4 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success on Your First Solo Trip
Updated: Apr 27, 2019
You know what they say: You only get once chance to make a first impression.
It often works this way when you're trying something new, too—like solo travel. If your first experience is terrible, you might be tempted to give it up forever, like I almost did.
Solo travel has so many benefits—confidence building, a sense of empowerment, increased independence, and lots more. I want you to get the chance to experience them all! That's why I've gathered a few essential tips on setting yourself up for success on your first solo adventure. Follow this advice to set the stage for a promising solo-travel debut!
Arrive during daylight hours. I advise doing this whenever possible, no matter how seasoned a traveler you are—but it's especially important for your first trip. Do you want your first impression of a new city/country (and your first impression of solo travel) to involve frustration, fear, loneliness, uncertainty? Definitely not! At night, a new place can seem a lot less welcoming. It might be harder or more confusing to find a taxi or get on the right bus/train to your accommodation. The darkness might have you constantly looking over your shoulder. You might be tired from the day, and not feeling as sharp or positive. Start off on the right foot instead. Arrive during the day (even if a daytime flight/train/bus costs a little more), and allow this new place to show itself to you in the best light possible (literally!).
Choose social accommodation. I recommend hostels for any female solo traveler's first trip (and, honestly, for every trip thereafter). They're places where you have quality, built-in friend prospects right there to get you started. Read ratings and reviews and choose a hostel that reviewers agree is conducive to socializing. Arriving in a quiet hotel lobby and ascending to an empty, private room won't give you the same excited, positive feeling at the start of your trip as arriving at a buzzing, happening hostel will. Don't let the first decision you make as a solo traveler be to isolate yourself.
Do an excursion or tour on your first day. I love to plan my own days when traveling; I'm not typically an organized-tour kind of person. HOWEVER, they're one of the best things you can do on your first day in a new place. Most hostels offer excursions, like day trips, classes, and tours. Alternatively, most decently sized cities have free walking tours from some operator or another. Try this company or this company. They really are free—you're just encouraged to tip the guide at the end if they did a good job. These types of experiences are great for A) Helping you get the lay of the land, how the city/town is organized, B) Helping you meet people right off the bat, and C) Giving you purpose and some structure for your first day alone.
Postpone judgment. Yes, first impressions can mean a lot. But don't put too much stock in your early opinions of a place, or of solo travel. I love to talk about how important it is to trust your gut when it comes to safety, but when it comes to like/dislike of your first solo-travel experience, give it a minute! Don't buy into your knee-jerk reaction. Stay open-minded. Don't freak out if it's not like you expected, or if you're not immediately the cool, comfortable master of solo friend-making and city-exploring. Give yourself time to adjust to this big, new experience, and just focus on being open to what it has to offer you.
Solo travel is a uniquely personal experience that you get to design to fit any whim or preference you have at any given time. If it's something you want to learn to love and do well, set yourself up for success with these tips! Start out on a positive note so you can make the most of the awesome opportunity.
Happy starting-on-the-right-foot and happy travels,