Between April 2020 and August 2022, Google searches for ‘solo travel’ quadrupled, indicating that this form of tourism is the latest travel trend.
Trendy or not, traveling solo has a lot of benefits that account for its recent growth. Imagine the freedom to explore the things that most interest you, the time to immerse in a destination, and the chance to test your personal limits. This is what solo travel is all about.
Understandably, heading out on your own in a foreign land can seem daunting to the novice. In our experience, and the experience of many of those who have gone before you, the key to how to travel solo successfully is in the planning.
Minimize the potential challenges of solo travel using the 4-step planning guide below.
Step 1: Decide What You Want to Achieve
Are you interested in visiting historical sites and immersing yourself in culture? Do you like to spend time outdoors hiking and taking in new landscapes?
Have you been itching to learn a new language or skill? Are you looking to challenge yourself by stepping outside of your comfort zone?
How about meeting new people? Consider that slow travel experiences not only give you the opportunity to mingle with the locals and experience their way of life, but also to connect with like-minded people. You may make lifelong friendships, you might have a chance to reveal parts of yourself that you don’t often get to share, and you’ll certainly build confidence in your ability to put yourself out there.
Asking yourself these types of questions is the first and most important step on your solo adventure. All successful trips start with a clear understanding of your personal interests and goals. From there, you can begin to decide on the activities that offer the best opportunity for accomplishing said goals.
Remember that one of the main reasons why solo travel is so popular is the freedom and flexibility it affords to make your own rules. You don’t have to push yourself to do anything you’re not comfortable doing, but you also don’t have to place any limitations on what’s possible.
Step 2: Find Destinations That Fulfill Your Goals
Once you’ve figured out what you want to accomplish on this trip, find a destination that suits your needs. Matching what you want to accomplish with possible destinations takes time and research. Keep in mind that the more research you do, the more prepared you’ll be when you land.
A big part of this step for how to travel solo successfully is taking into consideration little details. These are details that would otherwise be taken care of when you’re traveling with a tour group or booking through a travel agent.
Among the most important details to consider when you’re choosing a destination are:
- Passport and visa requirements
- How much time you have for this trip (including getting to and from the destination)
- Any prior experience or special equipment you may need for the activities you plan to partake in
- Climate at various times of the year
- How easy or difficult it is to get around
- Costs for accommodation, food, and transportation
If you want to hike, for example, start researching the best trails in the world, narrowing your results by the level of difficulty, the amount of time you have to spend on a trail, and the best time of year to be hiking in that destination. If you want to participate in cultural events, know when they’re happening, how far in advance you should book your accommodations, and how easy it is to get to that city or town.
Step 3: Consider Safety
Safety is among the top reasons why solo travel is a no-go for some travelers. Planning and executing a trip to an unknown place can be scary. There are a couple of key things you can do to ease any anxiety you have about staying safe.
First and foremost, do some destination-specific research. That’s as easy as Googling “safety tips for traveling to x.” You may also look at your own government’s website for any travel advisories.
Other super helpful resources are expat Facebook groups and forums, where you can ask questions and get first-hand accounts about the safety of specific cities, towns, and activities. You can also scour the internet for reviews on attractions, tour guides, and accommodations.
When you’ve decided on a destination and an itinerary, share your travel plans with trusted family members or friends. Share the details of your schedule with them, including things like when you’ll be traveling between destinations, the names of hotels or hostels where you’re staying, what tour companies you’ve booked with, and when you might be out of service. Make a plan for checking in with them and discuss what the next steps should be if you miss a check-in.
Step 4: Plan Your Time Wisely
One of the most valuable tips for how to travel solo successfully is to use your time wisely. While it may be tempting to pack every moment with activity, this is a common mistake made by first-time solo travelers.
You should always build some down time into your travels. Leave some room for spontaneity because you never know what opportunities might arise. You’ll also want to avoid a tightly-packed schedule, so you don’t return more exhausted than you left.
To this end, it would be helpful to learn more about slow travel. Take the moments between hiking, visiting historical sites, immersing in the culture, or learning a skill, to ruminate on what you’ve seen, learned, and experienced. But this downtime isn’t just time for you to rest and recharge, it’s time to reflect on how solo travel changes you.
Solo travel has the potential to change the way you see the world and the way you see yourself. Think about the people that you’ve met, the exchanges you’ve had, the new things you’ve tried, and the challenges you’ve overcome. Bring a journal to record these memories, to explore the ways in which you’ve grown, and make the most of the time you have when you’re between life changing experiences.
How to Travel Solo Successfully with Curios
A solo adventure can forever change the way you travel and the way you see the world. But nothing worth doing is ever easy, and that includes heading off on your own in a foreign place.
To avoid the common pitfalls, put a lot of energy and effort into the planning stage of the trip. The 4 most important steps while you’re in the planning stage include: choosing what you want to do based on your personal interests and goals, researching a destination that will help you fulfill those goals, knowing about any safety precautions you need to take, and leaving time to discover more about yourself while you’re on the road.
But perhaps the most important step of how to travel solo successfully is booking with travel experts. Curios has tons of experience taking first-time solo adventurers on trips of a lifetime. Read more about the experiences we offer here.