I’m no expert traveller. I am still on my way to learning the ropes and ins and outs of being a savvy expert traveller. After travelling for more than 15 countries now and since that first solo travel to Boracay, Philippines six years ago, I’ve had my bucket of lessons learned along the way.
To you who booked your first airline ticket, I am sure that there are no words to describe your excitement coupled with anxieties. I am with you in counting the days that leads to your first travel out of your comfort zone and excited for your upcoming solo trip. I share with you solo travel tips to make your first adventure a memorable one, full of new discoveries, funny and worthwhile experiences and make you tough enough to do it again!
Don’t Be Afraid
Travelling may be all new to you. It’s treading the unknown. It’s getting out of your comfort zone for the first time. When I was new to travelling, I felt like I was exposed and vulnerable. Like every human being out there will mug me. Travelling is a wonderful experience.
Being scared is normal. But you are just as capable of taking care of yourself as anyone out there. Have faith in yourself and believe me when I say, you got this. Other people have done it, why can’t you?
Don’t Pack Too Much Stuff
Don’t overpack too much clothing and gear thinking you might need it “just in case”. You will end up lugging those extra weight and not actually use them in the first place.
For 5 days in Paris, do you really need to bring 4 pairs of shoes? Do you really need to bring a laptop? As much as possible pack light and trust your judgement on which gear to bring and what extras to bring. You don’t want to be that traveller who forgot to bring extra memory card to an island hopping tour. Happened to me in Krabi!
Must Read : Packing 101: What not to pack
Don’t Live by Your Guidebook
I understand that this may be your first time to travel and the destination is totally unknown to you. Guidebooks are great source of information for the destination you are travelling to. It’s good to be guided how to get around Wellington by bus or how the Metro in Paris works.
But do not let the guidebook take control what your travel experience will be like. You need to experience the festivals and the colours and the food on your own. You need to interact with locals and discover new places and off the beaten path routes. Most of the information that you will learn and discover about the place will come from the locals and other returning travellers and not from the guidebook.
Don’t Plan Too Much
Itinerary planning can be exciting at times. It’s good that you plan for the activities you’re most interested or excited about when you get to your destination. It’s also good that you planned how to get from one destination to the next. You planned it all, meals and hours are all accounted for. You exactly know what you’ll be doing at 4PM in Helsinki.
While it’s good that you have your itinerary all sorted out, it is also good to be flexible with your itinerary. You’ll never know if they opened up a new stand-up paddling with pilates day tour next door to your hostel. Or what if an annual festival is happening that you didn’t know about? Are you willing to make changes to your itinerary to experience new things?
Don’t Be in a Hurry
Do not pack too many activities in one day. Or you’ll end up stressed and tired which is not why you are travelling in the first place. Don’t be that tourist who keeps on taking photos and not actually seeing what is there to see. Don’t be that guy who is rushing from one touristy spot to another spot just to take lots of selfies.
Travel slow. You’re on a vacation. Admire the new surroundings around you. Stop for a while and breathe. Grab a cold beer, lie on the sand and watch the sunset. Look around you and observe. Go get coffee and seat outside and people watch. It’s the only way that you can appreciate the entire essence of why you are travelling in the first place.
Don’t Be Shy
You may be travelling solo but you are not alone. There are millions of solo travellers out there who like you are new to this place. Don’t think so much about what other people will think of you. Approach another solo traveller and say hello.
If you feel that they want to be left alone, just say “You have a nice day.” or “See you around.” and move on. Make friends. Smile. Go and dine with them. Take a day tour with them if possible. You wouldn’t believe that it’s more enjoyable and at the end of the day you have better memories of the trip and better photos!
Don’t Be A Cheapskate
We all know that we need to travel cheap and save money while travelling. When travelling it’s important to bring some extra cash with you for emergencies or sudden change of itinerary. What if you found out that a new bungee jumping activity opened up or an annual festival is happening and that you need to stay an extra day?
Travel wisely and be smart about money matters. It’s more rewarding to experience wild water rafting tour and keep that memory with you forever, than going shopping for branded leather bag along Avenue de Champs-Élysées that will only last you for a few years.
Don’t Get Trapped
You are not, at all. If you really don’t like spicy food in Thailand. Then don’t eat it. If you feel that this travel experience is not your cup of tea, you can always go back. You can always rebook your flight.Do not be afraid of what other people will think. Click To Tweet
The great thing about solo travel is that your are the captain of the ship. If don’t feel that you cannot go on and want to go back home, you can always go back. The important thing is you tried. You made the trip. And I congratulate you still for taking that trip. It’s a very brave thing to do.
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