Life is too short to wait for family or friends to go travelling with you. It can be frustrating trying to align everyone’s schedule, manage different budgets and expectations. Solo travelling is a style of travelling where you are your own decision maker, planner and executor. You can go anywhere you want, whenever you can and do whatever you want to do.
If the thought of going somewhere alone scares you, you are not alone because it certainly needs a huge amount of courage. You may wince at the idea and think it is an idea too far-fetch. You may get hooked to this kind of travelling or well, even if you don’t, you know you have at least gave it a shot.
Here is a step by step guide to help you to embark on your first solo trip!
1) Start easy
The first thing which you are going to do is to pick a destination! It can be anywhere you have always wanted to go. Now, does the thought of going to somewhere with a totally different culture and language scares you?
Unless you are super gung-ho and love challenging the extreme, start with somewhere relatively easy. It can be a short visit to other cities in your country or go to a country which you have visited before but a different city or at least travel to one where you know there will be no or least language barrier for a start. You will feel a lot better when can read signs and communicate.
2) Plan for a short trip.
It is a good idea to start with a short trip, preferably 4 to 5 days long to get a taste on solo-travelling and also allows you to explore the new place better.
Should you decide that solo travelling is not for you, at least you know you will be back in a few days time.
3) Do plenty of research
Since you only have yourself to rely on, you are responsible to do all the research, from accommodation to flight and exploring the new place. Gone are the days where people solely rely on hard-copies of travel guides such as Lonely Planet.
Thank goodness we are in the era of advance technology, Internet is your best friend. There are plenty of websites out there to aid you in planning your trip such as TripAdvisor, Gogobot, travel blogs and forums where you can ask questions during the research process.
4) Reassurance, reaffirmation.
If you are still feeling unsure about the new place you would like to explore or you just need some assurance, talk to people you know who have travelled there before. Run a search on Internet and I can promise you that you will likely find someone who have travelled there solo before. Read their blog posts and if you want, shoot them an email with your doubts and questions, I am sure they will be happy to reply.
5) Arrive in the day
When booking your mode of transport, it is always wise to arrive in the day, even if it may cost more. Safety is your top priority and arrive in the day when your mind is still fresh as your senses will be overwhelmed with everything foreign. In the day time, the airport will be bustling with people in the day so if you need any form of help, there are people at counters ready to advice you and there will be different mode of transports to get you into the city/ town.
6) Hesitate no more!
After so much research, it is time to put the plan into action to book the ticket! I know, when you are at the check-out page with your personal and credit card information filled up, clicking on the proceed/ check out button is frightfully exhilarating. Don’t worry, it is normal. Just click on the button and it will be your first step towards your very first solo trip.
7) Plan your itinerary
Plan your itinerary, it is liberating to realise that you can do what you feel like doing. If you are not a museum goer, you do not need to visit the supposedly famous museum. You do not need to do everything that everyone recommends. Only pick the ones you think you will enjoy. You can laze by the beach for a whole day, sit in a cafe to read a book and people-watch all day long or even just go on a shopping spree because you can and no one is going to judge you!
Fill your days with only what you want to do and since you are the only one who use it, be flexible as well. Get ready to ditch it spontaneously if you want. It is always good to have a back-up plan in case you decided not to be that spontaneous after all.
8) Stay in hostels.
Staying in hostels is highly recommended when travelling alone because they are far cheaper than hotels. Plus you get to mingle with other travellers to make solo travelling less lonely. If you are afraid of ghosts or in case of any fire or natural disasters, sleeping with people in the same room provide comfort knowing that you will wake up to commotions if something nasty happen. The down side of it would be that the room will be noisier and you have to be considerate and friendly towards one another. Well, pick a four to six bedder room would reduce the chances of disturbance. Bring along a pair of ear plugs and eye mask!
If you are more of an introvert, perhaps a private room would be a wiser choice because you get to recharge with some alone time at your own privacy and you know you can always connect with others once you leave your room.
Finally, after all the planning, and to even be brave enough to click on the check-out button, you are now ready to begin your trip! Maybe the little devil inside you blames you for booking the ticket and is attempting to make you u-turn back home but you made it to the airport! There will be anxiety and fear of the unknown but you have done your homework. Take a deep breath and board the plane. There is no turning back and you are actualising the step out of your comfort zone. Give yourself a pat, you will be fine.
It being your first solo trip, it is always good to keep family and friends inform of your whereabout and give short updates regularly, on social media, Whatsapp, Skype or call to let them know you are safe and sound. However please do not be too consume by these communication tools that you forget to enjoy yourself. Remember to live the moment!
With the above, I hope you are now more confident to begin your first solo trip. Go get an adventure of your life!
Share with me where did you go on your first solo trip or where do you intend to go?