Lifestyle

What you should consider before travelling solo

Solo travel used to be an anomaly, but now it’s so common that some hotels even have special packages just for men and women holidaying alone.

Ali Jenning
Ali Jenning

Ali Jennings is a freelance writer, house sitter, and teacher currently residing in the UK.

What you should consider before travelling solo
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Many travelers would agree that there’s nothing better than setting off on a dream vacation by yourself. Traveling solo can be one of the most liberating things you can do, plus there are significant advantages to making that trip alone: you can go where you want, you don’t need to compromise on anything, from which sights you visit, to where you eat dinner, and it’s a great opportunity to meet lots of new people from around the world.

But if it’s your first time taking the plunge booking that solo trip, you may have some hesitation about being in a foreign country by yourself. Before traveling solo for the very first time, you should be asking yourself these questions.

1. Will I be safe?

travel insurance tag on suitcase holder

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It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of news that fills our social media and TV screens and be convinced that there is danger at every turn wherever you go in the world. When you’re thinking about traveling by yourself, you need to try and put these things into perspective. Bad things can happen wherever you are, so there’s no reason to let the fact that something could happen put you off booking that trip. The vast majority of vacations taken by people around the world are trouble-free so it figures that the odds are in your favor.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that everything will be fine on your trip, but there are lots of things you can do to minimize something going wrong. Before your trip, take out adequate travel insurance and make sure that someone back home has an idea of your itinerary. If you’re going to be away for a while, occasionally check in with people back home so they know you’re ok. And make sure your phone has lots of apps for maps and ride-hailing services so you have a back-up in case you get lost.

2. Have I done my research?

Preparation is key when traveling solo - tourist planning vacation help world map

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While it may be tempting to head off on your trip without doing any research to add to the excitement of going away, it actually makes more sense to at least find out a little bit about your destination before you set off. This doesn’t mean that you have to plan your exact itinerary for every single day; obviously, you should leave some room for spontaneity on your trip.

But knowing some of the basics, such as how to get from the airport to your accommodation and the best way of getting around your destination once you’re there, is pretty important. It’s also a good idea to check if there are any cultural differences that could impact your trip, such as dress codes in particular destinations or at certain sights.

Having at least a vague idea of what you would like to do and which places you would like to visit is useful before you arrive in your destination. It saves time figuring out what you’re going to do once you’re on vacation, plus you might get to learn about some more unusual and hidden places that you might not necessarily come across when just wandering aimlessly with no plan at all.

3. Should I play it safe or jump in at the deep end?

Japan is a great destination for first-time solo travellers - himeji castle full cherry blossom fuji

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When planning your first solo trip, you’re probably wondering whether you should choose a destination that is much like your home country or go all out and pick a destination that is far, far removed from it. If you’re not feeling over-confident, it’s better to choose a destination that isn’t too dissimilar to your home country so you won’t be too overwhelmed. This doesn’t mean that you have to go somewhere exactly like your home country.

For example, if you’re from western Europe, Asian countries like Japan and South Korea make great choices for a first-time solo trip; their cultures are widely different from those in the west while at the same time having the same level of infrastructure – if not even better – so you get the best of both worlds.

If you want to make sure that the destination you choose is ideal for first-time travelers, you can check out lists of the world’s safest countries online. Countries that usually top these lists include Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Slovenia, and Switzerland.

4. How can I meet new people when on the road by myself?

A woman on her phone with social media on screen

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The thought of being lonely is a big deterrent for those who are considering traveling by themselves. After all, we’re generally sociable beings and as much as many of us love to have our me-time, we also like to spend time with other people. If this sounds like you, you shouldn’t be worried about not meeting people when you’re traveling as it’s really easy to get to know others on the road.

When it comes to accommodation, hostels are the most sociable; even if you choose to stay in a private room rather than a dorm, hostels usually have a number of common areas where you can hang out with other travelers. Your hostel may even host events, making it even easier to meet other people. Alternatively, you can couchsurf; not only will you get free accommodation, but you’ll get to spend quality time with a local and learn more about the destination you’re staying in.

A friendship leisure summer people concept group of smiling friends sitting on city street

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Aside from accommodation, there are a number of ways you can meet people on your trip. Facebook groups and websites like MeetUp advertise all kinds of events, and many companies in major cities organize activities such as free walking tours, beer, and wine tastings, and pub crawls where you get to mix with new people from around the world. Traveling solo might seem like a daunting prospect to those who have never done it before, but once you have, you’re guaranteed to find it an absolutely amazing experience. As long as you’re prepared, there’s no reason why your trip shouldn’t go off without a hitch.

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