I’m pretty excited, y’all. I’ve just booked my first long-haul flight of the year to the land down under. That’s right, I’m headed to Australia! I don’t have anything planned yet- it was very spur of the moment. I found a super cheap ticket to Sydney and just couldn’t pass up a good deal.
Do you have any tips or recommendations for me? Please share them in the comments.
As with most of my spontaneous trips, I’m doing this one solo. I’ve come to really enjoy solo travel. At first I was pretty skeptical, a young girl going abroad alone sounds like the plot for Taken 4, but I’ve found solo travel to be exciting, memorable, and liberating. Previously, I’ve traveled to Estonia, Finland, Thailand, and Cambodia by myself.
When people hear I’ve solo traveled they immediately gush about how brave I am. “Were you scared?” (Yes) “Did you feel safe?” (Yes) “Did you like it? (YES)
I’ve put together a list of advice regarding the most common fears and misconceptions about solo travel.
1. Chose your destination wisely
This is a fact: some destinations are better for solo travelers than others. Fiji, for example, is basically the honeymoon capital of the world. It is not the best place to go on your first ever solo trip. Instead, pick a destination that offers activities that you’d enjoy doing alone and is a popular destination to meet other travelers. Basically, just avoid “romantic” destinations and certain times of the year like Valentines Day.
2. Stop worrying: book your flight!
Honestly, this is the scariest part. Once you have your flight, planning the rest of your trip is a breeze. So, go ahead- book the flight. You won’t regret it.
3. Decide what to do
Even if you’re someone who prefers to fly by the seat of your pants, research is an important part of everyone’s travel process- especially for solo travelers! Sometimes, solo travel can feel a little overwhelming- like you don’t know what to do or where to start. I find that making a list helps excite me and motivate me to get out and see the city.
Activities through a tour operator are also great for solo travelers! They take all the difficulties out of the logistics and are a great way to make friends. Trip Advisor & travel blogs are a great place to start.
4. Stay in a Hostel
The biggest myth about solo travel is that you’re going to be alone. On a planet of 7 billion people that’s impossible- you’ll interact with dozens of people every day- tour guides, other travelers, shop keepers, etc. While solo traveling, I’ve always met people to hang out with- sometimes for days on an end (shoutout to the girls from Winnipeg on Koh Pha-ngan).
Hostels attract very polarizing opinions in the travel world. However, for solo travelers they are the best place to meet people. When choosing a hostel, look for one that advertises a common area or a bar (or both!). These spaces foster a social environment and help mitigate the awkwardness of being surrounded by strangers.
5. Don’t be afraid to eat alone
Prior to my first trip, this was my #1 anxiety. I know I’m not alone in this; the though of eating alone- an activity usually social in nature- is scary. But it’s really not! I promise!
Prior to my trip in Estonia I had promised myself that I would have one sit-down meal in a nice restaurant. After a few days of researching, I made a reservation for one. This was actually SO helpful and I followed through on my promise (and had my favorite meal on that trip).
Here are a few small tips to make the experience more enjoyable:
- Bring a novel or guide book to read
- Ask to be seated at the bar
- Invite people you meet to eat with you
6. Pack Light
When you’re traveling alone, make sure you’re not bogged down by heavy and uncooperative luggage! Ensure that you can lift and carry all of your luggage by yourself. Also, keep in mind that you won’t always have a trusted person to watch your belongings in public. For this reason, I recommend packing light so you can easily keep track of all your bags and won’t have any issues moving around.
I’ve talked about it before but I LOVE my Osprey backpack for solo travel. Using it as a backpack, I can keep my hands free and it’s not too heavy that I can’t lift it into a top locker or overhead bin.
Hopefully if you’ve made it this far then you’re psyched about solo travel. I genuinely recommend everyone tries it at least once.