I have been in a relationship for a long time and I love travelling with my partner. Independent travel is what I like best but I firmly believe that solo female travellers are the ultimate badass… In my opinion, the key to have a successful solo trip is travel planning! In this post, I share my awesome tips for planning a solo trip, and have a wonderful journey!
Awesome tips for planning a solo trip
Some of these tips are very practical, and some require some introspection. Travelling alone can cause anxiety and you need to think about how and why you want to do it. Once you have reflected, you may decide it’s not for you and that’s fine! If you are determined to plan your first solo trip, read on…
Know your reasons for travel
You don’t need to overly justify wanting to travel solo, but hear me out here. The benefits of travelling alone are many but solo travel requires a minimum of resilience and preparation. As you are on your own and need to make all the decisions, make sure you are in the right mindset. I read so many distressed messages of solo female travellers who suddenly can’t handle the solitude or, on the contrary, the attention they are getting from locals. I feel like asking: “didn’t you know you would be on your own, having to deal with transport dramas in a different language?”
Maybe I’m being a little harsh but travelling solo when you are feeling depressed or vulnerable may not be the best idea. This is especially important for your first solo trip, make sure you are going to be able to overcome your travel anxiety.
Know your travel style
Knowing your travel style is a sign of maturity. Don’t sign up just for anything. If you don’t want to go on a cruise for fear of being isolated in a sea of loved-up couples, then don’t. Don’t want to travel by train? Then don’t. A solo trip has to be on your terms and your terms only, so feel free to stick to things you know you will love for sure. If you are not a budget traveller, then stay in reliable hotels with a pool. Planning a road trip around your region is easy if you have your own vehicle…
Solo trips for women are about getting out of your comfort zone but not to the point of hating your holiday.
Set your own expectations
Setting your own expectations is about time management, travel style and getting what you want. Are you exhausted after 6 months without a break? Then maybe a city break in humid Bangkok isn’t what you need… Perhaps a week in Bali, relaxing by the pool and taking in the serenity of the rice fields is more appropriate.
If you are planning your first solo holidays a few miles from home, set the expectation that it will not necessarily be a life-changing journey, but more an opportunity to enjoy your own company. Fear of travel is part of planning a solo trip and by being clear about your own expectations, you will avoid moments of doubt.
Set your budget (and add some extra)
Getting your budget right is important when planning a solo trip, or any trip really… When you plan your trip, you may have to allow a higher budget for accommodation and transfers. Solo travel can be more expensive than group travel. Once you have done your research and understand what your daily budget should be, you can relax and enjoy your solo traveller holidays.
Always be generous with your budget, you need to be able to deal with emergencies. Some extra funds, maybe loaded onto a separate credit card, can come in handy if you need to a sudden change of plans.
Start small and local
If you are travelling alone for the first time, why not stay local? The safest places to travel alone may very well be nearby but it’s still an adventure. As a solo female traveller, my first trips were to faraway countries but looking back, I could have easily done with a weekend away testing my confidence in arriving at a new place late at night…
If you need to test your level of comfort in being alone or meeting new people, staying local is a good idea. If it’s too hard, you don’t have too far to travel to get back to the safety of home. And talking to strangers in your own language is always going to be easier…
Research the best solo travel destinations
Remember, as a solo traveller, you’re the only one making the decisions that impact you on your travels. This is a great freedom, but also a responsibility. Make sure you research possible destinations and how solo travel friendly they are. This is especially important for female travellers: how safe will you be on your own? And if you need it, how easy will it be to find a travel buddy?
Now, you will easily find horror stories on travel forums. Accidents and bad situations happen everywhere and if you only listen to those, you will never go anywhere. Trust your instinct. If you really want to go to Italy for example, you know to expect some cat calling. If you are confident you can handle that, then go.
The important things to research are: areas to stay in, accommodation, transport options and places of interest. No need to go into the fine detail of everything, there are other things you can leave to chance, like finding a cafe for lunch or a nice shopping street.
Plan your itinerary
Because dealing with travelling mishaps is always a little more taxing when you’re on your own, I recommend planning an itinerary. You don’t have to go into the finest details and schedule every hour of the day, but it’s best to have some idea of how long you have in each place.
That way, you won’t miss any of the important sights and it will give you a sense of purpose. Showing confidence when you travel solo is very important in terms of safety. If you look like you know where you are going and what you are doing, you are simply less likely to attract attention from people who might do you harm.
Get your essentials organised
As part of your pre-travel research, find out if your chosen destination requires a visa. Make sure your passport has a minimum of 6 months’ validity. If you are going for a longer stretch of time, or if you are visiting a country where yellow fever is common, have a health check before you go, and do any vaccinations required.
With safety in mind when tripping alone, make a copy of your visa and passport, and carry them in a safe place. Having a separate credit card is also a good idea. Keep those separate from your passport and common means of payment.
Book your first night
This was a huge game changer for me in gaining confidence as a solo traveller and is one of my best safety tips for travel. The anxiety of arriving in a new, unknown place is something I simply don’t need. To solve this, I book my first night so that I have the peace of mind of knowing where I’m going to stay that night. After that, I’m happy for things to be a bit more flexible.
Additionally, I sometimes book an arrival transfer when I plan my holiday. They can be expensive but airport taxis tend to have a bad reputation worldwide so you could save yourself a travel hassle…
Book a room with a local
I like using local accommodation, especially when travelling Australia alone. It’s often cheaper and cosier than conventional hotels and you can often stay in central locations, feeling like a local. As a solo traveller, I often book a private room in someone’s house and I tend to favour female hosts.
Most hosts offer great local knowledge and do their best to make your stay a pleasant one without being overbearing.
Book a local experience
Finding the secret spots and local activities is the holy grail of any lone traveller. And travelling is not just about “seeing stuff” but very much about having experiences. The best cities to travel alone have some great Airbnb experiences that will help you discover food, scenic spots, local culture, practice a sport or any other activity with a passionate local.
Join a tour group
I am a pretty independent traveller but occasionally, I don’t mind joining a group to add to my travel experience. A local walking tour is a great way to get your bearings in a new city. You will learn about the local history and pick up a few tips for restaurants or markets… Also, if you are not motorised, some places are just so much easier to get to on a bus… And whatever safest countries to travel alone is your list, it’s a great way to meet other travellers too!
Gone are the days of the odd postcard and expensive calling cards… It’s so much easier to stay in touch with family and friends back home. Staying in contact is both for your benefit and theirs. Posting regular updates on social media is a way to manage other people’s anxiety about you travelling alone… This way, you can avoid painful discussion withs parents and/or friends about going away on your own.
Always take you mobile phone with you and if you are in a new country, invest in a local SIM card with data. Depending on your destination, wifi isn’t always reliable and an internet connection can be essential in case of danger or if you get lost (hello Google maps)!
Social media can also help you connect to the broader travellers’ community and find out about the best solo female travel destinations. Needing a tip for the best beach in Algarve? Hoping to meet up fellow travellers for a drink in Cancun and get some travelling safety tips? There is a Facebook group for that!
Blend in, dress modestly
Except for a local trip, you are likely to stand out a little, both as a tourist and a solo traveller. That’s ok, that’s part of the deal when travelling. However, you will always feel a little safer if you feel inconspicuous. One of my best travel safety tips is to try and blend in as much as possible and to dress appropriately. My purpose here is not to curb personal freedom in terms of dress style, but in some countries, how you dress will affect how people react to you and approach you. Dressing modestly, not showing too much skin is paramount is certain countries if you want to stay safe. This is valid for both men and women, and will alleviate your fear of travelling alone, however mild… This packing list for Morocco, for example, will give you an idea of what I mean…
Invest in an anti-theft backpack or handbag
Whether you are travelling alone or not, pickpocketing and general robbery is a risk and a hassle when you travel. In many places, you may be robbed of your valuables without even noticing. Losing a camera, a phone or a passport can put a serious damper on your well-earned holiday. So without being completely paranoid, it’s worth investing a quality anti-theft backpack or handbag. Thus, you keep your valuables safe and you can enjoy all destinations for solo female travellers.
Trust your instinct
The great learning experience of travelling solo is to get to know yourself: what you like and don’t like, what you are prepared to do and what your limits are. It’s a great boost to your confidence and self-esteem, and one of the great benefits of solo travel. Because you constantly find yourself in new situations when you travel, you have an opportunity to observe your own reactions and whether they serve you or not.
I’ve always been a very cautious and not very trusting traveller, so I’ve never had a serious issue when travelling but not everyone is like me. Sorry about using a cliché, but you must trust your instinct when travelling. If something or someone doesn’t feel right, walk away, ask for help, change direction or simply say no… You wouldn’t buy a garment if it was too small, would you?
As a traveller, you are basically in the unknown and you need to appraise situations quickly. Travel safety apps may reassure you but they won’t work as well as your gut feel… Remember that you are on your own and no-one will make the decision for you. Everyone has instincts, the key is to act on them… You may regret it later or you may feel blessed for reacting appropriately… Either way, you will learn something…
This is another essential yet underrated tip for individual travel. Packing light and packing smart will make your journey effortless and you will feel like a pro! Choose the right type of luggage for your destination and figure out how much weight you can carry on your own. This way, you won’t have to ask for help whenever you come across a flight of stairs, and you may even have some room for shopping!
Pack your own entertainment
Being alone when you travel solo is always a possibility… So, if you don’t want to feel the sting of boredom or loneliness, pack some entertainment. One of the advantages of travelling alone is that you can always pick the movie… I always travel with my Kindle…
Take travel insurance
I don’t like to talk about travel and say you should “prepare for the worst” but accidents do happen and one of my best tips on how to travel alone for the first time is to take travel insurance. Essentially, travel insurance is something you buy hoping you’ll never have to use it. Very counterintuitive, I know… One of my first summer jobs was to answer calls from travellers needing to action their travel insurance. I heard some terrible stories, I can tell you. This is why I never travel without travel insurance.
Travel with confidence
First time solo travel can be daunting but with the right preparation, it is very achievable and you’ll have the time of your life. I love travelling on my own and good travel planning has helped me create wonderful memories…
Travelling alone for the First Time
Bushwalking in NSW
Australia Road Trip
What is your best tip for solo travel planning? Tell me in the comments below!
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