Tips for your first solo vacation
Traveling alone for the first time can seem daunting. You've got to navigate a strange city by yourself and be completely responsible for booking and planning, all the while trying to make new friends.
But remember that solo travel can also be extremely liberating and rewarding. You don't have to take anyone else's wants or needs into consideration, so you can do what you like when you like. Plus, it's a chance to meet new people and learn more about yourself.
If you need a bit of encouragement, or you just don't know where to start, here are our top tips for your first solo vacation.
Book in advance
While some people prefer to travel in a more spontaneous manner -- showing up in a city, finding somewhere to stay, and moving on when the urge takes them -- for your first solo trip, we'd recommend planning and booking everything in advance. Running around the city looking for accommodation can feel like an adventure, but if you're tired from a long flight and alone in a completely new place, looking for somewhere to stay on the fly is probably going to turn into a stressful rather than a fun experience.
Consider a hostel
If you're hoping to make some friends while you're on vacation, consider staying in a hostel instead of a hotel, especially if you're in your 20s or early 30s. You'll find plenty of other solo travelers staying in hostels, most of whom are happy to make new pals. If bunking up with nine other people in a room isn't your idea of fun, most hostels offer private rooms.
Don't fear dining alone
Some people hate eating at restaurants solo, but if you want to try some good food on your vacation, you'll have to get over it. There's no shame in dining alone -- just bring a book, browse social media, or do some people watching. The same goes for drinking in bars alone. Sure, you might have to be careful in some countries, but if you find out where local ex-pats or fellow vacationers usually drink, it's a good way to make some holiday friends.
Give someone your itinerary
While there's no reason to be especially worried on a solo vacation, it's a good idea to give someone a copy of your itinerary and scans or photocopies of your travel tickets and passport, just in case of emergency. This is wise even when you're traveling with a group. You might also want to tell someone at the hotel front desk where you're going each day or leave a note in your room.
Pack only what you need
You don't want to be lugging around several suitcases while trying to get yourself to the airport or to your accommodation. Make a list of what you definitely need and try not to overpack. It's unlikely you'll need several pairs of shoes or more than one formal outfit, for instance. Remember that there are shops selling almost anything you could need wherever you're going (assuming you're not taking a solo trip to Antarctica), so don't worry if you forget something.
Know how you'll stay in touch
Traveling alone without any way to contact people back home can be isolating, so make sure you know how you'll stay in touch. You might simply use data roaming on your regular cell plan, if you can get a good deal. Otherwise, you can buy SIM only plans in other countries, though you will need your cell to be unlocked.
Get your bearings on day one
While it can be tempting to try to pack in as much as possible, we'd recommend spending the first full day at your destination taking it easy and getting the lay of the land. Figure out where you're staying in relation to any landmarks or points of interest because this might help you later should you get lost. Having a quiet first day is also a good opportunity to start shaking that jet lag.
Learn some key phrases
Learning a few phrases in the local language is always helpful. Ordering food and navigating the streets of a country is much easier when you can communicate in at least a basic manner. Even knowing how to say hello, goodbye, good morning, and good night can start off an interaction in the right way.
Going on a vacation solo doesn't have to be scary. In fact, you might find that your solo traveling experiences are some of the most fulfilling of your life. Take the plunge, book your flights, and you could be surprised by how much you enjoy yourself.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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