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Are you traveling alone for the first time or are you a seasoned pro? Either way, you need to get your mind right and do a few things to prepare yourself for traveling alone. By doing these things before you head out on your solo adventure, you will be doing all you can to ensure you have the time of your life.
Tips for Traveling Alone for the First Time
Have a rough itinerary
This is important because you need to have an idea of what you will be doing and where you will be going. Take the time to come up with an itinerary BEFORE you leave home so that you don’t have to spend time trying to figuring it out while you’re on vacation.
You should also inform those you love of where you are and what you are doing while you will be gone. Of course, you are an independent woman who can live her life the way she chooses but letting others know your itinerary gives them peace of mind and is a safety precaution for you.
Detach from social media
Don’t get me wrong, social media can be great. However, it can be a hindrance when you are trying to explore a new country. Why? Because if you are so busy scrolling on Facebook or Twitter, you are missing out on in-the-moment experiences. Put your phone down and look up. Look around. Be present in the moment. Do not turn on Wi-Fi on your phone, unless it is to check in to a place AFTER you’ve left (see next point).
If you think this will be hard for you, try going without social media while you’re still at home. Turn off your data and be in the moment. See if you notice things you didn’t notice before because you aren’t distracted by your phone. If you are seeing different things than you normally do, imagine how much more you will be able to take in on your trip if you aren’t attached to your phone!
Check in on social media after you have left
There are many people who check in as soon as they sit down. Please don’t do this. While it is important to let people know where you are, you can check in when you are about to leave. Why? Because social media is filled with unscrupulous people who prey on solo travelers, especially women. There is no reason to make it easy for someone to hurt you. If you tell people exactly where you are every moment of the day, you could be setting yourself up for danger.
This may be very different than what you are accustomed to doing, so prepare your mind and try doing this before you leave so it will be easier for you when you are traveling.
Hire a photographer
Are you concerned about how you are going to get fab pics? One way to ensure you get amazing pictures is by hiring a photographer. There are many local services you can use that aren’t expensive, and you can get the shots you want and be guaranteed they will look beautiful. This is my favorite tip for traveling alone for the first time!
While I was in Paris, I hired a photographer from Airbnb experiences and had a wonderful time. This way, you won’t have to be bothered with asking a stranger to take your picture (cause they usually don’t do a great job) and you won’t have to take your selfie stick.
PRO TIP: Are you in Facebook groups? Ask if anyone is a photographer in the city you are visiting and see if you can hire them. There are many people who may not be professionals but can take awesome pictures. And you may meet a cool person in the process!
Research the culture
You may be traveling from a country where a woman traveling alone is no big deal. However, please be sure to do your due diligence and find out what the local customs are in the country you are traveling to before you get there. Why is this important? Knowing the local culture can help you pack the proper clothing so as not to offend anyone, and will help you adapt to their ways if that is needed. A little bit of research can help you be prepared for any differences you may experience.
Have emergency contact info on you at all times
What happens if you get into an accident and can’t speak for yourself? What would you do? How would people get in touch with your nearest and dearest? A simple card with contact info of the person or people you’d want to be contacted in your time of need will come in handy should anything bad happen. It’s better to be safe than sorry, right?
You should also get my medical information download. Fill this out and keep it on your person when you travel, and if you cannot speak for yourself, it has enough information on it to let the local doctors and nurses know your vital information they need to start treating you.
Leave copies of your passport with someone at home
Make sure to give a photocopy of your passport to your friends and family before you head to the airport. It is also smart to send them copies of your travel insurance (you do get travel insurance, don’t you?) and your lodging and flight information.
Find a dope class and/or tour
If the thought of traveling alone is a bit daunting, sign up for group classes and tours. Many classes and tours have plenty of solo travelers, and you can learn a fun skill while meeting other people. While in Paris I took 2 tours from Isabelle. I found her tours from Airbnb and ended up becoming friendly with her. She took my mom and me to some Parisian gems that we had never heard of!
Bring a book
A book? What? Why do I recommend that? Because there will be times when you will want to just sit in a cafe and rest. You may not want to be on your phone (which I don’t recommend anyway) and by having a book with you, you can enjoy being in your new environment while taking refuge in a great book. Having an actual copy of a paperback book can help you not feel awkward if traveling alone is something new to you.
PRO TIP: Go to your local library and see if they have books for sale. Many times they will have paperback books for less than $1, and once you are done with it, you can leave it in the apartment/hotel for another guest.
Be prepared to talk to locals
When you are traveling solo you will have opportunities to talk to locals, don’t miss out on those. Start thinking about how you can interact with locals. Throughout your day, look around and take advantage of the times when you can talk to someone you don’t know. The waiter, the bartender, the cab driver, your housekeeper…these are all people that are living in the city you’re visiting. Why not ask them for their opinions on where are the best places to go? They will know local spots that won’t be in travel books and they may be able to help you in unexpected ways.
If this seems like something you aren’t comfortable doing, why not start practicing this in your hometown? Make eye contact with people, talk to the cashiers as you run your errands, and start being open to the possibilities of talking to strangers. If you practice before you start traveling, it will start to become second nature to you.
Book a comfortable place to say
Depending on the type of traveler you are, having a comfortable place to stay is crucial. As you are making your travel plans, It may be worth it to you to have a very comfortable place to stay so you can have a nice place to come home to at the end of the day. Agoda, Airbnb, VRBO, and Homeaway are a few I’ve used and trust.
Traveling solo is so much fun! I hope my tips for traveling alone for the first time can help you enjoy your adventure.
Other resources for traveling alone for the first time
And don’t forget to pick up some of my Die-Cut Carry-On Girl Black Girl Stickers to personalize your travel gear! They come in different hairstyles, skin tones, and shirt colors.