I wrote this blog article with someone like me in mind.
Someone who gets nervous and anxious travelling, no matter how much I love it. I don’t just get anxious during solo trips, but also when I’m travelling with someone else.
I’m used to that, and that’s where I made my mistake planning my first solo trip.
I assumed it would be the same as travelling with other people, except I would be alone. Well, that’s stating the obvious. But what I found is I travel differently on my own. And that’s something I wanted other first-time solo travellers to consider.
These are just a few things you might consider before planning your first solo trip.
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Choosing your Destination
Now you don’t have others to consider, what destinations interest you? When travelling with others, it is usually a compromise. But travelling solo you have the opportunity to indulge your interests.
On my solo trip to Italy, I specifically planned a trip to Bologna so that I could taste the food the city is famous for. I joined food tours, something I wouldn’t necessarily do if I was travelling with others who don’t have a passion for food as I do.
If you were planning a trip with a group of friends, you might consider choosing a destination that has a nightlife. Like a resort, providing a range of activities that cater to the interests of the group as a whole.
But a resort may not be as appealing if you were travelling solo.
Types of Activities
When you are with friends, you tend to make group decisions. Sometimes boring activities are fun because your friends make it fun.
Travelling solo is about you and your destination. There will be no one else to keep you company if you find something dull. So choose wisely.
On the other hand, you get to choose what you want to do, without compromise or someone complaining they don’t like it.
Developing a Different 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 it was difficult to fill in the time beforehand. 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 spent more time over drinks. So I changed my routine, and ate my main meal at lunchtime, indulging at some great restaurants I found.
There is no right or wrong, just differences to consider.
Here are six 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. Acknowledgement your guts 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. That there are more bad days than good? Think again.
Keep a journal and record what you do each day and how you feel. You might be surprised when you read it 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. Like hostels!!
Everywhere I look, people recommend 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.
But what location will you book 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, so I can walk around and familiarise myself with my surroundings. 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 at least booking a walking tour (free or paid) and a museum or gallery ticket.
Having these two things booked will give you focus, but not over plan your trip. 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. 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 easier to connect.
You may not stay in touch with anyone from your tour, at the very least you spend a few hours in the company of other travellers. It is also the perfect opportunity to ask your guide for recommendations.
4. Dealing with Loneliness
If you are worried about being lonely when you travel solo, consider travelling during busier months, like June, July or August. There will be more tourists around. 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.
Book a Global Greeter and enjoy a local showing you around their home. Offer to take your greeter to lunch or dinner as they are not allowed to accept a tip.
Go to museums or art galleries or other places of interest later in the day or evening if they are open. It helps fill time in the evening that can feel a bit lonely.
Give yourself a purpose and loneliness will stay away. I felt terribly lonely on some days during my solo travels because I had not followed my own advice.
Develop a routine at night like doing a social media roundup to share with friends and family, write in your journal and treat 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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5. 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 history or interesting facts.
I have a travel planning formula I follow when planning my trips. It makes things easier, and I avoid over planning.
Over scheduling, your time has its issues, including exhaustion and missed opportunities to pursue things as they arise.
I prepare for quiet times when I have nothing scheduled and avoid the overwhelm and pressure that can comes from trying think of what to do in the spur of the moment.
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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, when travelling from Australia to Europe and enduring two long haul flights of eight and 14 hours, a good book is essential!!!
Enjoy your solo trip! There is nothing like the freedom of travelling on your own.
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