5 tips for first-time solo travelers

You may have heard a lot of wonderful stories about people who travel alone. Stories about friendship, new experiences, and even love stories. You want to make that first step but you are afraid. Don’t worry, I have been in the same situation. I was also afraid before my first time traveling alone. But I did it, and I can help you. Why not keep reading and book that first solo flight? Let’s start your adventure of solo travel!

Solo traveling can be frightening, especially when you are traveling alone for the first time, and particularly when it comes to female solo travel. But here you have 5 tips to help you feel more confident and focus on enjoying your trip:

1- BOOK A GOOD HOSTEL

hostel common zone with tables and games
Book a good hostel

One of the best experiences of solo traveling is making new friends, and hostels are the best place for meeting people and socializing.

The first time I tried to book a hostel I was overwhelmed with the huge amount of information on the internet. It took me hours to decide which hostel was the best for me, and it was annoying. Here you have all the relevant information you need to know to book the appropriate hostel:

  • DORMS: Hostels offer many types of rooms, but the most common ones are shared mixed rooms, female-only rooms, and private rooms. Let me explain:
    • Mixed dorms: it is a room where you share your room with both men and women. Now it is the kind of room I usually share, and where it tends to be easier to make new friends because men tend to be more confident and open than women when solo traveling.
    • Female only dorms: it is a room where only girls are allowed. I found this very useful in my first solo trips when I did not have enough confidence to book a mixed dorm, even they are slightly more expensive (usually 1€ or 2€ per night). I also made good friends there!
    • Private rooms: it is a private dorm in a hostel. You can enjoy the hostel life but with the room privacy that a hotel offers you. No need to say that they are the most expensive rooms, compared to mixed or female-only dorms.
  • LOCATION: I think that the location of the hostel is very important. I always make a quick search on Google to find which areas of the city should be avoided at night (tip: it’s usually near the train station). I usually try to book a hostel near the city center, which allows me to start my tour right on the door and walk towards the attractions I want to visit. It also allows me to go back walking in case public transport is not working (this has never happened to me before, but who knows).
  • FACILITIES: Hostels can offer many facilities, like a bar, washing machines, showers in the common areas, or bike rental service.
    • Bar: I always try to book a hostel with a bar, where socialization takes place (made lots of friends while having breakfast or a beer after a long day!) It is a great place to meet new people who also travel alone and exchange opinions, experiences, and points of view.
    • Washing machines and dryers: If you are on a long journey, washing machines will be a lifesaver for you, you don’t want your clothes to stink, right?
    • Showers in common areas: They may not seem important but they are. On my last trip to Budapest, I went to my room at 5 pm to take a shower before dinner, but a girl was sleeping. She wasn’t there the day before, so she may have needed some sleep after a long day traveling (later I found out that she was coming from the US, so she just needed to recover from jet-lag). I asked at the check-in desk for the shower in the common area so I did not bother her.
    • Other services: many hostels offer bike rental service, working zones with wi-fi and chargers, book swap service, games room, disco… There are so many options that I’m sure you will find the best hostel for the trip you want.
  • LOCKERS: Most hostels offer private lockers in every room, so you can leave your stuff there when you are out. This is a very important point for me, and I ALWAYS check this service before booking a hostel.
    • Tip: Make sure you bring a padlock with you, sometimes you will need it to close your locker. You can use the one you bring to secure your luggage during your flight.
  • BOOKING: Choosing the correct hostel may seem difficult, but you can check some webs like Hostelworld or Tripadvisor. You will find lots of information and opinions about hostels and it will be easier for you to decide.

2- PACK LIGHT

Budapest Mattias Church
Bring a bag and a small purse like I did in Budapest

When solo traveling you must be aware of your surroundings and your belongings, especially in crowded places. I think that packing light is the best option. Here’s what you need to know:

  • BACKPACK: When traveling alone the best option is to bring a backpack for your clothing and a small bag or purse to bring your essentials: money, phone, and camera. Remember that no one will be there to take a look at your luggage while buying a train ticket or a sandwich. And make sure your baggage is small, you will have to bring it to the toilet with you!
  • PACK LIGHT: I know I already said it, but it’s important. You don’t want to carry a heavy backpack or trolley during a long day. Check what the hostel offers you and avoid repetition: if the hostel has hairdryer and towels, you don’t need to bring them from home.

3- RESEARCH AND PLAN

St Pauli Millerntor Stadium
Visiting St Pauli’s Millerntor Stadium in Hamburg was one of my dreams

Traveling alone offers you the possibility to make your dream trip on your own. To avoid losing time when you arrive, do some research at home and plan what you want to visit. You can also try to make some itineraries based on areas: find out where are the interesting museums and monuments you want to see and plan some daily itineraries between the ones that are close. This will help you save a lot of time, and if you can walk from one to another you will also save some money on public transport.

  • Tip: In every airport or train station there is usually a tourist office. You can grab a map, ask for directions to your hostel, and start exploring!

4- BE AWARE

Always be aware of your surroundings, but don’t be paranoid or it will ruin your trip. You can use some of these safety solo traveling tips:

  • Use a safety purse: I usually bring with me a small purse that goes inside my shirt, where I put some safety money, credit card, and passport, or ID card. Never take this purse out, it is just for emergency. I have my essentials (phone, camera, and money) in a bag I carry at the front.
  • Leave a passport copy at the hostel: just in case you lose your passport or ID, always have a printed copy in your luggage. You can store it in your locker for more safety. I also have a copy of my documents on my e-mail.
  • Don’t leave things on your bed when you are out. When you go to hostels you will see that a lot of people leave their phones charging while they are taking a shower or at the bar. Don’t. Do. It. Always take them with you, you can charge them at night, or take a portable battery if you need it. I just leave my pajama to let people know that the bed is already taken.
  • Use your common sense and trust your gut. If you are not feeling safe in a specific place just leave.

5- ENJOY

Japanese garden with a lake in Hamburg
Enjoy your trip, and find moments to relax and find yourself. A Japanese garden is a great option!

Traveling alone has many advantages, but the first one is FREEDOM. You can do whatever you want whenever you want. Do you feel like visiting a museum you did not plan to? Do it. Do you like that restaurant? Ask for a table. You prefer to get lost and discover a city? Start walking now. You are free and you can do it.

You may also discover some personality traits you did not know you had. That’s the magic. You can be the person you really are with no restrictions. Nobody knows you, act as you are. And do it in the place of your dreams, create your perfect memories, and start planning the next one once you start unpacking your luggage back home. You will learn a lot about yourself.

You can break your mental barriers and start traveling alone. Take care of yourself, you will not regret it.

Any questions? Drop them in the comments below and I’ll answer them based on my experience! And if you like the post feel free to share it with your friends.

infographic 5 tips for first time solo travelers
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