What I Wish I Knew Before My First Solo Trip

Deciding whether or not to take that first solo trip is a scary thought and can be more than a little intimidating. There is so much fear of the unknown that it is only normal to feel a little hesitant to venture out into the world on your own. No matter how young or old you are, these feelings are a normal part of deciding to escape your comfort zone.

It is now over ten years ago since I took my first solo trip and looking back now, there were so many things that I wish I knew before going on my first solo adventure.

I hope that these tips shared by veteran solo travellers will help to arm you with all the knowledge and inspiration that you will need in order to have a successful first solo journey.

18 TIPS FOR THE SOLO TRAVELLER THAT I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I WENT ON MY FIRST SOLO ADVENTURE

Give Up Waiting Around

Tip by: Linda of Muy Linda Travels

If you have a burning desire to travel and a bucket list filled with amazing places that you want to see and you can’t find someone who wants to go with you,  then consider taking a solo trip. If you put off your trip you might never go. 

Other people have commitments and personal goals that are not necessarily in alignment with yours. Work, money, relationship and family will often get in the way so give up waiting around, book your ticket and go. Not only is it easier to plan your trip, but you’ll also save a lot of time and achieve your goals sooner. And, you might even meet the perfect travel companion while you’re away.

So don’t waste time waiting for someone to travel with you, just book your ticket and go. 

I Wish I Knew the Importance of Self-Reliance Before I Took My First Solo Trip

Tip by: Natasha of Plains, Trains and Karcz

If there’s one thing I wish I knew prior to my first solo adventure, it would be the importance of self-reliance. Travel has a spectacular(ly messy) way of challenging our troubleshooting abilities; be it navigating your way through a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone by partaking in local customs that may be completely outlandish to you, or even taking that initial step to book the flight…it’s all up to you. There’s no one to lean on in times of distress, therefore prompting us travelers to plug in to our intuition, and utilize what minimal resources we may have at our disposal to make the most of a trip through the otherwise unfamiliar. 

Needless to say, this newfound self-reliance is – in equal measure – both daunting and liberating. There’s no one packing your bags for you, ensuring you make that connecting flight, or breaking the ice to start a conversation with a perfect stranger. But seemingly in the way only traveling can, this unique approach to unadulterated independence leaves you stretched beyond your initial understanding, open to personal growth and introduced to a new way of life, a life much bigger than your previous one before it.

Don’t Pay Attention to Stereotypes

Tip by: Daria of The Discovery Nut

Traveling is a great way to expand your horizons. But depending on a place or country, there could be certain stereotypes associated with it. 

That’s why when you travel to a new place, you should keep your mind open rather than going  with preconceived notions. 

The best way to get rid of stereotypes and see the real country is to get out of the tourist zone. Touristy areas sometimes can lack the authenticity and don’t necessarily represent the country. 

For example, if you are going to Mexico, make sure to get out of popular coastal areas like Cancun, Cabo San Lucas and other popular areas to see real Mexico. 

Many tourists who spend their vacation in all-inclusive resorts and tourist zones where everything is catered to visitors often miss out on incredible opportunities to see Mayan ruins, Pueblos Magicos, and amazing historic cities. 

And yet, that’s where you can get the real taste of the country! The best way to see these places is by taking a road trip by car or by bus, however, you can also take an organized tour with a local guide who will give you an overview of the area. 

Wherever you are headed, make sure to learn the place you are visiting!

Pack For One!

Tip by: Cecilia of Lovicarious

I wish I had known how to pack appropriately for one person. I was fresh out of college and on a tight budget, but I had this lofty vision of what a first solo trip should look like. This dream involved climbing mountains and bonding with random strangers over a campfire and music. I packed two suitcases worth of clothing and outdoor gear, a tent, and a brand new guitar that I had yet to learn how to play. After arriving in-country, I immediately regretted my packing choices.

There are many pros to traveling alone versus traveling with a companion, however, sharing items and luggage space is not one of them. The burden of carrying around so many things on my own hindered my mobility and spontaneity. I wish I had known that there is freedom in less. Aim to pack minimally, as most essentials can always be purchased at your destination. With fewer belongings to worry about, you can refocus your energy on being present, taking chances, and creating memories. And no, I never picked up that guitar a single time.



I wish I knew not to over-pack when I took my first solo trip.  Too many suitcases and backpacks is cumbersome when travelling alone
Don’t over-pack…..just pack for one person!

People are Friendlier When You Are on Your Own!

Tip by: Bea of Bea Adventurous

I met my now husband at a point in my life when I was finally financially able to travel, which means that for the last decade we have been exploring the world together. We’ve had some epic adventures visiting over 35 countries, but in all of the trips we have never experienced the kindness of strangers in the same way that you often hear adventurers and travelers speak of. It’s not to say people haven’t been kind, it’s just that none of the acts of kindness would have warranted featuring in a book.

However, I finally decided to take the plunge and set off on my own solo adventure in 2021. I rented a car in Spain and spent 3 weeks following my nose and heading wherever my heart told me to, without making a single plan. I was in a culture that I knew, and although I figured I might get a little lonely, I knew I would be OK. What I didn’t expect though, was the amount of warmth that I experienced throughout my trip. Because I was on my own, I was instantly more approachable, and therefore I had a lot more conversations with strangers than I would have had had I been with my husband. And those conversations lead to the most heartwarming expressions of kindness.

Restaurants owners refused to take my money after plying me high with their specials. I was invited to a family dinner because I needed to try the “abuela’s” recipe. Locals became my free tour guides and treated me to dinner. I was offered beds and sofas to sleep on, and one lovely man called Pablo spent over an hour letting me use his binoculars so I could watch the amazing Griffon Vultures as they flew above us.

I was completely overwhelmed by the warmth of all the people I met, and I am sure that I wouldn’t have experienced anything close to that had I been traveling with a companion. 

Solo Travel Can Expensive – Learn to Travel on a Budget

Tip by: Amanda of Hey! East Coast USA

A common fear related to traveling solo is the topic of money and one of the biggest mistakes first-time travelers make is not choosing an affordable destination. Consider flights, accommodation, activities and food prices before you book and don’t be lured in by the cheap red-eye flights unless there is 24-hour public transport and very early check-ins! What you save in dollars you lose in sleep.

Another solo budget tip is for accommodation. Some hotel deals can be affordable if they include a decent breakfast that will fill you up until dinner and don’t assume Airbnbs are cheap; some apartments in big cities are expensive unless you are willing to travel far. Weigh up being within walking distance to attractions or nightlife against travel time, costs and safety.

If you like to dine out, go for ‘set lunch’ menus in capital cities and a snack in the evening. Don’t be afraid to ask to take leftover food home if it is culturally appropriate to do so. Download food apps such as Too Good To Go, which advertises reduced food at closing time.  Look for ways to save time, as this saves money. For example, there are line skips for most of the NYC observation decks and while they charge a little more than a standard entry ticket, it means you can make the tour more efficient and fit even more into your itinerary!

I wish I knew before my first solo trip how expensive solo travel could be. It is important to learn how to travel on a budget
It is important for solo travellers to learn how to travel on a budget

Research, Research, Research!

Tip by: Kelly of Just One Passport

Thinking back to my first solo trip over ten years ago, I can’t believe that I booked my ticket and a place to stay and off I went. I didn’t do one ounce of research on my destination and looking back now I realize how much I missed out on.

The vacation home I rented was absolutely gorgeous and HUGE. Much larger than I needed. It also wasn’t in the greatest location and wasn’t near any attractions, town, restaurants, or anyplace that I could walk to. There was a bus stop nearby and I took my chances and hopped on which led me to a not-so-great part of town. Since I hadn’t been smart enough to do my research I missed out on all of the great restaurants and places to see.

I have since learned that before I leave for a destination that research is important, not only to ensure that I’m staying in a safe part of town, but so that I know all of the best places to eat and the great things that the destination has to offer. Now I spend just as much time researching as I do actually at my place of destination. Researching the destination is just as fun as the destination itself and I sure wish I knew how important research was before taking my first solo trip.

Bring a Journal to Document Your Travels

Tip by: Jill of One Day Travel

One thing I wish I knew before my first solo trip is that just because you’ll be on your own that doesn’t mean you won’t want someone to talk to!

I highly recommend bringing a journal with you as you travel. This way you have somewhere to let out all of your thoughts as you see new things that surprise you, meet new people that make you laugh, hear a story you don’t want to forget, or experience something that leaves you in awe.

I also recommend that you buy a new tiny journal for each trip you take. This way you’ll get the satisfying feeling of filling up all of the pages, you can choose a journal that’s front cover reflects the emotion you’re feeling as you prepare for each trip, and you can start a collection of little travel journals on your bookshelf!

Journals are the absolute best way to store your thoughts and memories to look back on for years to come. 

Bring a journal to share your thoughts and preserve memories when travelling solo
Journaling is the perfect way to share your thoughts and preserve memories when travelling solo

Solo Travel does not mean Lonely Travel – Just stay in backpackpacker hostels!

Tip by: Erika of Erika’s Travelventures

On my first solo backpacking trip I spent 30 days in Thailand island-hopping, visiting National Parks, exploring big cities, and doing a bit of partying too. Before I left for my solo trip, I kept getting asked, “Won’t you be lonely?” The answer is a resounding, “No!

Solo travel can be as lonely or social as you make it if you stay in backpacker hostels during your travels. Especially in countries popular with first-time solo travelers like Thailand, Indonesia, and Vietnam, backpacker hostels are a great place to meet other travelers. During my time in Thailand I made dozens of new friends at hostels all over the country. Together we went to night markets, out for dinner and drinks, chased waterfalls and more, before going our separate ways. And if I wanted to spend the next day alone at the beach, I did just that!

When solo traveling you might land at the airport alone, but you’ll walk out of any backpacker hostel with a heart full of fond memories with new friends

JOIN ME FOR MORE SOLO TRAVEL TIPS!

Always Have a Book Handy

Tip by: Lena of Salut From Paris

I wish someone would have told me to bring a book along when traveling alone. No matter where I traveled to for a solo adventure, I always feared to find myself in an uncomfortable or awkward situation. 

Be it when seated down in a restaurant, and I suddenly noticed that everyone around me is in company. Or when I felt someone is about to unsolicited approach me – a book works pretty well as a barrier! Sometimes I was just bored and didn’t know what to do with myself.

A book is simply perfect to deeply distract me from any weird situation I might find my self in. And not unimportant, it never looks like as if it’s a strategy to cope with a situation. I am just a girl who reads a book.

I Wish I Knew How to Take Epic Selfies

Tip by: Jiayi of The Diary of a Nomad

I was always very passionate about photography, but while I got good at taking photos, I didn’t know how to get good photos of myself while traveling solo. During my first solo trips, I’d ask strangers to take photos of me, but they never really came out the way I had envisioned them.

Nowadays, I always travel with my tripod if I’m going anywhere alone. I would head out into the city in the early morning to avoid crowds, set up my tripod in front of beautiful places, and compose the shot the way I want. Then, I’d step in front of the camera for an epic travel selfie. I usually also bring a remote control so that I can click the shutter right from where I’m standing. Because the scenery is oftentimes very grand, I also make sure to bring some good wide-angle lenses for the Sony a6400, my lightweight travel camera. 

Next time you’re traveling solo, bring a tripod and see what you can create!

I Wish I Knew How Daunting Public Transportation Was

Tip by: Kate of Kate Abroad

Using public transport or jumping on a long-distance bus or train is pretty daunting as a solo traveller.

The first tip is to book tickets in advance where possible and look up platform/stop numbers on Google Maps. That way you can walk into the station confidently knowing exactly where you’re going and minimize time spent waiting in stations.  There’s nothing worse than wandering around confused, being too early and having to loiter or trying to navigate the ticket lines in a rush. 

Second, try to sit by the window and bring a large bag to put on the seat beside you.  The bag deters anyone from sitting next to you while being in the window seat means anyone standing or moving through the aisle doesn’t brush up against you. Avoid seats with a facing row, if you don’t want awkward eye contact all trip.

When travelling solo and using public transportation, purchase tickets in advance so you arrive at station with confidence.
Buy Tickets in Advance of Travelling

Everything is on Your Own Terms

Tip by: Emma of Emma’s Daydream

The one thing I wish I knew before my first solo trip is how much fun it truly can be. We’ve all been on a family trip where every day is full of compromise and making sure that everyone gets to do something that’s important to them. When it’s just you, you can pack your days full of things that make YOU happy.

What fulfills you and gives you life might not be of any interest to someone else, and by traveling solo you can make the most of your precious travels. Are you a foodie? You can cater your experience to your interests by making reservations at all the best restaurants and taking cooking classes. Does your world revolve around art? You can spend all the time in museums you want.  The world is YOURS. No compromise necessary. 

You Are Responsible For Your Own Safety

Tip by: Intan of Syfnz Says

As a solo traveller, you are responsible for your own safety. Avoid taking shortcuts in unlit places alone, and when you’re out partying, know your alcohol tolerance and make sure you don’t get too drunk that you pass out in the streets (not classy, ladies). You’ll also need to think about how to keep your belongings safe while leaving the table to get something to eat, or when going to the bathroom. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – be it from people sitting next to your table or the staff – to watch your belongings.

Remember to have some form of identification with you when you travel, just in case something happens.

PRO TIP: Send a copy of your identification documents to family members or close friends, even as a draft in your email. In the unforeseen event that your passport of ID gets stolen, at lease you have a backup

Ditch the Guide Book and Hang Out With The Locals

Tip by: Iris of Mind of a Hitchhiker

I used to travel with a guidebook clenched between my fingers acting as bookmarks. But there’s a diminishing return on visiting the main sights. What never gets old, however, is meeting a local, an international student, or a fellow traveler who is curious why you chose this town to visit. 

Have that conversation—nay, start that conversation. See where it leads. Your paths have crossed and might never again. This way, I’ve met a Norwegian man who drove me out of Honningsvåg to see the northern lights, a Mexican man who took me on a horse trip in the mountains near Real de Catorce, a young Romanian-born German woman on Erasmus exchange in Sibiu who hosted me for two nights after exchanging two words, and two young Georgian students who invited me to stay in their family home deep in the mountains of Tusheti. 

The museum will be there next time.

I wish I knew to rely on locals for guidance and information before I took my first solo trip
Spontaneous hospitality with an Erasmus student in Romania

I Wish I Knew How to Keep My Valuables Safe Before My First Solo Trip

Tip by: Peta of Exit 45 Travels

One thing I have learned over my years of travel is that travelling safely needs to be planned prior to leaving for a trip. Ensuring that some preventative measures have been put in place before travelling will allow for a more enjoyable experience.

When most people think travel safety, they initially think about ways of keeping valuables safe while travelling. There are so many excellent anti-theft travel products out there these days such as theft-proof bags, cable locks and pickpocket proof clothing. I travel with a Pacsafe portable travel safe and love it!

However, in addition to keeping valuables safe, considerations need to be given in regards to personal safety. It probably goes without saying, but travel insurance is a necessity, as is the need to stay aware of your surroundings at all times. Unfortunately, you can’t 100% prevent having something stolen or being the victim of theft when travelling. However, you can reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of theft by being vigilant and following some best practices for keeping valuables safe while travelling.

Bring at Least Three Different Types of Money

Tip by: Zoe of Zoe Adventura

The best advice that I was ever given, and which I live by to this day, is to bring 3 forms of money. For example, cash, a credit card, and a debit card. Always at least 3. This little trick has saved me so many times.

There was one time when I was traveling in Cambodia and the ATM ate my card (for no reason, I swear), and thankfully I had some cash and another card. All I had to do was transfer money to my secondary card and I was good to go.

Another money tip is that it’s important to make sure your cards are from different banks, in case they lock your entire account you will still want to be able to access some money from a different account.

Having two cards is also handy once you realize how much fees each account charges. I’ve currently got a travel card that has zero fee international transactions – while my emergency card charges close to $50 in fees. It’s definitely ONLY for emergencies!

I Wish I Knew How Addictive Solo Travel Would Become

Tip by: Becki of Meet Me In Departures

One thing that no one really thinks about with solo travel, is the aftermath of it. Whether you’ve just been away for a short city break or an extended amount of time, after you’re first solo trip you’ll come back on an absolute high. Your head will be buzzing from the most amazing experiences you’ve just had and with that added feeling of conquering your fears and doing it solo! 

After the high, as any seasoned solo traveller will tell you, is the crash. The emotional comedown as you have to get back into the daily grind and your life before solo travel. It’s addictive, and within a matter of days, you’ll be planning your next trip, checking flight prices, figuring out how to save up money for travel and how you ever lived before solo travel. Embrace the addiction, ‘I regret travel‘, said no one EVER!  

I wish I knew how I would love to travel alone and how addictive solo travel was
CAUTION! Solo travel is highly addictive!

Are you ready to take that first solo trip?

Now that you are armed with everything that veteran solo travellers wished that they knew before their first solo trip, are you ready to take your first solo trip? Where will your first destination be?

SAFE & HAPPY TRAVELS 🙂

Kelly xoxo

PIN THESE TIPS FOR THE FIRST TIME SOLO TRAVELLER!

47 thoughts on “What I Wish I Knew Before My First Solo Trip

  1. Jenn

    There are some awesome tips here – I especially liked the one about interacting with locals as a way to find out new sights to see! I never would have explored some of the places I did in my travels if I hadn’t;t heard about them from locals.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill

    I love bringing a journal with me as a I travel, but a book is another great idea when travelling solo as you do tend to have a lot of down time! Thanks for putting this collection of tips together 🙂 Jill

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Melinda

    Great tips! I especially like the one about people being friendlier. When I travel alone vs my partner, way more people talk to me when I’m alone, especially women!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      Yes. I find that as well. Whenever I travel with someone (which is rare), I don’t meet anybody, but when I travel alone, I make all kinds of friends and I still stay in touch with them. One of the beauties of travelling solo.

      Like

  4. Josy A

    So many of these resonate with me. I think the most obvious one is packing for one! I feel like most solo travelers packed waaaaay too much on their first adventures. I know I did.

    The idea that people are more friendly when you’re alone is so true too!!

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Catherine

    Now that I have expanded my family a bit, I can more deeply appreciate the pleasures of solo travel. The exhilaration of moving about on your own terms, the idea of not waiting for someone else to be ready, sounds heavenly. I’ll have to remember to re-read this post when I am missing my family terribly on my next solo trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      I started travelling solo when by kids were younger, just to get a away for a weekend to regroup. I did it once a year (usually around my birthday). I fell in love with it and as I got older I travelled further and further on my own.

      Like

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  7. Jamie

    I remember my first solo trip and a lot of the nerves that accompanied it, but I fell in love with solo travelling over time and this advice is fantastic. The advice to research is so important for solo travel and it can help avoid pitfalls along the way. The other piece of advice that resonated was to always have a book handy; even if you’ve not made friends you can have a bit of escapism during down time or travel time.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Agnes

    Great tips for people planning their first solo trip. Very helpful and inspiring! During my first solo trip, I made a few mistakes. If I had read this article, I would have avoided most of them.

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. Nina Bosken

    I started taking solo trips here and there when I moved to Europe five years ago. Sometimes I would find good flight deals but no one to go with, so I’d go by myself. Staying at hostels was always the best way for me to meet people. They often organize social events like dinners and pub crawls where it’s easy to meet new people. I also love the part where it’s on your own terms. No one is hurrying you along.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      I didn’t start travelling solo until 11 years ago (when I was already old lol). I’ve never stayed in a hostel, as I think of them as being for the younger generation, but I can certainly see where they would be a benefit and a great way to meet people!

      Like

  11. Lāsma Plone

    Great work! And so many great tips for solo travelers! Love that you included finance/money tips. Saving this for the future and will share with few girlfriends who like to travel solo 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Erin

    Good tips! I agree, and especially on the valuables one. I used to want to look “nice” when traveling. Wearing nice jewelry does nothing but make you more vulnerable for pickpockets. I wish I had these tips on my first journey.

    Liked by 1 person

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  18. SecretMoona

    These are some fantastic tips! Coming out of your shell and interacting with the locals is very important; you get to know some nice spots. But obviously, nothing beats paying attention and being aware of your surroundings and being alone means taking extra care.

    Liked by 1 person

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