Are you thinking about traveling solo, but unsure if it will be for you? Are you a little scared and perhaps weighing up the pros and cons of going solo??
Well, below are a few things I’ve learnt on my first big solo trip (and I decided to go for 8 months!), that will make you more aware of what you are getting yourself into! It will be worth it I promise, with so many valuable lessons to learn and invaluable self-confidence, friends and memories gained!
15 Things I’ve Learnt Traveling Solo
1. You’ll Have The Time Of Your Life
Someone once told me that after they took their first solo trip, no other travel trip was the same and that they now go traveling by themselves more than with others.
- Regret nothing and have the time of my life.
- You will find it strange at first, but you will soon ease into it
- The experience will change your life and boost your confidence.
2. Don’t Over Plan Your Itinerary
It is hard to take on this advice if you are a planner like me, but I can recommend leaving some days or weeks ‘free’ in the itinerary that can be filled in with spontaneous plans, should you meet some cool new buddies along the way.
- Have a loose guide for where you want to be in certain times of your itinerary
- Allow accommodation bookings to be flexible in case of changes and avoid paying upfront.
- Go with the flow as you meet people who are like-minded
3. You Will Meet New People No Matter What
Don’t worry too much about meeting new people, it will come naturally.
Here are some ways that you might end up meeting like-minded adventurers:
- Others staying at the Hotel or Hostel
- Meet people on day tours or longer tours
- Free walking tours
- Exploring the city and streets like a local
- Sitting by the pool, at cafes and bars
- Attending local events
Don’t forget to add contacts (usually via Instagram or Facebook) of anyone you meet that you have a connection with. You might want to reconnect later on your travels or when you are back at home, you never know if they could be a business partner, life-long friends, future travel buddies or even the love of your life!
4. Mistakes Will Be Made
There will inevitably be some booking and itinerary mistakes made. The wrong train could be booked for the wrong day, there could be a double-booking of accommodation nights, a screw-up in the time of a flight or you may have to cancel a booking of some kind. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Accept the mistakes and keep moving on wards with the plan, or adapt the plan. It’s all part of the experience.
These things might happen, but you need to move on:
- You’ve lost money – try to make it back up in the budget by having some cheaper meals.
- Your wallet was stolen – Find Wifi and cancel your credit cards first, go to the police station to get a receipt and never keep all of your money in one place.
- You’ve booked the wrong time – double-check things more carefully next time and book another ticket.
- You’ve double booked accommodation – If you can cancel one of them, do it as soon as possible.
- You’ve missed a day booking accommodation – If’s last minute, try to find wifi and search sites like Agoda and Hostels.com
5. Allow More Time Than Necessary
Always try to allow more time than necessary to travel from one destination to the next. Many times I have caught the train in the wrong direction and have had to get off and switch, or there has been a delay along the way to the airport out of my control.
Why you should allow more time:
- You might encounter personal issues that delay your original timing
- You might lose or forget something
- There could be payment issues
- You are unwell or injured
- You got on the wrong train or tram
- It is peak traffic time or there are road works.
If possible, on days where I am traveling to a new destination or accommodation, I allow an extra 30 minutes on top of what is necessary. These minutes have saved me missing train connections and flights!
6. Things Might Be Stolen or Lost, But Don’t Be Afraid
Before you leave, create a plan for if something important is stolen or lost and discuss it with family. If you have these plans in place and the action steps written down, you will be less stressed if your wallet is pick-pocketed or you lose your passport.
- Make sure you have digital copies of all important documents, ID cards (including student cards) and insurance polices emailed to yourself and to a family member.
- For insurance policies, always have a local police report written up should anything be stolen.
- Once the incidence occurs, try to sort everything out and move on as quickly as possible.
You don’t want the bad experience to dampen your adventure for too long, even try to see the positive side! When my wallet was stolen, I made myself feel better by buying a leather one in Italy as a souvenir instead and because of the police report, the cost was covered by insurance.
7. Keeping In Contact With Home Is Important
It is important to have contact with close friends and family throughout your trip regularly to feel less homesick.
Keep in contact through:
- Private email chains
- WhatsApp messages and texts
- SnapChat, Facebook
- Phone calls and video calls.
- Postcards and snail mail sent back home
When you are traveling you will meet many fun and interesting people, but they won’t know the depth of your personality like your family does. Sometimes it helps to have a chat to someone who really knows you and your situation. It’s also important to keep contacts up to date with your itinerary in case of anything happening.
8. You Will Learn More About Yourself Quickly
You start to realise more about your personality very quickly. Your strengths and weaknesses will be tested through many situations. Your likes and dislikes will become more apparent. Overall, your identity will start to become stronger and you will gain more confidence in yourself.
- There will be situations or opportunities that will push you out of your comfort zone.
- There times when you thought you would be too scared to try something, but you do it anyway (like skydiving or white water rafting)
- Giving up your comforts will be surprisingly easier than your thought and not so bad (like sleeping in a hostel dorm room or going without a hair dryer!)
- You’ll gain a new found confidence and a freedom. You begin to feel more spontaneous being on your own and think “Well, why not?”, seeing as you’ve already made it this far. You will surprise yourself!
9. You Will Experience Home Sickness, Even If You Are Having Fun
Unfortunately I don’t think anyone can escape the feeling of home sickness at some point in their travels. Even if you are having the best time (which you will be!), there might be a situation where it hits you, suddenly feeling homesick.
It could be because the culture is so different and you miss being at ease, you might have a bad sleep and miss your own bed, see a couple in the street and miss your partner, be frustrated by the lack of English and miss your culture or just want a hug because something has happened to dampen your day. When homesickness hits, it’s not a great feeling.
When feeling homesick, just remember:
- It’s okay to spend some time relaxing at your accommodation and doing “homely” things like watching Netflix.
- Take extra time in the day to call family and friends. Keep in contact regularly.
- Try to plan some activities during the day to distract yourself
- See if anyone in the hostel wants to join you for the activities
- Join a free walking tour to be around other people
- If all else fails, go buy some cake or gelato! Then, keep moving on!
Don’t feel guilty about being homesick, it happens to everyone at some point, try to stay positive, know what will make your feel more at ease and move on quickly.
10. You Will Appreciate Small Home Comforts
When you finally return home, you will appreciate all the small things you once took for granted in everyday life, especially if you’ve been traveling budget style! Things like a hair dryer, a private bathroom, being able to see all your clothes at once, having a place to make tea and coffee at any time, your comfy bed and pillow, not having to worry about the security of your only possessions all the time! It will certainly be easier to write in that gratitude journal everyday!
11. You Need To Be Organised And Completely Responsible for Yourself
Ultimately you are responsible for moving yourself and your stuff from point A to point B. This can be exhausting at first when you are not used to being completely alone traveling. Normally you would have a partner or friend to discuss travel options with and have as support if something were to go off plan.
In the case of traveling solo:
- Organise your luggage the night before so you feel prepared.
- Research into the transport times and routes you need to take to get to your end destination ahead of time.
- If you have a flight or train route booked for the next day, double check the times and the pick-up point.
- Have a good night sleep before a travel day, so you can thing with a clear head
- Feel confident in where you are going and how to get there.
12. Your Time Is Your Own
The best thing about traveling solo is that your time is all your own!
- You only have to see sights that you enjoy and there’s no compromising.
- If you meet other travelers and they invite you somewhere, it is still up to you on how you spend your time
- Don’t feel pressured to do something you don’t want to.
If you love art galleries, you can spend all day in one! If you want to have a nap at 3pm back in the hostel, you can! If you want to go and eat lunch at a strange time or have ice-cream for all three meals, that’s okay too! Because you are rolling solo and you can.
13. Always Have A Map Of Where You Are Going Ready
Related to the organizational point above, download the offline Google Map of your next destination ahead of time (while you have Wifi) in case you do get lost! It will make it easier to gather where you are without a WiFi connection. You can also go old school and have a paper map, but offline Google maps will always inform you of your current location.
14. Don’t forget about self care
When traveling alone it’s easy to forget about your health and self care. Most of the time the main priority will be making sure that you and your stuff is in the right place at the right time. Don’t forget about your health and keep checking in with your body. No one will be there to tell you to eat vegetables, drink enough water, take medication, to rest or to slow down.
15. Keep Documenting Your Travels, Even If It’s Just For You
Keep documenting your travels and adventures anyway you like, but you won’t regret keeping a track of them, even if it’s just for you personally. It will also give you a hobby to do in the evenings when you don’t feel like going out alone.
There are many ways to document traveling:
- Keeping a travel journal
- Drawing in an art journal
- Write an online blog
- Posting pictures to Facebook Albums
- Create vlog videos along the way
- Try writing on postcards for yourself from each destination!
I hope this has helped to give some insight into what it is like traveling solo and that you feel ready to take on the challenge! It has honestly been one of the best experiences I have pushed myself to do so far. Just go for it!
Need Help planning?
Want some more travel inspo?
More advice on Travel:
Wishing you Creativity + Adventure Everyday!