Solo trips bring a lot of impact to your life: it teaches you how to be more self-reliant and confident, forces you out of your comfort zone, and helps you have a better understanding of yourself and the world around you. But for first-time solo travellers, it can be a very daunting idea.
Preparing for travelling alone is essentially the same as preparing for travelling with others, but as you will be solely responsible for yourself, there are some things that you should secure. Check out our list of must-dos for your first solo trip:
1. Pack as light as possible
As any other trip, packing light is always the best course of action for a solo trip. It’s even better if you can manage to put everything in a single luggage, so your items won’t be much of a hassle at the airport and other places. Along with the essentials like clothing and identification, don’t forget to pack a small first aid kit with your prescription medicines. Check out this list for bare minimum packing to get an idea of what you should and should not bring.
2. Stick to your budget
Since you’re paying for everything yourself, you need to be a lot stricter when it comes to your budget. Be sure to work out the big expenses like lodging, meals, and transportation before you leave. You should also set a limit on how much you’re going to spend on trinkets and pasalubongs. Like on any vacation, bring extra cash to your solo trip—but it should only be for emergency situations. Make it a goal to still have that emergency money with you when you go home.
3. Make sure to keep in touch with loved ones
While you’re away discovering the world on your own, your family and friends at home might get a bit worried about you, especially if it is your first time to travel solo. Before you leave, make sure that they know how to reach you. Let them know where you’re going to be staying so they know where to look if anything happens. And while on your trip, always let at least one person back home know where you are. Give them a heads up if you’re going to lose access to the internet, too.
4. Learn key phrases in the local language
If you’re travelling to a country that speaks a foreign language, it’s always a good idea to learn key phrases ahead of time—especially if you’re going to be on your own. Making an effort to communicate in the local language is always appreciated and often returned with an effort to understand what you are trying to say. Aside from conversational phrases, also learn practical ones like “How much is this?” or “Can you please direct me to (name of place)?”
5. When in doubt, approach a local
Getting lost in a foreign place can be a panic-inducing experience for a first time solo traveller. While your phone should be able to provide you with answers regarding most things, it is sometimes a lot better to just ask the locals, especially if you can understand their language. By approaching them, you get to interact with people who come from a different background. It can help you get over your shyness and become a more approachable person yourself. However, you should also be a little wary of who you approach, as some people might try to take advantage of a lone tourist such as yourself. Try approaching uniformed officers if there are any in sight; if there are none, it’s also a good idea to approach parents with kids.
6. Don’t be afraid to meet new people
Travelling alone gives you an opportunity to meet people and make new friends. If you’re shy and have a difficulty approaching strangers, try hanging out at places like coffeeshops and bars during your stay. If you’re up for it, you can try approaching people who are also by themselves (provided that they aren’t busy or doing something else). If not, you can try sitting at large communal tables, where other customers will most likely strike up a conversation with you. Hostels are also a great place to meet people, since they have common rooms specifically meant for socializing. The important thing to remember is that most people, whether tourists or locals, are just like you and would also appreciate making a new friend.
7. Watch your alcohol intake
So you’ve made some local friends and they’ve asked you to join them for a night out at their favorite bar. Great! It’s definitely going to be a fun and memorable night. But remember: you’re by yourself, far away from home. Getting wasted with your new friends isn’t really the best idea. You need your wits about you, so stay sober. You should still be able to get yourself back to your hotel or hostel at the end of the night.
8. Be as lowkey as possible
Theft is something you need to be very wary of during trips, whether or not you are on your own. Try to make yourself less of a target by wearing simple and comfortable clothes, being discreet about your camera, phone, and other gadgets, and by not wearing expensive jewelry. It’s also a good idea to read up on the culture and customs of the place you’re visiting so you can blend in with the locals.