For longtime travel junkies, it can be hard to remember all of the anxiety, uncertainty and fear that was involved in your first solo trip.
Travel butterflies are common and totally normal– working up the courage to take that leap can be a monumental task in and of itself and if you find yourself reading this now, you’re already further than most!
Women can be hesitant to take long-distance trips because of safety concerns female travellers may have, but the world IS mostly safe and people are mostly good, and if we let ourselves, our minds will always come up with countless reasons not to take your first lone adventure.
Will you be able to locate the most fun and interesting locales? (YES) Have you properly budgeted enough money to have a great time on your own? (PROBABLY NOT BUT THAT’S OK) Will you be able to make friends once you arrive? (YES) How much is too much (or too little) to pack for your solo adventure?
This guide is designed to give you a few key pointers to make the most of your first trip on your own and relieve some of the anxieties leading up to the big moment. While it is by no means a comprehensive list, these are a few of the tips that I would have wished someone would have given me before I went out on my own for the first time.
Prepare for the culture, not the location
You can spend countless hours reading countless books about the great tourist attractions or secret hotspots in your intended destination, but why waste all of this time beforehand when a simple internet search will have the same information when you arrive? Sure, reading and preparing for all you will do is fun and necessary, but your time would be better spent learning about the people and the culture than the cathedrals and clubs.
Bring what you need and leave what you can buy
If you have ever returned home from a vacation with half of your clothes still packed and folded in your suitcase? Yeah, me too. You can’t plan for everything and overpacking is the kiss of death for backpackers. Before your first solo trip, carefully plan and pack all of the essentials and leave behind unnecessary luxuries, clothes or items that can reasonably be purchased upon arrival.
Be cautious but willing to take responsible risks
Fear is a major feeling leading up to a solo adventure, and many women compensate this by going all out once they arrive. The key is to find the right balance between caution and carefree, and only take the risks that can realistically be beneficial. If you are uncertain if something is worth doing, it is always better to err on the side of caution during your first trip.
Expect unexpected expenses
Travel will always have hidden, unexpected costs, no matter the destination or length of time spent there. You may lose the phone charger that costs much more abroad than in local stores; you might have thought a certain activity was free, only to find there were unexpected fees or admissions costs; or there could be any number of countless financial issues that arise without your knowledge or foresight. In other words, do not shell out all of your money on a one-way charter flight if you cannot afford a ticket home.
Take downtime for yourself, even on your vacation
With all there is to see and do on your first solo trip, it is almost impossible you will be able to squeeze it all in. But that is OK– there is always next time. If you keep yourself on a rigid schedule, skipping sleep and cramming in as much as possible, you are likely to miss many of the more subtle, beautiful elements of the area. Be sure to take time to unwind, unplug and take in all that is around you, without immediately rushing off to the next spot.
Take the Leap
Now that you’ve decided to take the leap and chosen your destination that will surely awake the travel junkie in you, go through these tips once again to make sure you didn’t miss anything. After you’ve broken the ice, you’ll surely create a tips list of your own to recommend to other first time solo travelers.
Where was your first solo adventure?