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Tips For Solo Traveling For The First Time

Tips For Solo Traveling For The First Time

After booking a plane ticket to a country 4,000 miles away, the reality starts trickling in–you will be solo traveling for the first time. Before begging friends to join you or cancelling every reservation in a flight of frantic calls, consider how you can prepare for an enjoyable solo-travel experience. Here are some tips to keep in mind before you travel alone. 

Why travel solo? 

Instead of plodding past the Uffizi Gallery because your friend swears that “museums are boring,” relish the domed ceilings, tiled floors, columns and of course, The Birth of Venus. Solo traveling ensures that your itinerary takes center stage, and for once, compromise does not have to wash away awaited destinations. 

Tips For Solo Traveling For The First Time

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When traveling as a group, many rely on friends to navigate or make decisions on how to spend the day. Solo traveling provides the opportunity to test your own travel skills and may leave you feeling more confident in your ability to rely on yourself. The moments of quiet when walking down cobbled roads or having a meal in a pub, also offer a rare time to pause and reflect.  

Research, research, research 

As with any new experience, preparing beforehand can ease uncertainties, increase safety and help the trip flow more smoothly. Research which destination fulfills your travel requirements–whether that be an island off the coast of Spain or a well-known backpacking city. You can also look for blogs that catalogue which cities made solo travelers feel most safe. 

Tips For Solo Traveling For The First Time

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Your research process should also include learning about the country’s customs, attitudes, language and currency. If you plan to travel somewhere that does not speak your native language, make sure to be able to confidently express key phrases before you leave. 

Choose your lodging carefully

Though some may assume a single hotel room costs half the price of a double, most fall around the same price as a two-person room, or only slightly cheaper. Because of the price, solo travelers often choose to stay in hostels–inexpensive inns that offer shared bathrooms and kitchens and an individual bunk bed. Though hostels have less privacy than hotels, the communal environment can be an advantage for those hoping to meet new people through solo traveling; socializing with your “roommates” is a hostel norm. While most hostels are safe, be sure to check the reviews of the establishment before booking. 

Tips For Solo Traveling For The First Time

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If you do choose to stay in a hotel however, try to choose one that is within walking distance of your planned activities. Check the safety of the area surrounding the hotel beforehand as well. 

Make an itinerary 

To construct a quality itinerary, consider what you can realistically accomplish each day. Strolling through the Columbia Road Flower Market at noon after seeing the Tower of London and British Museum in the morning may not be the most realistic plan. Consider the fact that you will be jet-lagged the first couple days of your trip and may overestimate your ability to move through each activity quickly. 

Try to avoid tourist traps as well. Seeing monuments from a distance (instead of spending a day touring a landmark) still connects you to a city’s history but saves you time and money. When formulating your itinerary, also consider the cost of transportation between each destination. Instead of traveling back and forth through a city, plan to spend a full day seeing all the sites you want to visit in a particular neighborhood.  

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Keep your family and friends updated

Before leaving home, consider sharing your itinerary with close friends and family members. Though solo traveling does offer opportunities for independence, that freedom comes with the risk of not having a large group to depend on. Throughout your trip, update your friends and family with your experiences so that they know that you are safe. 

Tips For Solo Traveling For The First Time

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Save emergency numbers on your phone

Make sure to memorize the local emergency number for the country you are visiting. Before you leave, gather any health and wellness resources you believe may be beneficial to have on hand. For example, you may want to save the numbers for non-emergency medical advice or non-emergency mental health support in your phone. 

Wake up early 

Fight through you jet lag, and avoid staying in your room all day. While the first few mornings of solo traveling may be intimidating, the sooner you start the process, the sooner you will be accustomed to traveling alone. Plus, getting a head start to the day can motivate you to accomplish more items on your itinerary. 

Don’t fret when eating alone 

Eating is generally a social activity, so eating alone can feel like a faux pas. However, try to embrace the freedom of being able to choose a restaurant without friends scrutinizing the menu’s selections. 

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To ease your way into solo dining, start by having coffee at a café’s patio seating–you may even spot a fellow solo diner. Later on, try having dinner at a bar before peak hours, and work your way up to that Yelp staple always flooded with customers. 

Tips For Solo Traveling For The First Time

Walk with confidence 

Despite planning, you may unfortunately find yourself in the situation where you have to walk home from a deserted, unfamiliar area at night. In this scenario, the most important safety precaution is to walk with confidence, maintaining good posture and keeping your chin up. According to NBC News, maintaining a gait that is “neither too short nor too long” also reduces the likelihood that you will be the target of a crime. Make sure to also be aware of your surroundings, maintain composure and trust your gut if something feels off. 

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Meet other travelers 

One of the best aspects of solo traveling is the opportunity to meet others who are undergoing the same journey. Taking a class (perhaps to learn the local language or master the art of croissant making) and joining tours are easy ways to meet people who are also visiting the destination. Hostels, of course, also facilitate the process of meeting solo travelers since they provide shared living spaces. 

Though solo traveling may start out as an intimidating process, you will soon find that it is one of the most impactful experiences you can undertake. Let us know in the comments if you have had any experiences with solo traveling. 

Featured Image: Tom Barrett on Unsplash