by Cristina Costea
Venturing out on your own for the first time can be intimidating and downright scary. First times are always that way. On the other hand, traveling solo can also be extremely satisfying. Seeing the world on your own, at your own pace, may just lead you to some of the most amazing experiences of your life!
Traveling solo is awesome, but if you’ve never traveled solo, there are some things you need to know before stepping out. Here’s a useful list of BookSinglesHolidays.com’s advice for all those first-time solo travelers:
Before You Leave the House
- Don’t Go Wild with Packing
It is so easy to go overboard with packing when you’re traveling solo. Who knows when and where you’re going to need all that stuff? In all honestly, the lighter you travel, the better. Your body will thank you and it will do wonders for your state of mind, to be light on your feet. Here are some awesome travel hacks that will surely help you out on your first solo adventure.
- Do a Proper Hotel Research
One could say that there is a certain degree of discrimination from the hotels towards the single traveler. Evidence to this is that pesky single supplement, where you need to pay extra just because you are a solo traveler. Research all the hotels you plan on staying at, to make sure you avoid the single supplement.
- Bring These Useful Things with You
You may not think you need them now, but when you’re on the road or arrived at your destinations, these things will be a God sent: a deck of cards (it’s so easy to meet people on the road when you have a deck of cards with you), a lock (you will need it), a travel book (makes the time fly by), and a reusable bag (for shopping). And don’t forget your sunscreen!
- Don’t Let Your Phone be Your Only Means of Storage
When we travel, we’ve got everything on our smartphones, from our boarding tickets to phone numbers. But the risk of losing your phone increases when you’re traveling and you wouldn’t want to lose all that important and sensitive information. We highly recommend you write down all the important telephone numbers (family, friends and hotels, etc.) in a notebook, or do a backup on your laptop or tablet of everything you might need.
- Send An Email to Yourself…
… with copies of your flight information, boarding tickets, passport, confirmations, lodging info and any other important documents or information. In case you lose the originals, the copies will be right there at your disposal. Also, it’s a good idea to CC a friend or family member on that email. Just so they know whereabouts.
- Bring More Cash Than You Think You Need
No matter how good you are with money, it is close to impossible to estimate exactly how much money you will really need on your solo trip. Which is why it is very important to follow, if possible, Susan Heller’s advice: “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”
- Do a Thorough Online Research about your Destination
Find forums, Facebook groups, and popular travel blogs about your destination and see what people are saying. Say you’re interested to go on a singles holiday in the UK for the first time, be sure to look for forums and groups to seek out those who have done so! You’ll have plenty to learn from them that will help you on your solo adventure!
- Plan Ahead
It is so important that you plan ahead when traveling. A minor detail can make the difference between a great vacation and a not so memorable one. That said, there are some areas where you can just wing it, based on local recommendations and spur of the moment things, such as sightseeing, restaurants and detours. But trust us, planning ahead for your first solo trip is a must!
While on the Road
- Try to Overcome Your Traveling Fears
Whether you suffer from travel anxiety or are just very little affected by the unpleasantries of traveling, you need to overcome whatever fears you have so that you can enjoy not just your destination, but the journey. Try meditating, or have a cup of linden tree. Also, if you know you have some sort of travel anxiety, avoid caffeine and alcohol, they’ll only make things worse.
- Keep Yourself Busy
You’ll learn quickly that traveling solo has one major downside: boredom! Time really does fly when you’re with your best bud, but when you’re all alone, there’s no one to make chit chat with. Read a book, listen to a podcast, audiobook, do a crossword puzzle, watch a movie, write in your diary, do whatever you like to past the time when you’re on the road.
- Be Cautious
It’s a well-known fact that tourists are a main target for thieves, so while you’re on the road, you’ll need to be extra careful of your belongings and your general safety. Here are some tips from preventing theft, go over them and make sure you follow some, if not all of them!
- Keep Your Eyes Peeled
As a first-time solo traveler, you will face some challenges when traveling. You’ll need stay your calm and keep your eyes peeled for sings and announcements, pay attention to the people around you, don’t be afraid to ask for directions and always rely on your gut!
Once You’re at Your Destination
- Make Sure You Are Always Reachable
The greatest thing about modern technology is that it made us all reachable and able to reach pretty much anyone. When you’re traveling on your own, you’re sure to have plenty of loved ones worrying about you, so do them a favor and always keep your phone turned on. It’s also good in case you need to reach someone. Make sure you’ve got your charger on and also ensure that your smartphone works wherever you go to.
- Make Use of Phone Apps
There are so many free travel apps out there that will make your journey so much more pleasant and safer. Make sure you choose whatever suits your style and needs and once again, always keep your charger in your bag!
- Don’t Stay Indoors
This being your first time traveling solo, you will be tempted to spend more time indoors, where you’re safe and sound. But that’s not the reason why you’re traveling solo, is it? Remember the words of American author John Augustus Shedd, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for”!
- Take Photographs
Keep a visual travel journal, it will keep you busy and you’ll have wonderful memories when you get back home. It’s so much easier to navigate a city on your own if you have a camera hanging from your neck!
- Have a Conversation with Yourself
Whenever you have a spare moment, have a conversation with yourself. Not out loud in a crowded place, though. Ask yourself whether or not you’re enjoying yourself, decide whether you like something or not, weigh the pros and cons of various decisions. Always touch base with yourself, don’t act in the spur of the moment!
- Find a Group
If you’re getting bored on your own, know that you can always find a group you can join to do some sightseeing or various other activities. You can find such groups online or feel free to ask your hotel concierge. They’ll be happy to help.
- Eat Well
If there’s one thing that’s not so nice about traveling solo, that is the dining experience. Few people enjoy eating on their own. Still, you need to eat and you need to eat well. Don’t just grab a sandwich because you don’t want to sit alone in a restaurant. Put on some nice clothes, go to a nice restaurant and enjoy the food! Who knows, maybe you’ll love it!
- Write Things Down
It really helps a solo traveler to keep a travel journal. It will make you more focused and aware of what’s happening. When you’re traveling solo, there’s a tendency to gloss over things, but if you know you need to write things down, you’ll be a little bit more motivated to pat attention. Grab yourself one of those fancy travel journals and start writing.
- Learn from the People around You
When you’re exploring a new destination on your own, always keep an eye out for the locals. You can learn a lot about a place just by observing people. Where and what do they eat? Where do they like to have fun? It’s the little things that can make or break a vacation and the locals know where it’s at!
- Use Guide Books for Solo Travelers
A good guide book for solo travelers will only do you good. The internet is very helpful indeed, but at times, nothing beats a good, old travel guide that you can hold with both hands and leaf through whenever you want.
- Keep and Open Mind and Heart
The beauty of traveling is you get to see places that are different from where you come from, and people who aren’t like the people you now back home. This means that you will need to keep an open mind and open heart to everything. Don’t judge people and cultures! No country is better or worse than your own, just different!
- Chat with Locals
As a first-time solo traveler, locals can really help you out! Don’t be afraid to talk to them, to ask questions and recommendations. People are usually very welcoming and kind with tourists and there are so many things that locals can teach you!
Alright, so this isn’t really your usual piece of advice for the first-time solo traveler, but it can potentially keep you out of trouble. If someone asks if you’re traveling solo, and you’re not quite feeling comfortable about that question, simply lie and tell them you’re traveling with friends or a group.
- Don’t Draw Attention to Yourself
This piece of advice is meant to keep you safe and out of harm’s way. Try, as much as possible, to not draw attention to yourself. Whether you’re a man or a woman, it’s best you play it safe and be cautious. Once you learn the ropes of solo traveling, you’ll get to sense when and where it is alright to let your hair down!
- Expect to Feel Lonely
As a first-time solo traveler, you will feel lonely. But it depends on you if you’re going to let that bring you down or if you’re going to push through the feeling and enjoy your vacation. The more you will travel, the more that feeling will go away!
- Not All Who Wander Are Lost
When we go on vacation, most of the times we end up walking a lot and spending too much time on our feet. But that’s the beauty of traveling! Don’t be afraid to wander around and to discover new places when you’re traveling solo. Sometimes, it’s good to let the map rest at the bottom of your backpack and just wing it!
- Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
Whether you choose to follow all of these pieces of advice, just a few or none, whatever you do, have fun on your solo vacation! It’s the main reason you’re traveling in the first place.Remember to smile along the way and make memories that will last you a lifetime!