So you’ve gone on road trips with your family, beachy vacations with your friends, and even stayed in a neighboring town for a weekend with a friend or lover. Now you’re starting to itch for a further trip, a bigger adventure… you’re thinking maybe you want to go overseas.
And… you kind of want to go alone.
I’ve heard from a lot of my friends recently that they are nervous about taking a solo trip overseas. As someone who has done this multiple times, I cannot recommend it enough- but I can understand that it might not be the most comfortable for everyone (check out my post on embracing discomfort!).
However, I am of the firm belief that if you want to travel, you should let nothing stop you. Sometimes that means having to go it alone! So here are my best nuggets of advice, to help ensure your first solo trip is a wonderful experience instead of a stress-filled nightmare.
***real quick: these tips are for people that are nervous to travel solo for the first time. if you are not nervous, DO NOT worry about this list, just buy the plane ticket and go!***
TIP #1: Stay close(ish) to home!
If you’ve never left your small hometown in Ohio, don’t make your first big trip a backpacking excursion around the edge of the Sahara desert. Start with somewhere that will give you the confidence to keep traveling after this trip, like London or some big city in Canada. Get out of your home country, but head somewhere that’s not that drastically different. This way, you’ll still be overseas but you’ll experience less culture shock.
TIP #2: Go to a bigger city.
Bigger cities have more resources for travelers, and are generally easier to get around on foot or by using public transportation. There’s usually also more to do, so going bigger basically just makes your trip easier and more engaging.
TIP #3: Stick to your language.
Again, we are working to minimize the stress of this trip. Trying to ask for help when no one understands you? Stress-FULL. So. Take your first trip somewhere that speaks your language, so that if you need anything you can be sure people will understand you!
TIP #4: Do your research.
Research the area- the currency, a map of the places you’d like to see, the cab fare from the airport to your hostel… make a plan! You shouldn’t always travel with a plan- spontaneity is fun. But for your first trip, the more you know, the better you’ll feel. Then you’ll get there and realize oh, I know this- this is easy! Knowledge is power, and the experience of feeling capable abroad will build your confidence for the future.
TIP #5: Get social.
Stay in a hostel with other travelers, or at an Airbnb with locals. Ask people to take pictures of you when you’re out being tourist-y. Get comfortable chatting with strangers and it will make the loneliness of going alone a lot less, well, lonely.
TIP #6: Know what to do in an emergency.
You will probably be fine. But just in case, make sure you know the local emergency number and, if abroad, the location of your country’s embassy. Covering all your bases will help you relax and enjoy the trip.
TIP #7: Trust yourself.
Really, the biggest way to get over being nervous about solo travel is to prepare for what you can, know what to do if something goes wrong, then throw yourself into it and understand that it will be a learning process. But there are so many benefits. You get to follow your own schedule, do what you want, eat/drink/sleep whatever, whenever…. Your first solo trip, if done well, will inspire you for a lifetime.
So… where are you going? And when?