Last updated on July 24th, 2021 at 07:31 am
The thought of solo travel used to scare me. Maybe it was watching Taken, or the thought of having to fend for myself.
What I know for sure is, people’s projected fears made things worse. Which then created a gut-wrenching feeling, but luckily, I wanted to push past that.
I’d often see solo travelers on social media, and I admired their courage from afar. But something about it also gave me the confidence to do it.
Tired of getting in my own way, I planned a weekend getaway to Florida for my first solo trip in 2016. While there my instincts naturally kicked in and I became self-reliant.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve experienced similar doubts with solo travel. But you have that impulse to “just do it”.
So what’s holding you back? Are you worried? Don’t know where to start?
The thing is—there’s no travel blueprint—everyone’s experience will be different.
My biggest lesson through solo travel was to trust myself. Although no one can predict your experience, I can tell you it will be liberating! I’ve been in your shoes and know you can do it.
And to jumpstart your journey, I’ve complied a list of tips that will help for first timers:
Send your itinerary to a loved one.
Where you’ll be staying, flights/train info, and excursions you might be doing.
Check-in with people at least once a day to keep them in the loop. When I travel, my sister is my designated person, she knows what I’m doing at all times.
You don’t have to overdo it, but taking the right steps makes me feel safer. I also share my location with her.
Get a sim card
Unlock your phone with your carrier beforehand! If you can’t, buying a cheap phone is a great alternative. You should immerse yourself in the culture, but I don’t recommend solo travel without one. A sim card has helped me in so many situations, such as navigating or looking up info.
If you use WhatsApp, all you need is data to make calls. When I explored Kuala Lumpur without a phone, it was a headache. I got lost many times, but I met friendly people who helped me out along the way.
If you can’t get your phone unlocked, or buy a new one, another option is to buy a hotspot device you can carry with you.
Do not go to a country without researching the place. I cannot stress this enough, so many countries have common tourist scams. I’ve avoided most of them, but not all, and plenty of people fall victim without doing proper research.
Educating yourself is the best way to avoid or reduce problems. You can also see if it is “safe” to travel to that destination solo.
Besides safety, research allows you to figure out what practices a country might have. In India it was standard to cover up, especially as a western woman. Whereas in the Philippines, you could wear what you’d wear.
If you are visiting a country where the locals dress modestly, do the same.
Download Uber (or what the local version is), because taxi drivers might overcharge foreigners. Or if you want to use local cabs to find out the standard rate, so you can negotiate a set price beforehand. Some of the most common scams involve taxis, but also it’s safer to use an app.
Use a Diversion Safe or portable safe
I’m not a big fan of carrying tons of cash because it can be overwhelming.
Instead, use a diversion safe. While in transit, you can easily hide money, and/or it can be an alternative to use at your hotel/hostel.
Things happen everywhere, but while you’re solo, you need to take more precautions.
Protect your valuables, especially your passport and money. This also includes buying locks for your luggage, backpacks, and other storage.
Know important numbers and addresses.
Not only make a mental note, but write it down!
When I was in Vietnam, my phone got stolen, and I couldn’t get back to my hostel. Talk about being stressed.
Luckily, my taxi driver allowed me to use his phone.
I was so flustered, I couldn’t even figure out the police number. So ALWAYS write important numbers and addresses on paper, or print this information out.
Have a copy of your passport.
Whether it’s keeping a copy in your email/phone or a physical copy, do it!
I do not carry my passport on me at all times because it’s my livelihood. I only use it when it’s necessary. But in the unlikely event you lose it or it’s stolen, having a copy will help you return home.
GET TRAVEL INSURANCE
You might think you’re invincible or are trying to penny pinch, but it’s worth the investment. Stuff happens.
I’ve missed flights, gotten my phone stolen, and I’ve been sick all while abroad. Having insurance ensures you’re covered in unforeseen circumstances.
You can find a plan that is affordable and covers the basics.
Start Your Day Early
It’s the best way to maximize your day, explore, and beat the crowd at touristy places.
The daytime makes people feel safer, and if you wake up earlier, you can enjoy a full day of activities.
If you are solo, be mindful of going out late at night. I gave myself a curfew for safety reasons and highly recommend you do the same.
Act like you know what you are doing, even if you don’t.
Being a tourist already attracts a lot of attention (especially in homogeneous countries). Fake it, walk confidently, don’t keep your face glued to your phone, and pay attention to your surroundings.
If you get lost, go to the nearest café or store to ask for help. If there is none around, use your instinct to ask someone for help and trust your gut!
*Bonus* Stay in Hostels
Hostels aren’t for everyone, but staying in one can make your travels much better.
I mostly stay in them when I’m solo so I can meet other travelers. We can exchange tips and maybe explore together or go out at night.
I’ve stayed in nice hostels, so don’t knock it until you try it. Many even have individual rooms.
Traveling solo can be scary, but you can push past those fears! Even if it’s starting small, you can take a weekend trip domestically.
This helps build up your confidence. I didn’t let my worries stop me instead I took a leap of faith. Since then, I’ve traveled to 7 countries solo. I am a testimony that any and everyone who wants to do it can!
Following these 9 tips will prepare you to make that journey. It’s not always realistic to have people tag along, so why not do it alone? And what you’ll learn is to be cautious but open to new possibilities.
Through this experience you will discover so much about yourself and your instincts; make sure you trust them!
Have you traveled solo, if so, what was your experience? If you haven’t yet, what is holding you back? Comment below!!!