Traveling solo for first time can sound scary. However, it will teach you to be more yourself, learn from your mistakes and become more independent.
It was my first trip alone. I just bought a one way ticket from Frankfurt to Hanoi for my Summer holidays, and I didn’t know what to expect in this foreign country. I searched on how to get from Ho Chi Minh airport to the city center, I booked a bed in a hostel, and was petrified of what was coming next. The first night I couldn’t sleep, and I doubted so many times about this big decision I took.
Six weeks passed by and I became a different person. I was the soul of the hostels I was staying in, I learnt how to think in calm complicated decisions, and I was not scared anymore of what is unknown.
Traveling solo for first time its hard – and I experienced it first hand. Let me give you some tips to get the best of yout next adventure and calm this anxiety I know you are having right now!
Have a vague route of your travel
Getting the perfect planned itinerary for your next holiday is maybe the most reasonable option when you are traveling with your partner, but for solo travelers this is a compeltely different situation and can make a huge difference.
In my personal opinion I would say, that this is the wrong idea when you are traveling alone, then you close the chance of being spontaneous and joining other travelers, who are also happy to welcome you in their adventures.
I think it´s great to have an idea where you would like to go and where you will you end your journey, but I think that the travel itself will tell you which path you should take. Traveling alone will give you the chance to meet amazing people on the road, which are looking the same things you are and just have the plan of having no plans.
Sites like WikiTravel or Lonely Planet are great to find precise information where to go and what to do in a certain destination
Save all your information for an emergency
Losing the passport or credit cards is something that can happen to every traveler and will put you in a very difficult situation, however being prepared for that, is something you can do while you are still at home. Before you start your travels save pictures of your passport, cards and ids in a cloud or send them to someone you can reach anytime.
Also, when traveling, leave all your cards and important documents in the security box of the hostel and take just the things you need for your daily basis. You will be surprise how many travelers lose their stuff because they carry them all the time in their bags.
Check 10 tips before starting your travel and see what you have to prepare before starting your adventure.
Keep a digital copy of every document you have. Passports, I.D.s, credit cards, and even visas and passport stamps.
Book hostels with common rooms and take the dorm
I guess I don´t need to tell you that you should stay in hostels instead of hotels. Also, that if you want to meet travelers and save money, you should take the dorm.
Hostels are made for travelers who want to meet other travelers and staying in a dorm is the best way to meet your future travel mates, most hostels also have a common room where travelers from all over the world meet in the evening for a beer, cooking, or just some card games. Use this chance and meet other travelers in the region, they will tell you their recomendations and tips for your next destination.
Before booking your hostel check the description and see if they have a common room where travelers can interact between in other, you will be surprised what a huge different it makes, when travelers like you and me are waiting for other travelers in the same situation.
You can book a hostel at Hostelworld, the world largest platform for hostels.
Search for backpacking groups in social networks
Internet and smartphones have become a very helpful tool these days when it comes to travel. In different social networks like Facebook or Couchsurfing you can find groups where other travelers ask for directions, itineraries, conections or are just looking for someone to meet in a new city. Check this kind of groups and plan something before your arrival in a new city, or ask who wants to share a long and boring bus ride.
Couchsurfing gives you also the chance to meet locals and expats, which are happy to welcome you and show you their city or just want to meet other travelers and hear their adventures. Most cities offer as well Couchsurfing events which conect travelers and locals with fun activities like sports, weekly gatherings and language groups.
Create an account on Couchsurfing for free. You can also join MeetUp, another platform where travelers and locals hangout.
Take a card deck with you
I never knew how important is a card deck while traveling until I had a 30 hour straight bus from Laos to Vietnam. It doesn´t matter where you are, or what language you speak, everyone around the world knows a card game and are happy to play with you and they wont cost you more than a couple of bucks.
Before your travel you can also learn a couple of games for a single or multiple player; you will be surprised how easily you can meet people while traveling when you know some games. Whether as a drinking game for the evening or just a simple magic trick for the guy next to you in the train, a card deck is the perfect ice-breaker.
Get an idea of a daily budget
When you are traveling solo it is important to know how much money are you spending and how much are you willing to spend every day, specially if you are traveling on a budget. And since you won´t have someone next to you telling you how unnecesary some things are, you will tend to spend money in things you might regret later.
Make a list with all your daily expenses and having and idea of how much money are you spending on a daily average, you will be able to track your budget and plan your next route better
Check 10 tips to save money while traveling and have fun with a tight budget while traveling.
Make traveling your daily routine
Specially if you are traveling solo for a long time, try to make your travel a daily routine. I know it sounds crazy, but all you have to do is compare in what are you spending your money while traveling and how you spend the same amount of money at home, beside that you will get a better track of your daily budget.
Even though some travelers do it, after some time you will realized how unnecesary is to drink alcohol every day or going clubbing every two nights. You will save big amounts of money which you can spend in other activities or extending your trip.
Ask for travel guides at your hostel desk
Traveling around the world solo doesn´t mean you have to buy a Lonely Planet guide book of every place you are heading to, beside that they are expensive, and ocupy a lot of space and weight in your luggage. Most hostels have guide books of the city or region you are staying at the moment; ask in the reception about them and check them out in the evenings.
Most hostels also have a city map for free, a guide of what to do in the city you are and are able to plan tours around the city. This is great for meeting new travelers, plan your trip and see the most important spots on a tight budget.
Read more: How to get a long stop over paid by your airline
Be open minded
Finally and probably the most important tip while traveling alone is to set an open mind. Being open minded doesn´t mean that you should make conversation with each person you cross while you are on the road, but to be ready and positive of everything that comes in your trip.
Traveling solo is one of the most beautiful experiences someone has and being open to all kind of new experiences will make your trip unforgettable. Get lost, drink all kind of local brevages or try a different food each day is what will make your trip unique and special.
Read more: How many blank passport pages you need to travel anywhere in the world