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Tears, nerves and anxiety. That’s what I had before my first solo trip. If you have them too, it’s totally normal!
If you’re feeling anxious, worried or terrified of solo travel, that’s okay! Just try not to let it hinder you from actually going on your first solo trip. However, if you’re feeling particularly hesitant, this post will help you.
Travel was always the one thing that I talked about, but never did. As each year passed, I continued to make excuses and convinced myself that I did not have enough money to travel and that I had to lose weight before I went. This led me to stay in a job I didn’t enjoy and I continued saving money to the point where I felt stressed and depressed, because my life was not going down the path I wanted.
I’m still a solo travel newbie, but from those 2 months abroad, I have learnt a lot about who I am, what I need and what my triggers are whilst travelling. So, my best advice for your first solo trip would be to research and plan as much as possible beforehand, so that you feel as ready as you can ever be!
1. How to choose a destination for your first solo trip
Google is your best friend! I recommend researching different destinations that you would like to visit. Some examples of sentences you can search are:
- Top destinations for my first solo trip
- Best destinations to travel alone for the first time
- Safest destinations for solo female travellers
- Best places for solo female travellers
Once you’ve decided on your top 3, use Google to search for things to do and sights to see in those destinations. Facebook groups are also great to ask questions and research destinations. The two largest travel Facebook groups for women are Girls Love Travel and The Solo Female Travel Network.
If you’re unsure of which destination to choose. Start by selecting a country that is mainly English-speaking and narrow down the selection from there.
2. Finding the right hostel for your first solo trip
For this particular blog post, I won’t be discussing hotels or Airbnb as I haven’t stayed in them whilst travelling solo.
I think staying in hostels during your first solo trip is the best option! Being around other solo travellers will allow you to become familiar with solo travel and mingle with others who are in the same boat as you! Hostelworld and Booking.com are my two favourite apps to use for booking hostels.
If you’re thinking you can’t stay in a hostel because you don’t want to share a room with strangers, there are private rooms available too! If you’re thinking you can’t stay in a hostel because you’re too old, you’re not! Let’s debunk the myth that hostels are for people that are young and broke! That’s not the case at all. On my 2 month trip, I met solo travellers from the ages of 18 all the way up to 75, so do not let your age stop you from booking that bunk bed!
Be sure to check reviews when you’re looking for hostels. I prefer paying slightly more and booking an all-female dorm room in a hostel that has a rating of 8.5 or more. Hostels with higher ratings tend to be better and offer more amenities. Make sure to read through the reviews and see what other solo travellers are praising the hostel for and what they have complained about. These reviews will give you a clear indication of what the hostel is like and whether it is suitable for you.
3. Download all of the Apps!
The great thing about smartphones is that you have access to various resources at the touch of a button! If you want to be prepared for your first solo trip, use the high speed WiFi you have at home and download the following apps before you venture off:
- Skyscanner – awesome for booking flights and comparing prices.
- Google Flights – another great search engine for booking flights and comparing prices. It also allows you to track the price on a flight so you can see the price history of it.
- Hopper – what a great app! You can enter various flight searches and based on the price, it will either tell you to wait until the time is right to book. When the flight price has dropped, you will be alerted with a notification advising you to book.
- Hostelworld – allows you to easily search for hostels and read reviews.
- Booking.com – also great for hostel searches, as well as hotels, airbnb’s and guesthouses.
- Couchsurfing – allows you to stay at a local persons home for free. However, I only use it for the ‘hangout’ feature which allows you to meet up with locals or other travellers.
- Maps.Me – lets you download maps of the countries/cities you’re visiting to access offline.
- Google Maps – lets you download maps of the cities you’re visiting to access offline.
- Google Translate – essential when travelling to a country where English is not the first language.
- Uber/Lyft/Kapten/Bolt/ViaVan – all of these are ride-hailing apps which can be used in different countries. Not all apps can be used in all countries but they are all different variations of Uber based on the country you’re travelling to.
- Rome2Rio – travel journey planning website and app which allows you to search plane, train, bus, car and ferry routes from all over the world.
- FlixBus – affordable bus company which operates in Europe and North America.
- MegaBus – affordable bus company which operates in the UK and America.
- BusBud – allows your to search and book affordable buses across North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia.
4. Start packing 3 weeks before your flight
Make a list of everything you will need and then start to pack your bags at least 3 weeks in advance. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!
I know 3 weeks sounds extreme, but packing your bag closer to the day you fly can be extremely stressful! I prefer to write out a list of everything I want to take around 2-3 weeks before my flight. Once I’ve decided on the items I want to take, I wash and iron everything before packing it away.
I use packing cubes to pack all my clothes. They are absolutely amazing for keeping all your items organised and compressed to save space! Packing cubes are durable and come in different sizes. I particularly like to use 4 different packing cubes for 4 different items (e.g. tops, bottoms, undergarments and miscellaneous) to make my clothes easier to find in my bag.
When packing this far in advance, you’ll be able to stay calm and organised before your flight. You will be able to weigh your bag to ensure it doesn’t exceed the weight limit and you can take the next couple of weeks to decide whether the items you’re taking are essential. As time passes, you may decide that some of the items you’re bringing are unnecessary. Having your bags packed early means you’ll have plenty of time to take items our or add in a few new ones.
This packing hack does not just have to be for your first solo trip. It can be used for every trip you decide to go on.
A backpack is great when you’re staying in hostels but it can also be nightmare to deal with when it’s over packed. Don’t feel pressured to bring a backpack when you’re staying in hostels as I met many people on my trip that were living out of a suitcase.
5. Type up an itinerary
Most times, going with the flow is way better. If you don’t have a set plan of where you will be visiting, it’s okay.
However, I still suggest drafting a basic itinerary on Google Sheets containing the dates you plan to be in each city. Add the address and phone number of the hostels you know you will be staying in. You can update the online document on the road if you haven’t planned that far in advance. I also advise sharing the document with family and friends so they know of your whereabouts for added safety.
6. Order some currency
I know that in this day and age, it’s very easy to wait until you get to your destination before you withdraw money from an ATM, especially since there are cards available which don’t charge you a transaction fee, like Starling and Monzo. However, I still prefer to order some currency before flying. It doesn’t have to be much, but usually I like to exchange £25 worth. This acts as a small emergency fund in case you need it. It can be used for food at the airport after you have landed, a cab fare to your hostel or to purchase a SIM card. The good thing is, the money won’t be wasted and you don’t have to worry about losing money from terrible exchange rates as you’ll only be exchanging a small amount.
A few days before you embark on your first solo trip, have a pamper day or two. Take a bath, wax your brows, get a haircut (if you want one), shave your legs and wash your hair. You’ll still be preparing for your trip but you’ll be taking a couple of days to recharge and not stress about travel plans.
Stress can build up very quickly. If you’re continually stressed before you leave, that isn’t healthy and you may end up forgetting something vital. So, relax, recharge and try to get some great sleep on the nights leading up to your flight!
I hope you’re feeling more prepared to start planning your first solo trip! Comment down below and let me know if you found any of the tips particularly useful.
All words are my own and subject to copyright. Post contains some affiliate links. Whilst these don’t make any of the items more expensive, it does mean I make a small commission if you purchase them.