When it comes to traveling, most of us think of friends, family, or workgroups to travel with. But I say that traveling solo is the most overwhelming experience you can have. Though it can be scary, to begin with, it is liberating in the end. And All’s well that ends well.
When I did my first solo trip, I had no idea how it will go. All trips don’t end up how they show in Queen movie, but each experience is different. By the end of it, I got time to introspect my life amidst beautiful surroundings which can bring peace and calmness to our chaotic lives. I also made some friends and took back few unforgettable moments to cherish forever.
Though it is easier said than done, yet I suggest you take the plunge and go for it. To be better prepared for your trip, I have curated step by step guide to your solo trip –
- Zero-in on a Destination –
The destination is the starting point for any travel. Rest all follows. In my opinion, the opportunity to explore and experience is far better than just the destination alone. However, for the first time, one should not be too experimental. I would choose a place that makes me feel at ease and is well known or traveled to since traveling solo can be quite indulging. Recall a place that you always wanted to see. Choose between the hustle and the calm. Cities bubbling with activities or countryside providing tranquillity to your mind. Picture your holiday in your mind and ask yourself. Once you do this, you will get an answer. Now, plan accordingly.
If you are feeling too nervous, start with a place you have been with your friends or family. This will put you at ease as you know the place.
Check for the familiarity of Language, ease of transportation, accommodations and if you are a female, look for female-friendly places.
- Research –
Since you are traveling alone, you have the flexibility at your disposal. Read as much as possible about the place you are visiting. Look for blogs, articles, videos on the destination you have chosen. Note down essential numbers and download apps used in those places. This is especially for international travel. When I was in Thailand, I used GRAB to book my cab and order food. Check for the following to be safe during your first travel –
- Travel documents required
- Safe areas to stay if you are booking through Airbnb
- Culture of the place to wear appropriate clothing
- Sight Seeing options
- Common scams – I read about mugging and begging scams in Cambodia and was alert during my travel about it.
- Read the travellers’ comments on several travel websites like Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor, etc.
- Join a travel group to get more insights
- Decide a Budget –
What makes or takes your budget is the transportation and accommodation. If you are tight on budget, prioritize one of them. If you do not want to spend on transportation, then choose a place near your residing city. This way you do not have to shell out on flights and cabs. You can take an overnight train or bus and reach your destination. I prefer taking a train as it gives me room to move around and stretch my legs to sleep which I don’t get on the bus. I suggest you book your tickets in advance to avoid the last-minute rush.
Then comes the accommodation. I prefer a mid-range hotel to backpacking hostels. You can choose as per your budget. These days hostels are quite common for solo travelers and I do recommend them. I have stayed in one in Dharamshala and Germany. They are quite safe. You can also make some friends there and you won’t feel lonely in a hostel which you might feel like in a hotel.
Hostels have common areas where you can play games, watch movies, read, and mingle with others. Read the reviews before booking.
- Packing Light –
You can start by reading another blog of mine on packing light while traveling. Remember, while traveling solo, you must lug the suitcase and therefore I say, pack lightly but smartly. Mix and match your clothing to make it look different every time. I remember while I took a dress for every day, my friend had one pair of jeans which she matched with different t-shirts and she was all set.
If you are booking a hotel, avoid carrying toiletries and robes, and towels. Carry only essential items and keep room for buying souvenirs if required. Do not forget to carry your medicines, power bank, and chargers. You can also carry a book and pretend to read if you want to avoid a conversation with a fellow passenger.
Last but not the least, pay attention to the following suggestions. They may come in handy –
- Use public transport: To keep your budget in check, travel via public transport if possible. Decide judiciously according to the place you are traveling to. I generally take cabs but I’m cautious about the surroundings.
- Start Early: Starting early allows you to look beyond sightseeing. You can experience the local setting of the place and meet locals around. Also, when you start early, you can come back and rest to be ready for the evening party or dinner.
- Go easy on Alcohol: keep your drinks in check when visiting a new place or traveling the first time. While you can make friends and go clubbing, be mindful of how much you are drinking.
- Stay in Touch: Always! Let your loved ones know where you are and be reachable all the time. If there is a network problem, provide alternate numbers.
- Be Vary of new friends: while on your solo trip, make friends, have fun, and share happy moments with them, but always use your judgment and trust no one completely. Take their details and check online. Keep yourself safe and inform someone about your whereabouts.
- Be Safe: Keep copies of all your important documents lest you fall prey to theft. Keep the business card of your hotel in your bag or wallet. Don’t draw unnecessary attention when alone.
And Finally, Listen to Your Gut Feelings. They are seldom wrong. If you feel unsafe, move away swiftly.
Do your own thing while traveling. There is no right or wrong when it comes to traveling. It is your trip, and you have the liberty to plan it and enjoy it. Don’t go to the museums if you don’t like them. The last time I visited Gangtok, I didn’t go to any monastery. So, it’s fine to what brings you joy and not follow the quintessential itinerary that everyone else follows.
Share your experience in the comments below and happy traveling.
Subscribe to TrotWithMe
Keep up to date on the latest content, here at TrotWithMe.