Travelling solo is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done.
And one of the scariest.
Leading up to my New Zealand adventure, I hadn’t really thought about what travelling solo would mean. I was just too excited to get there. I was excited for the flight, for the people I’d meet, for the things I’d do. But as soon as I set foot in the airport and checked in for my flight, it suddenly dauned on me. I was travelling alone. Completely.
It dauned on me what it was I was actually doing. I was on the other side of the world, in a country where I knew no one. I didn’t know where anything was. And to be honest, it was a little overwhelming. I sat in the airport messaging a couple of friends…and freaking out a little bit.
But then I remembered why I was there. And what I was doing. That it wasn’t forever, and that I would make friends. And that I was about to head off to the adventure of a lifetime.
So if you’re about to venture off on your own solo adventure, and are feeling overwhelmed like I was, or just wondering what to expect, then read on. Here’s my definitive guide on how to solo travel!
It’s okay to feel homesick and overwhelmed.
If you’re missing home, panicking slightly or just finding all these new experiences too much, that’s okay. It’s normal.
Those first few days after you’ve left home are such a blur, all the travelling and jet lag. Finding your feet. For me they were the days when I was most homesick. I wanted my own bed. I wanted my friends. I wanted a hug off my dad who’d tell me it’ll all be okay.
But after a few days, it gets better. Trust me.
Stay focused on why you’re travelling.
Plan your days with exciting things.
Hang out in the common room at your hostel.
Go to a coffee shop.
Book a tour.
Hang out with people!
Make your destination your new home away from home. And don’t sweat it if those waves of homesickness come back.
Connect with others.
Stay in a hostel! Truth be told, I’d never stayed in one before and I didn’t really know what to expect. But if you’re solo travelling, DO IT.
Hang out in the common rooms, talk to the people in your room. Get to know people. Most hostels will organise free tours of the city you’re in, so make sure you check those out.
If you can’t carry it, it’s too heavy. Self explanatory really. Pack light so you can carry your luggage with ease. Whether you choose a backpack or a suitcase, for one week or one year, make sure you can carry it.
Save the phone bill.
Consider getting your phone unlocked before you head out so you can buy a local sim card. Meaning you can save on all those roaming charges. Use social media and maps to your hearts content…
Avoid dodgy streets.
Self explanatory really.
Dark street? Don’t go down it.
Empty side alley? Don’t go down it.
Keep to the main streets and centres of cities, and you’ll make sure you’re as safe as can be.
Ready, set, cook.
Learn how to cook a couple of delicious and cheap meals before you go travelling that are made of basic staples. Almost all countries will have very similar tinned beans, pasta, rice, etc. All the basics of delicious dishes that will soon get you cooking with others. My go to meal?
Mixed beans in chilli sauce, a couple of carrots and peppers, served with rice or pasta. Cheap as chips.
Live like the locals.
Treat yourself to a coffee and watch the world go by.
Do some window shopping.
Go to the museum or the beach.
Go to a sports game.
Go out for a meal (occasionally).
Be a local, and you’ll soon make friends with tourists and locals alike.
Solo travel is exciting. Its scary. Its life changing.
You won’t come home the same.
And that’s okay.
In fact, that’s the best bit about solo travel.
You’ll learn about the world, the people, the environment.
But you’ll also learn about you. Who you are. What you can stretch yourself to.
You’ll come home with a new energy, new passion, new way of looking at your home town and the world alike.
And you won’t regret it.