Back in August, I left my home in New York City for my first ever solo trip! The thing is, I’m used to traveling alone, but never being in a foreign country alone. But, let me tell you one thing: Solo travel is a rewarding, exciting and equally frightening experience. The key to doing it right is preparation (and maybe a few glasses of wine).
Here are 15 things I learned, that will help your first solo trip abroad run smoothly!
1. Safety is paramount.
Safe is honestly a relative word and living in New York City, I can easily say that. What I’m saying is that maybe you’ve always wanted to go to somewhere, but the political climate is over your head… don’t take your first solo trip there. Opt for a city that might be a little lower on your list, but is definitely a lot more safe.
2. Research is essential.
A good Google search will unearth the customs, traditions and dos and don’t of any city or country in the world. Travel blogs are your new best friend.
3. Pinterest is every traveler’s best friend.
Pinterest searches almost go hand in hand with Google searches, except they’re better. You’ll be able to easily weed through random travel posts and websites by using Pinterest to plan your itinerary. Just input the city/country name and “to-do” in order to find listicles that will help you plan your trip.
4. Instagram isn’t only for posting pics.
Geo-tags on Instagram are the best for travelers. You’ll be able to stumble across all of the unique finds other Instagrammers have found during their travels. That way you can hack the “getting lost” part of travel.
5. A hostel stay or two is necessary.
Hostels are often safer than hotels because they’re small, close communities. If anything were to happen to a guest of a hostel, it would be easier to figure out what happened because there’s a tight-knit community. Still feeling weary? HostelWorld.com will give you the 4-1-1 on hostels.
6. You must wander with a guide (AKA an itinerary).
Even though you might not stick to it, write out an itinerary so that you have a guide of things you would like to do during your trip. You might even be lucky enough to find a guide already made on Pinterest.
7. Google Maps is practically your bestie.
After you plan your itinerary, mark all of your destinations as “saved” on Google Maps. Also download the map of the city you’ll be in, in case you don’t have wifi or data.
8. Think ahead for medical emergencies.
Imagine having to walk up a hill on a 90 degree day while your stomach hurts, your head feels heavy and you’re completely dehydrated. That happened to me and you don’t want it to happen to you. Plan in advance.
9. Travel groups aren’t just for talking about traveling.
Being a part of groups like Nomadness Travel Tribe made it so easy for my solo trip to turn into a family reunion. I can go anywhere in the world and know that I can find someone to kick it with. If you can find a travel group to join, you’ll never feel alone.
10. Shyness has no place in solo-travel.
But don’t be foolish either. You’ll learn a lot from the wandering spirits you meet while traveling. You can make lifelong friends, whether on the beach or in the lounging area of your hostel. Open up to new people and new experiences.
11. Cash rules everything.
Go to the bank before you leave! Yes, there is the option of taking out cash when you get there, but you never want to be without paper currency when you land in a new city or foreign country. Having cash in hand is key to staying prepared, always.
12. Copies rule everything, too.
For obvious reasons: Theft, clumsiness, safety and security.
13. Opt for groceries every time.
Most hostels have kitchens, so save yourself some money by buying foods you like for the days you don’t want to be a foodie.
14. Water is life!
Make sure to take a Brita water bottle with you. Also, stock up on bottled water at your hostel. You never know when you’ll need it.
15. Give yourself time to rest.
City-hopping is all fun and games until you’re sick and three flights and three cities away from your bed. Yup, this has happened to me. Whether you’re traveling alone or with friends, give yourself some needed down time to recover and keep going.
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