I wrote this blog article with myself in mind.
Someone who gets nervous and anxious travelling, no matter how much I love it. It’s not just on solo trips get anxious, but also when I’m travelling with someone else.
I’m used to the anxiety. But I assumed travelling solo would be the same as travelling with others, except that I would be alone.
That’s where I made my mistake in planning my first solo trip.
What I found is I travel differently on my own. And that’s something I wanted other first-time solo travellers to be aware of.
Here are a few things to consider before planning your first solo trip.
Here are 7 things you can do when preparing to travel solo for the first time to make things easier.
1. Congratulate Yourself
Good for you for deciding to solo travel.
Acknowledge your bravery and determination and celebrate your achievements. You should be proud of yourself.
Keep acknowledging your strength during your travels. There will be days that you think solo travel is terrible. It might feel like there are more bad days than good? But that’s not usually the case.
Keep a journal and record what you do each day and how you feel. You might be surprised when you read that you had many more good days than bad.
Bad days feel just that, bad. And we tend to focus on negative feelings more.
2. Choose Your Accommodation and Location Carefully
Choose the right accommodation for you, not what others say solo travellers should choose.
Everything I read about solo travel recommends hostels for solo travellers. I understand you might get lonely travelling solo, and a hostel is a great way to meet other travellers.
But they are not for everyone. I am an introvert. I love my own space, doing things in my own time and need quiet time to recharge my batteries.
You need to do you, so stick to the accommodation you know you like. Take care of choosing the location of your accommodation.
If you choose accommodation out of the city or town centre, you need to ask yourself –
How will you get to and from your accommodation each day?
Are you comfortable using public transport?
Is this your first time visiting this destination?
When travelling to a new destination, I like to stay in a central location to easily walk around without worrying about catching public transport. Being central allows me to take things at my own pace and not feel pressured to jump on public transport straight away.
3. Book in Advance
If you fear that you will not know what to do when you have arrived at your destination, book a few things in advance.
I recommend booking a walking tour (free or paid) and planning a museum or gallery visit. You can prebook your ticket online if it makes you feel more comfortable.
Having these things booked (or planned) will give you focus, but not over plan your trip. Also, create a list of other activities you would like to do and book as you go.
Booking a walking tour not only gives you something to do upon arrival, but it is also a great way to meet other travellers. If I connected with someone in the group, I might ask if they could grab a drink after the tour.
You can take it a step further and book a specific tour like a food tour. That way, you meet like-minded travellers, making it even easier to connect over a common interest.
A walking tour also helps you get to know your location. A good idea if you are worried about getting lost. Ask your tour guide for recommendations on places to eat and what to do. They are usually happy to help.
4. Develop a Travel Routine
On your own, you might find there are things you are just not comfortable doing alone.
A lot of people hate eating alone.
I found it difficult to eat dinner alone in Italy at night simply because the custom is to eat late, and to fill in the time beforehand was difficult. Also, there are only so many pre-dinner drinks a girl can have!
If I had been travelling with someone else, we would have quickly filled in time, chatting, getting ready to go out and more time over drinks.
So I changed my routine and ate my main meal at lunchtime, indulging at some great restaurants.
There is no right or wrong, just differences to consider.
5. Dealing with Loneliness
If you are worried about being lonely when travelling solo, consider travelling during busier months, like June, July or August. There will be more tourists around, but your odds of connecting with other solo travellers are higher.
As mentioned above, book tours and encourage drinks or dinner afterwards with the other travellers. If you connect, make plans to meet up another time during your stay.
Book a Global Greeter and enjoy a local showing you around their home. Offer to take your greeter to lunch or dinner as they do not accept tips.
Go to museums or art galleries or other places with opening hours later in the day or evening. It helps fill time in the evening when you can feel a little lonely.
Give yourself a purpose, and loneliness will stay away. I felt terribly lonely a few days during my solo travels because I had not followed my own advice.
Develop a routine at night to keep yourself busy, like posting a social media roundup to share with friends and family, writing in a journal, and treating yourself. Perhaps a nice bottle of wine and some chocolates to celebrate your solo travels.
Making plans for each day helps you to stay busy and focused.
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6. Make things Easy on Yourself
Don’t be hard on yourself. If you’re too nervous to eat in a restaurant on your own, then go to the supermarket and buy yourself an indulgent picnic to enjoy in your room.
If you are catching an early flight, stay near the airport instead of navigating public transport early in the morning.
Do the same if you are arriving late at night. Don’t arrive at night in an unfamiliar place and try to find your hotel or accommodation. Not only can this be unsafe, but you will feel anxious if you cannot find your way around.
Don’t worry if you don’t pack every day to the fullest. Travel to suit you and your circumstances.
A destination is much more interesting if you know something about its history. At the very least, some interesting facts.
Over scheduling can cause exhaustion and missed opportunities to pursue things as they arise.
So when researching, perhaps find one or two things to plan, with a few activities as a backup.
There are no rules. Do you. Do as much, or as little as you feel comfortable.
When I travel, I take the opportunity to read. It has always been my holiday treat to buy a book at the airport.
I know, shocking, carrying a real book around travelling. I have a Kindle, but for whatever reason, I love reading an actual book.
No rules! It makes me feel good, and I look forward to it whenever I take off somewhere.
And let’s face it, a good book is essential when travelling from Australia to Europe and enduring two long-haul flights of eight and 14 hours.
Enjoy your solo trip. There is nothing like the freedom of travelling on your own.