. The Fun Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone

You’ve already taken a big step out of your comfort zone by booking your first solo trip. If you’re reading this article, you’re already a bit out of your comfort zone, and that’s a fantastic start. Get used to this feeling because it will lead to some of the best memories you’ll ever make.

This solo adventure is your opportunity to shine, to embrace the unknown, and to step into new experiences. The discomfort you’re feeling now will soon transform into a sense of accomplishment and confidence that will help your character flourish.

There will be many firsts along the way, and navigating these scenarios in foreign countries will be a significant part of your journey. It could be the first time you learn how to order food in a foreign language, the first time you decide to go paragliding, or even the first time you deal with a cab driver trying to overcharge you.

Hang Mua, Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Get used to stepping out of your comfort zone because that’s where the most magical moments happen. If I had stayed in my comfort zone, I wouldn’t have had my first experience surfing in Porto, riding a horse through the valleys of Cappadocia, or hitchhiking in the back of a food truck in Albania (yes, that actually happened).

I always tell people, if it’s scary and exciting, the answer is always yes!*

*But remember to stay safe.

3. Safety Always Comes First

When travelling solo, safety should always be your top priority. Make sure people back home have access to your plans. Personally, I keep all my tickets and bookings in an iCloud folder that my family can access at any time. This way, they always know where I am and what my itinerary looks like.

Additionally, I always ensure that at least one friend is tracking my location while I’m travelling. This provides an extra layer of security and peace of mind for both me and my loved ones.

If you ever find yourself in a situation that feels off or gives you bad vibes, trust your gut and distance yourself immediately. It’s better to be safe and avoid potential risks.

Remember, taking these precautions doesn’t mean you’re being overly cautious; it means you’re being smart and responsible, ensuring that your solo travels remain enjoyable and safe.

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4. Capture As Many Memories As You Can

I always tell people to take more photos than they think they need. When it comes to capturing memories, people often regret taking too few photos rather than too many. So, always take more videos and photos than you initially plan.

As a solo traveller, you’ll experience countless unique and incredible moments. It’s important to capture these memories to look back on and cherish. These photos and videos will serve as reminders of your adventures and the amazing experiences you’ve had.

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Think of it as moments you’re capturing for a future version of yourself who will look back and relive those experiences. Personally, I try to post as many details of my trip as possible on Instagram, and when I go back and view those posts, it’s a beautiful stroll down memory lane.

If you ever find yourself wondering, “Should I take an extra photo or will it be too much?”, the answer is always, “Yes, go ahead.”

5. It Can Get Quiet At Times

When you’re travelling alone, there will be times when your journey becomes very quiet. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing; it’s just something you’ll encounter that might surprise you a bit, as it did me.

When it gets quiet, I often pull out a book or a journal, or simply take in the moment. These peaceful interludes offer a break from the hustle and bustle, allowing you to recharge and reflect on your journey.

Whether you’re a first-time solo traveller or an experienced one, these quiet moments are inevitable. Embrace them as opportunities for reflection, relaxation, and personal growth. They provide a chance to connect with your surroundings and yourself in a deeper, more meaningful way.

Panama City, Panama

Take the time to savour the silence, listen to your thoughts, and appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. Quiet moments can be incredibly restorative, helping you gain clarity and insight that can enhance your travel experience.

Remember, solo travel isn’t just about constant activity and adventure. It’s also about finding peace and contentment in your own company, learning to enjoy the quiet times as much as the exciting ones.

6. There’s A Difference Between “Alone” And “Lonely”

This is a lesson that really helped me grow into a better version of myself. The true essence of solo travel is realizing that you can be out there alone and still have an amazing experience. Being alone doesn’t mean you have to feel lonely.

Solo travel offers a unique opportunity to enjoy your own company, explore at your own pace, and truly immerse yourself in your surroundings. You’ll find that being alone can be incredibly liberating and empowering.

Chefchaouen, Morocco

Moreover, solo travel is a fantastic way to meet new people. You’ll make plenty of new friends along the way, whether it’s by sitting next to someone on a tour, joining group activities, or simply striking up a conversation with a fellow traveller at a local café or bar.

Remember, feeling alone and feeling lonely are two very different things. Embrace the solitude when it comes, but also be open to the connections and friendships that await you on your journey.

7. Make An Effort To Meet People

In my experience, I make more new friends on one solo trip than I would staying in my hometown all year.

Sometimes, these friends will magically appear by sitting beside you on a tour or at a bar. In other cases, you’ll need to be proactive and walk up to others to say hello.

One of the best ways to meet new people is to put yourself in situations where you’re likely to encounter friendly, like-minded individuals. Signing up for group tours, activities, and classes is a fantastic way to start. Look for local events like parties, pub crawls, travel meet-ups, language exchanges, and similar gatherings.

Partying With New Friends In Mexico

Additionally, try using apps like Couchsurfing or online dating apps to meet others in your area. These platforms can be awesome for meeting fellow travellers and locals who can be a part of your adventures and add their unique touch to 'em.

Remember, making an effort to meet people can greatly enhance your travel experience, turning strangers into the unlikeliest of friends and creating unforgettable memories.

8. It’s Good To Make Plans, It’s Good To Break Plans

Before I started travelling solo, the folks I’d travel with and I would always stick to a strict plan. Every day was pretty organized, and we rarely deviated from our itinerary.

Once I began travelling solo, I realized the value of having an outline and intention of things you want to do, but also the importance of flexibility. It’s great to have a plan, but it’s equally important to be able to break it and go with the flow.

Shokder, Albania

Maybe you’ll meet some awesome people on a tour who invite you to join them for a spontaneous adventure. Or perhaps you’ll encounter a special someone who’s heading to a different city and invites you to tag along. These unexpected opportunities can lead to some of the most memorable experiences of your trip.

Embrace the freedom of solo travel by being open to change and spontaneity. It’s good to have a structure, but don’t be afraid to veer off course and explore new possibilities.

9. Your First Solo Trip May Not Blow Your Mind But It’s The Start To Something Amazing

After my first solo trip, I thought to myself, “This is nice and I’m glad I’ve had this experience, but it’s not for me.” Four years down the line, I’ve managed to see 20+ countries travelling solo, and it’s been nothing short of incredible!

It’s perfectly normal for your first solo trip to feel a bit overwhelming and like an emotional rollercoaster. Think of it like your first bike ride or swimming lesson. It can get rocky and uncertain when you start, but once you hit your flow, it's euphoric!

Tbilisi, Georgia

You might have the best time of your life, but it’s also common to feel a bit empty or lost at first. Many solo travellers experience this, and it’s okay. Remember, you’re not alone. The growth that comes from these experiences is part of the journey, and it only gets better with time.

And That’s A Wrap!

Embarking on your first solo trip is a bold and exciting adventure that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on your life. By embracing the journey with an open heart and a curious mind, you'll not only discover new places but also uncover deeper aspects of yourself. Remember, every solo traveller starts somewhere, and with these tips, you're better equipped to navigate the challenges and revel in the joys that come with solo travel. So go on, create unforgettable memories, and enjoy every moment of your unique adventure. Safe travels!