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Traveling solo for the very first time is always an exhilarating and a somewhat scary experience. It is scary because you are trying something new, something unknown, and for the very first time you are doing it entirely on your own.
This article was written to encourage you to try it at least once in your lifetime and to also share with you some tips and some of the knowledge that I gained in my 6 plus years of traveling the World solo. If you are to follow the tips below – you are guaranteed to have a fabulous, safe, and an unforgettable trip that will literally change your life, as it changed mine!
So What Do You Need To Know, Prior to Booking Your First Solo Trip?
1. Go to a safe destination. Do not go to Guatemala, Brazil, South Africa, India, Egypt, Iran or any other ‘unstable’, developing country if it is your first (or even second or third time) traveling on your own. You should ONLY start with a safe and secure destination such as England, France, Portugal, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore, etc. – countries that are stable both politically and economically.
Don’t worry – you can visit South Africa on your own, you just have to do it later, when you will have acquired more experience traveling solo. It is unsafe for you to go there as an inexperienced solo traveler, especially if you are a woman. My first solo trip was to Hawaii, second to London, third to Costa Rica, fourth to Canada, fifth to Seattle, you get the idea.
Also, it is very important to research the country AND the city where you are planning to go thoroughly before committing to your trip. Why is it important to research both – because many countries that are deemed safe have some particular cities that can be quite dangerous (for example, even in a safe country, such as USA – Philadelphia or Detroit are not the kind of cities where you want to go alone as a tourist).
2. If you’re not a Muslim – do not go to a Muslim country on your first solo trip. The countries that belong to this ancient and respected religion are very traditional and therefore the rules of conduct, and the dress code can be quite overwhelming for someone who has never been there on their own before.
Do not come to those countries thinking that the strict rules of conduct do not apply to you since you are a tourist, as this can lead to some serious trouble. Especially if you are a woman, I would only recommend going alone to any Muslim country if you have acquired some substantial (at the very least – 5 trips or more) experience traveling solo. Even if you heard from someone that a country such as Turkey or Morocco is safe – they are not safe for an inexperienced person traveling on their own. The only exception to this rule are the following three countries: UAE, Malaysia, and Indonesia – they are more ‘Westernized’ compared to others.
3. Book everything in advance – a roundtrip airfare, hotel or hostel accommodations, and any sightseeing tours. Do not buy a one-way ticket and make plans as you go. This is not a good strategy for someone who has never been out solo in a foreign land before. You should know in advance where you are staying, what time you are getting there, what time you are leaving.
Do not leave anything for the last-minute, be prepared. Your first solo trip should go as smoothly as possible, you will have enough worries about you “surviving” out there, and to add any additional fears would be too much to handle.
4. Research the particular area of the hotel/hostel where you will be staying. This is critically important because some areas even in the safest cities can be potentially dangerous to tourists even with decent hotels/hostels located in there. Think about it – if such a famous city like New York has some potentially unsafe neighborhoods (for example: East New York and Harlem), then what do we know about other lesser known places?
5. Finally, when you arrive to your destination, make sure to ask your hotel staff as to which areas you can go freely to and which specific areas you should avoid (especially after dark). The local employees know their city best and will gladly share some tips with you.
I would also advise you to avoid walking alone at night, especially if you are a woman, and would not recommend going to a bar by yourself after sunset. And lastly, if you are traveling to Europe, read my article on Pickpocketing in Europe: 5 Things You Need to Know – it will provide you with some additional safety instructions.
Now, let’s talk about:
Why Should You Go Solo?
1. It’s fun. It’s liberating. You gain an incredible sense of independence that you have never experienced before. It also gives you a sense of unlimited freedom and a sense of a huge accomplishment.
2. You don’t have to wait for your friends to align their schedule with yours. You can just book a trip and go. You don’t have to wait on anyone.
3. The day is yours to spend it however you like it – stay at the beach all day and read a novel, or go on a 14-hour hiking trip. It is all up to you.
4. If you are worried as to who is going to take your pictures on the road – don’t, there’s always plenty of people walking around, just ask someone. And, if you are not too comfortable with that, then mount your camera in a convenient place and put it on a self-timer. Believe me, you will have plenty of picture-perfect opportunities, if that’s important to you.
5. Do it while you can. Do it when you are young. Do it when you are old. But most importantly, do it before it’s too late.
Please feel free to share your first solo travel experience in the comments below or send us your solo travel story and we will publish it here, on our website!