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Planning a solo trip can be overwhelming. Especially if it is your first time planning a solo trip!
You have to take so many more things into consideration when you’re planning a solo trip.
Things are more expensive, activities a little more scary, and long travel days can be boring.
But this guide has you covered!
I give you all my nitty gritty secrets for planning a solo trip! I’ve been travelling the world as a solo female traveller since 2015, so I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way.
I’m here to help you not make the same mistakes I did!
Planning a solo trip requires an extra layer of thought and strategy. Choosing where to stay, where to eat, and what to do all boil down to what makes you feel the safest and most confident. Planning a solo trip can seem daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’re hooked for life!
So strap in, break out the notepad, and get ready to learn how to plan the perfect solo trip!
Table of Contents
1. Choose Accommodation Wisely
When you go on a solo trip, you’re 100% responsible for the price of everything.
There is no splitting costs between a travel buddy, and things can get expensive pretty quickly if you don’t pay attention to your budget.
Without a doubt, the most expensive part of your trip will be transportation and accommodation.
It is so important you carefully consider where you want to stay and makes sure you choose accommodation that is both within your budget and somewhere you feel safe.
A lot of people thing you need to stay at hostels when you travel alone, but that isn’t the case.
Hostels are inexpensive and a great way to meet people, but (I know from experience) they are also a place that can make solo travellers- especially solo female travellers- feel uncomfortable.
Staying in hostel dorms isn’t for everybody. It is okay if you don’t want to stay in a hostel, and it is okay if you do.
You really need to balance the cost of accommodation based on your budget and what accommodation makes you feel the safest.
Staying in a hotel, Airbnb, or guest house doesn’t have to be expensive!
In Lithuania, I stayed at a guest house for less than €7 a night!
It takes a little bit of research to find private accommodation that is safe and within your budget (if you have a tight budget), but it is doable.
Hostels are a great option, but they aren’t your only option!
No matter where you choose to stay, you need to consider both your budget and what makes you feel safest and most comfortable.
2. Choose a Destination Based on Your Level of Experience
It is so important that you consider your experience level when planning a solo trip.
Someone who is planning their first solo trip doesn’t have all the destination options as someone who has been travelling alone for year.
Or should at least think long and hard about choosing some of the destinations an experienced solo traveller may choose.
If this is your first time travelling alone, you probably want to stick to travel destinations that are easier for travellers to navigate.
Think United Kingdom, France, Germany, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and countries like that that have a strong tourism infrastructure and make it really easy for tourists to travel around.
Europe is a great place to start! Basically every country is tourist-friendly, and a great place to gain confidence as a solo traveller.
A more experienced solo traveller can go to more difficult countries to travel in. Countries (like China or Russia) that have a pretty big language barrier and a lengthy visa process.
You will have a much better time if you plan a solo trip to a country that aligns with your experience level.
You won’t get frustrated because you don’t have the skills, and you’re more likely to plan a solo trip again in the future if you have a good travel experience!
Take a few laps in the baby pool before you jump into the deep end!
3. Have Multiple Ways to Pay
I can’t explain to you how scary it is when you think you won’t be able to pay for anything when you’re on a solo trip.
One of the most important things you can do when planning a solo trip is research how goods are paid for in your destination and have a plan!
I always suggest getting some of the local currency before you leave for your trip.
It will get you through the first few days of your trip while you figure out if you can use different payment options in that country.
Don’t rely solely on using your debit card to take out money once you arrive in a country!
There are some countries like South Korea where it is very difficult to use a foreign debit or credit card to take money out of an ATM.
I learnt that the hard way and spent hours searching for any ATM that would accept any of my cards!
I like to travel with cash in the local currency, my debit card, and a couple of credit cards with a mixture of Mastercard, Visa, and American Express branded cards.
It is probably overkill, but I like to be prepared.
I suggest you travel with cash in the local currency, your debit card, and a credit card (if you have one).
It covers all your bases.
Some of my most stressful travel moments have involved not being able to pay for something!
Don’t Believe Me? Here Are Just a FEW of My Experiences!
- An ATM in Romania ate my debit card, and I didn’t have any Leu.
- My credit card number was stolen and my card frozen, and I wasn’t able to use it to pay for my hostel in Italy.
- I ran out of Euro on my last day in Germany and didn’t bring my debit card on that trip, so I had to pay outrageously high fees to take money out from my credit card.
- I didn’t have any Won when I landed in South Korea, and, again, had to pay very high fees to take money out on my credit card because no ATM took my debit card
Those are only a few examples! I have so many stories like this!
Money issues happen to the best of us, and one of the best things you can do for yourself when planning a solo trip is have all your money bases covered!
4. Have a Plan for Eating at Restaurants
The number one thing people say they are nervous about when on a solo trip is eating at restaurants.
Our society has conditioned us to think that people dining alone are weird, but that simply isn’t the case!
I wish that narrative would go away, but I think it will be many years before that happens.
You may be nervous about dining alone, but, trust me, it gets easier and more normal the more you do it.
It helps to have a plan in place though!
For me, I like to have a book on me when I dine alone.
It helps me feel more secure, and I can distract myself if I get a bit bored waiting for me food to arrive.
Not every restaurant offers free wifi, but connecting to wifi in restaurants that offer wifi is the perfect solution!
You can chat with your friends, and it makes you feel so much less alone!
A crossword puzzle, magazine, journal, or sketching pad are all great options too!
Anything that helps you keep your focus on what you’re doing and off the other people in the restaurant.
My other top tip is to eat at the bar!
Your back is to the rest of the diners, and it feels like you’re cut off from everybody else. Trust me, it really helps if you feel nervous about dining alone.
Try out a few of these techniques when you first start dining alone, and you’ll find that you become more and more confident as each meal passes!
5. Plan Your First Few Days in Advance
There tends to be two types of travellers in the world: people who plan and people who wing it.
I 100% fall into the winging it category!
No matter what group you fall into, I suggest planning the first day or two after you land.
This helps you beat any potential jet lag and helps you get into the city and travel mode.
At a minimum, have a hotel room booked for the first few nights!
Planning the first few days of your solo trip is essential if you’re going on an extended backpacking trip.
In most cases, you don’t plan an entire multi-month trip, but you need to plan the first few days of your trip.
It takes a lot of stress off of you and helps you ease into the journey.
It also really helps when you’re going through customs!
A lot of times you have to tell customs where you’re staying, and they ask you what you plan to do in the city.
You need good answers to both of those questions!
The way to have a good answer to those questions is to plan the first few days of your solo travel adventure.
I get it. I’m not a planner either, but I can tell you from a winging-it standpoint, it is such a good feeling to have a few days planned before you arrive in a new country!
6. Always Tell Someone Where You’re Going
I know. I know. This is a naggy one, but it is so important!
You need to tell someone back home where you are just in case something happens.
I’m not talking about telling someone what you’re doing each and every day you’re on the road. That’s a little extreme.
I tell my parents every time I move from one city to another.
This helps them stay in the loop and adds a layer of safety for me too. If something happens in the city I’m visiting, my parents can contact the appropriate people in Canada.
It also helps to ease their mind at home to know exactly where I am.
If you don’t have somebody at home you want to tell your whereabouts to, you can always register with your local government.
Most governments have an online travel form you can complete where you tell them what country you’ll be in at any given time.
It isn’t city specific, but at least somebody knows what country you’re in just in case something happens.
It is very unlikely something will happen, but it is best practice to always tell someone who isn’t with you where you are in the world.
I know it can be a bit annoying, and you just want to explore the world and have fun, but it is important.
If you’re responsible enough to travel alone, you’re responsible enough to let someone know where you are!
7. Trust Your Gut
I know it is cliché, and I normally hate this type of advice, but it is true.
You need to trust your gut.
You don’t have anybody with you to discuss if something feels off, and you have to be your own best judge of a situation.
This stands true at any stage when you’re planning a solo trip. If a hotel looks sketchy, trust your gut and find somewhere else to stay.
If you’re walking, and the area feels off, turn around and go back to the main area.
There are so many instances where your gut will give you a signal that something may be off, and you need to listen to that.
Get in tune with your gut and learn to listen to it before you leave on your first solo trip!
It can be a difficult lesson to learn after the fact. Trust me.
8. Be Internet Safe
This is one of the most underrated aspects of travel.
Not enough people are talking about this, and I’m making it my mission to educate as many people as will listen about the importance of being internet safe when you travel!
Basically every wifi network you connect to when you travel is a public wifi network. This puts you at high risk of a hacker accessing your personal information and potentially selling it.
You can get into serious trouble if you’re not being internet safe.
I’m not trying to scare you away from using the internet when you’re travelling, but you need to know how to use it safely!
I’ve had my banking information stolen before because I wasn’t being internet safe, and I don’t want that to happen to you!
The only way to stay safe when using public wifi networks is by installing a VPN on all of your devices.
A VPN puts an invisible forcefield around your phone, laptop, or tablet that makes it impossible for hackers to access your online data.
It makes it just as secure as using your personal wifi where only you know the password!
It is important for every traveller to have a VPN on their devices, but it is even more important for solo travellers to have one!
You’re all alone, and 100% responsible for finding a solution if someone accesses and steals any of your important online information.
It is a scary and stressful situation you don’t want to experience. Again, trust me, I know.
VPNs are super inexpensive, and the price is well worth the safety and peace of mind you get!
My Preferred VPN
I’ve tried a lot of VPNs over my years of travel.
Most of them are pretty terrible and slow your internet speed down to the point where you end up turning the VPN off and exposing your online information just so you can get stuff done.
Every year for years I changed my VPN provider hoping the next one would be better.
The search ended in 2019 when I found NordVPN, and I’ve been with them ever since!
They are the fastest VPN on the market, and it really shows when you use their product! I was shocked at how much quicker their VPN is compared to others I had tried in the past!
You can connect up to six devices on a single account, so you can easily protect all your devices for on low price.
NordVPN often runs promotions where you can get 68% off your two-year subscription!
The price works out to less than the cost of a latte per month!
There is really no excuse not to protect your online data! If you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your devices with NordVPN.
Oh! And did I mention that you can change your location and watch Netflix from other countries and find content you don’t have in your home country?!
Another Internet Option
The other safe internet option you have is to get a Skyroam pocket wifi device.
It is a portable 4g data device you carry around in your purse or pocket that gives you access to the internet 24/7 no matter where you are.
It is super convenient and makes travel so much smoother!
I love my Skyroam and can’t imagine travelling without it. Especially as a solo traveller. It gives me an extra layer of confidence and security knowing I have access to the internet if I need it.
Your Skyroam is completely safe. Only you know the password to access the device, and it is as safe as using your home wifi.
I have a coupon code for you to save a little money on your Skyroam purchase!
One of the terms I agreed to when I got this coupon code was that I can’t write the code in a public space where programs like Honey can find it and share it with tons of people.
But! I’ve found a way around that. There are three ways to get access to my coupon code:
- Sign up to my email list. My coupon code is included in my onboarding email sequence.
- Ask me to email it to you by leaving a comment or using my contact page.
- Enter my blog name (found at the top of every page or in my URL) in all caps with no spaces into the coupon section on the Skyroam website.
All three ways work perfectly well and will save you some sweet, sweet cash if you choose to purchase a Skyroam.
It is an investment so make sure you’ll use it enough to justify the cost!
For me, it is worth every single penny!
9. Know Yourself and Your Triggers
This one might not apply to everybody, but it is an important thing to consider when planning a solo trip.
You need to know yourself and try to avoid any triggers you may have.
Or at a minimum be prepared before you go into a situation that might be triggering for you.
For me, crowds can skyrocket my anxiety, so I need to either avoid super crowded places or know that I’m visiting a crowded place before I arrive.
Your triggers are probably different, but you get the point.
It is so important you know yourself and understand how you may react in certain situations.
This is doubly true when you’re travelling alone and don’t have a friend or family member there to help you if you start to feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable.
Again, this won’t be something everybody has to worry about.
But if you’re like me, you need to be prepared and know about potentially triggering situations before you encounter them.
Of course, it is impossible to plan for everything that might be challenging for you, but the more prepared you are, the better.
10. Have a Backup Plan
It is always best to have a backup plan when travelling alone.
Anything from a restaurant being closed to hating the city you chose can interrupt your trip.
Thinking of contingencies before you leave makes a huge difference when you’re on the road and encounter a problem.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time, energy, or money trying to figure out your next move because you already have a backup plan.
I’ve been in situations where I didn’t love the city I went to, and I didn’t have a backup plan. It took a couple of days for me to figure out where to go instead, and I was stuck in a situation where I didn’t feel comfortable longer than I would have been if I had a backup plan.
It doesn’t need to be a solid, fully thought out backup plan, but you need to have some sort of idea of what you will do in case something happens, and you need to pivot and change plans.
This could be something as simple as knowing where a local café is if you need to get a quick bite to eat and nothing else is open.
Little things make a bigger difference than you might think.
Or it could be something as big as knowing what city you will quickly travel to if something goes terribly wrong or you hate the city you’re in.
Sounds extreme, but you never know when that will come in handy.
Any preparation you can make before you travel that makes decision making easier while you’re on the road is extremely helpful and shouldn’t be forgotten about when planning a solo trip.
Having a backup plan is essential when you travel alone!
11. Accept Things Will Go Wrong at Some Point
Whether you’re travelling alone or travelling with someone, something is bound to not go according to plan.
It can be something small or something large, but it is going to happen at some point.
And if nothing goes wrong, congratulations! You’ve done something I haven’t managed to do, and I’ve been travelling since 2014!
The sooner you come to terms with the fact that something will go wrong, the better you’ll handle it when something does go wrong.
You don’t know what will go wrong, so it is difficult (near impossible really) to plan for something specific.
But even just planning to stay calm and not get stressed when something goes wrong is an important thing to consider when planning a solo trip!
12. Be Aware of Local Scams
Every city has its scam.
No matter how big or how small, you always have to be aware of the potential scams you can fall victim to.
This is coming from a lady who is too trusting and has been scammed multiple times. The most painful was when I was scammed out of $800! Don’t be like me and be aware of the most common scams in the area you’re visiting!
From pickpocketing in Paris to the Tea House Scam in China, there are tons of scams out there.
I’m by no means saying that people are bad, and you’re going to get scamed!
In fact, I believe most people are incredibly kind and have no interest in scamming you.
But that doesn’t take away the fact that there are terrible people in the world who take advantage of innocent people.
Being a solo traveller puts you at a higher risk of being scammed because scammers tend to think solo travellers are the easiest target.
One of the most important things you can do when planning a solo trip is taking the time to Google the scams in the area you’re travelling to.
It only takes a few minutes, and you will be much better prepared for your trip.
I know this isn’t a fun topic and not something you want to think about, but that doesn’t take away the fact that scams happen, and you need to be prepared.
13. Books Bus and Train Tickets in Advance
I think booking your inter-city or inter-country bus and train tickets in advance is an important part of planning a solo trip.
It ensures you get the departure time and seat you want.
I know a lot of solo female travellers feel more comfortable in an aisle seat because they can quickly get out if something happens.
Me, I prefer a window seat, so I can stare out the window and forget there is anyone else on the bus or train with me.
You just feel more comfortable and confident when you get your preferred seat!
You don’t need to book your train or bus tickets too far in advance in most cases. A day or two before departure should be sufficient enough.
It is a small thing to think of when planning a solo trip, but it makes a bigger difference than you might think!
14. Grocery Stores and Street Food are Your Best Friends
Outside of accommodation and transportation, dining will be your largest expense.
It can also be one of the most awkward parts of solo travel (as discussed above).
The solution to both of those problems is relying on grocery stores and street food for most of your meals and only eating at restaurants a few times.
Grocery stores have tons of pre-made food you can just grab and go with.
You can grab a sandwich and have a picnic in a park or eat in your hotel room while relaxing.
I have eaten one too many sandwiches in my hotel room while watching Disney movies.
Every city has grocery stores, and they are significantly less expensive than eating at restaurants!
You also get an interesting look into what life as a local is like. I love wandering through foreign grocery stores and looking at all the stuff they have that I can’t find back home.
They are underrated and something more travellers should take advantage of!
Street food, on the other hand, is very popular amongst tourists, and for good reason!
It is inexpensive, delicious, and allows you to sample a variety of local foods.
I drool thinking of the incredible night markets in Taiwan! I can’t wait to go back.
Street food markets are often the epicentre of local food and culture. Especially in Asian countries!
The hustle and bustle, loud sounds, busy streets, and variety of aroma aren’t to be missed!
Most street food markets offer at least a few vegetarian options! You might have to do some looking for them, but you should be able to find them!
15. Consider a Group Tour
Group tours aren’t for everybody, but they can be a great way to test your toes in the water of solo travel.
They are a good combination of going on a trip by yourself and not having to do a lot of planning.
You choose the trip you want to take, and show up in the city the tour starts. Everything else- including where you eat- is planned for you by the tour company!
It is a great, low-stress way to travel alone while still having the company of other people. A group trip can also make you feel safer than you might otherwise.
There are some downsides to booking a group tour though:
- They tend to be very expensive and cost way more than booking the exact same trip yourself
- You’re with the group basically 24/7 whether you like the other people or not
A great alternative to booking a full group tour is taking group day trips.
I love getting outside the city and seeing a different part of the country I’m in. An organized day trip with a tour company is a great way to do this!
It makes transportation and planning much easier, and you don’t have the commitment of a full group tour.
You get the best of both world!
You spend most of your time alone exploring the city and still get a bit of human interaction on whatever day trip you take.
I personally don’t like doing organized group tours or organized day trips, but I’m in the minority in that.
Most people love the convenience of an organized day tour, and it is a great option to look into!
There you have it! The most important things you need to know when planning a solo trip.
For all intents and purposes, planning a solo trip isn’t that much different from planning a group trip.
The foundation is the same, but there are more layers of safety and precautionary planning on top.
The number one thing you need to keep in mind when planning a solo trip is your safety.
I’m by no means saying travelling alone is unsafe! I’m just saying travel is as safe as you make with whether you’re alone or in a group.
The other really big thing you need to remember (that I see a lot of solo travellers forget) is that is is probably going to be more expensive than you think.
Costs add up really quickly when you travel alone.
You’re responsible for every single penny that trip costs, and you need to be fully prepared that it isn’t going to be as cheap as you think it is!
Have a little extra money set aside that you can tap into in case you go over budget.
You do not want to be stranded abroad with no money!
All of that aside, solo travel is an incredible experience, and I truly hope everybody who wants to gets to experience it at least once in their life.
You learn so much about yourself and grow into a more confident person faster than you ever thought possible.
You learn new skills quickly, and those skills can help you in more areas in your life than you may think.
If you want to take a solo trip but are feeling nervous, take this as a sign that you can and should take that trip.
You’re ready, baby. You got this!
I believe in you!
You’ll have an amazing solo trip- especially if you keep the 15 tips in this article at the front of your mind when planning a solo trip.