Top 5 tips for the Solo Travel Newbie

People always seem to be so surprised once they find out I travel solo 95% of the time. I’ve toured countries like; Spain, Thailand, Hong Kong, Greece and France solo and all under the age of 23. So why is it people wrinkle up their noses once they hear about me, a young female tourist, traveling solo? Well, as it turns out there is some secret endless list of reasons why one (especially a female) should not travel solo. But rather than encourage your fear even more by listing each and every reason NOT to travel solo I’ll focus on the reasons why it’s important that you do.

 My newfound friends on my solo trip to Greece in 2016

My newfound friends on my solo trip to Greece in 2016

How many times have you and your girlfriends gotten together and gabbed on and on about all the place you were going to go that summer together? How many of you actually do it? (sips tea). The truth is, we’re surrounding by dreamers, people who love to talk about travel but don’t ever get up and go. No offense to them, I get it - you’re scared. Or maybe just stuck, maybe you’ve never even left the country at all and now people expect you to travel out of country solo?! I’ll tell you in my own personal experience, I have tons of friends and acquaintances that love to talk travel with me, but never seem to actually make moves. Once ticket prices are low and plans are made, all of a sudden I begin to hear these three lines:

Well, I don’t know girl, I’m too scared to go there alone.
Well, maybe we should go to Vegas instead...
I don’t know girl, I don’t want to be somewhere for a week, I like my bed...

As it turns out, all of these things stem from fear, people get scared when a trip starts to become real. Heck, I fly out to Turks and Caicos in a week and I even had doubts about going solo, and it’s not even my first solo trip! Allow me to shed some light on a couple life-changing tips when it comes to solo travel:

 My resort stay at Nook Dee during my solo trip to Thailand in October of 2017

My resort stay at Nook Dee during my solo trip to Thailand in October of 2017

  1. Research: “what are the safest locations for solo travel” – I guarantee you if you type this into Google, you’ll get more than San Antonio, TX. Here are the safest locations according to Forbes to travel solo in 2018:

    1. Iceland

    2. Thailand

    3. Bali

    4. The Dolomites, Italy

    5. Cambodia

    6. Cartagena, Columbia

    7. Nairobi, Kenya

    8. Costa Rica

    9. Spain

    10. Australia and New Zealand

       

  2. Plan – Let’s be honest, the scariest thing about solo travel that I always hear is the struggle of trying to get from point A to point B in a foreign country. Que best apps while traveling. If you already have a plan of how to get from your hotel to the market and the beach, the cost, the hours of operation of the subway and how many minutes the trip will take, wouldn’t you feel more comfortable? Rome to Rio and Google Maps are life when it comes to travel for me personally. I can see the travel time, the price and I am given 3-5 different modes of transportation depending on my budget. Now when I want to have dinner near the Duomo in Florence, I know exactly how to get home after dark and I’m not as scared as I would’ve been had I not planned this out in the beginning.

  3. Make friends with your hotel/dorm front desk – my hostel in Bangkok was a total win, the young lady at the front desk spoke English very well and knew all the hot spots for food, shopping and nightlife. She even got me a good deal on tours and scooter rental. Had I went through a tour guide I would’ve been out of almost double what I paid. Another pro? Tips, the front desk can be sure to tell which areas to avoid and which areas are most safe for female/ solo travelers. This takes away the anxiety of trekking solo in a foreign country.

 (Dublin) My newfound friends from my solo trip through Europe in 2014

(Dublin) My newfound friends from my solo trip through Europe in 2014

4. If it doesn’t feel right, why risk it? – This happens all the time, even in your own neighborhood. Your friends invite you out to some party in an old warehouse and for a moment you think “hmmm…that’s kinda sketchy...” Well maybe you should avoid that party. When I was out in Oia, Greece for a night out with a couple female solo travelers I had met in Athens, our waiter invited us out to one of the best bars on the island. Rather than split up the group so the waiter could try his chances with one of my newfound friends, we stayed close by and chose the safer route that night. To be honest, common sense is the key to solo travel; if you’re scared of going to a bar and having drinks solo, then choose to hit the convenience store and enjoy a bottle of wine in your hotel lobby. Be smarter – live longer. Just sayin’.

5. Choose the 3-day trip rather than the 3-month trip – let’s be honest, if you wait on Suzie and Alexa to take that trip to Paris you’ve always dreamt of, you’ll never go. Sorry girls! But if it’s your first trip solo, then shoot for a shorter trip to get your practice in and then work your way up to the 3-month trek across Europe. Besides, you don’t want to spend money on a 3-month trip plane ticket and then end up flying home early because you were too scared to stay that long solo.

 Views from my beachfront hostel in Santorini, Greece.

Views from my beachfront hostel in Santorini, Greece.

Solo travel isn’t for the faint of heart, but it can be one of the most life-changing experiences you’ll ever have. Start your year off right and ditch the friends (not forever of course lol), grab your passport and buy that plane ticket you’ve been looking at for the past month. You have the rest of your life to travel with friends, but if you continue to wait on other people, you’ll miss out on all of those amazing places that are on your bucket list. And if you’re worried about relaxing in the Blue Lagoons of Iceland without your bestie, then go back! Iceland isn’t going anywhere! And you may even find new experiences that you missed out on from the first time you went. Either way, good luck and I hope you find Wanderlust this year!

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