From holiday romances to staying safe: Top tips for your first solo travel trip
The new year is full of grand travel plans and solemn vows to take that trip you’ve been putting on the long finger for years. For many that means a first time solo travel adventure.
It can be a daunting thought to go it alone and travel to a new place where you know no one. But what might first come across as a negative, is actually what makes solo travel so great.
You can do whatever the f*** you want and are accountable to no one but yourself. It’s a liberating and euphoric experience.
Something new you want to try? Go for it! Someone new you want to try? Do it! Somewhere new you want to go? Book it!
If you’ve been thinking about your first solo travel holiday, but are afraid to take the plunge, I’m here to give you the confidence to do it. I became a solo traveller six years ago and have travelled to seven countries solo since. Some trips have been better than others so I’m here to pass on my hard-won lessons on solo travel.
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Start your solo holiday small
There can be an urge to go big right away and spend a month interrailing around Europe on your own. This may work for some people, but if you’re a bit nervous about solo travelling I recommend planning a short trip first.
The first time I travelled alone it was at the end of a family holiday. I was already in Spain and I added on two days in Barcelona by myself. It was the perfect introduction to solo travel. It was not too daunting beforehand, there wasn’t too much planning and it gave me the confidence to do more. Since then I’ve gone on solo adventures ranging from a couple of days to two weeks.
Hostels are your best friend
I love to meet new people when I’m travelling and there’s no easier place for that than in a hostel. Plus it’s a budget friendly option when you have no one to split the cost of an Airbnb with.
I use the website Hostelworld to find the perfect place. You just search the city with your planned dates and it gives you all the hostel options available. Make sure to read the descriptions and reviews before booking to make sure it’s the kind of vibe you’re looking for.
I usually want a more social atmosphere so I check for ones that have lots of events and I make sure the reviews match that. It might not always be the cheapest one, but it’s worth the money if it means you’ll make new friends easily.
I’ve stayed in OneFam hostels in Budapest and Seville and they have social events every night. It is often quite alcohol-focused, but not always. In Seville the staff took us to a free flamenco show one evening. They also have locations in Barcelona, Madrid, Porto, Prague and London.
If you want your own space while keeping the social side of a hostel, you can opt for a private room instead of a dorm. Personally I don’t mind staying in a dorm, I always pack ear plugs and an eye mask so I can sleep just about anywhere. It can be a good idea for a longer trip though to book a hotel or private room for a night or two halfway through just to give you a moment to yourself and to take a breather.
If you choose to stay in a hotel or an Airbnb for the entirety of your holiday, but still want to find people to hang out with, then you should give the Meetup app a go. It lets you know about events going on in a city and lets you connect with other people who are interested in going.
Take pleasure in saying no
This one is from my Euronews Travel colleague Rosie Frost who recently came back from a two week solo trip in the Maldives. She says: “The glorious thing about travelling on your own is that you can do whatever it is YOU want. That means not feeling guilty about choosing to lounge around the pool instead of trekking around the local tourist attractions. Get out there and experience the world but never feel guilty about saying no.”
Have a holiday romance
I’m not one to kiss and tell, but on my solo travels I have kissed and let me tell you I have no regrets. The excitement, the romance, the lack of expectation. People are a freer version of themselves when on holiday and especially when they’re travelling alone. So go on that date, make that prolonged eye contact with a handsome stranger at a bar then dance the night away with a (different) beautiful local.
How to avoid being pickpocketed when travelling alone
Solo travel is not all whirlwind romances though. The threat of theft or something going wrong should be taken seriously. As someone who has been pickpocketed six times (although two were unsuccessful) I am either the perfect person to give this advice or the least qualified, I’ll leave it up to you.
First of all, have a contingency plan. Bring a backup phone and second bank card then leave these at your accommodation Then if the worst does happen you’re not totally screwed. It’s also a good idea to email yourself scans of important documents like your passport and any reservation info you might need.
And I beg you to buy a fanny pack/body bag. Since I bought one in 2022, I have not been robbed once. This may not sound like much of an achievement but with my record it really is.
With that being said you should still be alert to your surroundings and be careful where you take out your phone or wallet. If you’re staying in a hostel make sure to bring a lock to keep your valuables safe while you’re off exploring.
If you’re unsure about taking your first solo holiday, it can be easy to talk yourself out of it. But with a bit of planning and preparation you can have an amazing experience in a new country with no one but yourself holding you back. So why not take the plunge in 2024? You know you want to.
The new year is full of grand travel plans and solemn vows to take that trip you’ve been putting on the long finger for years. For many that means a first time solo travel adventure. ADVERTISEMENT It can be a daunting thought to go it alone and travel to a new place where you know…