5 tips to conquering your first solo trip

Traveling alone can be scary. Let’s be honest.

All those questions flying through your mind. What if I get lost? What if I’m lonely? Will I make any friends? What if I feel unsafe?

The thought of being caught up in world where you make your own choices, wake up when you like and dine alone can be truly terrifying.

There was a time I hated the thought of merely stepping into a coffee shop alone. Why? I can’t even remember.

Maybe I was overly self-conscious about what other people thought, or maybe I was just terrified of my own company.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been approached by men in restaurants, or cafes when I’ve been sat there alone. Just because I’m alone does that mean I’m lonely? Most definitely not, so back off and let me enjoy my morning of people watching/ trip researching/ writing/ reading thank you very much.

That anxiety over appearing, or indeed feeling lonely doesn’t just disappear overnight. But with time comes comfort and now I find it hard to imagine not traveling alone.

I can get up for sunrise if I like. I can have a day of doing nothing if I like. I can eat dinner at 4pm if I like. I can go to that museum you may find boring, or hike that mountain you have no interest in.

But most of all, I am comfortable being me, doing my thing, in my own skin.

And those men approaching me when I’m alone? Well, I learnt there’s something super attractive about a woman comfortable in her own company, and I’m probably less defensive these days.

I remember telling friends and family that I was planning my first solo trip. Funnily enough there was a theme to their responses.

‘wow, you’re so brave’, ‘I could never do that’, ‘aren’t you scared?’

Erm, well I am now.

Anyway, here’s a few tips to help ease your anxieties (and your friend’s and family’s anxieties).

 

Start small, dream big

Just because the world and its brother are spending their gap years backpacking around South East Asia doesn’t mean you have to. The key is to choose somewhere that truly interests you. There is zero point spending a month island hopping around Southern Thailand, chugging Chang and hitting up full moon parties if that’s just not your thing.

Starting with a small trip, close to home can help provide reassurance and less chance of having to deal with culture shock on top of all the other new feels you’re sure to have.

 

Be super prepared

There’s something that feels so carefree and wild about turning up in a random country with just a rucksack and no plans. But trust me when I say, there is plenty of time for that, and your first solo trip is not it.

Booking accommodation in at least the first place you’ll stop is an extremely good idea. Spend some time choosing your perfect accommodation and checking out reviews on the likes of hostelworld and tripadvisor. Decide how you’ll get there from the airport so you’re not panicking on arrival. Some hostels can offer airport pick up and most hostels will be more than happy to advise you on the best ways to reach them if you drop them an email.

Have copies of your flights, passports, tickets and itinerary. Just as a back-up.

 

Be sociable

If you’re shy and lack self-confidence, this is way harder than it sounds. But I guarantee you’ll meet loads of people in the same situation as you if you just allow yourself. Solo travel provides the ideal opportunity to push your boundaries and learn new life skills.

Stay in a few dorm rooms. Even if sharing a room and a bathroom with snorers and stinky feet isn’t your thing, just the odd night will really help you to make friends. Likewise, booking tours through the hostel. Even if that’s not entirely up your street, it’s great way to feel safe and get to know other solo travellers.

The best thing you can do to beat loneliness is put yourself out there to the world.

 

Take only what you need

Minimise the number of valuables you carry with you. Don’t over pack. It’s so easy to do and will only make you feel less safe. Leave fancy gadgets at home and carry as little cash as possible.

I’ve learned over the years that you need very few things when travelling. Stick with the essentials and remember, if you forget anything, you’ll most probably be able to pick it up on the road anyway.

 

Look after yourself

Take it easy, don’t push yourself. Being in unfamiliar surroundings can be draining. Treat yourself, you didn’t travel across oceans to skimp on the things you enjoy. Don’t over plan, having some flexibility in your schedule means you can take time off, or travel onto a new place with new friends.

Always, always have a back-up plan.

I usually make sure I have extra money in case something happens, or I feel unsafe and need to check into a fancy hotel. A few nights somewhere super chilled can be a great antidote to feeling unwell, feeling overwhelmed or needing to be alone.

Have faith in yourself. You will make mistakes, you will doubt yourself, you’ll probably cry, but ultimately you will come out stronger and more confident, feeling like you’ve conquered the world.

You’ve got this!

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