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Traveling Solo This Year? Plan Ahead with These Helpful Tips

A woman sitting in a cave watching hot air balloons.

Solo travel has become increasingly popular, most likely due to the numerous benefits. The most obvious of these is you can do whatever you want without having to check with anyone else. If you’re ready to take the leap and head out on your own, we’ve got some tips to help you plan.

Traveling alone can be quite refreshing. Wanna sleep in ’til noon and sightsee until midnight? Go ahead! Want to get up at the crack of dawn and then take an afternoon nap? Great!

Your travel schedule can look any way you want when you’re solo. You also don’t have to coordinate with the jobs or obligations of others to plan your journey. Traveling on your own can also increase your confidence by giving you the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone.

Let’s look at some ways you can ensure that your solo trip goes smoothly.

Research, Research, Research

an image of things to do in Paris on TripAdvisor

If you’re nervous about traveling on your own, the best way to feel more comfortable is to familiarize yourself with where you’re going. Use websites like Google Travel and TripAdvisor to find top-rated things to do.

Google Travel allows you to bookmark locations on your Google Maps, which makes it easy to visualize your itinerary. On TripAdvisor, you can browse reviews from past visitors and ask questions in a public forum to get an idea of what to expect from a specific attraction.

Reading through firsthand experiences can also be helpful before you take off on your first solo trip. Solo travel bloggers have popped up all over the world, so with a little digging online, you should be able to find someone you resonate with.

Budget travelers might enjoy Nomadic Matt, while women embarking on a trip solo will get lots of helpful advice from The Blonde Abroad. Both blogs are packed with helpful information, including how to travel safely when you’re alone, the best ways to make friends abroad, and common travel mistakes to avoid.

Choose a Location Where You’ll Be Comfortable

A woman lying in a hammock on the beach.
Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock

It’s great to get out of your comfort zone, but you might want to take baby steps on your first solo trip. If you have your eye on a tropical destination, for example, somewhere like the Philippines or Laos, where very few locals speak English, will be difficult to navigate. Opting for an English-friendly location, like Australia or Costa Rica, will be much less stressful.

Having a grasp of the local language isn’t necessary to enjoy yourself, of course, but it will make your trip much easier. This can be especially important on your first solo trip when you’re also nervous about being alone and feeling a little overwhelmed with your decision.

A few countries that are consistently rated as the best destinations for first-time solo travelers include England, Australia, The Netherlands, and Thailand. Countries like Japan, New Zealand, and Iceland are also praised for solo female travelers because of how safe they are.

Stay at Hostels

an image of hostels in London on Hostelworld

They’re not fancy, but hostels are perfect for solo travelers looking to meet new people and make friends.

Sharing a room and/or bathroom space with at least one other person makes it impossible to avoid small talk. This usually leads to a great conversation and a potential travel buddy with whom you can explore the city.

Many hostels also offer tours booked through them for much cheaper than you’ll find anywhere else. Some are often known for being run-down and dirty, but there are many highly rated options out there.

You can use a website like Hostelworld to compare prices, amenities, and reviews.

Make a Plan

A woman jotting down travel ideas from a website in a notebook.

Some people swear that the best way to travel is to go with the flow. While some flexibility is great, creating even a rough daily itinerary for your trip can make it feel much less intimidating.

Make a list of the things you want to see and do each day of your trip. Approaching things day by day is easier than thinking about a long trip you’ll be tackling all by yourself.

Making a plan will also help with logistics. Be sure to check the websites of popular tourist attractions before visiting to see if you need to buy tickets ahead of time. For example, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam often sells out months in advance.

You should also take the time to research transportation options to get from the airport to your accommodations, then to get around each city you’ll be visiting.

Book Tours

image of tours in Sydney, Australia on Viator

Tours are a great way to see a lot of a new location in very little time. They’re also a good option for anyone nervous about navigating a new city on their own because they include a guide to lead you around.

Many tours even offer private transportation, like a minivan or bus, which definitely beats braving the metro on a busy day.

Finally, tours are a great opportunity to meet people from around the world who are just as excited about traveling as you are. Check out Viator and Get Your Guide to browse hundreds of tours in cities all over the world.

Share Your Plans

Two people planning a trip over a map.
Iryna Kalamurza/Shutterstock

A basic safety measure that all solo travelers (especially women) should follow is letting someone know what your basic itinerary looks like. You can update your hotel or hostel with your daily plans or leave your entire schedule with a family member back home.

This way, if something were to happen, people would know where you were supposed to be at any given time. This information can be crucial in an emergency, and it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Traveling alone is an incredibly rewarding experience that everyone should try at least once. Armed with these tips, you’ll have all your bases covered, and be ready to enjoy the trip of a lifetime! Oh, and don’t forget these carry-on essentials if you’ll be flying to your destination.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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