So many people are eager to travel and explore the world, but many of us find that it just never happens because we’re always waiting for a friend or partner to be in a good situation to do so too.
Traveling on your own, especially to a place where you might not speak the language, is understandably daunting too.
But taking the plunge and heading off solo can be a lot easier to organize, and it’s a one of a kind opportunity to explore yourself as well as the world! Traveling solo is an excellent way to build your self-confidence, expand your horizons, grow as an individual, and of course make new friends along the way. If you're ready to explore the world on your own terms, then read on!
Choosing a destination:
For your first solo journey, it’s a lot easier to pick a destination that has an established tourist economy already. You can always explore more exotic and undiscovered locations once you’ve found your solo traveling feet, but you don’t want your first experience to put you off from further travel because it was just too stressful. It also helps tremendously to choose a destination where the main spoken language is your own too, at least for your first trip.
Well-established holiday destinations in Africa like the majestic Victoria Falls, the Kruger National Park in South Africa, or the many well run nature reserves of Botswana are particularly suitable for first time solo travelers, yet exotic enough to make you feel you’ve really accomplished something! They also tend to attract lots of backpackers, meaning that even if you're traveling on a budget there will be loads of opportunity to meet new friends and learn about their culture too. Game drives are an excellent way to meet people in African destinations, as you share sundowners together afterwards and chat about the day’s experiences.
Other great destinations for first time solo travelers include the Lake District in the UK, Sydney in Australia, Dublin in Ireland, and US cities like San Francisco.
Basic survival tips:
Get your bearings – if you're staying in a city, then buy a decent map book that you can scribble notes in with a pencil, or use a suitable app on your phone if you're more comfortable with that. We’re all visual creatures after all, and being able to picture where you are in location to everything else can immediately make you feel more at home.
Do your research before you leave - have local emergency numbers saved on your phone, know where and how you can draw local currency, find out what the local public transport is like, and put together a rough itinerary so you don’t miss out on the things you really wanted to do.
Ask for help – ask the owners of the establishment you're staying at for advice, and explain that it’s your first time here. Local shops, café owners and restaurant staff can be excellent sources of information, and they’re bound to be super welcoming too!
Act confident – try not to look too lost and confused, even if you might feel it! Tourists can become an easy target for thieves, and losing your phone, spending money, or travel documents can put a real dampener on your holiday. Fake it until you make it! Before you know it, you really will feel at home and confident on your own. Even better, if you spot someone who looks lost too, introduce yourself and see if you can’t figure it out together!
Expect to feel a little lonely – it’s unrealistic to expect every step of the journey to be painless, and it’s only natural to feel cut off from your safety net and loved ones. And guess what? It’s okay!
Embrace your own travel style:
Don’t feel obligated to do all the typical tourist activities unless you want to. Focus on the things that make you happy, whether that’s meeting new people in a local bar, people-watching from a cozy café, wandering aimlessly through the city streets, or sitting quietly in a park or garden. Keep your eyes and ears open, and really let the destination sink in rather than rushing from activity to activity.
Do travel your way, whether that’s trying to squeeze in every possible venue on your itinerary or sleeping in late before enjoying a relaxed brunch! It’s your journey, so do it your way – that’s one of the biggest benefits of all when it comes to solo travel.