It can be daunting, scary even, but there are things you can do to plan for Traveling Alone for the First Time and turn an amazing adventure.
Play it safe
At least for the first time. Choose a country with a higher tourism market. These tend to have systems and infrastructure developed for travelers. This means buses, tours, hostels, and hotels will better cater to your needs as a non-local.
Consider the language barrier. Which languages do you speak and does the place you are going to speak those languages? Research how well versed the local population tends to be in your language. So for your first solo adventure go to an urban area, ideally where they speak your native language.
It’s understandable if you can’t resist the call of nature, too. If the place you’re going to isn’t exactly a major city, check out what you want to explore in advance. If you are going to Donegal, Ireland, look up “things to do in Donegal” on Google or TripAdvisor.
Nothing bad is likely to happen to you, but it helps to have ease of mind. Buy travelers insurance and you won’t have to worry about minor injuries ruining your whole trip. It will also cover theft in some cases, but that shouldn’t be a major concern if you’ve picked your first destination wisely.
In the end, more so than preventing unnecessary medical costs, it will save you some of the worries and that’s exactly what you need on your first solo trip.
Don’t just drop off the grid. Always keep in touch with someone home and, ideally, someone close to where you are going – if you know such people.
Get a local SIM card and buy data. It’s not that expensive and nowadays it will help you explore and keep you from getting lost. Let’s face it, most people can’t read maps nowadays. Nothing to be ashamed of, just make sure to rely on the same tech to navigate as you do back home.
You’re traveling alone, so there’s no one to offload your charger to. Everything you need you will carry yourself. Forget about extra shoes and sunglasses, bring the bare necessities first. Medication, clothes that you can use in various weather conditions, and a good daypack.
You will be carrying all your daily essentials yourself. That includes a charger, a power bank, a camera, water, food, your documents and money, and perhaps additional clothes.
If you roll your clothes rather than fold them, you can use a smaller piece of luggage for your trip. Also, wear your athletic shoes and coat on the plane rather than trying to stuff them into your case. That’s how you can pack a suitcase to maximize space whenever you travel solo.
Make sure everything you bring is top quality. You don’t exactly have room for spare items, but you also don’t want to be left without most of them. Make sure you don’t lose them because they break or tear easily.
You must have gathered by now that safety plays a major part in all the tips so far. It bears repeating and paying special attention to, though.
Consider your luggage. Does it lock? Consider your documents and money. You might want to tuck those somewhere where you won’t easily lose them. If you can, deposit them in a safe.
Split up your money. Losing all your money to a pickpocket would be terrible, so make sure you keep only the amount you reasonably need handy. If you can, use a credit card, but definitely use physical money because losing a credit card still leaves that money inaccessible to you. A combination of all of the above is probably the best.
Research. Research the area you’re going to, plan ahead as much as you can. Research about solo traveling, too, just like you’re doing right now.
All this safety talk needn’t leave you scared though. Don’t be afraid to go exotic, but make an itinerary. Adjust your activities to the number of days you are traveling, don’t overdo it. If you are set for a monthly trip over beautiful south Asia, create a 10-day itinerary for yourself in Vietnam, then a 15-day itinerary for Northern Thailand, and so on, and leave a little breathing room just in case.
Traveling is amazing and doing it solo is life-changing. You’ve never done anything like it before and it’s absolutely transformative. You’ll be hooked in no time. Just make sure to always keep a level head and take necessary precautions both these and others you will pick up along the way.
You’ll soon find out that traveling solo can be social too. You’ll meet fellow travelers, friends, and locals. Eventually, you will be so well-traveled that you will start adopting local customs easily. That will open up a whole new world of possibilities for you, outside major tourist hotspots. Pace yourself, you will get there.
For now, for your first time – safety first and enjoy the ride!