I just returned from my first real solo trip last week and I’m so excited to report that it was a huge success!!
I’ve been trying to schedule a solo trip for years now (among the travel community it’s known as something you have to try at least once), but weirdly I’d had a difficult time doing it. Sure I’d traveled for a day or two alone, but I was always eventually meeting up with someone. There was always a friend or family member who wanted to come along and join the journey, and really who can say no to that?! Traveling and making memories with friends and family is great too of course!
But, I figured after living abroad now for 3 years and counting, it was finally time I gave solo travel a real shot. So, when I was given a week vacation from work that didn’t coincide with anyone else I knew here in Santiago, I decided to book my first solo trip to Colombia!!
After only 7 days traveling alone, I can safely say I’m obsessed with solo travel. It was an experience unlike any other and one I’m definitely going to repeat as soon as I can. After I got past all those silly first-time butterflies, I had the time. of. my life. After all, there’s nothing better than experiencing a first!
If you’re thinking about taking a solo trip of your very own, I only have one thing to say to you- JUST DO IT! Book your flight, pack your bags and don’t look back. You won’t regret it, I promise.
For those of you who have already decided and are well on your way, here are some tips to make sure your first solo adventure goes as smoothly as possible!
1. Stay somewhere social
When traveling solo, you’re never really alone. There are always new friends around just waiting to be made. I’ve found that the best way to meet new people is to book social accommodation. When you’re sharing a roof and close quarters with other travelers, it’s pretty hard to avoid striking up a conversation. For your first time traveling alone, it also helps to have others around to talk to and beat the feelings of loneliness.
For my current traveling situation, as a 20-something solo female, I really like staying in social hostels, because that’s where I find other young, budget, sometimes solo, travelers like myself. Because we’re so similar, we have lots to talk about and relate on. When booking hostels, I almost always use Hostelworld, because I can really get a feel for where I’m going to be staying ahead of time. I always check the “atmosphere” rating percentage and read a few recent reviews to make sure that I’m staying somewhere with a decent social reputation. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean a party hostel (if that’s not your thing) but I have found in the past that hostels with a “party reputation” end up being a great place to socialize with others! Not a hostel person? There are still plenty of social options for accommodation. Try renting a room in a shared AirBnB or using CouchSurfing!
2. Plan your travels ahead of time
When traveling solo, all of the planning is on you and you won’t have anyone else to rely on. Try to at least have your transportation plans from the airport ready, have the address of where you’re going written down in the local language, have some of the local currency on hand, etc.
When I arrived in Medellín, I had completely forgotten to write down the address of my hostel and just assumed that the taxi driver would know where it was. Needless to say, he had no clue and none of his 15 taxi driving friends did either. Thankfully, I speak Spanish and was able to eventually sort it out, but this type of experience can be a bit uncomfortable when you’re on your own and definitely isn’t a great way to start your first solo trip.
3. Don’t make too many plans
Okay, so I know I just told you to plan, but the key is not to plan too much. This was hard for me. There’s no denying it- I’m a planner. Still, after one of my friends with more solo travel experience than me suggested that I make minimal plans on my first solo trip, I reluctantly took her advice.
She insisted that planning out my every minute would really hinder my solo travel experience. Well, she couldn’t have been more right. I ended up making so many spur-of-the-moment plans with new friends that I actually had to cancel or reschedule my even minimal previous bookings. I wouldn’t have had to go through any of that if I had just left myself completely open. When traveling solo it’s a good idea to go with the flow, take advice from others and leave yourself free to just pick up and go for last minute opportunities.
4. Just say yes
On the topic of not making too many plans ahead of time, when you’re solo traveling and presented with an opportunity, sometimes you need to take a little risk and just say yes. In normal non-traveling life, I tend to be someone that shies away from potentially awkward situations for fear that I may end up feeling slightly uncomfortable. On this past trip, I went against every fiber of my being and tried to think of the positives that could come from these situations. When I could, I basically just said “screw it” and went ahead and said yes.
As a quick example, I met a guy, also traveling solo, at a café one morning and we got into some light conversation. After a while he asked if I had plans for the day and if I’d like to hang out. At first I hesitated because I didn’t know if I wanted to be stuck with some “rando” for the remainder of my afternoon, but I actually didn’t have set plans so I said, “you know what, why not?” We ended up having a great day, really hitting it off, adding a few others to our crew and hanging out together for the rest of the weekend!
If someone invites you out to dinner, to get a drink, to try something new or simply just to hang out for a few hours, even if it may feel a little weird at first, try giving it a shot and just saying yes. What’s the worst that can happen?
No I’m not telling you to say yes to anything and put yourself in potential danger. Please be smart and use your discretion…
5. Take a Free Walking Tour
I swear by free walking tours. A walking tour is always one of the first, if not the first thing I do when I get to a new city. It’s a great way to get your bearings, to learn about your surroundings and also a great way to meet people! You can ask your guide for suggestions of where to go, what to eat and what to do and your bound to get talking with other travelers. You may even be among some other solo travelers who are new to the city. Whoever you meet, you’ll be in a tight-knit group walking around for a few hours together, so you’ll have plenty of time to mix and mingle.
6. Bring something along to occupy downtime
When you’re traveling on your own, there will inevitably be times that you will be, surprise, surprise, alone. Taking a long daunting bus ride or sitting to eat alone at a restaurant can sometimes kick in the dreaded lonely feelings. For times like these, bring a book, magazine, iPod, travel journal, or something else to occupy your time and distract your mind. Just be careful not to burry yourself in it and close yourself off to meeting others.
7. Take lots of photos
Just because you’re traveling solo, doesn’t mean you can’t document your journey. Your family and friends will want to see lots of pictures of not only where you went, but who you met, what you ate, what you did and everything in between. Oh yeah, and they’ll want to see pictures of YOU. I’m not a huge selfie taker- but I’ll admit it, sometimes selfies are necessary. If no one else is around, grab a selfie stick or use a timer. Other people around? Ask a stranger, tour guide or new friend to take your picture for you. Whatever you do, make sure you have some concrete memories to look back on. Trust me, you’ll definitely want to remember your first solo trip! 😛
Learn how to take great pictures when you’re traveling solo here and here.
8. Put yourself out there
None of the above tips will matter if you’re not willing to step out of your comfort zone and actively take some risks. Don’t wait for opportunity to come knocking. Start with baby steps and take it from there. Walk up to a group of interesting people and say hello. Try that kind of crazy looking foreign food. Do things you normally wouldn’t do and embrace the unfamiliar. No one is around to judge you and you’re likely never going see these people again. You’re free to be yourself and do exactly what you want. Challenge yourself, open up and you’ll really learn what you’re capable of. Just think about how potentially exciting, thrilling and exhilarating life can be!
9. Don’t be afraid to spend some time alone
This last tip may just be the most important of the bunch. You’re traveling solo for a reason. Maybe you couldn’t find anyone else to come along. Maybe you just needed to get away for a while. Heck, maybe you just wanted to give solo travel a try. Whatever the reason, you decided to give solo travel a go and you’re going to learn so much about yourself because of it. Don’t be afraid to embrace your alone time and go out to eat by yourself, go for a walk on your own or sign up solo for a class or a tour. Just because traveling solo is a great way to make new friends and meet new people doesn’t mean that you always have to be surrounded by others. Take some quality time for yourself and you will quickly learn to feel comfortable on your own. You may even enjoy your own company.
I know you’re going to LOVE solo travel. Traveling in any way, shape or form is such a wonderful learning experience, a way to develop solid life skills and better yourself in so many ways. You’re going to make memories that will last a lifetime and if you follow the above simple tips, I’m sure your first solo adventure will be a whopping success!
Have you ever traveled solo? What tips would you add to this list? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Thinking of taking a solo trip? Pin this post and save it for later!
Welcome to Wanderful Wednesdays!
Consider yourself a wanderer?! Well then, this Blog Hop is for you!
Meet your hosts: Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World.
Here on Wanderful Wednesday we hope to promote an open and supportive community for like-minded bloggers- expats, travelers and all kinds of wanderers!
The linkup will take place every Wednesday at 8AM GMT.
Wanderful Wednesday Guidelines:
- Link up a wanderful travel related post below! One per blogger per week please!
- Spread the LOVE! Blog Hops are all about hopping around & getting to know others within the community! At the very least please try to comment on one other post before you go!
- Let’s get Social! Really liked a post you read? Don’t be shy! Share your favorites on Social Media! You can use the hashtag: #wanderfulwednesday
- Don’t forget to grab the button and link back to your wanderful hosts! Help us spread the word and let’s get others involved!
You can also pin your post to our new Pinterest Board! Let me know if you’d like the invite.
This week I’m highlighting The Bernina Express by Tracy of Tracy’s Travels in Time. I’ve never thought about taking a scenic rail journey as a way to travel, but her trip through Italy and Switzerland looks just breathtaking! If you haven’t already, be sure to go check out this post and spread the love! Thanks for linking up with us Tracy!
**Wanderful Wednesday Announcement- Facebook Group- add to our community with open conversations. If you would like to be added message me on my Facebook – Lauren Bonheim or Lauren on Location and I will add you 😀 .. Been having a hard time finding everyone by name on Facebook..
Happy Hopping Friends!! 😀