Solo traveling is such a hot topic. some people feel strongly about it too while others may be intimidated to try it. Personally, I’ve only done a few solo travel days here and there before and after trips with friends. And have done my fair share of solo work trips all over the country. But I have never packed my bags to sit somewhere brand new for days on end with nothing to do all by myself. My first truly solo trip to San Juan Puerto Rico was just that and it was so amazing. I enjoyed every second of it. But after a few days, I definitely learned a few things about a truly solo getaway.
I would do this again in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact, I have it on my calendar to book a warm-weather solo getaway in time for my birthday in January next year. Whether you’re traveling to a big city, or a secluded getaway, here are a few tips for your first solo trip.
12 Tips For Your First Solo Trip
Choose Your Location Wisely
Exploring somewhere new is super fun and exciting, but make sure you choose wisely as this will determine how easy and effortless your trip is. A few things to keep in mind…
Try to pick a safer area at your destination. Sure every city and area will have crime. But definitely pick a destination that doesn’t have a really bad reputation.
It’ll be easier if your destination speaks the same language. This will feel less intimidating for your first solo trip. Remember though, major cities usually speak English in Europe so don’t count that out!
Ease Of Getting Around
If you’re going somewhere more secluded or that isn’t super walkable, just make sure there is Uber or readily available taxis. These are things you can find through your research. This is why I really love a major city versus somewhere like the countryside. If you need a rental car, this just becomes another thing to deal with. While it’s doable, it can just add up quickly.
City Or Seclusion – Both Work When You’re Excited About It
Whether you want to explore a new city or somewhere more relaxed and secluded, both work for a solo trip. Cities will definitely feel less intimidating because you just walk outside your hotel and explore. But a more secluded destination will probably require a little more planning. Either way, pick a place that’s exciting to you. If you are super excited about a destination, go for it.
Have A Few Things Planned
I went in with nothing planned for my first solo getaway and while I don’t regret it because I figured out some activities, I do wish I did a little more planning. I intended on having a very relaxing few days and really didn’t want to leave my hotel much. But having an activity or two to have on your itinerary will be a great way to make your trip feel less intimidating alone. Doing any sort of tour at your destination will allow you to do something guided with an expert, see the destination and find places along the way to stop at later in your trip. I love a good walking tour, bike tour, anything food related is always fun too.
Google Maps & Translate Are Your Best Friend
I really love Google Maps to save all my favorite things. This makes it really easy to decide where you want to grab a meal because you’ve saved all your recommendations to your map. It gives you good visibility with the starred or favorite feature. Plus, you can access your maps offline. Google Translate is also a fantastic app if you’re heading somewhere that doesn’t speak English. See how I use Google Maps here!
Research, Research, Research
Going to a new place will feel less overwhelming if you do lots of research. Find out the popular neighborhoods, where the people your age maybe hang out, and all the places to eat and explore. Having a good idea of the area will make it feel a bit more familiar once you arrive. Save all the places you discover to your Google maps and maybe make a shortlist of must visits in your notes app.
Stay In The Bustling Areas
Whether your hotel is in the middle of the action, or you just spend your meals there, I think keeping to the more bustling areas is key. It’s usually where there’s more visibility, and safer, and you’ll feel like your part of the community. I stayed nowhere near the city center for my San Juan trip and while it wasn’t a huge deal, it meant I needed to Uber to get to meals and any activities. This simply cuts down on added expenses and wasted time too.
I would’ve liked to have been able to just walk outside my hotel to grab a meal or a snack and just feel like I was among other people. But this is all about the vibe you’re going for. I did plan on reading and laying poolside 90% of the time so it didn’t really matter to me. But next time, I’d probably stay closer into the city.
Bring Your Own Entertainment
Since you’re alone, you’ll want to bring all the things that bring you joy. Maybe you want to get in lots of reading, or journal or listen to all your podcasts. Come prepared and have these things easily accessible. Download your podcasts ahead of time along with your playlists. Pack your books or magazines so you have them ready to go. And if you’re poolside, these are my favorite things to do alone at the pool.
Stay In Touch With Someone
I may be 35, but my mom still wants me to check in daily. I think it’s just safe no matter what. Making sure someone knows where you are and what hotel you’re at is just safe traveling habits, period.
Use Common Sense
Just like you wouldn’t walk down a dimly lit street in the middle of the night, let’s not do stupid things while we’re in a completely foreign city. And yes, these are the joys of being a woman because men will never think twice. But just use your common sense. Don’t leave your drink at a bar unattended. Don’t go home with randoms. And don’t share your hotel with strangers either especially if it’s something like an Airbnb.
I’m a pretty good packer and have mastered my toiletry bag too. Making sure you have all the necessities will just make your trip easier. When we travel in groups, we sometimes rely on others to have this or that. But you’re solo now, so be sure you have all the meds you not only usually need, but emergency ones too. I always travel with Benadryl for emergency allergic reactions, Dramamine for emergency nausea, and Imodium for emergency diarrhea. If an emergency happens, you’re at least well-equipped on your own.
Have Some Quiet Time
Solo travel is really an incredible time to explore being alone. Have that quiet time with yourself. Let your mind just run with thoughts, or none at all! You’ll grow more confident and comfortable in your skin the more you do this too. Here are a few other tips on how to be comfortable doing things alone.
Enjoy The Hot Spot Restaurants
One of the best parts about traveling alone is that you can grab a seat at any bar for dinner. Many restaurants in popular destinations fill up quickly with reservations. But the bar is the perfect spot to enjoy a meal alone and not have to worry about a reservation. Try out some fancy or super popular restaurants that are usually harder to get into. Bring a book too if you want to have something to do. But honestly, I love talking to a bartender or the couple next to me at a bar.