Your first time traveling alone is going to be special. Make sure you’re well prepared with these 20+ tips on how to travel alone for the first time, from staying safe to meeting people.
Traveling by yourself for the first time can be unnerving, to say the least. There are plenty of things to consider and you need to be properly prepared. I was definitely nervous before leaving for my 3 month-trip around Asia, which was my first time traveling alone.
However, let me tell you that travelling alone is one of the most fulfilling experiences a person can have. With that in mind, as long as you take the time to prepare accordingly, you’re bound to have a fantastic time. To help you out, I’ve compiled a long list of tips for traveling alone for the first time. Check them out!
Choose the Right Destination
The thing that can easily make or break any trip is the destination. It’s true that traveling is about the journey, but if a destination doesn’t suit you, then you might not have a great time, so it’s important to choose well where to travel alone for the first time.
However, it’s not always as easy as picking a random destination and simply going there. You need to take your own interests, hobbies, preferences, and much more into account.
The good news is that there are plenty of destinations that can be considered newbie-friendly and are perfect for travelling solo for the first time. Take Spain and Italy in Europe, for example, or go a bit more exotic to South-East Asia. This part of the world is generally very safe for solo female travelers, and countries like Thailand where everyone is smiley and helpful are great for a first experience. Traveling alone in Europe is also so popular that you’ll have no trouble meeting other similar-minded people.
If you’re traveling while teaching English online to support your travels (it’s very popular!), make sure you look for a country where you’ll find a good internet connection (Thailand and the vast majority of Europe will do!).
If you feel uncomfortable trying to communicate in a foreign language, stick to a destination that you know will understand English. Nowadays, in more and more countries around the world is possible to communicate in English.
Check for Visa Restrictions and Vaccines
One thing you should always look out for when travelling is the visa requirement. It’s a travel permit that’s necessary to enter some countries. Depending on the passport you have, it’s smart to keep your eyes open.
It’s best to check your official government site that usually has a page per country and will tell you not only if you need a visa or not, but also information about the current political and medical infrastructure situation (although they tend to stay on the cautious side, so take all those warnings with a pinch of salt).
Another thing to always keep in mind are the vaccines. Most of Europe have no requirements for vaccines, but if you plan to travel to locations that are more exotic, then it’s smart to check if you’d need them. Consulting with a physician is always recommended, because sometimes the routine vaccines you get as a child aren’t enough.
How to Find Cheap Flights and Hotels
In most cases, flights are the biggest cost in the trip. It is rare to find cheap flights on the fly and without searching for a bit. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but you have to actively try to find cheap flights. Instead of making convoluted plans, consider using online aggregators for cheap flights. Skyscanner can be a powerful tool because you’ll regularly find cheap flights all the time.
Hotel booking is something similar. Aggregators are very useful because you won’t have to wait for special deals or directly contact anyone from the hotel. Consider using Booking.com to make the booking process considerably easier, I always book here for my hotel rooms as 99% they have the best rates.
Tips for Flying Alone for the First Time
If it’s your first time flying alone, the whole process might be a little intimidating. However, once you’ve done it once, you’ll realize that the process is the same all around the world.
When you first get to the airport (try and get there 2 hours before a domestic flight and 3 hours before an international one), the first thing to do is check in the monitors what number is your check-in counter to head there and leave your luggage and check-in. Always check online before your flight on the airline’s website, cause some companies require an online check-in and might fine you if you skip it.
After you get your ticket, go through security and then head straight to your check-in gate. If you still have a ton of time, feel free to wander around the airport, but always check the time!
Always bring some snacks and water for the plane, as well as some entertainment just in case there isn’t on the plane. Stay hydrated during the flight (I don’t recommend alcohol, but plain old water is the best!) and stretch your legs every once in a while by going up and down the aisle.
Once you get to your destination, you’ll have to get through Immigration and retrieve your luggage. Research beforehand how to get to your hotel from the airport and you’re all set. See? Flying for the first time alone is not so scary after all!
What to Do When Your Flight is Canceled or Delayed
It happens. Part of the joys of traveling! If your flight is delayed or canceled, first off, try to stay calm and rational. Nobody wins if an issue like this tries to get resolved with anger. Next, be aware that you have specific rights. Depending on where this happens, you may have more rights than you initially thought.
Make sure to read the Contract of Carriage section on the airline’s website, because that includes everything the airline is obliged towards you. Immediately ask for a rebooking and don’t get mad at the staff. They’re there to help.
There is also something every traveler should know: in cases like this you have a right to compensation, especially if you end up waiting for a long time. To avoid having to go through a lot of red tape and countless negotiations, you could look at companies such as AirHelp that assists with the entire process of compensation.
If you’ve had the misfortune of having your flight cancelled or delayed, then consider using Air Help to get your deserved compensation. You can also get compensation for a missed connection flight, that is what happens when the first leg of your journey gets canceled or delayed and you miss the second because of that.
How to Stay Safe on the Road
Safety is always important, and should be a number one priority in every trip. There are no rules when it comes to how to travel by yourself, but there are several ways you could ensure that you’re being safe:
– Travel insurance is essential. It’s much better to have it and not need it, than the other way around.
– Inform people you know about your whereabouts. Tell them about your itinerary too, just in case.
– Don’t go for random taxis. Consider using Uber or Grab (in Asia) whenever that’s available. They’re much safer options. If those aren’t available, ask your receptionist or a restaurant to call a safe taxi for you.
– Don’t draw too much attention to yourself when traveling abroad alone. That means to be mindful of your clothing and to not walk around with expensive jewelry (anywhere) and electronics in plain sight (in those areas where you have to pay a little bit extra attention such as South America and Africa).
– Inform yourself about which areas are safe to visit by asking a local or your hotel’s receptionist. They’ll always be glad to help out.
– Make sure to not be alone out in the streets at night. Spend extra money on transport if you have to and try to be in open and public areas doing the night.
Consider Traveling by Land
Flying is fast and direct but you rarely feel that you’re actually travelling. It’s great for getting to faraway places but the sense of adventure is lost. One thing that often goes overlooked is travelling by land. There are plenty of places n the world where travelling on land is not only superior, but also cheaper.
Europe is a prime example of this, and that’s one of the reason why travelling in Europe alone is so popular. There’s so much to see and Europe’s public transport infrastructure is excellent. There’s a bus and train to everywhere all the time. This is the same with South East Asia and South America.
Renting a car is often straight up affordable as well. That way you’ll get to see anything you want to see, whenever you want to see them. You don’t have to fly everywhere all the time.
Always Have a Plan
That’s one of the core rules for travelling – always have a plan. It’s good to have your itinerary figured out, and to have a sense of how the trip will be progressing. However, if you get bogged down in your plans to make every minute count, you’ll miss out on the most important aspect of the trip. That’s the adventure and discovering new things.
The opposite might not be ideal either, which is to leave everything to chance. Which is why you should have a plan but keep it slightly loose. That way you’ll leave room for the unexpected and might be positively surprised. It happens to meet people on the road and wanting to keep traveling with them!
One thing that a lot of nervous first-time solo travelers do is over-pack. Carrying your essentials with you is okay, they’re the essentials after all. But you don’t want to have to carry 30kg everywhere you go, just on the off-chance that you might need something.
The solution for this is to pack light, especially for clothing. However, if you’re going to visit destinations where you’re not sure of the weather, then pack layers of clothing. That way, if it’s cold, you always have an extra layer to wear, and if it’s hot, you won’t be overdressed. Layers of clothing are one of the most important aspect of travelling in general, so make sure to keep it in mind.
READ ALSO: The Perfect Thailand Packing List
No matter if you’re a first time traveler or you’ve traveled extensively with friends or family, it’s easy to panic and feel anxious when travelling alone for the first time, trust me. It’s natural and happens to everyone. However, you shouldn’t let it control you because you’re on that trip to enjoy yourself. There are plenty of ways to get around those feelings of anxiety, even when you’re travelling.
First thing you should do when you travel solo and feel down is find some pleasant company that you could share parts of the trip with. Maybe you might enjoy doing yoga by yourself or maybe you just need to meditate for a while. Calling your loved ones is something that you should consider, too.
In the end, if you’re feeling too exhausted on that particular day, maybe you just need to take a day off. Stay in bed and watch Netflix, and just let those batteries recharge on their own.
How to Meet other Travelers
It may be true that travelling alone is all about the solo experience. However, sometimes you just want the extra company. If you stay in hostels, you have a great shot at meeting a lot of like-minded individuals. Hostels are definitely a great socializing place.
If that’s not your thing, you may as well join a tour. Walking tours are popular in many cities around the world and they’re a great way to meet people. Also consider checking out Couchsurfing meetups or the Meetup website or any general events in your area that you might like to see.
Keep Your Documents Tidy
You’ll want to be aware of where your documents are at all times. Don’t just leave them randomly in your luggage.
It’s also a very smart move to keep copies of your documents in case they get stolen or lost. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you’re travelling in countries that require vaccinations, keep those documents with you safely. Some countries won’t allow entry if you don’t have the proper vaccination documents.
Taking a trip alone is absolutely a great way to travel. The focus is always on yourself, and you get to do what you want to do. Just prepare yourself accordingly and you’re bound to have an unforgettable journey!