Solo travelling – ah, there’s nothing like it.
I am so immeasurably grateful for being able to travel firstly, but doing it alone is another type of appreciation. It is the most liberating and freeing feeling and a way of travel that I have come to love.
The freedom and independence that you gain from solo travel is so unbelievably significant and I truly believe it’s something everyone should experience at some point in their life. From being able to do what you want and when – you are in control of your whole trip and itinerary. This is personally one of my favourite reasons for solo travel!
Now not only do you gain independence, but you are constantly challenged to step outside your comfort zone. To try new things, step into the unfamiliarity, embrace discomfort, say yes to new opportunities, and unleash that courageousness hidden deep down you didn’t even know you had.
I am currently solo travelling in Costa Rica, where last night for example I got ready and headed down to the bar by myself not knowing anyone. I grabbed a Cerveza, took a seat at the bar, and leaned all in. Meaning, I didn’t sit there on my phone and head down – I awkwardly said “hey what’s your name?” (like you did when you were 7) to the person next to me and started up a conversation. She happened to also be a solo traveller and we ended up chatting most of the night.
I’d be lying if I said going down to the bar alone didn’t make me nervous BUT I put that dry shampoo in and got changed and headed downstairs with the intention of having a good night and meeting people. I know that stepping outside my comfort zone scares me, but I also know whenever I do, I grow immensely every time.
I know there are tons of people out there who want to travel and are in the same position I once was. Where it often comes down to plans always getting cancelled or friends not being able to commit to something. Let me be the one to tell you – you don’t need anyone to go travelling with. Absolutely travelling with friends and family is always a great time. However, if you want to go now and the only thing holding you back is you have nobody to go with, remove the idea that you NEED someone with you.
Trust me, I’ve never met someone who solo-travelled and regretted it. I’ve only heard amazing stories and memories that they will treasure forever.
Here are my 5 biggest tips for your first solo trip –
Okay now I know this sounds very straightforward, but it is honestly something I will always vouch for. From the moment that I get off the airplane to arriving safely at my first destination, I am always on high alert. Getting to my hostel safely is my number one priority.
I will do my research thoroughly on a car/ shuttle service and ensure that I have paid for everything before I get there so I don’t have to stress about transportation when I arrive. When I went to Bali for example, I was comfortable knowing that I had someone there waiting for me and it was already paid for and settled.
Depending on the location there will be tons of people coming up to you asking if you have or need a ride. I recommend avoiding getting into a random taxi or even a shuttle. Instead, go to a customer service rep, ask where the company you booked with is located and head straight there!
Additionally, I ensure to always share these details with my mom, so she knows where I am going and how I am getting there. Doing this always puts me in a good mindset from the beginning of my trip and when I then safely arrive at my destination, I can be more relaxed.
When you are at your destination and get in the groove of things you will become more familiar and comfortable with the transportation and how to get around. Don’t worry too much about how you will get back to the airport because it’s highly likely your plans will change or you may hear from other travellers about a cheaper service, or maybe you just won’t leave. 😉
I’m all about making new connections and friends when I’m solo travelling. It’s one of the main reasons I do it! My top recommendation would be to stay in a hostel to meet people and connect with like-minded individuals.
At the first hostel I ever stayed at I didn’t know what to expect. It definitely now gives me adult summer camp vibes in the best way; but without a bedtime and a chaperone, and 10x the fun.
I recommend if it is your first time staying in a hostel to splurge a little. Meaning, choose one of the nicer hostels and do your research and read reviews. Doing this will give you a sense of the vibes of the location. For instance, if you are in your mid 20’s then I wouldn’t recommend a hostel that drives in a lot of the younger crowd. Or, if you are looking for a party hostel then don’t pick one where their quiet hours start at 10pm.
Don’t just read one review but read enough to get a good idea of the place. Also, check out their social media accounts and especially their tagged photos for the type of crowd they draw in.
Now, a lot of people avoid hostels because of the shared room situations which I get, because I have met my fair share of ‘unique’ individuals in some of the rooms I stayed in. BUT that’s what makes the experience. The great thing about hostels is you don’t need to stay in a door room. I’m currently in Costa Rica at the Selina Nosara and I am staying in a private room. The Selina chain is global, so check them out and see if they have a location where you are going.
Lastly, hostels are FUN. If you stay in your room and don’t socialize and isolate yourself then you won’t get the full experience. But if you immerse yourself in the experience and go up to people and go to the social events then you will make friends in no time. There are a lot more individuals than you know in the same situation as you just wanting to meet someone.
If you are anything like me, you like to be organized and enjoy having a routine. At home, we become accustomed to our day-to-day life and to some extent, we know exactly what we are doing most days and even the upcoming week. There is no problem with this, as my routine back home keeps me in check.
However, when you are travelling, throw that all out the window! Have a rough idea of maybe a specific restaurant you want to try or a beach you want to explore but avoid having your day by the hour planned out because I guarantee you it will change.
It’s exciting waking up every day while travelling and not knowing what to expect. If you have everything already planned out, you may lose out on some really amazing opportunities. Try to go with the flow and relax and accept the situation you are in, rather than try to control what is going on around you.
Let things be as they are and immerse yourself in the moment and in the now, and enjoy what is happening around you.
Travelling, in general, can be very stressful whether you are alone or in a group. But solo travelling, and as a woman, is a whole different experience. It’s important to mentally prepare for your trip ahead and take some time to reflect.
I truly believe you’re going to have the time of your life and go on incredible adventures and just be high on life! But while there will be lots of highs, there will be some lows too. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed at times or things may go wrong or not as planned, or you may lose something or get lost. You are a lot stronger and more capable than you think in these situations so, stay calm and trust yourself and be confident in how you proceed.
What personally helps me when I am feeling overwhelmed is pulling out my journal and doing some self-reflection. Alternatively, face-timing friends or family from back home always brightens my day back up.
Now it is also important to remember that you are travelling alone, so there will be moments when it is just you – but embrace it. Remember why you are travelling in the first place. Instead, take these opportunities to learn about yourself and reflect on your journey so far.
It’s funny because I get in these situations where I forget that I am travelling by myself so when I can’t find someone to go to dinner with, for example, I sometimes get a little upset. BUT then I remember I am here travelling by myself, and this is what I signed up for – so off to dinner alone I go with nothing but a smile on my face!
At the end of the day enjoy yourself and embrace your authenticity.
Solo travelling is great, but at the end of the day, your safety should always be your top priority. In case of an emergency or anything gets lost or stolen, you need to ensure that you have a plan. I hate to think the worst, but I would rather be prepared for any situation that arises.
First, ensure that you have backups for all your important documentation. Your passport, IDs, and credit cards – scan them and send the digital copies to your email and print the paper copy to have with you. You can never be too safe!
Then any important details such as your flight, transportation, and hostel details – really anything digital that you can share, send to either your family or a friend. I even shared my iPhone location with my mom for my current trip I’m on just to be extra safe.
Securing your valuables and sharing these details with family or friends allows you to be relaxed while solo travelling knowing if something happens, you are prepared.
Costa Rica, April 2022
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Through honesty, compassion, and real-life experiences, I help women learn how to be independent and confident.